2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
If you want a secure piece of mobile real estate, this should be your SUV choice
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
To compensate for the discontinuance of the Land Cruiser in 2022, Toyota offers a pair of three row SUVs that help fill the role of the legendary Land Cruiser. One is the Sequoia, with a wheelbase of 122 inches and a thirsty V8 under the hood. The price range for this model starts at $50,000 and runs all the way to $70,000. A less expensive option is the Highlander, with a wheelbase of 112 inches, and a choice of two distinctly different drive trains. Standard gas motor is a 3.5 liter V6 tied to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. This combination produces 295hp and 263lb.-ft. of torque. The Hybrid Highlander we tested was powered by a 2.5 liter inline-4 making 186hp and 175lb.-ft. of torque. Toyota augments this combustion engine with a bevy of electric motors which up output to 243hp. An electrically controlled constant velocity transmission (ECVT) handled shifting duties for the all-wheel-drive Hybrid we tested.
With a curb weight of 4,615lbs, and a power-to-weight ratio of 18.9lbs/hp, the Hybrid has a tough time matching the V6's P/W ratio of 15.2lbs/hp. The difference shows clearly in acceleration times. The V6 sprints from 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds versus 7.3 seconds for the Hybrid. T he V6 completes the standing start quarter mile in 15.3 seconds at 93mph, while the Hybrid takes 16 seconds to run the quarter at 87mph. So why would you want to pay a premium for the heavier, more complex Hybrid when you can enjoy better performance from the V6? That answer can be found in the fuel mileage difference. The V6 posts significantly worse mileage, with an EPA rating of 23MPG City/20MPG Highway versus the Hybrid's 35MPG City/34MPG Highway. So the initial Hybrid markup eventually earns its way back into your bank account - provided you're willing to accept less potent performance in return for less expensive travel costs.
The Platinum version of the Highlander sits atop a steep pyramid of equipment levels. The cheapest Hybrid you can buy is the LE version which retails for $38,855. From there costs spiral up with the XLE at $41,855, the Limited at $45,810, and the Platinum Hybrid we tested with a base price of $50,960. We received this SUV with just 133 miles showing on the odometer. Considering that it had never even run through a full tank of gas, you might expect to encounter some build issues, front tire shimmy, or non-functional switch operation. Nothing of the kind surfaced in our week with this SUV, earning it a gold star from JD Power's Initial Quality Survey. It performed flawlessly, handled with surprising agility, and generally left us with a welcome feeling of invulnerability thanks to its size, solidity and utter practicality. If you want to own a secure piece of mobile real estate, this Toyota should be your SUV of choice.
The Platinum version comes with an extensive portfolio of advantages that make its selection a sound idea. Start with a set of 20x8J alloy rims which are shod with long lasting (TW 500) Goodyear Eagle Touring radials (235/55R20) that provide a firm footprint for this sizeable 7-passenger family bus. Platinum level also brings a JBL premium audio package plus dynamic navigation. The system operates through a 12.3 inch touchscreen that is easy to use, even while driving. Platinum level also includes a 10 inch color head-up display which you will not see if you wear polarized glasses. Other package inclusions are a bird's eye view camera, five USB ports, two 120V outlets, and a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat with memory. Our favorite part of the Platinum package proved to be the incredibly bright LED headlights with adaptive front lighting. On high beam, these beauties turned night into day, even around sharp corners.
The Hybrid Highlander has a lot going for it. It's a practical and affordable SUV, even in top trim level. It provides excellent visibility in all directions, provided you flatten the third row benches and fold the aft headrests. With 41 cubic feet of interior space on offer with all rear seats folded, you won't encounter much the Highlander fails to accommodate. In fact, we were able to leave one second row seat erect, and still have room to carry a full size bicycle inside the cabin. We also loved the ease with which interior transformations could be performed without resorting to owner's manual instructions. Anyone who has tried to accomplish the same goal with the Land Cruiser will know how annoying and complex those procedures could become. The Highlander is a vast improvement over the legendary Land Cruiser in that regard, and many others as well.
2022 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD
ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline-4 DOHC, 16 Valve plus 3 permanent magnet synchronous AC Motors
HORSEPOWER: 243hp Combined Output
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 35MPG City/34MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $52,493
HYPES: Fast Enough, Practical Layout, Sturdy Build
GRIPES: Rather Subdued Interior
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10