The Seven Seater Toyota Highlander hybrid LTD
By Fatimah Ali
Ever since the first gas/electric hybrid hit the markets back in the 1990's, it's been pretty clear to automakers that American consumers really want to have their cake and to eat it too. The ongoing question for several years after gas/electric configurations first hit the market place was; why can't auto makers build regular looking cars that also feature Green engine technology. We demand cars that are environmentally friendly, spacious and Green all at the same time.
We also want them to be price efficient, but that's not always possible at purchasing. It took an awhile, but Toyota has finally decided to give the boost to those consumers who want to save on gasoline but also want to drive a spacious, loaded SUV that's suitable for large families. Although the Toyota automaker holds the line at price reduction, it does produce quality products and now offers a larger version of its mid-sized, hybrid Sports Utility Vehicle.
Normally, I use a tank and a half of gasoline per week driving back and forth to work and taking the children to school, but with Toyota 's Highlander Hybrid SUV, I had gasoline left over from the full tank it arrived for testing with. That's the beauty of the Highlander Hybrid, it may be a bit more costly on the front end but it really saves money down the road with the full tank of gasoline, which lasts longer. Early model hybrids like the Honda Insight and even Toyota 's early model Prius left drivers happy about getting good gas mileage, but still begging for classier even prettier cars.
The Highlander Hybrid model now seats six additional passengers in the V-6 engine model, which is also available as a four-cylinder engine in a smaller model. At one time, seven-seat SUV's were optional in the Highlander Hybrid, but now seven seats come standard in the six-cylinder model and this of course adds to the costs. But, it's well worth spending the extra dollars if you have a large family. Best yet is the fact that the 2011 third row seating Highlander Hybrid is much more functional and convenient. Instead of the older models, which had the single unit third bench-style seating, this model has a third seat which folds down into the floor and splits 50/50, which allows for more luggage. In the second row of seating, it also offers a removable center console, which makes it more convenient to place more luggage or to recline the captain chairs.
The 3.5 Liter V-6 engine makes 270 HP and 248 pounds-feet of torque. which teams up with a five speed automatic transmission. All Wheel Drive on this model is standard. Downgrade a step to find a four-cylinder engine which makes 187 HP and 186 pounds-feet of torque but this model only offers front wheel drive. Other perks on the LTD model include more storage compartments and cup holders for both front and rear passengers. Another perk includes rear climate control knobs and separate vents for the back seaters.
Although the Hybrid Highlander base price is heftier than some of its competitors like the Chevy Suburban ($41,335); the Buick Enclave ($35,865); and the Dodge Durango ($29,195) The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is well worth its mid – high forties price tag and the LTD model comes fully loaded with perks like All Wheel Drive and has sleeker and more uniform lines. Other SUV competition includes the Ford Flex, the Chevrolet Traverse or the Honda Pilot. The Toyota Hybrid LTD's mileage is about 28 MPG, both for highway and city driving. All for a price of $43,795, fully loaded to seat seven.
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