2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review
Which Highlander Hybrid does Edmunds recommend?
The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with a good amount of standard equipment in the base LE trim. But we recommend upgrading to the midlevel XLE. On top of the standard systems such as forward collision mitigation and lane departure intervention, the XLE gets blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as well as the upgraded 8.1-inch touchscreen.
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Impressive fuel economy for a three-row crossover
- Just-right size for many families
- Added peace of mind from standard accident-avoidance tech
- Quiet and compliant ride
- Third-row seat isn't as roomy as those of many competitors
- Touchscreen and other controls may require an extra-long reach
The Highlander Hybrid has a competent hybrid powertrain, proficient brakes and intuitive, albeit numb, steering. Additionally, good highway manners, acceptable towing capability and decent off-road credentials make it appealing.
Lexus lite. The Highlander's seats, ride comfort and utterly silent atmosphere are nearly as good as those found in SUVs by corporate cousin Lexus.
This is a very competitive segment, and although the Highlander Hybrid is quite good in each of these areas, it also doesn't have a clear advantage over competitors.
Overall cargo capacity is average for this segment, which means that most families should have abundant room. Small-item storage is very good.
The Highlander's standard suite of accident avoidance tech is a big reason to consider this family crossover, especially if you don't have the money for a range-topping model. Infotainment tech is pleasantly easy to use.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Limited Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
This is easily my favorite car I've ever owned. I've just begun breaking the car in, but it has been great thus far. The Highlander Hybrid is the only non-luxury hybrid crossover that offers three rows. Depending on discounts you can get you will be paying a little bit more for the hybrid compared to an identical non-hybrid Highlander. The dealer tried to convince me to buy a non-hybrid because it will take you a long time to make up the price difference in gas mileage, but for me the additional power, over 300 HP, was the reason to get this car. I've been averaging 23 mpg, but I'm sure that will go up as I break-in the engine. Update on gas mileage, the hybrid gets much better mileage in warmer weather. The hybrid system is much more likely to run in all electric mode at lower speeds, and when the engine is warm. The CVT doesn't have great feel, but I understand why it is a better option for the hybrid powertrain. The interior is very comfortable, the 2nd row buckets are nearly as comfortable as the front seats, the third row is not very roomy, but it will work well if it is just for short trips. The technology of this car is tremendous as all trim levels come with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and all the other important safety features. The JBL sound system in the upper trim levels is tremendous. The HVAC system works really well. The car lacks Apple Carplay/Android Auto and HID headlights, but other than that I can't think of a single feature that is missing here.
XLE 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I’m very impressed with my new Highlander XLE. Strengths - Powerful engine performance and smooth CVT transmission. Excellent quality of materials, fit and finish inside and out, calm and comfortable ride, minimal interior cabin road noise, comfortable front seats, excellent gas mileage, cargo space, heated seats, safety features, hill hold, steering, braking, handling and a powerful V6 engine. Weakness - Nothing really stands out. Minor to moderate gas engine noise during aggressive acceleration, 3rd row seating would be tight for adults and some of the controls require reaching. Terrific gas mileage for a 309 horsepower SUV. It has been getting 28 to 31 MPG in ECO Mode which is supposed to trim back engine performance and the air conditioning to improve gas mileage. I’ve tried both regular and ECO Mode and don’t see much of a difference in performance. I think I get better gas mileage by paying attention to the energy gauge that’s to the left of the speedometer. Feathering the gas pedal in low speed situations and avoiding heavy acceleration keeps the SUV running on the traction battery for longer periods of time. The gas engine rarely runs in many areas where I drive around town and in my neighborhood. I would buy the Highlander again. Update-I’ve owned the 2018 Highlander Hybrid for two years and it now has exactly 30,000 on the odometer. I have not had any repairs performed in that time period. I’ve had 3 oil changes at 10,000 mile intervals and a check up at 5000 mile intervals. That’s it. The original equipment tires are worn and will be replaced soon. Reliability = Five Stars plus. Update 2 - I replaced the original equipment Michelin tires with Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus II at 36,000 miles. There was some tread depth remaining in the Michelins but I began to feel a lot of hydroplaning at highway speeds during heavy rains. The Pirellis rank at the top of www.tirerack.com customer survey list for comfort for tires specifically made for SUVs and very quiet and smooth riding tires. At 36000 miles, still no repairs required or performed. Some information about hybrid brakes: The electric motors do the majority of slowing and stopping. The standard brake pads are activated at speeds below 17 MPH and at high speed panic braking. The computers decide which braking activity will be used. This light stopping duty means the pads can last for 100,000 miles or more.
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
We bought the XLE Limited Hybrid and are very happy with it. Using the eco mode, we hit the 27 gallons per mile mark. Also, we are using B15 aka 88 gas which tends to be cheaper than unleaded (87). The front and second set of seats are roomy. However, the third row is very small. Also, hybrids will give great city mileage. However, no fuel savings in the Highway. This model gives the same 27 gallons per mile as the non hybrids. Only downside was the financing at the Maplewood Toyota dealership in Minnesota. Our credit score was 840 (excellent), and they got me a 72 month loan with a Bank at a 5.5 interest rate. I refinanced quickly within a few days with my credit union for the same period of time a 3.2 interest rate. Even if you don’t have a good credit, my advise is to get prequalified for the loan before you walk into the dealership.
Limited Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Birds eye view for parking, radar cruise control, blind spot indicators, collision control - this car is a dream to drive. Quiet at highway speeds, temperature comfort for each seat, thigh and lumbar support for driver, window shades for mid seat passengers, lots of room and easy access for trips. Much less driving fatigue than any other car I have driven in 40 years! My wife uses this as her daily driver, can take half the office to lunch in it, shorter turn radius for this size vehicle makes parking easy. She loves the shelf under the dash, and, most important for her: the center console is big enough to stash her purse easily (and she has a big purse!), instead of putting it on the floor when she has a passenger, or on the passenger seat with a long reach to it. This convenience is BIG BENEFIT to a woman. Subtle touches throughout the vehicle that you never knew you needed. 2 wishes for improvement: Use the seat memory function tied to a key fob like on the Lexus; Offer the comfort and luxury feel of a wood steering wheel like on the Lexus. Come on, Toyota, you know how to make this vehicle perfect. We will likely keep this vehicle 20 years, long into retirement.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the Highlander Hybrid models:
- Forward Collision Warning with Auto-Brake
- Detects other cars and pedestrians in front of you and automatically brakes to prevent collisions. It's a standard feature this year.
- Lane Departure Alert and Steering Assist
- Warns you if you're about to deviate from your lane and can even help steer. It's also standard this year.
- Driver Knee & Passenger Cushion Airbags
- Additional airbag protection. Not every competitor has these extra airbags for front occupants.