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New Toyota Highlander Hybrid Owners - Give Us Your Report



  • Buyers Beware?

    I have reached 100,000 (all highway miles as I have homes in Fl and NY)miles and recently had dealer replace the timing belt, spark plugs, front brakes and rotors, gas motor starter battery, and while there they told me tha transaxle is making a sound indication replacement is necessary: Cost $6,100.00. In addition I am told that the main battery pack ($3,500.0) will most likely need replacing soon. All my oil changes have been on time and all factory service work done at the dealers.
    My vehicle has the factory tow package and I have towed my 16 foot boat a total of approx 1200 miles (total weight boat & trailor is less than 1500 lbs)
    I was never told this vehicle has a practical life expectancy of 100,000 miles and I drove 2 Honda Hybrids in excess of 150,00 miles with none of these expensive repairs.
    Looks like this will be my last Toyota vehicle.
  • 89fj6289fj62 Posts: 20
    I appreciate your input and feel the same way you do. My situation is different. I expect to take 20 years to get to the 100,000 mile mark. My previous vehicle was a Land Cruiser almost 21 years old. It ran great but was rusted out terribly. If my 2009 Highlander doesn't hold up or is expensive to maintain I will follow Consumer's Report ratings for cheaper cars and plan on a 10 year replacement period. Consumer's Report rated the Highlander very good.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    "In addition I am told that the main battery pack ($3,500.0) will most likely need replacing soon."

    They are alluding to the 100k warranty on the hybrid components, that does not mean it needs replacement. They are trying to sell you repairs. Tests by Toyota on Prius battery packs show they are fine at 180k.

    I think the same may be true in regard to the rear transaxle, but it is too late for you to get a second opinion (did they offer you the old parts back?)

    If all of your driving was on the highway, there should have been no reason to replace the front rotors. Since this car uses regenerative braking, there is far less wear on the brakes. The pads may have needed to be changed, but the rotors should have been fine.

    Try another dealer for future repairs.
  • myrafmyraf Posts: 32
    i have the same transaxle problem ,i think the cooling pump system is the problem,doesn't cool the transaxle which inturn over-heats it and burns out the other hybrid components
  • We have had our new limited HH for a couple of weeks now. The ride seems solid. It does OK in the snow but I was expecting it to be better. The car has a tendency to slide in the snow. Getting in to the car is great as the doors open very wide to allow entry. There have been a couple of times that the driver's door did not unlock when I approached the car with the key in my coat pocket. We live in the Midwest so we are experiencing cold weather right now. The car takes a long time to warm up. The rear window defrost does not seem to work very well. I don't like the back window wash coming out onto one side of the window instead of in the middle. The average mpg has been 22.4. Not what I was expecting for the HH. Right now I am extremely frustrated with the fact that we spent more money to buy this car over buying the regular Highlander. We were told that people were getting 28 if not 30 or more mpg with the HH. I imagine that the only time you get that kind of mileage is when you have no radio on, no heat or air on, you are driving on a flat road, and the temperature is moderate. And I don't feel that we should wait until the car has 15,000 miles on it before we experience the higher mpg. Not happy...
  • You are pretty much correct. We have a 2007 HH and get mediocre mpg. The car is not worth the extra cost over a non hybrid version or any other similar non hybrid car. We also have a 2004 Prius which normally gets 40-45 mpg and 45-50 mpg if we slow down on the freeways. That is a smaller car, with less road clearance. With snow tires, handles almost as well in the snow as the HH.
    The two problems I have with the Prius are 1. on LONG, STEEP, STRAIGHT high altitude climbs, the battery boost is gone in 3-5 minutes and you have to get over the rest of the pass much slower than normal. 2. There is a problem with the gas tank bladder so that when it's cold and you fill the tank, there are not really 12 gallons in the tank even though the gauge show full. Otherwise, the Prius is really worthwhile.
  • 89fj6289fj62 Posts: 20
    You may have better control on snow if you put 4 snow tires on. I consistently get 26 mpg around town since new on my 2009 HH.
  • minivan123minivan123 Posts: 3
    edited March 2011
    Picked up a 2011 HH at a local Toyota dealership in the western suburbs of Chicago. Silver with all black interior. For the 2011 the not-so-elegant looking orange plastic wood trim made way for a better and more realistic looking darker brown trim. After driving a friends' 2010 HH for a week in northwestern Canada last year I was hooked and ordered myself a new 2011. I was also considering a BMW Diesel X5, the Audi Q5 Diesel, and a MB R-series Diesel, but none of them did as good in terms of mpg as the HH, plus, with the extra desirable bells and whistles the competition was $13-22k more. Never considered a Lexus Hybrid. If I wanted a luxe vehicle, I'd stick with the European imports, vs. an overpriced Toyota with a Lexus badge. But that's personal preference.

    I followed and other car website's buying tips, got 3 competing bids from nearby dealers via email, ranging from $500 below MSRP (haha!) to close-at-invoice. Finding an actual 2011 HH at any dealership for sale was more tricky --- I guess they sell fast, plus the dealers wanted to get rid of their 2010 models. A day later, I walked into one dealership with an email from a different dealership, which was offering to me a 2011 HH at a few hundred $$$ above invoice, but didn't actually have it. So, after about 90 min of negotiations, I purchased a fully loaded Limited for essentially invoice price. My HH has the nav, DVD, JBL, bluetooth wireless and Ipod/mp3 player wired hookup, sunroof, upgraded JBL sound (which is very good). The folks at the dealership were friendly and helpful. The initial walk-around and intro to the features of the car by their hybrid expert was very helpful. I did spend about 12 hours on research before buying, and this forum is the best when it comes to information from real-world owners, sharing their good & bad experiences.
    What I didn't know: A cargo lid/trunk cover is NOT included, even in the Limited trim, and if I'd buy one, it would have been $480+tax. No thank you. Also got my floor liner from Weathertec, pricey but very good in the winter here.
    The keyless entry/ignition is fun, you don't need to ever take out your key to open, start, or lock the car.
    Now, with a little over 2200 miles on the odo, I am reporting high satisfaction. I love the quiet ride. The 4-wheel drive was performing perfectly in our often bad weather, even allowing me to drive to work during the Chicago Blizzard (yes, the one where the pic of Lakeshore Dr backed up went all around the world), on the actual day. Fantastic power and pickup. Integration of the bluetooth to my iPhone is great, I'm streaming music and other audio files without ever having to take the phone out of my pocket. When the 3 month Sirius satellite free subscription is over, I'll just stream from iTunes or Pandora, also YouTube works.
    (Sirius has way too many commercials on for me to pay them a subscription fee, and traffic info updates via Sirius to the Navigation system is often delayed, so I personally don't see the point of paying for that)

    Back to the car: 85% suburban driving, anywhere from 25 -50 mph. FE here is 26-29, depending on how easy I take it on the gas pedal. The other 25% on highways, on those I go 60-65 mph and get about 33 mpg. I'm not doing the pulse&glide, find it too annoying for fellow drivers, but gently cruising towards a red light/stop sign nets EV mode after initial warmup of the engine/cat. converter (4-6 min in our cold winter weather, and I'm there). The EV mode is very much dependent on conditions like road inclines, speed, head or tailwind. I find that, at 35 mph on even surface the car spends about 85% in EV mode, really bringing up the bars on the economy meter to 60 mpg. Fun to watch. All screens and functions are well layed out and informative. The nav seems old fashioned in its design (colors, no 3-D map, can't customize your marker), but works well.
    Seating position is excellent. I'm 6'2" and this is like driving in a comfy recliner. 9-way seating adjustments are plenty. Heated seats are great in our cold winters.
    Plastic on dash is a bit on the hard and cheap side, but how many times is it being touched? I'm OK with it.
    The fact that all rear seats can be layed flat on one side and still being able to seat 4 is fantastic. Seats are comfy in all rows. The DVD player hasn't been used much, but you can put the audio on either the wireless head sets that came with the car (2), or output it to the speakers in the car, which makes for awesome sound. Also it's possible to hook up a game system or even VCR if necessary. There is a 110V outlet in the left side of the trunk for these things, or for a plug in cooler etc. Great feature.

    I'd definitely recommend this vehicle to anyone looking for something that gets fantastic gas mileage, seats 7, is very flexible in terms of seating/cargo, and looks great. I've been driving a Honda Odyssey before but wanted a more fuel efficient car. With gas here in Chicagoland being just shy of $4 (if you read this later this year, I think we all look back and feel that that price was a bargain!), I know I made the right choice.
    O yes, and lastly, the HH engine and it's graphic info systems changed my driving habits - I'm swimming with traffic, but have learned to go easy on that accelerator for higher mpg. After spending the first 400-500 miles at 25-26 mpg, I now get 27-30 mpg in mixed driving.
  • Just bought a new Highlander Hybrid. Got 28 mpg on 160 mile drive home in 15 degree temperatures through the Cascade Mountains. Get nearly 30 mph on 50 mile shopping trip to nearest big town. Nice to have a 4WD SUV with that kind of performance as gas prices move toward $4. Everything seems to work great -- I especially like the back up camera (but I need to calibrate it so I can interpret how far I am from objects) and the large knobs on the radio and climate control. My son (who is a strapping wrestler) says there is great room for someone in the second seat. I expected the gasoline motor to come on silently and smoothly when needed -- at very low speeds, the start-up is noticeable but not at highway speeds. Dealer offered an 8 yr, 75k mile manufacturer's extended warranty for $1500. Am trying to decide if this is wise insurance or not. Would appreciate any advice from others on expected repair costs after the original warranty (3 yr or 36k miles) expires.
  • 89fj6289fj62 Posts: 20
    Extended warranties are a personal decision. If you buy a vehicle with good reliability you shouldn't need an extended warranty. If I was buying one I would only buy one backed by Toyota. These can be found by googling Toyota extended warranty. There are a few internet dealers that offer good prices. Your new Highlander Hybrid componets are warranted for 8 years/100,000 miles so it is a pretty good bet that you won't encounter problems before 75,000 miles. These warranties tend to be high profit for the dealers. My 2009 hybrid has been problem free so far. If you do get the warranty make sure you keep all receipts for service should you encounter a problem.
  • dande2dande2 Posts: 3
    Wow! 25-26 mpg in the first 500 miles! I wonder if the reason for the higher mpg is 85% suburban driving versus the 95% highway driving that I do. I believe the reason you are not seeing the cars on the showroom floors is because they are not producing them in large quantities. The car we were able to get is also silver (we had wanted blizzard pearl). We could have waited the 6 months to get the blizzard pearl if we wanted to order it.
  • dande2dande2 Posts: 3
    It is now March and our WI weather is getting warmer. I have about 1700 miles on the car and I am getting close to 26 mpg. I was initially driving with the fog lights on all the time. We have turned these off. The ride of the HH is very quiet and smooth. My previous car was a Honda CR-V and I still feel that the CR-V handled better in the snow. I may have to get snow tires next year.
  • minivan123minivan123 Posts: 3
    edited March 2011
    To dandle2,
    Glad to hear your mileage is getting better. I too noticed that turning off unnecessary powered devices improves mileage. I'm now getting around 30 MPg in mixed driving, but if I have the heater on full blast and highest setting, the EV mode comes on rarely. Ditto for the fog lights.
    I do get some low frequency vibration noise from somewhere in the car for the first 5 min of driving, at light throttle. Goes away once warmed up. Also the disc-operated nav system constantly emits typical disc-reading sounds. Would have been nice to have an HD navigation system.
    I found the EV button is next to useless - works only at very low speeds for a
    short time, if at all. Engine has to be warm, battery nearly full. The auto EV mode however is simply brilliant.

    Still very happy with the vehicle.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    edited April 2011
    Purchased a 2011 base model almost 3 weeks ago. Supplies have been drying up in Chicago, plus dealers within 50 miles only had white or silver in the base model since I started looking months ago. I ended up finding a Predawn Gray a few hours away in Wisconsin for $300 over invoice price. That's over $500 more than Carmax Kenosha had been charging on their white and silver base HH, until they increased their prices by 3k a week before I bought mine. I couldn't find a better deal on any color from a dealer that had one in stock at the time I was buying. I'm only on the first tank still. Computer says 30mpg. Was about 29mpg on the 200 mile trip back from the dealer, but has gone up to just over 30mpg around town. Compared to my Odyssey, the ride is a lot quieter and smoother, though the handling and steering aren't as tight. We will miss the cargo space from the minivan. The third row seat is really cramped for adults and older kids, but works fine for my youngest in a booster seat. Other than that, only minor complaints. Crappy OEM tires. Tedious voice interface for bluetooth setup. Still, nice ride overall. And so far, I've only seen one other on the road and it was silver. Blue, Gray and Crimson have been nearly impossible to find in the area, though black seems to come on limited trim. Nice having something relatively rare, even though I don't care for the new front end treatment all that much.
  • Which dealership in WI did you purchase yours from? There are only 2 hybrids in Madison and the one dealership won't knock any off MSRP. Just curious which one you purchased from. Thanks
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    edited April 2011
    Kolosso Toyota in Appleton. I had the impression that the salesperson was close to some sales threshold at the end of March and that may have helped a bit. Even though they quoted and honored a good price on my trade-in, I'm sure they made good profit on the transaction. Still, less profit than some dealers in my area wanted on white or silver which is all they send to Chicago in base trim. Some dealers around Chicago started raising prices a few weeks ago to MSRP also. It's too bad Carmax Kenosha started gouging. We bought a new Prius and Outback (back when they sold new Subarus) from them and had good experiences there. They had a pretty competitive price under invoice until a few weeks ago. Heck, I was considering buying the silver one for their advertised price of $34,998 (then raised to 38k). The silver one is gone but I still see the white one listed at $750 under MSRP.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    Even though it's been sitting on the lot for months, Carmax Kenosha raised its price again on that white one to almost 39k now, almost MSRP. Based on Buyatoyota and Edmunds inventory searches, I count no more than 4 base models and no limited models within about 75 miles of Chicago. As has been the case, they are mostly white with one silver. I wrote up a more detailed review of my experience here a-highlander-hybrid-review/ .
  • jingyuanjingyuan Posts: 1
    Garmin Vs. top 2010 Highlander Hybrid GPS

    $100 of Garmin works lots better than Toyota’s GPS that come with highlander 2010 model. I’m totally disappointment GPS worthless.
    Here are too many problems I wish I could fix followings
    1. Option to cancel the destination during the trip
    2. Input and cannot do anything when car moving, even passengers could not able to do so
    3. 20% of designations couldn’t able to find, never happen to my Garmin so far
    4. If should update auto by radio or satellite like Garmin does
    5. Local speed limit does not display not like Garmin
    6. Too many steps to setup where you want to go (Spending & wasting too much time to figure out how GPS work! The time you spend to setup GPS, you could be there by now)
    7. Garage opener are too difficult to setup, still couldn’t able to setup properly yet (owned since Feb., 2010 Highlander Hybrid)

    I hope Toyota could get improvement or replace better and friendly GPS before warranty expire
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