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2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Test Drive Review

Families love three-row crossovers and one of the most popular is the Toyota Highlander. All-new for 2020, the Highlander features new tech and comforts you're bound to love. And, with the optional Hybrid powertrain, it's economical too.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is about as all-new as you can call a vehicle these days. Everything from the stereo to the chassis has undergone significant revisions. The result is a Highlander that is more spacious, modern and luxurious than ever before. Pricing starts at $38,200. The model we're looking at is a top-level Platinum with some extra options. As you see it here: $52,512 US-Dollars including destination.

Up front is a gas-powered 2.5-liter four cylinder that puts out 186 horsepower. This works together with three electric motors for a total system output of 243 horsepower. One of these motors is located between the back wheels, which gives the Highlander Hybrid all-wheel drive capability. The only transmission option is a CVT. EPA rates this setup at 34 miles to the gallon on the highway, and 35 in the city.

Cargo capacity is identical to the non-hybrid model: with 16 cubic-feet behind the third row, 48.4 with the third row folded and 84.3 with passenger seats folded flat. Second-row seating is a near-luxury experience, as our test car came complete with captains chairs, USB power, and second-row aircon. Up front, the Highlander continues with the luxury appointments with soft touch leather and a massive center screen. Really, everywhere you look, it's nicely trimmed leather accents.

Power it up and the gauge cluster reveals a multi-function display in the center, giving you all the info you would ever need. All trim levels of the Highlander include Toyota's latest Safety Sense 2.0 system. This gives you collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alerts parking assist and adaptive cruise control with lane centering and lane-departure alerts. Even the headlights are LED with adaptive control.

Exterior view of the Toyota Highlander driving down a highway

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The large 12.3-inch touch screen provides a wealth of camera views. Including a virtual 3D outside view, surround view, as well as reverse with tow and tracking guides. All the extra real-estate on the screen is used smartly, the driver can even reconfigure the various layouts. Plug in to USB, for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support. This does have an EV mode, powered by a Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack. But this is really intended for parking lots, not cruising. Push the throttle more than a bit, and the full system comes online.

On paved roads the Hybrid drives very much like the V6 model. Which is surprising since this new Highlander actually has less power than last year's hybrid. But, even so, there is still plenty of passing power and the brakes feel like normal brakes - high praise for a hybrid system.

For 2020 the Hybrid model includes a Trail button. This shifts more power to the rear electric motor, to give more grip in tricky situations. If a wheel spins, brakes will apply to help re-distribute power to the other wheels. It's an effective system that makes the new Highlander more capable than you might expect.

If you have a growing family, but you don't want to compromise comfort, style and capability, the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid is an excellent three-row crossover option.

Come on in for a test drive of the 2020 Toyota Highlander at your local AutoNation Toyota dealer today.

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.