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2020 Highlander Hybrid
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Discussion Starter #1
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 36 mpg tops any other three-row SUV without a charge port
Bengt Halvorson - Senior Editor
Bengt Halvorson
Bengt Halvorson
February 14, 2020
Toyota appears to be focusing its hybrid sales toward SUVs and larger vehicles; and if you consider big family vehicles like the Highlander, capable of carrying up to eight, there’s a lot of efficiency to be gained in going hybrid.

Over the past week, results posted by the EPA have confirmed exactly how significant that gain is. The Highlander Hybrid earns EPA ratings of 36 mpg combined (36 mpg city, 35 highway) for the front-wheel-drive version or 35 mpg combined (35 mpg city, 35 highway) with all-wheel drive.

That’s a huge improvement over last year’s 28 mpg combined for the Highlander Hybrid, and it follows the improvements given in recent years to the RAV4 Hybrid and Camry Hybrid.


2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The ratings make it, based on the 2020 model year ratings released so far, the most fuel-efficient three-row vehicle on the market without a charging port. And with a 17.1-gallon tank, and allowing for a reasonable cushion, that amounts to a driving range of more than 550 miles.

To compare that to models without the hybrid badge, the standard Highlander gets 23 mpg combined in all-wheel drive form, or up to 24 mpg with front-wheel drive. So the Hybrid will go a full 50 percent farther on the same amount of fuel.

Largely echoing what happened with last year’s ratings of the RAV4 Hybrid (initially suggesting 39 mpg, then surprising us with 40 mpg), Toyota underestimated its early numbers—targeting 34 mpg combined at the Highlander Hybrid’s New York Auto Show introduction last April.


2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Last year’s Highlander Hybrid technically remained behind the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid’s 30-mpg combined rating, if you were to run the minivan without ever charging it. Getting to this more defensible highest-mileage spot for the Highlander Hybrid involved cutting weight versus the outgoing model; and instead of the V-6 used in previous versions of the Highlander Hybrid, the 2020 model subs in a 2.5-liter inline-4. As part of the latest version of Toyota’s hybrid system, it altogether makes 240 horsepower. In all-wheel-drive versions it includes a third motor to the system, to power the rear wheels without a mechanical connection.

Starting prices for the 2020 Highlander Hybrid range from $39,320 to $51,320. The Highlander is already arriving at U.S. dealerships, and the Hybrid follows soon.

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2019 Highlander Hybrid XLE
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And there goes the towing prowess the V-6 owners have enjoyed... Regardless of the claimed 3500 pound towing capacity (same as the V-6 models from previous years) I suspect the lighter weight and less horsepower inline 4-cylinder powertrain will not be as happy towing a trailer as the V-6 gas models or previous V-6 hybrids. I think Toyota should still offer the 3.5 liter V-6 as an optional powertrain and carry it over to new hybrid offerings like the future hybrid pickups.
 

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2020 Highlander Hybrid
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Discussion Starter #3
The 2020 Highlander Hybrids are showing up this month but we don’t have much info on how useful the AWD system will be. The rear motor on the Prius only provides 7 hp and 40lbs of torque because it’s only designed to assist on low-traction starts like snow, and hard acceleration from a stop.

I hope it won’t be long before we see some reviews of the new Highlander Hybrid AWD system like this. One of the main questions would be if AWD is really useful for anything other driving on snow since it will not be torque vectoring. There may not be much snow around by the time the hybrids get reviewed.

 

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The 2020 Highlander Hybrids are showing up this month but we don’t have much info on how useful the AWD system will be. The rear motor on the Prius only provides 7 hp and 40lbs of torque because it’s only designed to assist on low-traction starts like snow, and hard acceleration from a stop.
The 2020 Highlander Hybrid has 53.6 hp / 89 ft/lb of torque.

From the 2020 hybrid manual:

rear hp.jpg


This video seems to show it works better than previous hybrid generation:

 

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2020 Highlander Hybrid
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Discussion Starter #5
That’s identical to the rear motor of the RAV4 Hybrid. It would make sense to use the same motor. Sounds promising.
 
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