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2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

Redesigned last year, the Highlander Hybrid offers a spacious interior, smooth ride, and refined hybrid powertrain. However, some feel its price is too steep compared to the non-hybrid Highlander. Still, both models win our Best Midsize Crossover for the Money award for 2009 for their all-around livability and value.

Pros & Cons

  • Optional third row for family-friendly capacity
  • Seamless hybrid powertrain
  • Quiet ride, especially for a hybrid
  • Some poor-quality interior materials
  • Fuel savings may not justify the premium price
  • Base stereo system is disappointing




Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 9.6
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

The Highlander Hybrid remains unchanged for 2009. It's perceived as an excellent family vehicle, but it demands quite a premium over its gasoline-powered counterpart -- and even over other hybrids. For less expensive alternatives, consider the Ford Escape Hybrid and Saturn VUE Hybrid. "Although the Highlander hybrid costs several thousand dollars more than the standard Highlander, the fuel efficiency and ego-inflating nature of the hybrid version might just be worth it to some buyers," says Car and Driver. "Fortunately, everything we like about the regular Highlander is present in the hybrid version: excellent interior versatility, a strong powerplant, carlike refinement, and a handsome and spacious interior." 

If you're considering the Highlander Hybrid save money on gas, run the numbers before signing on the dotted line. Though the hybrid's fuel economy is quite good for its class, it's not good enough to offset the SUV's price premium. With lower gas prices, you may find you're saving the environment, but not a lot of cash. Be sure to check for current Toyota deals that may be available on a new Highlander Hybrid.

The Highlander Hybrid is available in two trims -- the base and Limited -- in standard four-wheel drive with either five- or seven-seat configurations.

  • "Highlander's jump on the midsize SUV segment won enough converts to guarantee a second generation makeover which came out a year ago. Now, for 2009, the Toyota Highlander consolidates its position as a hybrid leader, winning even more fans every time there's a spike in prices at the pump." -- Road & Travel Magazine
  • "Don't buy this car expecting to save on gas. It's doubtful that you will ever come close to recouping the added initial vehicle cost in fuel savings." -- Boston Globe
  • "[T]he Highlander is definitely the most efficient of the mid-large crossovers and provides good utility for those who need ample space for five plus two on occasion." -- Autoblog Green
  • "Versions with the conventional V6 engine best represent Highlander's Recommended attributes, as the Hybrid models' higher prices may take years to offset in fuel savings." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is an ideal choice for shoppers wanting a vehicle that offers high fuel economy and seven-passenger practicality." -- Edmunds

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