Unlike dedicated hybrids without a comparable gas-only version, the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid carries its gasoline-electric powertrain in a body that looks just like the conventional Highlander mid-size crossover utility vehicle. It’s a family-friendly hybrid utility vehicle, spacious and well-equipped, though hardly a car for the enthusiastic driver.
It shares the standard Highlander’s pros and cons, with seating for seven at the top of the advantages list. In fact, it’s the sole seven-passenger hybrid vehicle sold in the U.S. today, with a second seat usable even by large adults—though that third-row seat is suitable only for kids. The fold-down middle seat in the second row is also particularly clever, making it much easier for those kids to pass though into the rearmost row.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain is shared with the much fancier Lexus RX 450h. It’s made up of a 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to Toyota’s electronic continuously...
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