In the past few months, I have had the privilege of driving both the 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and its gas-powered counterpart. Both models are the same in almost every way except for their powertrains. And while many buyers will likely gravitate toward the gas version and its stout V6 engine, I am here to tell you the hybrid model is the much more sensible choice in real life.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is obviously more efficient
Let’s get the elephant out of the room first. The reason I recommend the 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid first and foremost is for its stellar fuel efficiency. According to the EPA, the Highlander hybrid is able to achieve up to 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. During the week that I had the 2022 Highlander Hybrid, I achieved an average of 35 mpg in my real-world testing.
That’s a considerable amount for a three-row SUV that has a super spacious and comfortable cabin and can seat up to eight passengers. But fuel efficiency isn’t the only high point, as the Highlander Hybrids collective 243 hp is more than enough for daily driving duties, even at a mile-high elevation. If anything I found that the hybrid powertrain’s extra torque from the electric motor helped a lot when it came to accelerating from a stop and onto the freeway. I was never afraid of not having enough power.
The gas Highlander’s V6 is powerful, but not that efficient
On the flip side of the coin, the 2022 Highlander’s V6 engine isn’t as efficient. The EPA rated the normal Highlander at 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which is a large jump in fuel economy ratings compared to its hybrid stablemate. In my real-world testing, I observed an average of 21 mpg in my combined driving, which is 14 mpg lower than the hybrid.
As for the power, the V6 engine puts out 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque, which is 52 more horsepower than the hybrid. To be honest, it doesn’t feel like that much more power, especially if you’re at a high elevation like I am. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t exactly feel sluggish when going up hills or anything too concerning. However, the power wasn’t that impressive and I felt like the fuel mileage penalty isn’t worth getting the gas-powered model over the hybrid.
Both Highlander trims come well equipped
Regardless of which Toyota Highlander trim you choose, the good news is that you’ll get the same features and interior layouts in either one. The Highlander Premium trim that I recently drove came with second-row captain’s chairs, leather seats with front and rear seat heaters, and a premium JBL sound system. Other notable features included a 10-inch head-up display, a bird’s eye view camera system, and a Driver Easy Speak system that allows the driver to talk to the third-row passengers through the speakers.
No matter which Highlander you choose, you’ll get a premium Toyota driving experience. But if you want the more sensible choice, then go with the hybrid model.