Toyota and Lexus have long-standing reputations for reliability. But that’s only one feature many consumers look for in an SUV. If you’re considering a hybrid crossover, take a look at the Toyota Highlander. This midsize SUV gets better gas mileage than even its smaller Lexus NX Hybrid cousin.
However, both 2021 models appear on a new list of the 16 small SUVs with the best gas mileage. Let’s take a look.
Where the Toyota Highlander and Lexus NX hybrids land on the list
For its “16 Small SUVs With the Best Gas Mileage for 2021” roundup, U.S. News‘ places the Lexus NX in the 11th spot for its overall score of 7.3 out of 10. Reviewers like its spacious seating and peppy acceleration, along with its long list of standard safety and tech features.
As for fuel economy, the Lexus NX offers pretty good gas mileage. In city driving, it gets about 33 mpg. On the highway, it gets a little less, around 30 mpg. For a $40,000 luxury SUV, you can’t really go wrong.
But the Toyota Highlander Hybrid fares a bit better on U.S. News’ list. It lands in ninth place with an overall score of 8 out of 10. Reviewers love its high-quality interior, smooth ride, and numerous standard tech and safety features.
The Highlander also edges out the NX in fuel economy. When driving in the city, you can expect to get around 36 mpg. And cruising on the highway, you’ll get 35 mpg.
What makes the Toyota Highlander better than its little cousin?
Despite its luxury branding, the Lexus NX can’t compare to the Toyota Highlander in a few areas. One is the aforementioned fuel economy.
In addition to the front-wheel-drive model’s great gas mileage, the all-wheel-drive option gets 35 mpg in the city and on the highway. Though AWD tends to lower EPA ratings, it surprisingly doesn’t dip much with the Highlander Hybrid.
Plus, the Toyota offers seating for up to seven or eight passengers. On the other hand, the smaller Lexus NX can carry only five people. The Highlander is also heavier than the NX, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see the larger SUV still gets great gas mileage.
Also, both vehicles have the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor. The difference, though, is the NX comes with three electric motors and can produce only 194 hp. The Highlander comes with two electric motors and gets 243 hp.
So, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is more powerful yet gets great gas mileage. The last thing that makes this crossover stand out is its price. For about $38,400 to start, the Highlander is inexpensive compared to the Lexus NX, which costs about $1,600 more.
What else does the Highlander offer?
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid also boasts an intuitive infotainment system with physical and touch controls. According to U.S. News, the Highlander’s eight-inch display has sharp graphics, and Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa come standard.
It also has Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, several USB ports, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. And you’ll get a tri-zone automatic climate control system and proximity keyless entry. Available options include a 12.3-inch display, an 11-speaker JBL audio system, and ambient lighting.
The Highlander comes with plenty of advanced safety features too. They include lane departure warnings, lane-tracing assist, pedestrian detection, a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision warning. And you can upgrade for other driver aids such as parallel parking assist, road sign assist, a head-up display, 360-degree parking camera system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Both the Lexus NX Hybrid and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid offer great fuel-efficiency. Sure, the long-lasting Highlander Hybrid isn’t a luxury SUV, but it can brag that it has better gas mileage than its little cousin.