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Not everyone needs a flashy off-roader; the best SUVs often fly under the radar. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid doesn’t carry much cultural clout compared to SUVs like the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler. With sensible styling and a useful reputation, it’s relatively anonymous in its segment. Even its RAV4 sibling tends to command more attention (and sales). But the 2023 Highlander Hybrid is more than a pedestrian crossover – it’s a compelling, good SUV package that deserves a second look. 

What is special about the Highlander Hybrid?

Silver 2023 Highlander Hybrid with bronze wheels sits in a grey photo space.
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

You won’t find retro styling or off-road capability in the Highlander Hybrid. Instead, Toyota has created an SUV that’s good at everything else. The Highlander has few weaknesses, from road trip comfort to daily commuting safety. It’s an SUV with features people need for real-life stuff. 

1. Hybrid powertrain is well-rounded and effective 

The popped hood of a Highlander Hybrid reveals the gas engine and electric systems of the SUV.
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Powertrain | Toyota

Hybrid technology is finally having its moment in the spotlight, with more vehicles than ever harnessing its advantages. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a perfect example of hybrid performance in action, giving a family-sized SUV fuel efficiency that matches most compact commuters. 

The Highlander Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric motor. 

Despite the SUV’s size, this powertrain combination yields fuel efficiency closer to a Corolla than a 4Runner. According to Kelley Blue Book, Highlander Hybrid drivers can expect to see a combined fuel efficiency in the realm of 35 mpg. 

But the Highlander Hybrid powertrain is far from anemic. In fact, it produces 243 horsepower. That’s more than enough to keep pace with traffic and feel confident at interstate speeds – all while sipping fuel. 

2. It’s more spacious than the RAV4

Front diagonal view of a grey 2023 Highlander Hybrid with headlamps and fog lamps illuminated.
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 is a sales darling for Toyota. But its size has inherent limitations. Compare Highlander Hybrid vs RAV4 and you’ll see that the former is more spacious and flexible.

The Highlander Hybrid is a great place to spend time with second-row passengers. It provides outstanding second-row legroom – even adults will have plenty of space. The second-row bench also tilts and slides to adjust further for comfort. While the third row isn’t as roomy, it expands the total seating capacity to eight passengers. 

Versatile cargo capabilities come standard in the Highlander Hybrid as well. Fold the rear seats down, and you’ll have a maximum capacity of 84.3 cubic feet, according to Kelley Blue Book.   

3. The Highlander Hybrid has a high safety rating 

The new Highlander Hybrid is among the safest SUVs on the market. Kelley Blue Book says the 2023 Highlander Hybrid earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. It’s the top vehicle safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. IIHS conducts dozens of collision and other safety tests to evaluate each new vehicle that hits American roads. The Highlander Hybrid landed with the highest rating available. 

Is the Highlander Hybrid better than the Highlander?

The Highlander and Highlander Hybrid share most of the same features and attributes. However, the performance boost of an electric motor may give an advantage to the Highlander Hybrid. Its fuel efficiency and impressive total range make it great for cross-country road trips or daily commutes. 


1 Potential Drawback to the 2023 Toyota Highlander