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Even though Hurricane Ian was six months ago, many reminders linger of the devastation. Southwest Florida is slowly recovering, but many residents are still replacing items lost in the storm. Cars, trucks, and SUVs have been hard to find after so many were destroyed. One of those items is a million-mile Toyota Highlander that belonged to Bonita Springs resident Mark Miller. While the well-loved Toyota sport utility vehicle didn’t survive the storm, this story has a happy ending.

This Million-Mile Toyota Highlander was a 2006 Hybrid version

Mark Miller with his million-mile Toyota Highlander and its replacement
Mark Miller with his million-mile Toyota Highlander and its replacement | JM Family Enterprises

According to JM Family Enterprises, Miller was quite familiar with his 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid after 17 years together. Even though he lives in Bonita Springs, Miller spent much of his time driving across Alligator Alley for work. He owns and operates a company out of Fort Lauderdale, which requires frequent visits across the state. Mark would drive to Fort Lauderdale in his Highlander Hybrid five times a week throughout the last 20 years.

Purchasing the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was a strategic move for fuel economy, knowing he would regularly make that cross-state journey. “I heard about the Highlander coming out and got on the waitlist. I think I got one of the first ones that came off the assembly line and made its way to Florida,” Miller said.

He drove around 1,250 miles weekly in that Highlander, visiting Germain Toyota of Naples for repairs and upkeep. Over the years, Miller became friends with Toyota technician Frank Brice. “Well, never having had a new car, I wanted to go to a dealership where they do it right,” he said.

Germain Toyota of Naples kept the million-mile Toyota Highlander in good shape

Mark Miller with his million-mile Toyota Highlander replacement
Mark Miller with his million-mile Toyota Highlander replacement | JM Family Enterprises

In order to keep the Highlander Hybrid running its best, Germain Toyota of Naples was responsible for all of the maintenance and upkeep over the years. “When the vehicle would come in, we always knew whose it was. It was never just the Highlander—it was Mr. Miller’s Highlander,” technician Erik Torres said.

Toyota even replaced the odometer once it hit 1,000,000 miles to keep the count going. It made it past 1,060,000 miles, and the million-mile Toyota Highlander was still going strong when Hurricane Ian rolled through. Like many vehicles in Bonita Springs and Southwest Florida, the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was no match for the storm.

At that point, Miller figured his 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was among the first to reach a million miles. He reached out to Toyota’s Brand Engagement Center to see if the subject was of interest. Daniel Nichols took the call and led the charge for replacing the million-mile Toyota Highlander with a brand-new 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition.

You can find Mr. Miller in his new 2023 Highlander

Toyota Motor North America, Southeast Toyota Distributors, and Germain Toyota of Naples surprised Miller with his new Highlander Hybrid. Rick Germain, president of Germain Automotive Group, handed over the keys almost six months to the day after Hurricane Ian rocked the west coast of Florida.

“The fact that you rode your Toyota for over 16 years put over one million miles on it, and allowed us to be a part of keeping that vehicle going for you, in my mind, probably makes you the most loyal customer that we’ve ever had,” Germain commented. How did Miller feel about it? “This is tremendous. My heart is just all over the place. I’m overwhelmed. This is just an incredible thing.”

This million-mile Toyota Highlander story has a happy ending, and Mark Miller has a brand-new 2023 Highlander hybrid SUV to do it all over again in. Toyota’s tagline, “Let’s go places,” really rings true here.


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