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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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Tired of the SUV hybrids
By lakingsgeek on 2/7/2007 5:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
Is it just me or are there way too many SUV hybrids being made and not enough smaller, cheaper hybrids. I would love a prius but it would be smarter for me to settle on a less expensive car. I would buy a honda insight if they 1)were still being made and 2) Weren't so damn ugly. Too bad Honda isn't going to redesign that one. I wish Toyota would come up with something similar with all the latest hybrid technology. Anyone know of anything like that planned for the near future?

RE: Tired of the SUV hybrids
By walk2k on 2/7/2007 6:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
The Civic Hybrid is one good option. It doesn't get quite as good mileage as the Insight, but it has 4 seats and look more like a "real" car.

Personally I'm glad more light trucks are getting hybrid drive, they are the ones that really need to get more fuel-efficient. You can already buy 30-35mpg economy sedans/hatchbacks, it's the 15mpg Yukon Expedition Explorer Canyonero's we need to get off the roads.

RE: Tired of the SUV hybrids
By iNGEN on 2/8/2007 3:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
The reason for this is twofold and simple.

1) There is a greater gain (expressed as percentage of consumption) in fuel economy for hybrids the heavier the vehicle. Hybrids just started in little economy cars, because the technology best appealed to that intended market.

2) Despite how sales swing for types of production cars, all of the auto companies forecast the largest amount of sales growth in SUVs over the next several years.

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