I now have 4,000 miles on my 2015 Highlander Hybrid. I traded in my Avalon Hybrid (a fantastic car) to gain AWD and more room for travel. This is an extremely well thought out vehicle. It is very quiet, quick and very comfortable. The new generation info/entertainment system is excellent. The latest navigation system is accurate and easy to use. My wife drives a late Lexus RX 350. The Highlander Hybrid is every bit its equal and in some respects superior. In both city and highway driving it has no trouble meeting and exceeding the EPA mileage estimates. It is an exceptional long distance driver. The third seat is for kids (or adults you don't like) but it is handy when needed.
The Highlander is generally a very nice vehicle but it has some infuriating flaws. It handles fairly well, gets good gas mileage (thought the Hybrid premium will take years to pay for itself), is relatively comfortable over the short haul and has an audio system that handles my Apple iPod classic better than most vehicles I looked at during my search last Spring. That last item was a deal breaker with several of the cars I considered buying.
The adaptive cruise control is pretty slick (when it?s not raining ? see below).
Now for the bad news?
I ABSOLUTELY HATE HATE HATE the voice command system, the touch screen AND the Nanny State controls on the Navigation System and Phone controls.
The touch screen is painfully slow and non-responsive. And while the Navigation System itself isn?t half bad, if you preprogram everything before you start rolling, using voice commands to try find a POI while driving (or do much of anything else) invariably results in a full blown case of road rage with me swearing I?m going to dump the Highlander at the first opportunity. Any salesman who touts voice command as the solution to Nanny State restrictions on the electronics while driving, should be called out as a liar. I started making a list of all the failed attempts to have the voice command system do what I ask it to do but, to be honest, given my overall dissatisfaction with the system, I?m leaning very heavily towards replacing the Toyota with something else with dial controls (Equus or BMW X5. Because the Touch Screen controls are so slow, you must take your eyes off the road longer than necessary to do some tasks.
The Nanny State restrictions are beyond belief. Really? you can?t display more than a page or two of previous destinations? You can't even display your Contacts while driving? If you?re using the Blue Tooth hands free telephone, but need to key in a number to work your way through an automated attendant, you have to handle your cell phone to get to the number pad because your vehicle?s system doesn?t won't let you. Try calling your Toyota dealer from a Highlander while driving sometime for a real lesson in frustration and futility.
Smaller annoyances with the Toyota are the manually operated and less than optimal steering wheel controls and steering wheel heater that fails to heat to my expectations ? the wheel doesn?t warm well enough, quickly enough or cover enough steering wheel territory.
For shorter outings the car is comfortable enough but for long highway stretches the cabin isn?t as quiet as it could be, the seats don?t adjust as well as I?d like (granted I came from first a BMW 7 Series and then an Equus, so, I could be a little spoiled) and the windshield wipers cancelling cruise control, when wipers are set to fast, render the Highlander less than optimal.
The third row seating isn?t comfortable even for smaller kids. They have to ride with their knees pulled up to their chests and the seatbacks don?t recline at all ? meaning the kids have to sit bolt upright. As a result of this shortcoming, my wife will not take the Highlander off my hands when she retires her Sienna. You cannot comfortably seat more than 4 in this car. So, another reason to find a buyer while I still have relatively low miles on it.
Good, easy hauler, could have larger openings for easier loading of large items. Bigger storage is good.
Nice, comfy interior. Wish gas mileage was better, but is in range of similar vehicles. Overall very happy.
As I read everywhere before owning my Highlander Hybrid (Limited Platinum), the quality and the reliability are so far so good (2 months ownership). MPG for last 3 fueling averages 30.5MPG by actual tank filling - meter reading method. Considering expected depreciation and gas saving, my calculation said 5 yr or more ownership will be break-even when compared with gas only version. If I learn more gas saving tricks, I will get some saving. Super quiet operation when the engine is completely stopped is one of my favorite factors of hybrids.