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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks

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Comments

  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Canadian Driver put snow tires on a 2006 Highlander Hybrid and drove it in their Traction Test. The following link leads to article.

    http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/pw/traction2006.htm

    Popular Mechanics did an emergency avoidance test and published the video but I cannot find the link anymore. Anyway, the HH handled amazlingly well in the slalom.

    When we researched a new car in 2005, the final choices were indeed the Outback against the HH. My wife wanted the HH and that was that. So far though, no regrets. On plowed road, on 4-6 inch snow, with real snow tires, the HH has been wonderful. I have not encountered iced-over condition as Canadian Driver did so no experience there.

    Note Toyota says to NOT put chains on the HH. if you look under the rear wheel well, at least in the 2006 version, the coil spring has extremely tight clearance with the tire. So chains will not work in the rear tires. We opted for four snow tires in the winter and that has worked very well. There are chains (Sppike SPyder) that attach only to the outside half of the tires but they cost an arm and a leg. We bought a set just in case. Have not really had to use it yet.

    The HH is also competent on dry dirt road conditions *EXCEPT* when conditions warrant a real-life 4x4. I will not repeat our dirt road experience here.

    If you decide to go for the HH, make sure the tires are truck tires or tougher SUV tires. Our 2006 came with cheap Goodyear minivan tires, horribly squishy and soft and even Goodyear rated it as mediocre in snow condition. Couldn't believe Toyota would go so cheap.

    A four season tire worth considering is the Nokian SUV WR which has the snow-flake designation. I believe it is the only 4-season that has the snow-flake badging.

    Good luck!
  • kullenbergkullenberg Posts: 283
    Could not agree more - I put the Nokians on before delivery, and they have been outstanding. I live in the mtns of western NC, and they have never let me down, plus I've put 20k in less than a year with negligible wear. Good choice!!
  • lintenlinten Posts: 1
    Last December I traded in my '97 Outback with 120,000 miles for a 4WD Toyota HH (I need the extra room to haul stuff). I love both cars but these are the differences: I get better mileage in the HiHy (25 vs 22)although the Subaru was 10 years old. The HiHy has kick-[non-permissible content removed] power. My little 4 cyl Subaru would work really hard when fully loaded to make it quickly to highway speed. The HiHy--no problem.

    BUT, I think the Subaru is better in the snow and ice. There something about having the rear wheels driven by an electric motor that just can't compare to a regular drive train working them. Plus the Toyota has the VSC which prevents the wheels from spinning by shutting the motor off when it detects it. One time last winter during an ice storm I attempted to go up my driveway (it has an incline) and when the wheels started to spin a little, it just shut the motor off and there I was, slowly sliding backwards. I backed up and gunned it and made it into the garage but it did weird me out a little. By the way, I haven't used snow tires, just the Firestones that came with it, you may do better with different tires. But all in all, I thought the HiHy was OK in the snow.
  • sorry to bother. I am new and found this message. However, I don't know where the referenced message #2658 is found. I would greatly appreciate a link or directions to find this and/or other great summaries about driving tips.

    thanks!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    If you are a long-term hybrid owner, our Senior Editor, John O'Dell, would love to hear from you! A short email with your maintenance experiences and concerns would be great. Please send to John at jodell@edmunds.com by close of business Wednesday, August 22, 2007. Be sure and include your Forums username.

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  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    and did not buy the HH for business in 2007, ended up with a 4Runner. However, I did purchase a HH 4wd last night and after reading the latest comments feel it will serve me perfectly well for my personal use in mild winter weather country.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I'm on my third tank with my 09HH. Today within a few miles of the empty light coming on I stopped to fill up. It took 14.7 gallons (US). I know in my TCH there was almost 3 gallons of fuel when the tank gage showed empty. Several drivers tested this driving their vehicles dangerously close to bone dry to verify it. Has anyone tested the HH? It appears that I should easily have another 50 miles even after the light comes on but I want to know if that is normal across the line before I would take a chance of driving that close to empty out on the road.
  • I replied on your other post of nearly the same question.

    I am very comfortable running another 50 miles after the light comes on. Routinely comes on at 14.2 Gals consumed.
  • Toyota says "The Highlander Hybrid is not designed to be driven off-road". What does that really mean? The vehicle has OK ground clearance. How's it on traction? One can go a lot of places with just those two. Do any of you have experience taking 09 (or 08) HH on rocky dirt roads with steep slopes, or soft sand, mud, or snow? Does the electric rear drive actually add anything? Could I perhaps get the same "off road" performance from the 2WD 4 cyl? Any other reviews with this info? Thanks.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    I imagine what it really means is just what it says, the Highlander Hybrid is not an off-road vehicle and that if you take a Highlander Hybrid off-road that you'll void any warranty.

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  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Just a thought. I have not fully pushed the limit of the traction control on the HH. However on the TCH when the wheel starts spinning it just shuts down and you don't move. With the iawd you would have more traction, but eventually in an off road situation, you would not be able to spin the wheels to get out of a rut or ditch or over rocks.

    However I would not hesitate at all going on dirt roads or trails as long as they did not have deep ruts
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    I agree, "off-road" doesn't include dirt roads or trails.

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  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Yes, our '06 4WDi HH has been on mud, ruts, wet grass, some rocks, loose dirt, snow and some ice; no sand experience. All the above driving refers to dirt roads and tracks, not real-life 4x4 country. HH is way out of its league in 4x4 country.

    The HH can go everywhere a low-clearance two-wheel drive vehicle can go and then some because of the slightly higher clearance. The 4WDi version uses the rear motors to push on steep slopes. On slippery surfaces (snow, ice, mud, loose rocks & dirt), all four tires can operate independently with power to maintain traction. These capabilities make the 4WDi version more capable than a normal 2WD version. We use ours on ranch and farm dirt roads both steep and flat and the 4WDi is definitely more sure-footed than our normal 2WD truck on slippery wet steep surface going uphill. Downhill, it is all about tires and brakes.

    Street tires cut too easily and have poor traction on dirt and mud and loose rocks so rugged truck tires are important. We have lost too many street tires to sidewall cut over the years and they always slip and slide on mud, snow, loose dirt and gravel.

    In mud, the HH is no different than other cars. Some shallow mud is fine, deeper wider patches will require stacking or filling in with dirt, rocks, stones so that at least two tires have decent surface to use. I do this even when driving our 4x4 V8 Chevy farm vehicle. I hate getting stuck in mud :mad: .

    Nothing beats good snow tires on snow and ice. Once this winter, we blundered onto clear ice thinking it was melted water and the snow tires and VDIM kept us going straight and sure-footed. All-Season most likely would have spun and caused the VDIM to shut down everything. Snow tires in snow makes for confident driving, simple as that.

    Overall, the HH is fine on dirt roads, non-4x4 setting with the right tires and solid in snow and ice with snow tires.

    Last bit: A small portable rugged and reliable air compressor and tire repair kit are essentials. We use a compressor from ExtremeOutback and that thing is built like a tank and worth every penny we paid. You can find them online.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    ". . . if you take a Highlander Hybrid off-road that you'll void any warranty. "

    No, using it off road does not void the warranty. Toyota is just saying that it is not intended for that use and they are not responsible for damage to the vehicle by doing so.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    they are not responsible for damage to the vehicle by doing so.

    In other words, there is no warranty against damage for off road use. Pretty much saying the same thing.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    ". . . they are not responsible for damage to the vehicle by doing so.

    In other words, there is no warranty against damage for off road use. Pretty much saying the same thing."

    No, it isn't. If you bend the front suspension driving off road, they could deny warranty coverage for that item, not all other items.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,854
    I'd want to check to be certain exactly what components would not be warranted for off road use. I bet the list would be more extensive than most of us would think.

    Just my two cents... if you want an off road vehicle, then get one. ;)

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  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    In other words, there is no warranty against damage for off road use. Pretty much saying the same thing

    No, it isn't. If you bend the front suspension driving off road, they could deny warranty coverage for that item, not all other items.


    Again, same thing. If you break it off road it is not covered. I said there is no warranty against damage for driving off road. I didn't say they voided the whole warranty. I don't expect a dealer or Toyota would push this too far, but if one brought one of these in and it was beat all to pieces and the warranty complaint was for something like loose wires on the hybrid system or broken connections, they could make an argument that you've been abusing the vehicle in a manner it was not designed for. I believe it is possible, not probable that they would make claims like that.

    But for the most part if my radio goes bad, or my A/C goes bad I don't see them voiding the warranty, even if I did drive it off-road. Good chance anyway if you drive it off road it will get stuck before you do too much damage to it other than dragging the bottom out of it and then you're in a heap of trouble. I'm guessing a large dent in the floor pan under the seat causeing the hybrid battery to crush would be a hard explaination :)
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,788
    I think that the main reason it isn't "recommended" for off road use is the electric rear drive. If those motors overheat, you are stuck in FWD (until the electric motors cool off), and they would only overheat if you were in a situation where you needed AWD, when the rear wheels were spinning!

    In general, the HH should be fine for light use, rain, snow, etc. I remember when I had my 2003 Honda CR-V; I took the south route out of Chaco Canyon, NM, not realizing that it had been raining for several days. The road had turned into that distinctive New Mexico Muck (if you've driven in it you know what I mean). My Honda RT4WD had the rear and front wheels engaged almost continuously for 20 miles. In that situation I'm not sure the HH electric motors would last the amount of time required without overheating. However, I swore I'd never, ever, EVER, go out that route again if there had been any precipitation in the past couple of weeks. Scary.

    As far as I know, only the Ford Escape Hybrid has a mechanical AWD system (which operates exactly like the ICE Escape); I'm not sure if the Saturn Vue Greenline is even offered in AWD, or what the large GM products have for those options.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I think that the main reason it isn't "recommended" for off road use is the electric rear drive. If those motors overheat, you are stuck in FWD (until the electric motors cool off), and they would only overheat if you were in a situation where you needed AWD, when the rear wheels were spinning!

    In the TCH the traction control indeed kept you from spinning the wheels. If you got on a slippery surface it just shut down. The HH has more traction and if you had snow tires that's sure to help even more, but if you do get to where you lose traction, on both rear wheels I would assume the traction control would not allow any rear wheel spin of any significance. It would probably simply not spin the wheels. If the front's don't pull you the HH would just sit there. Again, this was a concern of mine with the TCH for winter use, but with the HH I had no problems this winter. I can't think of too many situations where you'd lose traction on all 4 wheels other than a sheet of ice.
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