2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission CVT Automatic
  • Horse Power 280 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 28/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • Combining seven-passenger seating with excellent fuel economy and performance, the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a very appealing alternative to conventional crossovers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

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

  • Cons

    Steep price compared to standard Highlander, all-wheel-drive system isn't as robust as most, kids will only fit in that third row.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011 the Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets new styling updates, a few more standard features, better fuel economy and 10 more horsepower.

Gas Mileage


  • 28
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Smooth drive, but not quite

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Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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

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

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

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Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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

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

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.


Full 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011 the Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets new styling updates, a few more standard features, better fuel economy and 10 more horsepower.


If you're like most folks, you probably think that midsize SUVs aren't exactly fuel sippers. And you'd be mostly right. But did you know that there is a seven-passenger, midsize crossover SUV that earns an EPA combined estimate of 28 mpg while also packing 280 horses worth of performance? Well, there is now, and it's the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Its impressive mileage rating represents a 2-mpg improvement compared to last year's Highlander Hybrid and is about 50 percent better than the 17-19 combined mpg that you'd get in a typical, gas-only midsizer.

Other improvements for the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid include more power via a larger V6 engine (3.5 liters versus 3.3 liters), more standard features and updated styling. The latter includes a number of features that distinguish it from the non-hybrid Highlander, such as a unique grille and front bumper, color-keyed rocker panels with chrome accents and a light blue tint for the headlights and taillights. This year also brings more standard features for the base trim, including a power driver seat, an upgraded audio system, rear climate control and a standard third-row seat (that thankfully now features a 50/50 split/folding design that allows for greater cargo/passenger flexibility). The Limited trim also gets a few new standard perks in the form of perforated leather seating and tri-zone automatic climate control.

Compared to other hybrid SUVs, the Highlander Hybrid rates just 1 mpg less in combined driving than the much smaller, five-passenger Ford Escape Hybrid, and 7 mpg better than the full-size, truck-based 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid (and its GMC Yukon Hybrid twin) that doesn't offer much more in the way of cargo or passenger space. The Highlander Hybrid is also very quick for a large crossover -- expect a 0-60 mph time in the mid 7-second range.

As far as downsides, there are a few. The third-row seat is really only suited for kids, so if you need to carry more than five adult-sized people on a regular basis, the Tahoe/Yukon hybrids or something like the 2011 Ford Flex will be preferable. Then there's the price. Though about $12,000 less than the big GM hybrids, the Hybrid is about $7,000 more than a base Highlander with the V6 and AWD -- it'll take quite a few years to make that all back on fuel savings alone. Lastly, the Highlander Hybrid's AWD system is powered by a separate electric motor, so it's theoretically less capable in snowy conditions than the full-fledged gasoline AWD Highlander.

But all things considered, the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is easy to recommend to anyone looking to significantly reduce their fuel consumption and carbon footprint without sacrificing true SUV-grade functionality.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

For 2011, 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, automatic headlights, foglamps, keyless ignition/entry, cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40 split-folding/sliding/reclining second-row seat with removable center seat, a 50/50 split-folding third-row seat, cargo area-mounted releases for folding down the second-row seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, air-conditioning (with rear climate control), a rearview camera and a six-speaker audio system with CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB interface and Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio.

Spring for the Highlander Hybrid Limited and you get 19-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, additional chrome exterior trim, power-folding/heated outside mirrors (with puddle lamps), a power liftgate (with a flip-up rear window), a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, perforated leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio and climate controls), tri-zone automatic climate control, a rear cargo area cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and wood-grain cabin accents.

Options for the base Highlander Hybrid include 19-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, an upgraded JBL sound system (with six-CD changer and subwoofer), a navigation system (includes the JBL sound system but with a four-CD changer), a rear seat DVD entertainment system, a Cold Weather package (heated sideview mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer) and a Leather package (includes the leather upholstery, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated front seats, the sunroof and the auto-dimming rearview mirror).

The Limited can be had with the JBL sound system, the navigation system and the rear seat DVD entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

Powering the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a hybrid system consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine and a trio of electric motors. It all adds up to a healthy 280 hp, 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 Edmunds performance testing, the updated Highlander Hybrid went from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 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 28 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 28 mpg in combined driving.


The 2011 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 Edmunds brake testing, the Highlander Hybrid came to a stop from 60 mph in a tidy 120 feet.

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 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's powertrain gets most of the attention, the cabin deserves its fair share of praise. In addition to seating up to seven passengers, the interior features 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 shorter stature can squeeze back there for short trips. For 2011, it's split 50/50 to offer additional flexibility when carrying a mix of people and cargo.

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 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid features a smooth ride and secure if uninspiring handling. 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 Highlander for short distances at low speeds on battery power alone, and hitting the "Econ" button softens throttle response to improve fuel economy.


Talk About The 2011 Highlander Hybrid

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Discussions See all Started By

Steve, I believe this is a pic of the 2011 Highlander Hybrid, not the 2014. Please click on the following link for pics of 2011 HLH for comparison: link title...

Last night I was driving my 2011 Highlander Hybrid and suddenly the power steering and brakes stopped working while I was driving. A loud warning sensor went off and several messages crossed the scree...

2011 Highlander Hybrid model MSRP = $37,490...

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