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Gas-powered or hybrid, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is outstanding in every form. However, even a heralded vehicle like this model gets overlooked in many ways.

So, what should you look out for when you test-drive the eco-conscious version of the Highlander? Let’s take a deeper dive into this hybrid’s most undervalued attribute.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is anything but boring

A red 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid driving down a road
The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid in action | Toyota

The automotive industry often gets wrapped up in a vehicle’s statistics and features. And while the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid delivers in both departments, many people overlook the vehicle’s best trait.

The Highlander Hybrid is surprisingly nimble – even more so than its gas-powered counterpart.

Consumer Reports’ review of the 2021 Highlander criticized the standard’s model handling. Instead, the publication preferred the driving dynamics of the athletic Mazda CX-9.

However, Consumer Reports assessed that the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was an entirely different beast. It said, “We found the hybrid version to be slightly more agile, whether due to the different tires or less weight over the front end.”

Car enthusiasts know that driving dynamics are everything, especially in a class filled with dull options. A vehicle can check off every box on your wish list. But you’ll be an unhappy camper if it’s ultimately a boring ride.

That’s why the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid stands out as one of the best options in the midsize SUV segment.

Is Toyota’s hybrid midsize SUV actually efficient?

The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors. It also utilizes a continuously variable automatic transmission and a front-wheel-drive system. However, shoppers can add an available all-wheel-drive system for extra traction.

This powertrain delivers on its promise of efficiency. According to the EPA, it earns 36 MPG city/highway combined. Notably, AWD-equipped models get an EPA-estimated 35 MPG combined.

That’s a tremendous gas mileage increase compared to the regular Highlander, which only achieves between 23-24 MPG combined. 

However, the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid does lose a little capability in the process. It only tows a max of 3,500 pounds compared to the standard model’s 5,000-pound rating.

Plus, this hybrid SUV also offers more advantages over its gas-powered counterpart other than fuel economy – such as its longevity.

What else is great about the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

A look at the leather seats inside the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum
The interior of the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum | Toyota

The U.S. News & World Report ranked the Highlander Hybrid as the second-best hybrid/electric SUV of 2021. And it’s not difficult to see why.

Toyota absolutely loaded this three-row SUV with impressive features and high-end materials. It comes standard with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen display compatible with Amazon Alex, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Plus, it has a Wi-Fi hotspot and five USB ports, so your family’s devices can stay connected and charged wherever you roam.

Meanwhile, a tri-zone automatic climate control system, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, and an 11-speaker sound system are available.

Is the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid worth the money?

As you’d expect, it’s not cheap to get behind the wheel of this hybrid. Toyota priced the base trims at an MSRP of $38,510, and fully-loaded models plateau above $50,000.

Some buyers may experience sticker shock, but you often get what you pay for in the world of hybrids. This model delivers elite fuel economy and is very well-equipped. Plus, its nimble handling makes it a hybrid you’ll actually like to drive.
Toyota redesigned the Highlander Hybrid for 2020, but you can save big by purchasing a used 2019 model. You’ll miss out on some tech features and get slightly worse fuel economy, but it’s still one of the best used hybrid SUVs on the market.


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