Last post on Jul 02, 2011 at 10:50 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid
What is this discussion about?
Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Hybrid Cars, Car Buying, SUV
#25 of 165 Road Trip Report w/ Info for OWners
Aug 11, 2005 (10:24 pm)
May be there needs to be an owner's forum so owners can share info. Or posters can identify if they are owners so readers can decide how to weigh a poster's information.
While everyone here tries to voice meaningful views, only owners have in depth usage experience with the car. 1 news article, good or bad, about the car written by a reporter is somewhat meaningless. A bunch of information from a host of owners provide a better picture of what is good and bad about the car.
And yes, we got our for $1000 below MSRP with no add-on's.
We just completed a 1550-mile trip in our new HH Ltd 4WDi into OR from San Jose, CA. Here is a list of good and bad quirks we found:
For new owners:
1. The Integrity tires are not very good for rocky dirt tracks. We lost a tire to sidewall rupture most likely by sharp rocks. Consider using Wrangler SilentArmor if you plan to take this car down rocky dirt tracks.
2. With careful driving, the car easily takes on flat or steep dirt tracks and trails with aplomb. Ruts, holes, wet spots posed no challenge.
3. Lacking a low-gear ratio, we will not take it on REAL off-road trips or into sand because that is clearly beyond the capability of this car. But the instant torque at low speed acted as a kind of low gear ratio to help get the car moving up steep dirt road/tracks at slow speed and in and out of holes without shooting out of control. It is very very impressive for a car that Toyota clearly states is "not" meant for off-road use. Please do not try this unless you have done it before in a 4x4.
4. Tire changing had a few surprises. First, we found a cargo cover that comes with the car in the tools compartment under the trunk carpet area, a pleasant surprise. It must be removed to access the tools. The tools are nicely organized and laid out in a flat tray making the tire changing process a snap. We changed the cut tire in 15 minutes.
5. The full size spare is not just a lower grade full size tire mounted onto a non-descript spare wheel. The spare is also a Goodyear Integrity and the wheel is a MATCHING wheel that matches the other wheels. A nice touch.
6. Roof rack weight specification is 165 lbs maximum total. We could not find this in the manual and got it off Yakima's spec. Be sure to move front rack crossbar all the way forward to support your cargo box. At HWY speed, the Yakima flexes enough to tap the moonroof on occassions until we moved the front crossmember all the way forward to solve this problem.
7. Moonroof switch has a strange "close" position where if we hold the button in "close" too long, it changes to "lift" to lift open the back edge of the moonroof. So we had to learn when the moonroof is properly closed and when it is actually in the "open" position. If you hear road noise coming in t hrough the moonroof, then it is not closed correctly. The moonroof is silent when closed properly.
8. The "B" (Engine Brake) is not very effective beyond 65-MPH. At 65-MPH, it easily holds or slow the car depending on grade. On many 6% grade, it works beautifully allowing us to drive the car through curves at HWY speed or slower without brakes. At speed over 65-MPH, it does not do much to slow the car.
9. Be careful when the car is on "Cruise Control" traveling uphill. Even on steep grade, it will take off when drive system senses it needs more power to maintain speed on the climb. This can be fun but it can also be dangerous because you can plow into a slowing V8 Chevy in a blink. We are used to our V8 ICE car slowing on climbs so to feel this car literally "sink" us into the seat back and "takes off" (like a jet) uphill is actually a bit scary. So for now, we no longer keep it in cruise control when going uphill in traffic.
For general readers:
1. Car fit and finish is top notch. We found nothing loose, bad or anything that is subpar. The 1 news article about Toyota Highlander Hybrid quality is just "sensational" news garbage. Are *all* HH like that? or is it 1 bad apple in a tub of 3000+? Readers need to put on "critical thinking" cap when reading any news articel anyway.
2. Our trip took us through mountain passes ranging from 1500-ft to 3000+ ft at HWY speed. No sweat.
3. Our mileage, with normal safe driving techniques averaged 25.6 MPG mixed at end of trip. I would say we logged about 80% flat and mountainous HWY miles (65-80MPH), 15% flat and hilly country roads (45-55MPH), 5% flat and steep mixed dirt tracks (5-20MPH).
4. Steering is not sports car precise but responsive and tight. It goes where you point it so it is very maneuvarable for a SUV. Car is absolutely stable and solid on curves and turns with proper driving caution of course.
5. For comparison, we easily matched a (not 2006) Mercedes ML 350 SUV in the mountains turn for turn and climb for climb. We trailed it just to keep up with traffic, no hanky panky stupid driving stuff. We passed countless V8 Chevy's, Ford's, Tundra's, Nissan's new truck on mountain roads not just because of power but also because of suprior handling. These trucks may have the power but sloppy handling makes them drift all over a lane going through curves in the moutains while the HH makes a precise track.
6. Instant torque means accelerating to pass is almost instantaneous and sports car like. On 2 occassions, we had to quickly get away from smaller cars racing each other and doing stupid weave-and-pass maneuvers. In both cases, if we had slowed down, the foolish drivers would surely have squeezed between us and a truck in front while they chased each other. So we quickly passed the trucks and found an empty stretch to slow down and let those fools pass us cleanly. It is nice to be able to put some safe distance between us and them in a blink of an eye. None of our previous cars including a late 70's turbo-charged Mustang could have moved so fast.
Forget about all the debates about saving gas and so on. If you really want to save gas above all else, buy a Prius or some Honda Hybrids. If you need a larger people mover SUV with better than V8 performance, top notch handling for SUV's, top quality fit and finish, that is cheaper than Mercedes yet more reliable (according to CU), and in the process, you want it to get decent mileage, consider the HH.
#26 of 165 Re: Road Trip Report w/ Info for OWners [discussion1]
Aug 11, 2005 (10:38 pm)
To make sure there is no confusion:
When I said the car takes off on a climb when in "Cruise Control", the car is NOT accelerating beyond set speed. It simply boosts power to maintain the set speed. But unlike ICE cars, the boost is instant with absolutely no lag. So if there is a car in front that is slowing even just slightly because of a steep climb, we will very quickly run right up to it.
With this car, it is best to observe the 3-second rule and be careful how hard you tap the accelerator.
#27 of 165 Wt of Car Re: Road Trip Report w/ Info for OWners [discussion1]
Aug 11, 2005 (10:51 pm)
On this trip, our car was loaded with close to 896-lbs. of items. 126 lbs in the Yakima, 520 lbs 4 people (I am a stocky 6 footer), the rest is luggage stuffed into the trunk.
Temperature during the trip averaged 102-F and we had A/C set on auto inside all the time.
#28 of 165 Re: Road Trip Report w/ Info for OWners [discussion1]
Aug 12, 2005 (4:32 am)
RE: #7 Moonroof. Your moonroof needs to be normalized. This has been an
ongoing concern for over two years on the Highlander forum. Dealers--for some reason never seem to do this correctly before turning the vehicle over to the customer.
This procedure should be in your manual. The instructions are not too clear, but stay with it and you find the moonroof will work the way it was designed to after the normalization process.
#29 of 165 Re: Road Trip Report w/ Info for OWners [bdyment]
Aug 14, 2005 (7:19 am)
Thanks Bdyment! Just now tried it and it worked. I should have read the manual at first sign of trouble.
#30 of 165 new to this List - mileage stuff and a question
Aug 13, 2005 (5:43 am)
Hi. I bought a HH Limited 2 Wheel Drive in June. I was out of town, visiting family, went to Toyota dealership to buy a Prius (our local dealer had incredibly long waiting lists) and discovered I didn't fit behind the wheel (I'm very short). Then discovered the Highlander on the Lot and drove it home to the Florida Panhandle! I had no intention of buying an SUV but I wanted the hybrid technology. I didn't want 4 wheel drive as I would never go off-road, snow and ice are not a consideration (I live in Florida after all) and I was told it didn't get as good mileage.
So I've had the car since June 20th and I can only say that l love it. I traded in a 2001 Acura CL and I was afraid I'd lose some of the spunk and handling of my Acura but I am very pleased with the HH. I also confess that, being so short, I like sitting up higher in the SUV. My visibility in the Acura was a real problem, mostly because everyone else around me was driving pick-ups, vans and SUVs. Often pulling out of parking spaces was a visual nightmare - literally backing out blind.
Other than the 500 mile trip home right after I bought the car it's been pretty much in-town driving. We averaged about 26 to 27 mpg on that first tank of gas. The car salesman told us not to use cruise control and to vary the speed a lot on the maiden vogage, so to speak, as we were breaking in the car. The mileage at first did not do that
good around town here and I discovered a reference here to "pulse and glide" and I Googled that and came up with very specific instructions on how to drive that way.
My mileage increased immediately. I am still getting the hang of it and you can't always use it (especially if there are cars behind you - it will probably make them nuts if you vary your speed).
I paid full MSRP for the car which was fully loaded with everything but they also gave me the same trade-in on the Acura as the local Acura dealer had offered me. And here's my question: my Acura ran on the most expensive gas - high performance engine and all that - but the Toyota people told me that I could run on regular. Is that what other hybrid owners are using? We also have a '93 Toyota pick-up truck as a third vehicle and it knocks and pings on regular and we have to use the middle gas, unfortunately.
I've been enjoying reading the discussions here. I sort of bought the car first and researched it later - kind of a dumb and expensive thing to do but I am just crazy about it. I find that when people find out it's a hybrid (I wish it screamed it in big letters across the back instead of that tiny tag) I get a lot of questions. The average person is pretty clueless as to how they work and some even think you have to plug it in at night. . .
#31 of 165 Re: new to this List - mileage stuff and a question [mmreid]
Aug 13, 2005 (7:34 am)
Have a 2WD HH base with about 700 miles (26 mpg first tank, 25 second in mixed driving in hot Philly area with too many 5 minute commutes due to the heat), have driven in mixed area including some hilly parts since we bought the vehicle. The manual says something about using premium to enhance performance but regular is fine. Forget the enhanced performance part and go with the regular. The vehicle has run just fine on it, never evidenced any problems that premium in other vehicles designed for regular might solve (knocks, pings, hesitation), especially since the electric motor kicks in if you hard accelerate - the performance is everything the salesman gushed about (he drives a Prius) but not why we bought the vehicle.
Aside on the fit and finish article from Detroit - I just had to look real close to see what it was talking about and see nothing but first class fit. The vehicle is amazingly quiet, as tight as the Corolla we traded in and much much quieter than either Ford van I drove previously, and on roads around here - which includes cobblestone city streets - quieter and smoother than a colleague's Acura SUV. I was out on roads that were under construction and also we drive on a farm once a week and it's absolutely solid. If the comments in the article were truly from a Toyota employee they need some reorientation from Toyota.
Yeah, it's expensive but even that's a relative thing. When you compare similarly equipped Highlanders or other makes - add in safety features that to me are priceless and not always available plus some of the other items you may or may not want on any package vehicle - the differential lessens. Toyota is also taking a significant gamble in investing in R&D on something that might or might not give them a return, and since we believe that we need to be developing vehicles that consider better mileage and safety features than comparables on the market, our purchase encourages that development. Like any investment, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In this case we're really enjoying the ride! - John
#32 of 165 100 Mile Impressions
Aug 22, 2005 (6:05 am)
Here are my impressions after only 100 miles (essentially 6 drives of about 20 miles each).
1. The mileage is crawling up from 18MPG on the first few miles to 22MPG now. We're still within break-in, so I don't expect much yet. The gas gauge shows less than 1/4 tank gone.
2. Where did they get the database for the Nav system? My street (which has existed for 10 years) is missing.
3. I seem to be getting a slight surge when the ICE shuts off. It does produce slight acceleration, and the battery to front wheels arrow flash on and off on the diagram on the Nav. This is usually during coasting or braking so it's not likely to cause an accident, but it seems like a software bug.
4. I'm getting some non-linear power production when driving at a constant speed over a fairly level surface. It's probably break-in of the transmission.
5. The seats are harder than I remember from my American cars, but no less comfortable. Interesting.
6. VERY easy to drive. It has all of the power of my Jeep, with 2/3 to 1/2 of the fuel consumption. Aside from the "put all of the controls on a stick on the steering column" confusion, it was easy to figure out where the controls are.
So far, I'm happy.
#33 of 165 Re: 100 Mile Impressions [markrsmith83]
Aug 28, 2005 (1:31 pm)
> 2. Where did they get the database for the Nav system? My street (which has existed for 10 years) is missing.
Did you try searching for your street without any prefix or suffxes? I've noticed some streets are there but are wrongly marked as ST, DR or RD when they should be something else. So, for example if your street is West Somewhere Drive, try just entering "Somewhere". Also, make sure your region (Search Area) is set correctly. Go to DEST and doublecheck the search area. If your search area is set to a wrong region, it will not find streets outside that region.
#34 of 165 Re: 100 Mile Impressions [mdchachi]
Aug 29, 2005 (7:17 am)
Re: missing street.
It's not even on the map. You can still see the stubs of the feeder streets from before the neighborhood was built. The first house closed in 1995, the last house closed in late 1996 or early 1997.