One-week vehicle loan was provided for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
|Type: Hybrid SUV
Fuel Efficiency: 27 city/28 hwy
|Best Suited For: Families
Notable Features: Third row, nice interior finish, hybrid engine
Links: Official site
Last year I was able to test drive the Toyota Highlander, which I loved. It was roomy, had tons of features, and the redesign make the mid-size SUV look good. The only thing that could make it better, in my opinion, was if it had good gas mileage. Fortunately, the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is available.
2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review — Similarities & Differences
Outside the Highlander Hybrid looks very much the same. The same sleek design, polished interior, and protruding rear lamps are also on this model. With the different engine, this vehicle was getting about 24 miles per gallon. Not bad for a car of this size but less than what I hoped for. The Highlander Hybrid does feel like a big car but was fairly easy to drive. The ride was smooth and handling was good. There was some roll on the turns and often the car felt “heavy.” as if I was driving a huge truck that took more effort to stop and extra power to get going.
There are plenty of features in this car. When I was driving by myself, though, I did notice that controls on the right side of the navigation screen were really far over. It would have been dangerous for me to reach so far over so I used the controls on the steering wheel or waiting for a red light to change the channel.There’s plenty of room for your smartphone in the cutout area in the dash but it does look a bit strange.
One huge surprise was the lack of USB ports. In the other Highlander, there were tons of ports to charge mobile devices from every seat. Not so in the hybrid model. I suppose it has something to do with conserving energy but one USB port is not sufficient for a family car, even if there are several 12V outlets. If you buy this car, you’ll have to make sure you keep plenty of 12V-USB adaptors on hand to keep everyone’s devices charged for long road trips.
The middle console is large enough to a small purse or bag as well as tablets. I loved being able to toss my crossover in this compartment when I jump in the car! The console does stick out quite a bit but it’s at a good height and position so that it doesn’t get in the way. The separate climate controls for the back were so nice (also on the console). When we were driving a car group of six, there was plenty of fresh air moving and it wasn’t stuffy at all.
2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review — Seating
The bucket seats in the second row are super comfortable. Both passengers can move their seats forward and back so they can have oodles of legroom. In addition to a bottle holder on each door, a collapsible tray offers two more cup holders. Frans did mention that the protruding wheel casing did cause some difficulty in getting out.
Passengers in the second row will have to move their seats forward and get used to hopping out if more are riding in the third row. Fortunately, the seat slides up and back fairly easily. Munchkin and I sat back here on and off for a good portion of six hours. We were okay but had to lean our legs to the sides and jump out of the car often to stretch. The headroom is pretty tight back there.
When the third row is up, the cargo area is limited. Fortunately, the glass portion opens so you don’t have to worry about everything in the back falling out when you open the cargo door. We, ahem, tried it both ways. With the third row down, there’s plenty of cargo space.
When shopping for a family mid-size SUV that isn’t a gas guzzler, it’s ideal to have the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid as an option. Too bad all the features on the gas engine model didn’t transfer over and that it only brings the fuel economy to 27 mpg.