Cruise control... like a roller coaster - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Highlander 2nd Generation (2008-2013) Forum dedicated to the discussion of 2nd generation Toyota Highlanders.

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post #1 of 9 Old 05-13-2019, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Cruise control... like a roller coaster

The first 6 months of HL ownership have been eventful and I'm very grateful for the forum's insights. I picked up my 2013 Limited with just under 80K miles. The first 100 days saw the replacement of the intermediate steering shaft, the radiator, and the timing chain cover oil seal (I think I have that correct). All told, over $3500 in repairs. I believe this is mostly due to labor costs associated with the removal of the engine. I didn't get a clear breakdown of the costs because it was a Certified Used Vehicle and the warranty that comes with it picked up nearly all the costs.

Currently my only complaint with the HL is the cruise control.

Lots of people like to ride in the front of their favorite roller coaster, but I've always liked the back. That feeling of acceleration that you get as the majority of the coaster's weight begins to plunge over the top of the drops and the sensation of weightlessness as the coaster rockets over the apex is what I enjoy. I DO NOT, however, like that same sensation while driving the HL with the cruise control on.

When climbing shallow to moderate hills, the HL will not downshift out of 5th and will simply increase throttle. The speed will sometimes drop slightly, maybe 1-2 mph, but as the grade reduces near the top, the increased throttle remains... even beyond the target speed and sometimes I'll find myself 3-4 mph above the target speed. This may not sound like much, but if you set your cruise 2-3 over the speed limit (OK, 4 mph over) you easily put yourself at risk of an unscheduled meeting with a State Trooper. Moderate to steep grades are no issue as they are enough to force the HL to downshift into 4th and the cruise holds the target speed as it should... it's only when it stays in 5th.

I asked the dealership if the shift points could be manipulated when I took it in for all those repairs. When I picked it up they said they also noticed the issue, reflashed the ECM, but that there was nothing else they could do. After several searches I couldn't find where anyone else was having an issue with this, only the occasional post about how MPGs were reduced because of the HL cruise control in hilly terrain. I've gotten into the habit of keeping the shifter in Manual and just bumping it up or down myself, but I'm thinking about the trip I'm taking to Massachusetts in a month. This will become tedious for 3 days as I travel through AR, TN, VA, PA... not known for flat roadways like West Texas.

Anyone else experiencing this? Any ideas on how to mitigate the effects?

************************
2013 Highlander Limited
2004 Corolla CE
1998 Dodge Ram 1500
(to haul the 2 wheeled machines)
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-14-2019, 03:20 AM
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I think the cruise control works quite accurately. When the road starts going uphill, I can feel the engine increase rpms to maintain the set speed. On the downhill, it is a different story. I believe the vehicle only has aerodynamic drag to slow the car back down to the set speed. So if you start going downhill, at a certain point the cruise control will not be able to maintain the set speed. For example, if the decline is steep enough, cruise control will not be able to select a lower gear and use engine braking to prevent the speed from going up. Nor does it have the ability to use the brakes to slow down.

Perhaps in your case, this is a speed between 4th and 5th gear. Computer probably knows that there is not enough power to accelerate in 5th gear, but then once dropped to 4th, it'll accelerate past the intended speed. Do you find your transmission hunting between 4th and 5th? I've seen it happen when my set speed is around 70mph and I encounter the slightest uphill. During the uphill, if I bump up my cruise control speed to 71mpg, the car will downshift to 4th to get me that additional 1mph, then once I'm cruising at 71mph, it will upshift to 5th. 2GR-FE engines are great, but there just is no power in the 1800-2500rpm range. I suspect the newer Gen Highlanders with the 8 speed have a better ability to hold speed when the road is fluctuating up and down.
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-14-2019, 07:04 AM
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My 2011 will / does downshift while under cruise control.. but only after the speed increases a lot. Most times I hit the brakes (and thus disengage the CC) to slow down long before the cruise attempt to slow the vehicle down. Which is annoying..
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-14-2019, 09:52 PM
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IMO, as a rule cruise controls just don't handle hills well. For the Highlander, I always take it out of cruise control if hills are steeper than about 4% grades because the cruise control/computer downshifts too aggressively and pulls way too high RPMs, again IMO. For example, on a toll road near me while cruising along at seventy and about 2,150 RPM, the cruise control will downshift hard and immediately pull 3,150 RPM to climb the hill, as opposed to me turning off cruise control, downshifting manually in 4th, and pulling about 2,750 to maintain the same speed. I should add that when cruise control is at work it will sense overspeed, then drop RPMs, then drop hard back into 4th, and again and again. B.S. I say! When I do it manually there's one downshift, and one steady climb at 2,750 RPMs. Doing it myself on hills saves a hell of a lot of gas, and is certainly easier on the engine too. That's my take on it.



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post #5 of 9 Old 05-16-2019, 08:55 AM
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Sounds like its working perfectly.

But, I prefer to drive and leave the automation to lazier people.

If using the CC, when approaching a hill, you simply speed up a little by applying more gas to maintain your speed. The cruise control is blind and can't tell if you're trying to drive over Denali.

Also, it doesn't compression brake. So, don't expect it to slow you down. That is your job. When coming down a hill, you can use the brakes or manually downshift. If that was needed, then you shouldn't be using the CC to drive down Mt Everest.

Overshooting speed from when coming up a hill to level ground or downhill is normal. It is slow to (over)react in the hill scenario and again before backing off the throttle.

So, since I have to increase and anticipate hills, and then pause/disable when coming down Mt Washington, I usually don't bother with it at all. Better to be a proactive driver.

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post #6 of 9 Old 05-20-2019, 05:06 PM
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A little off topic, but in the same ballpark. I like my highlander, but I recently rented a pathfinder with adaptive cruise. I can't really comment on how it did on hills b/c I was in coastal NC where it was flatter than my home state, which ironically is said to be flatter than a pancake. I will say, however, that the adaptive cruise worked very well at maintaining a safe distance (although maybe a little too big of a gap for me) behind the vehicle in front of me. Where it was annoying was if I was coming up behind someone on a 4 lane road and wanting to pass, I had to change lanes about 6 car lengths back or the pathfinder would auto slow, you could skirt that by applying the gas in anticipation of the pass. I also, tested out it's performance with an abrupt slow down, hovering my foot over the brake in case I needed to take full control, but the pathfinder applied its brakes and maintained a safe distance without my help. I could see this being a problem if people get too lazy and start to rely on this technology too much. If they were to then switch cars or if that feature had a malfunction, it could cause some serious problems/accidents. For the time being, I'll stick with the HL
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-21-2019, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdunaway13 View Post
I could see this being a problem if people get too lazy and start to rely on this technology too much. If they were to then switch cars or if that feature had a malfunction, it could cause some serious problems/accidents. For the time being, I'll stick with the HL
This / that.. reliance on technology is going to be even more of a problem as time goes on. Driving requires full time concentration.. and as skill is replaced with automation.. drivers are bound to take advantage and do other... things. Already distractions abound.. and it will only get worse.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-21-2019, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph6410 View Post
This / that.. reliance on technology is going to be even more of a problem as time goes on. Driving requires full time concentration.. and as skill is replaced with automation.. drivers are bound to take advantage and do other... things. Already distractions abound.. and it will only get worse.
And in as much too many people put too much faith in "AI" in automobiles (https://www.wired.com/story/teslas-l...e-prior-crash/), like lemmings they're so quickly sold on "safety features" in a society obsessed with with safety. What ever happened to be a responsible and prudent owner and driver?



-------------------------


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2002 Avalon XL
1987 Suzuki Samurai 4X4 - Treading where no Jeep can follow....
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-21-2019, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the feedback from everyone. I agree entirely about "autopilot" drivers and I take some pride in the level of attention I give to driving. I'm baffled on a daily basis how people blindly follow the vehicle ahead of them... when glancing 30 seconds (or further) up the road and checking the rearview mirror will make their commute much smoother. Some good habits from my two wheeled days (we called it "rider radar").

I'm just surprised that the cruise control worked better at maintaining the target speed on every other vehicle I've owned. I can't compare it to the Corolla, since it didn't come with cruise control. I guess Toyota isn't... perfect.

I'm still very happy with it. 2700 mile round trip coming up in less than 2 weeks. I'm looking forward to it since I haven't really logged many miles in it (wife's ride).
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************************
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