Hybrids & Electrics

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Is Surprisingly Luxurious for the Price

If you’re looking for a midsize three-row SUV that’s surprisingly luxurious for the price and gets great fuel economy, take a look at the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The Roadshow team at CNET got a long-term 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and after 1,000 miles they’re happy with its performance and functionality. For the money, they found the Highlander has a lot to offer.

What do they like best about the SUV? What does the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid have to offer for the price?

The Roadshow review

The team really enjoys the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and what it has to offer them. As opposed to being a big, cumbersome three-row behemoth, the Highlander Hybrid is stylish, functional, feature-rich, and efficient. They find it had a great infotainment system for a Toyota as well.

Sure, they like the sporty outer appearance, but they appreciate the surprising luxury of the interior more. With the Platinum model, they have leather upholstery that looks sharp and fits nicely around the very comfortable seats. There’s a center console with a lid that slides back and lots of functional storage spaces for belongings. There’s also a tilting wireless phone charger in the console for convenience.

And the seats aren’t just good at the front. The second-row seats are Captain’s chairs that they find comfortable and easy to adjust, move, and tuck away. Team members are able to use it to move people, heavy cargo, and more. For a three-row SUV that starts at just under $40,000, the Highlander Hybrid offers surprising luxury.

Pros and cons of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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The Roadshow team found more pros than cons with their Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The biggest thing they appreciated was its fuel efficiency. They pointed out that the EPA claimed the Platinum AWD hybrid models, like theirs, would get 35 mpg. The team estimated that they were getting around 34 mpg with their Highlander driven mostly on the highway. 

They love the aggressive outer styling and the opulence of the interior. One team member explains that they haven’t used the third row of seats, much. They’ve enjoyed the interior space without that row to move a rowing machine and to help one team member’s move to Los Angeles.

On the cons side, while they favor the hybrid’s powertrain, they find the gas engine comes to life with an “overall crudeness” and boosts the noise level in the cabin. Team members noted in their journal that they wondered why it was so loud. Also, while the powertrain does get 243 hp, they find that in accelerating on the highway its performance was “kind of pokey.”

The team feels the shifter knob is too big for the shaft it’s mounted on and a little loose. They also note that the tuning and volume knobs have sharp edges that they find strange.

The verdict

With a quality, upscale vibe to the interior and the build quality that Toyota is widely known for, there’s little to complain about with the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Hybrid models are offered in four trim levels and seat up to eight on all levels except for the Platinum models. With the captain’s chairs in the second row, Platinum models seat up to seven. 

The Highlander Hybrid runs on a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Combined with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) it gets a respectable 243 hp.

At the end of the day, the Roadshow team found the Highlander Hybrid to be a great choice for day-to-day driving. Eight hours behind the wheel can be accomplished with few fuel stops and minimal body soreness. The team thinks it’s the type of SUV that they’ll enjoy for a long-term situation.