Last post on Nov 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid
What is this discussion about?
Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Hybrid Cars, SUV
#3584 of 4026 Highlander Hybrid availability
May 21, 2008 (12:44 pm)
We are currently looking to purchase a new 2008 Highlander Hybrid and were told by one dealer that Toyota is slowing production on the Highlander Hybrid so that they can use the batteries to produce more Prius's. By doing this, the availability of the Highlander Hybrid will go down, therefore increasing the price.
Has anyone else heard about this? Also, will the 2009 models be any different from the 2008's? I've heard the 09 price may go up as well...we just want to try to get the best deal we can - what's your opinion?
#3585 of 4026 4WD Performance in Snow
May 22, 2008 (9:42 am)
I've read a couple 2008 reviews on the Internet stating the 08 Highlander Hybrid isn't the best 4WD because of of the modifications of the Hybrid system... "Though the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it is not very well suited for harsh road or weather conditions." or Edmunds "Bear in mind that this setup differs significantly from the 4WD/all-wheel-drive system on the regular Highlander: There's no center differential and the V6 engine never provides power to the rear wheels. The upshot is that buyers shopping for a serious snow vehicle may not find the hybrid Highlander robust enough to meet their needs."
For the people that have driven in snow, how would you rate the experience?
#3586 of 4026 Re: 4WD Performance in Snow [tld]
May 22, 2008 (11:06 am)
There have been many posts on this here but I do not remember where they are now. It will help if you look back. The following are based on our own first-hand experience.
The 2008 HSD is identical to the 2006 HSD mechanically. Software likely changed due to the EV mode and other modification for better mileage. So I will assume our experience in our '06 HH will apply for the '08.
For "off-road", you have to define "off-road". I wrote a long post way back on this so will keep it short here. The HH, like many other SUV, is an on-demand AWD vehicle, not a true 4x4. The HH kicks in the rear wheels ONLY when power is needed or traction is needed. So a front-drive on-demand AWD vehicle is really a simple front-two-wheel-drive most of the time. The rear kicks in only when needed, as determined by the on-board drive computer.
A true 4x4 allows me to lock the axle so that all four wheels will get power ALL the time regardless of whether it is necessary. This gives a whole ton more flexibility in all sorts of challenging terrain. HH is not in this league.
On-demand AWD vehicles are NOT suitable for boulder-crawling. 4x4 with locking diff and Lo is, within reason. On-demand AWD high clearance vehicle can handle any dirt road that a normal two-wheel drive vehicle can handle. On-demand AWD high clearance vehicle can handle some challenging dirt road that a normal two-wheel drive sedan and van cannot handle. The key is common sense and safety-first. If you come upon a stretch of forest service dirt road that looks like you will get stuck, trust your instinct and back off. If you ever feel like you need to lock the differential and shift to Lo but you are in the HH, it is time to back off.
Our HH has handled many dirt roads now. We have hit many that are poorly maintained but nothing that requires a real 4x4 and Lo gear. Its high clearance lets me go where I have to go for work and for camping. Its AWD capabilities helps maintain stability over some muddy slipper patches. We have not encountered a forest service dirt road (in CA), in dry weather, we cannot conquer yet.
We also have no direct experience with hard sheet-ice. We have driven over about 6 to 8-inch deep slush and loose thin icy chunks without problems. 2 to 4-inch (?) packed based with loose fresh snow on top without problems. Uphill w/o ice was not a problem, neither was downhill. On slick surface due to rain and fallen debris, the safety system kicks in and AWD lets us maintain control. Again, we have not encountered a big layer of ice yet, no help there.
There were two posters reporting that on icy steep slope up their driveways, the car actually would stop spinning the tires resulting in their HH slowly sliding backwards. One let it slid to the bottom of the hill, gunned the engine and got back to the top. Another advised installing dedicated snow tires. Many of us are using the Nokkian SUV WR for winter driving. It is an All-Season tire with the "Severe Service" emblem.
Hope this is useful.
#3587 of 4026 HiHy purchase concern
May 24, 2008 (10:02 pm)
The HiHy made it back on my list recently with fuel prices topping $4. I am within a year of purchasing a new vehicle and I need some information from owners.
Two main concerns I have with buying this vehicle right now - first, settling on an acceptable price. This in a vehicle that already comes at a premium, but it is of MUCH greater concern to me now with gasoline prices doing what they are.
Secondly, I have heard some nightmare rumors over routine maintanance items ($1000 brake jobs on the Prius) and such that would essentially KILL whatever meager savings might be accumulated month to month. I have basically calculated that this vehicle would save me about $720 (optimistic prediction) per year over the competitor.
Not sure if this is for me or not.
Can any owners tell us a little about your routine mantainance - brakes and such?
#3588 of 4026 Re: HiHy purchase concern [tourguide]
May 25, 2008 (11:14 am)
Our '06 HH has 40K miles and there is NO such thing as standard regular brake "maintenance" service. It sounds like a competing salesperson bad-mouthing the Prius to sell an Escalade .
Standard maintenance is no different than any other car. We do the normal oil, filters and tire rotation. Additional work is on topping off the hybrid coolant and check the 12V and that is it. After 40K miles, we still have over 3/4 of the brake pads left. You can do all this yourself just like any other car.
Toyota hybrids use regenerative braking to recharge batteries so it uses the mechanical brakes much less than normal cars. The brakes should last longer and it seems to be proving out on our HH. If these brake pads last 100K miles, $1000 for replacement is acceptable.
Our '94 Sienna brake pads are still the original set and that car has 105K miles. May be it is because we do not do "jack rabbit" start and stop.
Please note that while the HH is expensive, the price includes the "luxury class" safety system called VDIM. Only Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Lexus and Acura offer something similar.
So the "premium" in the pricing is paying for the HSD, SULEV II rating, the VDIM safety system and more "luxurious" appointments in the car, not just for gas savings. It is almost impossible to compare the HH to the standard Highlander by just the HSD alone. As you figure in gas savings, don't forget the extras. Think of it as an entry-level Lexus car without the Lexus price.
#3589 of 4026 Re: 4WD Performance in Snow [tld]
May 25, 2008 (5:19 pm)
I have a 2008 HH [purchased in early November, 2007]and live in NE North Dakota. The HSD iDrive did fine this winter. Several times I took it into unplowed deeper snow to try and test the limits. When I ran into problems by not having enough momentum, I just stopped, backed up, and then took a new run at the snow. It would just push right through.
I think the mistake some drivers make with the VDIM system is trying to give it more "gas" when they run into a problem. If the system detects wheel spin, it applies the brake to that wheel. If all of the wheels are spinning, it cuts the power. Simply backing off the throttle a little to allow the tires to regain traction will usually get you through.
#3590 of 4026 Re: HiHy purchase concern [cdptrap]
May 25, 2008 (7:59 pm)
Thanks for your reply. A lot of what you've said makes me feel better about keeping this HiHy on my list. My concerns remain though about being able to negotiate a fair price. I have a feeling I will need to order, and a few missing features also bug me on a near $50K vehicle - like HID headlights. I was also hoping to get cooled seats. Backup sonar system can be installed aftermarket, but a biggie is how difficult it can be to get a limited without the sunroof. I need the headroom.
Cargo space is also a compromise but that is a bit down the list for me since we get along OK with the current Hi.
Thanks for your response. How has your 06 been for reliability? Is it typical toyota?
#3591 of 4026 Re: HiHy purchase concern [tourguide]
May 26, 2008 (12:41 am)
Price is steep, even back in 05. If not for wife, I likely would not have bought it. We needed a farm/ranch type car but with good mileage and I was not sure the HH was the right choice. I thought it could not handle heavy work and still give good mileage. Now I am a convert. The HH's 26 MPG per tank sure beats our CHevy V8 hands down and the HH takes on our dirt road without problems.
50K is too much? I read a few posts here of prices around 40 to 42? I may be wrong on info.
My two biggest gripes were smallish trunk (on the 06 model) and lousy tires. The trunk, even with 3rd row folded, was just a tad small. If we could do away with the intruding wheel wells and third row hand-rests, it would help a lot. I have learned to live with it. Ours came with cheap single-ply side wall van tires. This on a 2+ ton SUV? We ended up changing them after losing one to side wall cut.
A minor gripe is front seat leg and head room. I am a larger 6-ft male and it took a while to find a good comfortable position for long distance driving. Now that I have worked out a position, it is comfortable. Very good lateral support for a Toyota. May be the 08 has more front seat room.
I thought the 08 has back-up camera? Is that similar or same as sonar+camera?
Reliability has been excellent. At 40K, not one single problem and only normal maintenance. With good tires, the car runs smooth, relatively quiet and feels glued to the road. It takes turns with solid stability. Steering response is quiet good though not nimble like a BMW. The VDIM is nice. I used to enjoy the cushy cruiser-like ride of our Sienna on long trips but its imprecise control makes high speed driving (70-75 on I5 in CA) a bit tiring. The HH's better control (with good tires) make hi-speed long distance driving easy. The ample power and handling also makes mountains and winding road easy. Overall, a much less fatiguing car to drive than our van. Your preference may be different of course.
Good luck with the research!
#3592 of 4026 Re: HiHy purchase concern [cdptrap]
May 26, 2008 (9:38 am)
50K is too much? I read a few posts here of prices around 40 to 42? I may be wrong on info.
MSRP on these things is getting close to $50K optioned the way I want.
The two deal breakers will be #1) price, and #2) getting one without the sunroof (toyota makes this kind of thing notoriously difficult - but we shall see).
Going back to price, if I can come in at close to $45 out the door, AND I can get one the way I want sans the sunroof I'll pull the trigger.
I am pretty pessimistic right now about the stars aligning and everything working out. Makes it difficult when you can't cross shop the dealers. On an order this is difficult to impossible.
#3593 of 4026 Re: 4WD Performance in Snow [cdptrap]
May 27, 2008 (11:55 am)
"The HH kicks in the rear wheels ONLY when power is needed or traction is needed. So a front-drive on-demand AWD vehicle is really a simple front-two-wheel-drive most of the time. The rear kicks in only when needed, as determined by the on-board drive computer. "
Good overall summary, but you left out one critical item. Most AWD systems use a mechanical transfer case that shifts power to the rear wheels as needed. The HH uses separate electric motors for the rear wheels. This means that if those motors are used continuously, they will overheat and shut down until they cool. Thus they are suitable for most situations when one needs to activate the rear wheels, but not for continuous situations. From what I have read this seldom happens, and the key (as with any car) is to know the limitations, strengths, and weaknesses - every system has it's strong and weak points.
If you want a hybrid SUV with a mechanical AWD, the Ford Escape is available, though it is not quite as large as the HH.