2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

With great gas mileage and decent performance, the well-equipped 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid claims one of the top positions in the hybrid and electric SUV class.

Pros & Cons

  • Good fuel economy for a midsize SUV
  • Swift acceleration
  • Impressive interior quality
  • Long list of standard features
  • Tight third row
  • Dull handling
  • Regenerative brakes take some getting used to

Rankings & Research

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's #4 ranking is based on its score within the 2018 Hybrid SUVs category. Currently the Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a score of 8.1 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.1
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.3
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid a Good Used SUV?

Yes, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a very good used SUV. It has a top-notch interior, notable standard features such as all-wheel drive, and loads of standard driver assistance equipment. It's also one of the few hybrid vehicles that can hold more than five people.

There are several reasons to buy a 2018 Highlander Hybrid:

  • Solid safety and predicted reliability ratings
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Good fuel economy
  • Ample engine power
  • Quality cabin
  • Many standard driver assistance features

However, its weaknesses include:

  • Finicky regenerative brakes
  • Uninspired handling
  • Little cargo space behind third row
Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 35 Toyota Highlander Hybrid reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars since 2007, and our team has decades of automotive industry experience combined. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To ensure our reviews remain impartial, we refuse expensive gifts and trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

We currently do not have pricing information for the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. However, you can view listings of the 2018 Highlander Hybrid for sale on our site.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Cost to Own?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be around $23,000, or about $4,600 per year. That’s well below average for a midsize SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

Toyota didn't make any major changes to the Highlander Hybrid for the 2019 model year. You can likely spend thousands of dollars less and get a nearly identical vehicle by sticking with a used 2018 model instead of a new 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Read about the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid »

There were no major changes to the Highlander Hybrid for 2018, so a 2017 Highlander Hybrid could be a comparable (and less expensive) buy than one from the 2018 model year. However, you probably don't want to go any farther back than that. For 2017, the Highlander Hybrid received a slight exterior design refresh, available seating for up to eight in select trims, and the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety features as standard equipment.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Highlander Hybrid »

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How Reliable Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Highlander Hybrid reliability »

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Recalls

As of this writing, there are no safety recalls for the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

See more information on Toyota Highlander Hybrid safety recalls »

Which Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in four trims: LE, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. All models feature the same hybrid powertrain with all-wheel drive. Though the base model has some attractive amenities, you’re better off with at least the XLE trim. The XLE comes with leather upholstery, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a moonroof, a power liftgate, a larger touch screen, and satellite radio.

  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE: The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE comes standard with cloth upholstery, a second-row bench seat, a rearview camera, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, five USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, a 6.1-inch touch screen, voice recognition, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE: The Highlander Hybrid XLE adds genuine leather first- and second-row seats, synthetic leather third-row seats, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, second-row window sunshades, tri-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a flip-up rear window, a power liftgate, Driver Easy Speak, an 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, satellite radio, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited: Standard features in the Highlander Hybrid Limited include ventilated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, and rear parking sensors.
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum: The Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum comes with heated second-row captain’s chairs, navigation, a 12-speaker JBL premium stereo, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a surround-view parking camera, and front parking sensors.

See 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid trims and specs »

What Does Toyota's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Toyota offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 85,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Toyota provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty on all its certified pre-owned vehicles, and it extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the initial sale date or 100,000 miles. Each CPO Toyota must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits like a CarFax vehicle history report, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Toyota warranty page carefully.

Toyota’s CPO program is about average for an affordable carmaker, according to our research. Mazda, Hyundai, and Honda all have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Highlander Hybrid?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid an overall rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • automatic high beams
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • forward collision warning
  • pedestrian detection
  • automatic emergency braking

Available advanced safety features:

  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • rear parking sensors
  • front parking sensors
  • rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • surround-view parking camera

See Highlander Hybrid safety scores »

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid or 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

The nonhybrid 2018 Toyota Highlander could cost you around $400 more per year in fuel expenses than its hybrid counterpart. Depending on the purchase price, you could make up the difference in a few years or more. There are some other key differences, though. The regular Highlander comes standard with a weak four-cylinder engine, but it offers the same V6 (minus the hybrid's three electric motors). The hybrid also scores a little lower in performance, mostly because of its touchy regenerative brakes. You'll get the same amount of passenger and cargo space with these models, and a comparable list of features across the trim levels.

Which Is Better: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid or 2018 Honda Pilot?

The 2018 Honda Pilot has one of the most spacious third rows among midsize SUVs, and it's the clear choice if you regularly carry a large crew. Behind the third row, it also has a little more cargo room than the Highlander Hybrid, but these two have comparable maximum cargo volumes. The Pilot is short on standard features, with only a basic audio display and a rearview camera, though its higher trims offer amenities that the Highlander doesn't, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Honda is a little more engaging to drive, but it can't match the great fuel economy of the Highlander Hybrid. Go with the Toyota if you want to be a little greener, or pick the Pilot if you need more space.

Compare the Highlander Hybrid, Highlander, and Pilot »

2018 Highlander Hybrid Performance

How Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Drive?

With over 300 horsepower, the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has no trouble getting up to speed. Acceleration from a stop is brisk, thanks to immediately available electric torque, and the gasoline V6 delivers ample muscle for driving at higher speeds.

The Highlander Hybrid rides smoothly over most surfaces, absorbing bumps in the road. Just don’t expect very engaging handling. You'll also want to be prepared for the Highlander Hybrid’s grabby brakes. The regenerative braking transition isn’t particularly smooth, so it can be a challenge to apply the right amount of force to the brake pedal until you get used to it.  

  • Base engine: 3.5-liter V6 and three electric motors with a combined 306 horsepower
  • Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: continuously variable automatic (CVT)
Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Highlander Hybrid gets good fuel economy for a midsize SUV.

  • LE trim: 30/28 mpg city/highway
  • All other trims: 29/27 mpg
2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Towing Capacity

The Highlander Hybrid can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about Highlander Hybrid performance »

2018 Highlander Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Highlander Hybrid Seat?

The 2018 Highlander Hybrid is a three-row SUV that seats up to eight people. The first two rows are roomy and comfortable enough, and the middle row slides for easier access to the back. Adults can fit in the third row for short trips, but they’ll have to sit in an awkward knees-up position. Children will have no problem riding back there.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery
  • second-row bench seat

Available seating features:

  • genuine leather upholstery
  • heated front seats
  • ventilated front seats
  • eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • four-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • second-row captain’s chairs (also available with heated functionality)
  • synthetic leather third-row seats
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

The 2018 Highlander Hybrid has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the second-row outboard seats. The second- and third-row middle seats also have a top tether anchor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the highest rating of Good for overall ease of use. All of the anchors are easy to find and access, and they’re easy to tell apart from other hardware on the seats.

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Features

The Highlander Hybrid's dashboard and infotainment controls are easy to reach from the driver's seat. There are physical knobs for things like climate, audio volume, and tuning adjustments. The touch screen is either 6.1 or 8 inches, depending on the model, and it's fairly straightforward to use once you learn some quirky ins and outs of the system.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, five USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, and voice recognition
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Driver Easy Speak, HD Radio, satellite radio, navigation, and a 12-speaker JBL premium stereo
  • Additional standard features: proximity keyless entry and push-button start
  • Other available features: a 120-volt household-style power outlet, second-row window sunshades, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a regular or panoramic moonroof

See 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specs »

Read more about Highlander Hybrid interior »

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Cargo Space

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third row, which is unimpressive for an SUV and more in line with some sedans. There’s 42.3 cubic feet of space with the third row folded down, and 83.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down. That maximum volume is pretty good for the midsize SUV class. A power liftgate and a flip-up rear window are available.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet
  • Curb weight: 4,398 to 4,861 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating: 6,000 to 6,270 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Built?

Toyota built the 2018 Highlander Hybrid in Indiana.

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