2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2010 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 270 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 27/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • Combining available seven-passenger seating with excellent fuel economy, the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is an appealing alternative to conventional crossovers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Exceptional balance of performance and fuel economy, attractive cabin, flexible second-row seat design, available third-row seat.

  • Cons

    Some desirable features only available on Limited, third-row seatback lacks split-folding feature, all-wheel-drive system isn't as robust as most, steep price.

  • What's New for 2010

    The 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is unchanged.

Full 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

What's New for 2010

The 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is unchanged.


We suspect a lot of folks would like to dump their old gas-guzzling SUV for a more environmentally friendly gasoline-electric hybrid, but can't quite bring themselves to give up the passenger- and cargo-schlepping capabilities their current ride provides. If that sounds like you, we think you'll like the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, as it solves this dilemma better than just about anything else on the road. With its fuel-efficient powertrain and available seven-passenger seating, the Highlander Hybrid offers current SUV owners a great way to limit their petroleum consumption without sacrificing the practicality they've become accustomed to.

At the heart of the Highlander Hybrid's appeal is a gasoline-electric hybrid power plant that delivers impressive EPA fuel economy estimates of 27 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Those numbers may fall short of the five-passenger Ford Escape Hybrid's (30 mpg city/27 mpg highway in comparable all-wheel-drive trim), but they still put the Toyota well ahead of seven-passenger hybrid SUVs like the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid (21 mpg city/22 mpg highway). As for conventional gas-powered three-row crossover SUVs like the AWD Ford Flex and Hyundai Veracruz, the Highlander's 26-mpg rating in combined driving is over 40 percent better than their 18 mpg combined. The Toyota is also quick on its feet -- the sprint to 60 mph takes just 7.5 seconds.

The Highlander Hybrid's advantages continue inside, where you'll find nearly as much cargo room as in the much larger Tahoe/Yukon hybrids. Notably, the optional third-row seat is best for kids, so if you need to carry more than five adult-sized people on a regular basis, the big GM hybrids or something like the Flex will be preferable. Still, the Highlander's third row offers an added measure of flexibility that family-minded buyers will appreciate.

Price is one potentially significant drawback. Yes, the Tahoe Hybrid and Yukon Hybrid cost more, but comparably equipped conventional Highlander models list for thousands less, and the four-cylinder version (FWD only) even gets better gas mileage on the highway. Also, the Highlander Hybrid's AWD system utilizes a separate electric motor, so it's theoretically less capable in snowy conditions than the full-fledged gasoline AWD Highlander. Still, we recommend the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It remains one of the best ways to reduce your fuel consumption without sacrificing true SUV-grade functionality.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

For 2010, the midsize Toyota Highlander Hybrid crossover SUV is offered in two trim levels: base and Limited.

The base model comes fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, a towing prep package, keyless entry/ignition, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, air-conditioning and a six-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. A 3.5-inch multifunction display shows trip computer functions and the image from the standard back-up camera.

Spring for the Highlander Limited and you get 19-inch alloy wheels, auto-on/off headlights, foglights, a roof rack, a power liftgate with a flip-up rear window, leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, a two-person third-row seat, a rear cargo area cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, and a stereo with a six-disc CD changer and satellite radio capability.

The options list for the base model includes the third-row seat, dual- or tri-zone automatic climate control (the latter only with the third-row seat) and a handful of other extras that are standard on the Limited. Options available only on the Limited include a voice-activated navigation system, a sunroof, a nine-speaker JBL audio system, Bluetooth and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

Powering the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a hybrid system consisting of a 3.3-liter V6 gasoline engine and a trio of electric motors. It all adds up to a healthy 270 horsepower, which is transferred to the pavement via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and an all-wheel drive system that uses a separate electric motor to power the rear wheels when there's a need for extra traction or acceleration.

In performance testing, the Highlander Hybrid sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is pretty quick even by conventional crossover standards. Properly equipped, the Highlander Hybrid can also tow trailers up to 3,500 pounds. This muscle is even more impressive considering its EPA fuel economy estimates of 27 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. The city number is slightly higher because as a true two-mode hybrid, the Highlander can operate in electric-only mode at low speeds.


The 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front side airbags, active front-seat head restraints, a driver knee airbag and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is a hill-start assist feature that keeps the vehicle from rolling backward when starting off on a steep incline.

In government crash testing, the Highlander Hybrid received a perfect five stars for driver protection and four stars for front passenger protection in frontal impacts. Side-impact testing yielded five-star ratings front and back. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the conventional Highlander its top "Good" ratings in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

While the 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's powertrain gets most of the attention, its cabin deserves its fair share of praise. In addition to seating up to seven passengers, the interior features decent-quality materials and a user-friendly control layout. The 40/20/40-split second-row seat slides fore and aft and features reclining seatbacks. It also incorporates a removable center section that can be replaced with a handy center table or stowed away to permit minivan-like walk-through access to the third row.

The optional third-row seat is cramped compared to those of some larger crossovers, but it's useful for kids, and adults of short stature can squeeze back there for short trips. We wish the Highlander Hybrid's third-row seatback were split 50/50 to offer additional flexibility when carrying a mix of people and cargo, but at least it folds flat when not in use.

For hauling purposes, the Highlander Hybrid offers a maximum of 94 cubic feet of cargo room with the second- and third-row seats folded. There's a healthy 42 cubic feet of stowage behind the second-row seatbacks.

Driving Impressions

The 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid features a smooth ride and secure if uninspiring handling, as one would expect from a Camry-based crossover. Road noise is nicely suppressed, and engine noise is reduced to a barely perceptible electric hum when the gas engine shuts off. The hybrid powertrain's lively performance and seamless transition between gas and electric modes adds spice and character as well as efficiency. A driver-selectable "EV" mode can propel the vehicle for short distances at low speeds on battery power alone, and hitting the "Econ" button softens throttle response to improve fuel economy.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Smooth drive, but not quite

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've driven nearly 15K miles now, including two Alaskan winters. The biggest drawback to-date for the hybrid technology is that even when the battery is fully charged and capable of operating in EV mode, the engine is needed to heat the air for the defroster. In my climate, that cuts into the possible efficiency at least 5 months out of the year. All told, including daily idle time to pre-warm the car for my wife, I still averaged over 18 MPG in the winter. Everyday summer driving in the city is more like 23 MPG. Best ever for a 100+ mile road trip, fully loaded with many hills was just over 27 MPG. With that said, the drivetrain is exceptionally smooth. Interior finish is OK.

The best suv

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Had this vehicle 10 months now, and 20k miles. No complaints whatsoever. I average 27 MPG in warm weather, and 24 in cold weather. Previously owned Chevy Trailblazers which were solid vehicles, but averaged 17 MPG. The Highlander Hybrid is flawless. Comfort, performance, and build quality are as good as you can get. Fit and finish are perfect. This is an extremely solid vehicle. It's been totally reliable. This is my first Toyota, but I'm a believer in them, and in their hybrid technology.

Fuel economy is same as

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Very disappointed in the 'hybrid' aspect of this car. Have reached the 5000 mile mark where the dealer said it would take that long for the car to get used to my driving, whatever that means. Anyway, I am still averaging 18 MPG on city streets and only get above 20 when I go on the highway, which is only about 1/week. It's definitely NOT worth the difference in cost, go for the regular!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Wife says it drives like

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Had the car a month. Waited to write my comment until we took a 2300 mile trip. Overall we love the car. A little disappointed with the overall 24mpg. We drove on interstates, in big cities, mountains and 2-lanes. Inside is roomy and comfortable. Love the bluetooth. The Nav system is no better than my Magellan portable. Disappointed that there are areas with no turn-by-turn instructions even though it lists streets. There are some features on it I really liked like the split screen. The front mats are already showing signs of matting. Love the transmission. Mpg is much better at 60-65 mph than over 75 mph. That should be expected. We did get about 31 mpg on one tank. A keeper.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Best suv

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Just got it 4 weeks ago and enjoy it very much!!! MPG 24-25 combined great for SUV.. Have not seen close to 27 mpg.Feels like a full size SUV had a Land Cruiser and this about doubles its mpg and still has room. Finally got a price break at invoice plus dealer options -over paid for them.

Great commuter with flexible utility

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

I've been eyeing and researching this vehicle for a while, and Toyota's recent financial incentives have finally made me buy it (was able to get 0% / 5 years). The experience (2 weeks now) has exceeded my expectations in almost every category. The only "downgrade" is less cargo space compared to an older van with removable seats I drove before. Daily drive: 80 miles (25 miles on town/arterial roads at 35/55 mph, and 55 miles on freeways at 60-70 mph). The average gas mileage on 3 tanks so far is at 25.5 mpg. Excellent commuter with utility flexibility; great for moving family of 4 with a large dog (German Shepard) with folded 3rd row. When grandparents come to visit, we all can still fit.

Talk About The 2010 Highlander Hybrid

2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Discussions See all Started By

Highlander Hybrid (2008-2010) – F...

Just wanted to see if anyone had heard this one. I have a 2010 Highlander Hybrid. Within 6 months of buying it the driver door lock failed. Took it in and they repaired it under warranty. At approxima...

I'm looking at a 2008 Highlander Hybrid Limited with around 60k miles on it. Per carfax, the battery was replaced in 2010. We'll drive an above average 18k miles/yr....

Gas Mileage


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