ToyotaHighlander Hybrid – 2008 Review: No matter how sophisticated the conductor, virtually every symphony orchestra lacks refinement in one section or another. World-class strings, horns and woodwinds can play the most complex compositions, but if the percussionists aren’t up to it, the performance will be lacking. This is the situation with the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. With all of its technological sophistication the Highlander Hybrid has a few areas that don’t accompany the fancy tech very well. In some cases, there are characteristics that strike a sour note.
What We Drove
Our test vehicle was a Highlander Hybrid Limited, which carries an MSRP of $40,635, including a $685 destination charge. As the highest trim level, the Limited comes equipped with standard features such as hill assist, towing package, 19-inch wheels, seven airbags – including one for the driver’s knees – heated mirrors, fog lamps, privacy glass, back-up camera and smart entry system. Options on our test vehicle included rear-seat DVD system, voice-activated navigation, JBL four-disc, nine-speaker audio with satellite capability, Bluetooth phone connection, dual front and single-zone rear climate controls. With options, the total came to $48,602, including the $685 destination charge.
You probably won’t be able to do a burnout or donuts with the Highlander Hybrid, but if you mash the gas pedal, it accelerates the way we expect a crossover with a V-6. Unfortunately, gas mileage takes a hit. The 3.3-liter V-6 gasoline engine gets thrashy at higher rpms. The CVT works well in this application, changing “gears” more like a regular transmission. Econ mode adjusts throttle response to improve fuel economy in city driving. The switch between electric and gasoline power is seamless and almost unnoticeable unless you’re gazing at the power display.