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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - images courtesy Toyota Motor Company
Toyota revamps its Highlander Hybrid, carries over the powertrain

Toyota continues its push for hybrid vehicles with the new 2008 Highlander Hybrid. The new Highlander Hybrid and is based on the new Toyota Camry/Avalon chassis and rides on a wheelbase that is 3" longer. The vehicle is also 3" wider and 4" longer than the previous Highlander Hybrid.

Sadly, the powertrain for the 2008 Highlander Hybrid is a carryover from the previous model. In this case, the old 3.3 liter V6 (which itself is an outgrowth of the even older 3.0 liter corporate V6) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) is still being used to carry the majority of the load on the vehicle. There was speculation that the new 3.5 liter V6 would also be paired with the Synergy hybrid system used on the 2008 Highlander hybrid, but keeping the price down on the model was probably the reasoning for the carryover.

That being said, the Highlander retains its EPA rating of 31MPG/27MPG city/highway despite picking up an additional 500 pounds of heft. The 2008 Highlander Hybrid also offers the option to shut off the gasoline engine completely and run solely on battery power according to AutoblogGreen. The only problem is that the Highlander Hybrid’s NiMH batteries mean that you’ll only be able to travel an astonishing one mile on battery power alone.

GM’s 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line promises to deliver as much as 10 miles of battery-only power thanks to its lithium-ion batteries.

Pricing has not yet been announced for the new 2008 Highlander Hybrid, but expect modest price increases over the 2007 model. The 2007 model retails between $32,490 for a FWD Highlander Hybrid Base to $36,550 for an AWD Highlander Hybrid Limited.

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RE: What is the point?
By Anonymous Freak on 2/7/2007 3:55:58 PM , Rating: 5
Um... What?

The Highlander V6 Hybrid gets 32 MPG city (compared to the 4-cylinder model's 22, and the V6 non-hybrid's 19,) and 27 highway (compared to the 4-cylinder's 28 and the V6 non-hybrid's 25.) So it gets 1 MPG worse on the highway, but you get 270 hp compared to the 4-cylinder's 155 hp. And you get 10 MPG better in the city.

Compare the 4WD models, and the margin widens farther. The hybrid doesn't lose ANY highway mileage with 4WD, while the 4-cylinder drops to 25 MPG. (This is for the 2007 model, they don't have numbers up for the 2008 model yet. But it looks like the 4-cylinder will be going away, and the V6 non-hybrid will be getting a more powerful engine; so the numbers for the 2008 model will likely be even better.)

As for emissions, the hybrid is a SULEV, the non-hybrid isn't. (The hybrid might even qualify as PZEV, I'm not sure.)

Batteries? Recyclable. NiMH are 100% recyclable, and Toyota has committed to recycle every battery that comes back to them for free.

As for single-stroke diesel? WAY more polluting than even this. What WOULD be best is a four-stroke clean-burn diesel to charge the batteries. Single or two-stroke diesels are still very polluting. (Hell, a diesel turbine would be best, but I doubt anyone is going to want what is essentially a jet engine in their car.)

I do agree with the complaint about old Civics and Geos not getting to use the commuter lane alone, though. And not ALL hybrids get to use it. It's only for hybrids that get 45 MPG or more. That means only the Prius, Civic Hybrid, and Insight (the little 2-seater that gets 70 MPG.) ANY vehicle that gets 45 MPG should be able to use the carpool lane alone, or NO vehicle should get to use it alone.

RE: What is the point?
By Andrevas on 2/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: What is the point?
By Brandon Hill on 2/7/2007 6:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, since the new Highlander Hybrid is a 2008 model, it uses the NEW revised EPA methods detailed here:

So the results should be more accurate.

RE: What is the point?
By Shining Arcanine on 2/7/2007 6:12:40 PM , Rating: 2
I do not know about you, but I have a 1995 Toyota Avalon and my Avalon exceeds the EPA fuel economy numbers. Perhaps it is the way that you drive.

RE: What is the point?
By eppenoire on 2/7/2007 7:34:47 PM , Rating: 1
I would be happy to see the Toyota Highlander get 32MPG, however I have three neighbors on my street who have the 2006-7 model and none of them have gotten even close to that. Their vehicles all told them that they were getting around 30, however when I had them use their odometers and the fuel pump, they found they were getting around 21-22MPG. These should get better MPG than the 2006 variant because of the new EPA ratings, but I am not holding my breath. Obviously my sampling isn't statistically significant, however I skimmed a couple of forums and found numerous people and auto magazines noting the same thing.

It is impressive that the 4WD models don't lose any MPG, but very few buyers who get these things will ever need 4WD.

I am curious how the hybrid is classified as a SULEV, when the non-hybrid isn't. Is this due to the engine having a lower total torque load when moving the vehicle, thus reducing the engine's hydrocarbon output at the same speed? Unless I am missing something both vehicles are using the same engine.

I stand corrected on the batteries issue. I have never heard of NiMH batteries being 100% recyclable, but I am sure they are have made advances in recovering the electrolytes and processing the nickle.

I did post in haste. A single stroke would be a beast, however a 4 stroke generator would be a vast improvement on any petro hybrid... especially if we could get Euro Diesel.

RE: What is the point?
By Kuroyama on 2/7/2007 10:22:29 PM , Rating: 2
My Prius gets about 3 mpg less in real mileage than what the car claims. I am surprised the Highlander would overstate things to such a larger degree as you claim. Interesting anyways.

RE: What is the point?
By somerset on 2/8/2007 11:56:44 AM , Rating: 2
still, not much of an improvement

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