Last post on Nov 13, 2011 at 11:20 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid
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Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Hybrid Cars, SUV
#3801 of 4026 2008 Highlander Hybrid Test Drive
Oct 31, 2007 (6:42 am)
I finally got to test drive a new 2008 HH this week in the Chicago area. It's a great vehicle with the usual Toyota quality and quite well optioned from the base model up to the Limited.
It was, of course, very smooth and refined and, to me, rode the same as the ICE version. I did try the Economy mode and you could really feel the difference. It didn't turn it into a total snail, but it definitely limited the acceleration rate of the vehicle. It will be fun to see mileage comparisons with it enabled for a tank or two against having it disabled.
The vehicle does have LED tail lamps according to the dealer, although I didn't visually verify this. They are different than the ICE's tail lamps. They have a clear lens w/amber bulb for the turn signal as opposed to the amber lens on the ICE version. There are also some horizontal, frosted stripes across the backup lamps. The hybrid has a different grill, but I didn't think it was any better or any worse that the one on the ICE, just different. On the hybrids, where the Limited or Sport emblem normally goes, it says Hybrid. The Limited badge is on the lower right side of the tailgate along with the HSD logo. Both the base and Limited versions had the power tailgate, which I don't recall seeing in the brochure, but I may have just forgotten about this.
I think it looks like a great vehicle overall with mild to tepid styling, but it is certainly very expensive! The base model, as equipped for this region, is about $38,000. A 'regular' Limited is $43,000 and a loaded Limited is about $47,000!!! Yikes! This puts a lot of other luxury SUVs/CUVs at considerably less than 'just a regular Toyota.' And even the Costco discount is only $300 below MSRP, so little to no help there.
Oh, and the dealership where I test drove the hybrid got four of them in, but they were all for the dealer to use as loaners, so were not for sale. This really strikes me as rather a slap in the face to potential customers for a very limited production vehicle that's just being introduced. Oh well.
They also showed me what was coming in for next month and there were only two more which were both customer orders. The earliest anything might be available is December, but they have a waiting list that they'll go through in order if anything is available for sale. The salesman said realistically, it'll likely be February or so before anything could be purchased without ordering it ahead of time.
And finally, the vehicle that I drove was the Iced Amethyst color which was very attractive, IMHO. Very similar to a pale version of the Waveline Pearl, with just a bit of a greyish tone to it.
#3802 of 4026 Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing
Oct 31, 2007 (11:57 am)
Only you can decide if this is worth anything, I am just pointing it out for comparison.
The ICE version does not have the drive-by-wire system called VDIM. The hybrid version does. The price difference is not as simple as hybrid equipment vs gas-engine equipment.
Not all luxury class SUV's offer similar systems. As of now, it seems BMW, Mercedes, Acura and Lexus are the only ones offering similar systems. Toyota's VDIM emphasizes safe handling performance, not push-the-envelope performance.
Our 2006 HH has it and we are impressed by what it can do. Taking a sudden turn at highway speed, the car knows to slow just enough to make the turn and resume preset speed. Very smooth and barely discernible. It cannot beat physics, so don't do this at 40-MPH around a flat 90-deg turn. Within reason though, it almost takes care of driving around these curves all by itself. We like this added safety in this car.
Of course, don't forget the better emission rating and the ECON mode. Gas is back up to $3.50 a gallon where we live .
Still, $47K is a huge investment. Ouch!
Good luck with your research.
#3803 of 4026 Thanks and More Info
Nov 01, 2007 (8:10 am)
Thanks for the input, cdptrap!
The price difference between similarly equipped Limiteds ( Hybrid vs. ICE) is running aboutt $5,300, so it's really a tough decision. The rising gas prices and forecast of $4.00/gallon in 2008 help a bit. I guess it really boils down to how much you like it and are willing to pay for the technology.
I did check on the taillights and they are NOT LEDs. Sigh. I don't know why I like them so much, but a vehicle this expensive should have them! Especially when the prior model had them and the regular Camry an RAV4 have them, too!
I did find a Hybrid Limited with everything but Nav and RES, just like I want, in a color that I like, the Iced Amethyst Mica, at another dealership and am taking a serious look at it. It was already sold, but the folks changed their mind and went with the base model Hybrid due to the pricing.
#3804 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [cdptrap]
Nov 01, 2007 (9:16 am)
I'm pretty sure both the hybrid and standard HL have VSC/Trac systems, now referred to as VDIM. Both most certainly have a DBW throttle control system.
The only difference that I am aware of is that the HH has electric power stearing which will be used by VDIM to actively RESIST the driver turning the stearing wheel in a direction that would exacerbate an over or understearing condition.
#3805 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [wwest]
Nov 01, 2007 (10:00 am)
I have not been keeping up with latest changes, too busy working hard .
Last I looked in 2006, there was a marked difference between VSC/Trac and VDIM.
VSC/Trac is loosely defined as a "passive" safety system that activates only when events are in progress. Tires have lost traction, or vehicle is already leaning past certain safe points.
VDIM is loosely defined as a "predictive" system above 25-MPH. It calculates and anticipates vehicle dynamics and acts to counter problems "before" they occur. At or below 25-MPH, it reverts back to normal VSC/Trac.
I do not believe a normal VSC/Trac system will slow down automatically as it begins a turn at highway speed, as ours did, and then automatically picks up speed again as it exits the turn. All the while, I just work the steering and leave the speed in CRUISE. The car automatically did exactly what I would do with my foot negotiating that turn.
Again, my info is at least one year old now, so the 2007 ICE version may already have VDIM type system. The Toyota site will certainly point that out.
#3806 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [cdptrap]
Nov 01, 2007 (5:18 pm)
Even with VSC/Trac in my '01 AWD RX300 if I try to accelerate, virtually floor it, into a tight turn the engine torque goes to zero almost instantly and then I have to release the gas pedal and then re-apply to "go".
The importance, value, in VSC/trac or VDIM is reactive in the case of sudden loss of traction due to a quick, unexpected/unforeseen, change in roadbed adhesion, wet, black ice, etc.
I find myself more than satisfactory for the "predictive" stuff.
#3807 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [cdptrap]
Nov 01, 2007 (5:22 pm)
Would you mind informing us as to just what "predictive" functions the VDIM system might have over and above those of my VSC/trac system?
#3808 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [wwest]
Nov 01, 2007 (7:09 pm)
In the VDIM system when the VSC yaw sensors determine that the vehicle is off the directed course given to it by the driver the VDIM resists the driver's ability to turn in the 'wrong' direction and exacerbate the skid.
It could be said that the VDIM 'predicts' that certain drivers will panic and turn right when the the back end is whipping around to the left. This is the coupling of the EPS to the VSC/TRAC.
#3809 of 4026 Re: Don't Forget VDIIM when Comparing [wwest]
Nov 01, 2007 (9:46 pm)
I will share experience first and then use Khdspyder's info to guess at what may be happening.
We frequently travel HWY 129 from 101 to Watsonville on the coast of Central CA. There are many curves and the one I am describing is a sneaky sharp climbing curve just under a railway bridge. This is so people familiar with that HWY know precisely what I am describing.
The HH, set to CRUISE at 55 MPH, upon sensing my steering to the LEFT (south) as it enters the curve, reduces speed smoothly to 50-51 MPH, makes the climb, lets me turn back RIGHT (west) and smoothly accelerates to preset CRUISE speed. I do not have to work the brakes, nor work the accelerator, nor touch the CRUISE controls. I only have to steer. There was no funny feeling in the steering either. The whole experience was smooth as silk, not too slow, not too fast, no sense of excessive loss of speed, the car just simply "zip" through that curve automatically at perfect speed. I definitely am NOT suggesting any HH owner try this deliberately at high speed but that was what happened.
Can a VSC/TRAC system do that? I do not know. Is it unique to VDIM? Given what khdspyder says, I think it is.
I understand how VSC works and how TRAC works, but they normally put on brakes and cut power to maintain course. I did not know that they can also reduce and resume speed as I have described. I also did not know that they can act before anything happens. I definitely can be totally wrong on this, do feel free to correct.
As Khdspyder wrote, I think this VDIM thing can easily calculate several vectors based on speed, steering angle and yaw and whatever other sensors it may have. If it detects possible onset a VSC event, before it happens, it can proact by dropping speed if that is necessary or apply brakes or manage steering or all three in some combination.
May be "predictive" is too strong a word, may be "anticipate within limits" is more appropriate?
Anyway, not sure it is worth hashing over the merit of having or not having such a system. I lived without it for 40 years, including years in Michigan's snow storms, never crashed once yet; knock on wood. I was just pointing out to those researching the car that when comparing the gas engine version to the HH version, look into VDIM because it does add some to the cost.
Still, $47K for the '08 version? With moderate changes only? No towing power increase, no significant mileage increase and no emission rating increase? Ouch! That's getting expensive. Must be our weak dollars.
OK, got to run. Have a good year y'all, we are off to Michigan in our HH! We are going to hit Reno, Salt Lake, Jackson, Laramie, may be a side trip to the Dakotas, then make a beeline for Flint and then upper Peninsula. Looking for a nice snowy white Christmas!
An early happy holidays to you all!
#3810 of 4026 Adaptive cruise control
Nov 02, 2007 (5:24 am)
Probably the major reason I did not purchase a Lexus 400h hybrid a couple of years ago was the fact that it did not have adaptive cruise control, even though the "regular" Lexus 350 did. Which I thought was somewhat strange because I would think the ability to automatically (and smoothly) slowdown and speed up in stop-and-go and rush-and-slow traffic would increase fuel economy.
Can I get adaptive cruise control with the new 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?