2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: The Best All-Around Midsize Hybrid? [Review]

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
[Photo: Toyota]


The third-generation model Toyota Highlander is now in its fourth year after its most recent redesign in 2013. The company’s midsize SUV – slotted above the RAV4, consists of four trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum. The LE is front-wheel drive only, while all other grades offer both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. Powering all Toyota Highlander Hybrid models is a 3.5-liter V6 engine and electronically controlled automatic transmission that offers selectable manual sequential shifting.

Visually, the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a carryover from the 2017 model year. It features a bolder and more dynamic exterior persona than previous generations. There’s a lower, sleeker roofline and narrowed “A” pillar. Up front, the hood merges with the stylish trapezoidal grille, wraparound headlamps and deeply chiseled and pronounced fenders. The length of the profile, from the front fenders to the rear quarter panels stands out with sculptured wheel wells at all four corners.

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
[Photo: Toyota]


The aft end of the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid finishes with a height-adjustable rear lift-gate with an available one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings. Toyota uses acoustic-type glass for the windshield, helping to reduce noise throughout the cabin. Even the panoramic moonroof design works to help reduce wind noise, even when open.

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid benefits from a premium interior design and advanced technological features. It offers spacious accommodation for up to eight occupants. There’s an extensive array of standard comfort and technology features. Premium fabrics, available smooth and perforated leather trim seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel add to the Highlander’s upscale interior.

A new roll-top center console provides a comfortable armrest. When it’s fully opened, the console is large enough to hold a large bag. The Highlander feature a 3.5-inch monochrome or 4.2-inch color display, depending on which model you choose. Ambient lighting is available around the front dash. A feature normally relegated to luxury cars, it helps create a more relaxing environment.

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid provides second and third-row air vents with available three-zone climate control. Upscale models come with heated and ventilated front seats, with an available heated steering wheel and heated second row seats. A panoramic moonroof is also available. Upscale models like the Limited Platinum offer advanced safety technologies such as Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Parking Assist Sonar, and an available Driver Technology Package includes a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Automatic High Beam Headlights and Safety Connect. Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) driver-assist technology is now standard.

2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
[Photo: Toyota]


The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 231 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque. Its Hybrid System delivers a maximum of 280 horsepower thanks to front and rear electric motors. It comes coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with a planetary gear unit for gear reduction and power splitting. All Toyota Highlander Hybrid models feature an electronic all-wheel drive control system. AWD-i models are equipped with front and rear electric drive motors.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid yields an impressive EPA fuel rating of 27 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway – a best-in-class figure. Toyota rates the Highlander Hybrid’s towing capacity at 3,500 pounds.

This latest iteration Highlander handles itself well, considering its 2.5-ton mass. While not a sports car, it performs with surprising stability on the road. It also delivers a comfortable ride. When asked to perform, the duo of electric motors and the 3.5-liter V6 are up to the task.


Considering the wide grade range in terms of equipment and feature content, the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid presents itself as a capable three-row SUV. It comes with a choice of attractive exterior colors and a basic limited warranty coverage. All models come with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, as well as 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage. The Highlander Hybrid and other models also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

After thorough consideration, the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid fits the bill as a competent, capable and efficient hybrid SUV.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum AWDi

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $48,280
Price as Tested:
Engine: 3.5-liter V6 with dual VVT-I plus three permanent magnet electric motors Hybrid System net 280 horsepower (209 kW) with three permanent magnet Motor Generators – MG1-650V max voltage. Max output MG2=167 hp (123 kW) / 247 lb. ft torque / MG- rear= 68 hp (50 kW) / 103 ft-lb. torque. Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack with 288V nominal voltage and 45 kW Max power output.
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Horsepower: Engine: 231 hp @ 5,800 rpm

Front electric motor: 167 hp (123 kW)

Rear electric motor: 68 hp (50 kW)

Total system output: 280 hp

Torque: Engine: 215 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

Front electric motor: 247 lb-ft

Rear electric motor: 103 lb-ft

Battery Pack: 45 kW Nickel-metal pack
Transmission: Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson Strut, coil springs and low friction Shock absorbers

Rear: Double wishbone with stabilizer bar and shock absorbers

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front)
Tires: Toyo A20 Open Country 245/55 R19 103T all-season
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 29 City / 27 Highway / 28 Combined mpg


Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 192.5 inches
Width: 75.8 inches
Height: 70.1 inches w/ shark-fin antenna (68.1” without)
Turning Circle: 38.7 feet
Curb Weight: 4,910 pounds