2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 268 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 27/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is an excellent family SUV that accommodates the needs of most SUV buyers while delivering the benefits of hybrid technology.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Real-world gas mileage in the 20s, terrific acceleration, smooth ride, comfortable cabin with simple controls and solid materials.

  • Cons

    Extra weight results in so-so handling, engine can be noisy, poor access to third-row seat.

  • What's New for 2006

    New for 2006, the hybrid version of the Highlander pairs a gasoline-powered V6 with electric motors to improve fuel economy and acceleration.

Full 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

What's New for 2006

New for 2006, the hybrid version of the Highlander pairs a gasoline-powered V6 with electric motors to improve fuel economy and acceleration.


Hybrids are certainly not new -- the first Honda Insights and Toyota Priuses rolled into dealerships over five years ago. But the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the one that will put the term "hybrid" on the lips of average Americans. As revolutionary as cars like the Insight were, many people need more than two or even five seats. And that's where the Highlander comes in.

As the first seven-passenger hybrid vehicle Toyota's alternative-powered SUV is revolutionary in its own quiet kind of way. Automakers have finally figured out that the key to mass hybrid sales is not necessarily stellar fuel economy. Given the price premium paid for most hybrids, vehicles like the Lexus RX 400h and Honda Accord Hybrid offer more luxury features and extra power. And the Toyota Highlander is no different. The "conserving resources" aspect of the Highlander Hybrid intentionally plays second banana to more important features like extra power and standard third-row seating.

Does the Toyota Highlander Hybrid get better fuel economy than your average V6-powered SUV? Sure, it's rated 31 mpg/27 mpg highway. But it's the added snap of 268 hp that really get this Highlander recognized. The gas-electric Highlander also offers a few extra touches such as standard LED taillights and unique 17-inch wheels. Foglights, a rear roof spoiler and a JBL stereo are options. The Limited version is even more luxurious, as it's loaded up with every possible feature save for an optional DVD-based navigation system. But with that touchscreen nav system, you'll also have the added entertainment of a power flow chart and fuel economy meter like that found in the Prius.

Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions are available, though the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is intended for pavement duty. Toyota calls the all-wheel-drive system 4WD-i. It is an on-demand system that improves traction on wet and dry pavement and is capable of regenerating power from all four wheels. The system is unique in that it uses a rear-mounted motor/generator to power the rear wheels when wheel slip is detected in the front. The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is remarkable in that it doesn't force you to make uncomfortable compromises to stand up for the planet. Thanks, in part, to its conservative styling and simple, comfortable interior, this hybrid should make the move into the high-tech age painless for the typical family car buyer.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is offered in base and Limited trim levels. The base model is nicely equipped with seven-passenger seating, cloth upholstery, a power driver seat, ABS, stability control, a six-speaker CD stereo and 17-inch alloy wheels. The lone option package for the base model includes a sunroof, an upgraded JBL stereo with a CD changer and foglights. The Limited comes with all of the above, as well as leather upholstery, wood grain interior trim, automatic climate control and a power front-passenger seat. A navigation system is the only option on the Limited.

Powertrains and Performance

To make the hybrid version, Toyota started with the 3.3-liter V6 in the standard Highlander, recalibrated it for duty in a hybrid and installed two electric motors. One of the motors is responsible for starting the gas engine and recharging the 288-volt battery pack. The other teams up with the V6 to drive the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel-drive models get a third motor that can juice the rear wheels when extra power or traction is needed; Toyota calls this setup 4WD-i. The gas-electric power plant makes a combined 268 horsepower. Fuel economy is 33 mpg city/28 mpg highway on front-drive (2WD) models and 31/27 on all-wheel-drive models. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.


Front-seat side airbags and first- and second-row head curtain airbags are standard on all Toyota Highlander Hybrid models. Also standard are four-wheel antilock disc brakes, ABS with BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, traction control, stability control. These safety systems are part of Toyota's new integrated safety system that coordinates all the vehicle's safety features to assure maximum accident avoidance capability and protection should an accident occur.

Interior Design and Special Features

The interior of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is essentially identical to that of the gasoline-only version. A thoughtful cabin design puts all the controls and storage areas within easy reach. Comfortable seating in the first and second rows and a total of 10 cupholders make the Highlander Hybrid a natural for family transportation. The second-row seat's lack of a flip-and-fold mechanism makes the third row tougher to access than most, but this is still the only hybrid that seats seven.

Driving Impressions

The standard Toyota Highlander has a light and somewhat "tossable" nature but the added weight of the hybrid version gives it a more cumbersome feel around tight turns. It's still easy to maneuver in the city, though, and as smooth as they come on the highway. Acceleration is excellent at any speed, thanks to the electric motor assist.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Love the car, not the

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

1) We don't get the fuel economy we had hoped. We do a lot of driving on rural roads and highways, so speeds or 45 to 80 are the normal range, and we average about 25.5 mpg long term. Even on the rare occasions when we use an entire tank of fuel while driving in the city at 35 mph or less we only get around 28 mpg or so. 2) We installed a trailer hitch, which was easy to do and cost less than $250. Around $150 for the hitch online, and $75 or so for the wiring jumper from Toyota. The Highlander Hybrid pulls a 3500 lb mgw trailer very well, even when fully loaded, but the fuel economy drops to around 15 mpg with the trailer. 3) We purchased an special treatment for the cloth seats, since we have kids, and it doesn't seem to have helped at all. The seats stain pretty easily, and we are to far from the dealer to bring it in for cleaning or to use the warranty we purchased. I wouldn't recommend it. We still like the cloth seats better than the leather seats, but we should have used the $500 buck or whatever we spent on the treatment to buy good seat covers. 4) We also purchased the Diamon Glass treatment. It didn't keep us from getting rock chips, although we did use the warranty to repair a couple of them. We have learned that most full coverage insurance will cover windshield repair anyway, so we could have saved the money on that treatment also. It also doesn't keep the water off any better than a good Rain-X treatment. 5) We were mystified by one electrical problem a year or so ago in which we started to experience a delay in the starting of the Hybrid System when you turned the key to start. At the same time we noticed we could not leave a door open, or a light on in the car for more than a few minutes with the car turned off, or the battery would die and the car wouldn't start. We lived with this for about a year, just being careful to not allow the battery to drain, and occaisionally having to use a jump battery(which I always carry for emergencies) to start it. The I finally decided to test the car battery, and found it going bad so we replaced it. the Hybrid is back to working like new now.


by on
Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

This car wasn't great. It is one of the first hybrid models out there and we bought this car new and it has about 50K on it now. We've had some pricey problems with it though. At times it won't start and have had many recalls on it for steering! And if you spill even a little bit of water you'll short out all the electronics in the car!!!! That was over $7500!!!! The car does drive pretty nice and does have a lot of power though. And I was in an accident in it and the engine did shift but luckily not onto us. I personally don't think it was that safe. The car is okay but not worth the money.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

Inverter problems

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

This car has very expensive inverter problems. Cost to repair Hybrid inverter system as of June 21, 2011 $9325.00 + Tax Toyota does not fix this and have a class action suit against them at this time. If you are going green this green will be coming out of your billfold. The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Vehicle (Highlander HV) was Toyota’s first generation of gasoline-electric hybrid versions of the Highlander sold in the U.S. A central component of the Highlander HV is the electrical inverter assembly, which changes the DC current from the vehicles battery into AC current that powers the vehicle’s motor. The defective inverter assemblies cause the vehicles to suddenly lose engine power while the vehicles is being driven.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Heck of a first car

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

As the title suggests, this is my first car. Purchased at 43k miles from a dealer. Having driven only my parents' cars until now, those being minivans (Odyssey, Villager) and sedans (Impala), a small SUV is certainly different. That "hybrid" and "luxury features" are not mutually-exclusive (nor do they require a premium nameplate) is a good thing. The "hybrid premium" also shrinks to almost nothing (by Edmunds estimates for similarly-equipped vehicles quoted at dealer retail). 2006 Limited 4x4 loaded minus DVD: $20,923. 2006 Limited 4x4 Hybrid loaded minus DVD: $21,445. That's $523, so one would need to save 125 gallons of gas in mileage vs. nonhybrid. Such savings is easy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

2006 with 92000 miles

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Bought the car with 89000 miles on it, and was wary about the battery life, but it charges up fine and runs great. You need to be careful about your focus when driving, staring at fuel economy display is riveting! The limited is equiped nicely, and the interior is layed out well. Irritating the passenger cant use the maps feature while driving. Storage is a problem relative to the seating if you are on a long trip. Took the wife and four kids to DC over Christmas, and had to invest in a car top carrier. All things considered, trip went well, and averaged aroune 23 even with the car carrier messing with aerodynamics. I would buy this car again, fun to pass up all the gas stations!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Hybrid system breakdown!

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Great experience until 100,000 miles. All check ups done at dealership.100,000 miles warranty expires soon after car won't start.I bought a Toyota because they are meant to last.Took car to dealership and they announced it would be 8700 dollars to fix. The hybrid system does not work! CODES POAA6&526-614 and Warrantied only to 100,000 miles. I am at 119,000. I was told the labor on the part is minimal it is the part that is so expensive. I was shocked and then looked on the internet to find that others have found themselves in the same position.When I went to pick up the car at Toyota they charged me $250.00 for the diagnostic test and tried to sell me another Toyota. HA!!

Talk About The 2006 Highlander Hybrid

2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Discussions See all Started By

Toyota Recalls 235,000 Vehicles in U.S., Including 2006-'10 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Toyota is recalling approximately 235,000 vehicles in the U.S., including the 2006-'10 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and...

I bought the HH new, have taken good care of it, have 72,000 miles without any problems. Toyota says that after 90,000 miles or 6 years I should get my timing belt changed. Is there anybody out ther?...

reports of similar failures on both the 2006 Highlander Hybrid as well as the 2006 Lexus 400h hybrid SUV. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into ...

Read more about the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Gas Mileage


  • 27
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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