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2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.7

The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a powerful engine, quick acceleration, and it delivers great fuel economy. Its handling is smooth, even over bumps in the road, and its cabin is quiet. However, its steering has little feedback and the brakes are sensitive if you're not used to driving a hybrid.

  • "Hybrid versions are also stronger than before while delivering better fuel economy." -- J.D. Power
  • "Of course, most people will use the 2016 Highlander Hybrid primarily for ferrying passengers around in comfort, and that's where it truly shines. The cabin remains impressively quiet at speed, and bumps and ruts are generally shrugged off by the crossover's compliant suspension." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "Boasting a hybrid engine that somehow manages to offer both big power and excellent fuel economy, the Highlander Hybrid delivers nearly 30 miles per gallon in the city and on the highway -- numbers that tower above nearly all crossover rivals." -- Autotrader (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three electric motors that produce a combined 306 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission (CVT), which operates like an automatic, is standard. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid gets 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which are excellent numbers for its class.

The Highlander Hybrid has the same engine as its gas-only counterpart but offers better fuel economy and more power thanks to the electric motors. Its brisk acceleration effortlessly gets the SUV up to speed on the highway and when passing other vehicles. It remains quiet and has a smooth ride, though you may notice a slight delay when pushing down on the throttle.

  • "In the hybrid, the engine seemed much quieter during our brief drive, and the stop/start system that is now standard on all Highlanders is virtually undetectable." -- Car and Driver
  • "I preferred the driving experience of the Hybrid, in fact. It has the same V-6 engine under the hood but, with batteries and an electric motor to help it along, acceleration at low speeds feels a bit brisker." -- Cars.com
  • "The Highlander Hybrid also sees an uptick in terms of power output thanks to the new V-6 engine, increasing 26 horsepower to a combined total of 306. The Hybrid version continues to supply all-wheel drive as standard equipment, whereas it is an option with the V-6 engine." -- J.D. Power

Handling and Braking

The 2017 Highlander Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel drive and has stable handling. It takes bumpy roads with ease, providing a comfortable drive, and you'll feel confident taking on rough roads. However, the Highlander Hybrid's brakes are touchy, and if you're not used to driving a hybrid, the regenerative brakes will feel sensitive until you get used to them. The Highlander Hybrid's steering is numb and doesn't provide much feedback.

  • "It's comfortable over bumps and dips in the pavement, no need to dodge potholes. But there's a little more cabin noise than I'd like. Steering is a little numb, but it's easy enough. I wouldn't predict a lot of fatigue on a long drive." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • "As with most hybrids, the regenerative braking system produces a characteristically odd pedal feel that may strike some drivers as a little touchy until they've acclimated. It's worth noting that the Highlander Hybrid is around 350 pounds heavier than a comparable gas-only model. Nonetheless, the hybrid confidently handles the road within its predictably modest limits." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "All trims display a calm poise over most road surfaces, a welcome change from some newer SUVs that return a harsh ride due to their stiff suspensions and oversized wheels/tire packages. … At highway speeds, the Highlander is nearly as quiet as a Lexus SUV, and it remains stable and confident even in the face of strong crosswinds and rutted pavement." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

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