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The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Stands Out in a Crowded Room

The midsize SUV market is saturated with several high-quality cars, like the Kia Telluride or Honda Passport. However, there are a few models that stand out above the rest, particularly the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. According to Car and Driver’s review, this SUV is just as efficient as the smaller Toyota Prius.

The Toyota Prius also has a stellar reputation of being one of the most efficient and reliable cars on the market. While it’s surprisingly roomy for a sedan, it’s not suitable for large families. Let’s see why Car and Driver recommends the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as one of the best midsize crossovers.

Inside the Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Some midsize SUVs only offer two rows, but the Highlander Hybrid has seating for up to eight passengers. The first two rows are roomy and comfortable, especially with the upgraded upholstery options. The third row is only recommended for small children. However, the Highlander Hybrid does have more cargo space than the average hybrid SUV.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with several standard features, like a Wi-Fi hotspot, driver intercom, and smartphone integration. Car and Driver also liked the large touchscreen available on higher trims. The Highlander also comes with a full suite of safety features included on the base trim.

A unique powertrain option

Only a few other midsize SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer, can have hybrid powertrains. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by two electric motors with a battery pack and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s capable of producing 243 hp and comes paired with a CVT.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can also have AWD on higher trims. Despite having less power than previous models, C/D reported that the latest Highlander Hybrid accelerates just as quickly. Testers also appreciated the nice ride quality of the Highlander Hybrid. Riders won’t be bothered by excessive jolts from road imperfections and the steering wheel has a nice weight to it.

Great gas mileage

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has excellent fuel economy, rated for 35 mpg combined city/highway. During C/D’s test drive, the Highlander only scored 29 mpg combined with AWD equipped. It should be noted that this trip mostly consisted of highway driving, which doesn’t utilize the regenerative-braking system as much.

Despite this, C/D testers were very impressed with just how well the Highlander retains fuel. Testers estimated that the Toyota Highlander Hybrid can drive for 600 miles on just one tank.

Surprisingly affordable

RELATED: The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Is Surprisingly Luxurious for the Price

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at just under $41,000, which isn’t a bad deal for a midsize hybrid. Adding on AWD can cost up to $2,000 extra depending on the trim. C/D’s top-of-the-line Platinum model usually retails for over $51,000, but its fun extras help justify the price.

For comparison, the Ford Explorer Hybrid costs over $52,000. While it already comes with leather upholstery and several tech features, AWD costs extra. It’s also less efficient than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, rated for 28 mpg combined city/highway.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid isn’t perfect

In addition to the cramped rear seat, testers also had some minor gripes about the Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s interior. The center console itself is huge, but its small opening makes it hard to actually use. C/D also felt that the infotainment system doesn’t have the best graphics.

Some drivers might also be disappointed at the Highlander Hybrid’s lower power overall. It can’t tow as much as the gas-operated Highlander, nor does it have as much horsepower. However, as C/D points out, hybrid owners are more concerned with gas mileage than the beefiest engine.