2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Real-world gas mileage in the 20s, terrific acceleration, smooth ride, comfortable cabin with simple controls and solid materials.
- Extra weight results in so-so handling, engine can be noisy, poor access to third-row seat.
New for 2006, the hybrid version of the Highlander pairs a gasoline-powered V6 with electric motors to improve fuel economy and acceleration.
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.
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid models
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.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRolloverNot RatedDynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
- Side Impact TestNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintPoor
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the car that will make hybrids as common as a GE lightbulb.
Sure, the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius have furthered the "no plugs please" hybrid cause to the point where they are somewhat commonplace in locales like California and New York. But the Highlander will put hybrid technology into the hands of Joe and Jane Average who simply don't have the luxury of putting high-minded ideals before daily practicality.
This alternative Highlander is the first seven-passenger hybrid vehicle. Its inoffensive exterior styling, seating for seven and available four-wheel drive make it a no-brainer when shopping for a kinder, gentler SUV.
Toyota has built the Highlander so that the "conserving resources" aspect intentionally plays second banana to more important features like extra power and family-friendly reconfigurable seating. Does the Hybrid Highlander get better fuel economy than your average V6-powered SUV? Sure, it gets about 30 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
But a stint behind the wheel reveals that no one will be struck dumb by the engine's fuel-sipping ways and most will be immediately impressed with its 268 horsepower. By comparison that's nearly 40 more ponies than a standard V6-powered Highlander. "Ah ha!" you're saying, "Now I might be willing to spend the extra money on a hybrid." We agree.
The Hybrid Highlander's acceleration is indeed impressive. The instant response of the electric motors moves the midsize SUV forward with sports carlike authority. The hybrid power plant works in a seamless manner, but there is a noticeable amount of engine noise at higher rpm. It's not intrusive, but more than we would expect from a Toyota.
We have enjoyed the light and somewhat "tossable" nature of previous Highlanders. By contrast, the hybrid version feels a little heavy and cumbersome around tight turns. It's obvious Toyota engineers tried to compensate for the added weight of the hybrid system with a stiffer suspension, but all the engineering work is detectable from the driver seat.
The Highlander Hybrid is offered in two- or four-wheel-drive variants. But don't think of the four-wheel-drive version as a serious rock crawler. Even Toyota says this hybrid SUV is no off-road vehicle. It's more accurate to think of the Highlander Hybrid as an all-wheel-drive wagon. Toyota calls the system 4WDi. 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 that is activated when wheel slip is detected.
There are only two trim levels of the Highlander Hybrid — standard and Limited. The standard model offers options like foglights, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, JBL stereo and a rear spoiler. A touchscreen DVD navigation system is an option only on the Limited version and when so equipped, you'll be treated to a power-flow screen similar to the Prius.
Other hybrid-only features include an extra opening in the front bumper to allow for more cooling, LED taillights and brake lights that last longer and use less power. There's also a chrome license plate frame (we swear, they specifically mentioned this) and unique 17-inch alloy wheels. Still, don't go shopping for a Highlander Hybrid if style is your main goal — the difference between the normal Highlander and the hybrid version is kinda like the difference between Vanilla and French Vanilla ice cream.
We could go on and on about all the advanced technology used in the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid but really, too much shop talk about kilowatts, jigawatts, planetary gears and oil-cooled magnets runs contrary to this car's simple intent. Plus, that kind of information is like learning how to multiply fractions in 8th period math class on a warm Friday in April; none of it will stick.
This car is all about putting planet-saving, fuel-sipping technology in a useful and affordable package. On that count, the Highlander Hybrid is successful. Thanks, in part, to its unremarkable styling and interior versatility, this hybrid could move the family car and the average car buyer well into the 21st century as painlessly as possible.
Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview
The Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is offered in the following submodels: Highlander Hybrid SUV. Available styles include Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT). Pre-owned Toyota Highlander Hybrid models are available with a 3.3 L-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 268 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with all wheel drive, and front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic.
What's a good price on a Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?
Price comparisons for Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid trim styles:
- The Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited is priced between $5,999 and$5,999 with odometer readings between 203010 and203010 miles.
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Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2006 Highlander Hybrids listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,999 and mileage as low as 203010 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.