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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks

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  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    As far as I know, only the Ford Escape Hybrid has a mechanical AWD system

    I really likes that about the Escape. However I just could not bring myself to pay that much for the Escape considering how small and uncomfortable it was for 4 people. I think it would be a great all around commuter for one or two people needing occasional SUV flexibility, but the second row seat just didn't pass inspection for me. Also, I think the Escape only had 1500# towing. My Jet Ski's and trailer weigh more than that.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "I really likes that about the Escape. However I just could not bring myself to pay that much for the Escape considering how small and uncomfortable it was for 4 people. I think it would be a great all around commuter for one or two people needing occasional SUV flexibility, but the second row seat just didn't pass inspection for me. Also, I think the Escape only had 1500# towing. My Jet Ski's and trailer weigh more than that. "

    I have a family of four, but the kids are still fairly young (9 and 12). We do fine with the FEH, but I would not consider it for a family of five.But it is great on city mileage (around 31 with my AWD), and the SUV design makes for a lot of space inside.

    You are correct, I would not tow with an FEH. I think the technical limit it 1000 lbs, but I don't tow, so I never really checked.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I don't haul family around all the time (my wife does babysit the Grandkids) but my son is 6'5 so we let him sit up front. I got rid of a 4Runner because my wife complained about sitting in the back. I made fun of her and finally made her let me sit in the back while she drove. I traded it. There is no way I would expect an adult to sit in that.

    With the new design on SUV's with high backs, reclining and even sliding second rows, I considered the Escape as second choice to anything else.. BTY, the Highlander is very comfortable for adults in the second row.
  • mcgustomcgusto Posts: 7
    Hello all!

    I've been posting on a couple of different threads here, and I think I'm in the right one now (finally). In any case, I'm looking for a synopsis of good driving techniques in order to maximize fuel economy in our 09 Hybrid Highlander Limited. Other posters have already warned me not to judge the gas mileage for (roughly) the first 2500 miles, but thus far the first tank of gas yielded 22mpg, and the second tank (still in progress) is only registering 18mpg. I've read about the following, so any clarification on any of these- or other topics - would be greatly appreciated:

    Pump Float Glide?

    Recommended PSI?

    Hyper-Miling?

    Power Meter?

    Anything else?

    For the second tank of gas, I've even had my wife (who predominantly drives the HyHybrid) leave the car in ECON mode....

    Thanks in advance,

    Gusto
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    You won't see as much activity here as on some forums for some reason. Look at the Camry Hybrid driving tips. A lot of comments there (from me and others) and they apply to the HH.

    I have not seen the large numbers with my 4wd HH, but with warm weather it is rising. Basically for the first 8000 miles I averaged around 23.5 mpg. However since it has warmed up I mostly see 25. My wife drives it most and she typically is around 24.5 and I'll see 26+.

    I was able to average 37+ in my TCH over 67,000 miles so I know how to maximize the FE. The HH is a little less fulfilling because you don't see the large differences. For example on the same route I can get 25 or 27. Doesn't seem worth the extra effort sometimes. Where as with the TCH I would vary from 36 to 41. Really not that much difference %'wise but mentally it motivated me.

    With practice you should be able to get at least 23+, which in my opinion is still pretty good. Just got back from the beach where my Expedition got 16 on the road tank and 13.5 on the tank driving around. However I hauled 6 of us and most of what we owned it seemed. Next year we'll probably take the HH and the 2010 prius I have on order.

    Don't give up and read the threads.
  • racer81racer81 Posts: 2
    We purchased a 2009 HH in May. We now have about 2300 miles on it. We leave it in econ mode all the time. The lowest mpg was 22.5 and the highest was our last tank at 27.5. The auto is very quiet and handles quite well. We traded a 2004 Honda Pilot which to this point was the best vehicle we have owned. Just did not like the redesign of the new Pilot.
  • Hi All

    I purchased a new HH 09 Limited last month. I am curious about best driving techniques as this is my first hybrid vehicle.

    I am generally using the HH in economy mode and so far getting around 25 MPG.

    I have these questions

    1. Is it safe to keep driving HH in economy mode all the time. I mean it shouldnt damage vehicle to keep using economy mode all the time.

    2. What are best driving tips you all the previous owners can suggest?

    3. HH have the toyo tyres. How many miles/years these tyres generally give depending upon routine use of vehicle.

    I appreciate your help.

    Yogi Aggarwal :)
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    "I have these questions

    1. Is it safe to keep driving HH in economy mode all the time. I mean it shouldnt damage vehicle to keep using economy mode all the time."

    Yes, it is. If you need to do hard acceleration, just floor the gas pedal and it will override the econ settings.

    "2. What are best driving tips you all the previous owners can suggest?"

    Inflate the tires to 39psi, drive gently, anticipate starts and stops. Using the heat or a/c does reduce gas milage, but do what you need to be comfortable. You do not want to drive at highway speeds with a window open, it will drive you nuts. Keep you speed below the speed limit on highways.

    "3. HH have the toyo tyres. How many miles/years these tyres generally give depending upon routine use of vehicle. "

    I don't know on this one. I have just under 12,000 miles on my 2008 after owning it for 21 months. I have rotate the tires twice. They still look good, but others say they are lucky to get 20,000 miles on them.
  • Thanks for your response.

    For tire pressure, recommended or written on tires is 33 psi. Are yours marked as 39psi or you just inflate then with 39. Is it from your own experiance or their is any logic behind having 39 psi as against 33.

    Yogi
  • "For tire pressure, recommended or written on tires is 33 psi. Are yours marked as 39psi or you just inflate then with 39. Is it from your own experiance or their is any logic behind having 39 psi as against 33."

    The data plate on the car says 33 psi, not the tire. 39 psi is within the manufacturer's specs.

    The higher tire pressure reduces rolling resistance, increasing gas milage.
  • If you increase tire pressure too much you will adversely affect handling and tire wear. I run at 34 psi all around (2 psi over recommended) to squeeze out a little extra MPG without these drawbacks of over inflating.
  • I have learned that the 2009 Highlander Hybrid has not center differential, and the V6 engine never provides power to the rear wheels, so it's not recommendable for backroads or capable snow vehicle for Montana's tough terrain and harsh winter.

    Perform better the 2010 Lexus 450 Hybrid?

    Thank you for your kind insights.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    "Perform better the 2010 Lexus 450 Hybrid?"

    The Lexus has identical drive components.

    I live in NE North Dakota and my 2008 HH does fine in the snow, but I don't attempt to do serious off road driving.
  • I have purchased a 2006 highlander hybrid 4wd-i. I live in Minnesota and was pleased with the traction at first, until I got stuck in my driveway in 6 " of snow! What I have observed is VDIM will not let me spin for more than a second or so before it stops. Well, here in MN it is common to have to spin to get unstuck, or drive a little hard. Can I not control or re-program VDIM? I mean, this is a 4 wheel drive vehicle?!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited December 2010
    "....this is a 4 wheel drive vehicle?!.."

    Well, yes, and NO....!!!

    More properly referred to as a F/awd vehicle, with drive torque primarily only at the front. Like most modern F/awd vehicles the rear drive is only enabled, used, during low speed acceleration when loss of traction is most probable. Since there is not a mechanical drive line coupling from the front to the rear of the HH you can expect, should expect, predominant rear drive in low speed turns when lateral traction is needed above and beyond "drive" traction.

    But....

    Once the front tires develop even the slightest level of slip/spin it becomes a VERY urgent matter to quickly regain front traction. Front traction MUST be quickly regained in order to alleviate the strong possibility of loss of directional control, that leading to an injury accident, or even a deadly accident.

    So even with the rear drive coupled in during low speed acceleration the front drive will still have much more ability for wheelspin/slip. Once this happens the TC, Traction Control, aspect of VDIM will INSTANTLY begin braking the slipping wheel(s) and just as INSTANTLY dethrottle the engine, and......YOU'RE STUCK...

    Many newer F/awd vehicles have a TC disable switch function to enable one to get UNSTUCK, or even initially getting up and going, in motion, but apparently your 2006 was/is too early in the hybrid F/awd development program.

    You might be able to temporarily disable many of these "ancillary" VDIM functions by creating a CE indication. The easiest way to do that that I am aware of is to disconnect the MAF/IAT connector with the engine idling, reconnect it, restart the engine and now you have a CE that will automatically clear a few miles down the road....After you get unstuck or in motion.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Rather than a TC "off" switch what the HH, or any current Toyota HSD vehicle, needs is "snow" mode switch that enables firmware control of the F/awd functionality that NEVER uses more drive torque in the front vs the rear during low speed acceleration.

    4WD-I

    No "jack-rabbit" starts, far from it, but reliable low speed "4WD" functionality in a F/awd HSD vehicle.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,719
    "I have purchased a 2006 highlander hybrid 4wd-i. I live in Minnesota and was pleased with the traction at first, until I got stuck in my driveway in 6 " of snow! What I have observed is VDIM will not let me spin for more than a second or so before it stops. Well, here in MN it is common to have to spin to get unstuck, or drive a little hard. Can I not control or re-program VDIM? I mean, this is a 4 wheel drive vehicle?! "

    It is not the AWD, it is the Toyota implementation of HSD. The early models did not allow the wheels to spin, causing problems in snow. I think they fixed this in later models. You might check with the dealer and see if there is an update to the computer programming. I can't recall if it was only a programming change.
  • I have a major concern holding me back from buying a Hybrid Highlander after reading very mixed reviews on internet regarding its snow performance. My family skies in Lake Tahoe every weekend all winter long and we need a car that will reliably drive through 6-10 inches of unplowed snow on paved roads.

    I have read a number of posts lambasting the Hybrid version of the Highlander (the non-hybrid version seems to perform just fine) for its snow performance. Most people attribute the car getting stuck to not being able to override the Traction Control. The Traction Control helps maintain control when moving forward and hitting a slick spot. But apparently if the car comes to a complete stop in deep snow, once the front wheels start to spin the Traction Control kicks in and automatically applies the brakes to spinning wheels. The electric motor on the rear wheels does not propel the car, and consequently it gets stuck.

    Obviously in deep snow there are lots of times when all cars get stuck and you need to rock back and forth to get going. The HyHi reportedly just sits there with wheels locked and you cannot alternate between reverse and drive to get going.

    I cannot tell if these complaints are limited to the older (500 plus pounds lighter) Generation 1 version of the Hybrid Highlander or are also applicable to Generation 2, or if these complaints are due to people using inappropriate tires for winter driving. (There are also lots of tire complaints but that is a separate subject.)

    So, please, anyone who regularly drives a newer version Hybrid Highlander in heavy snow conditions please share a candid assessment of the car's performance. Note we will always be using it on paved roads, but with some frequency these paved roads will not have been plowed yet. Also our snow is typically wet and heavy (Sierra Cement). I would love to get the fuel efficiency of a hybrid SUV but cannot reasonably make that tradeoff if the car is not well suited for snow conditions.

    All informed responses from experienced snow drivers are much appreciated.
  • Don't buy a HH. They stink! I also have a Prius which is great except for deep snow so we use the HH then but as good as the Prius is, the HH is bad and the mileage sucks.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    The problem is with the stock tires on the HH (I have a 2008 HH). They did not have good traction in snow/ice. I managed to get mine stuck a couple of times in very deep compacted snow that had started to melt in the spring. The tires punched through the surface layer, leaving the wheels in holes that they could not climb.

    I have driven in 8-10" snow with no great problems, but felt the limitation of the tires. The problem with the stability control system is that most drivers do not know how to use it, you must be gentle on the gas once the system is activated by detected will slip/spin.

    Switching to the Toyo Open Country H/T (I just did 10 days ago) will help a great deal. Icy intersections that activated the stability control system with the Toyo Open Country A20 tires (OEM) do not set it off with the H/T tires. You could also buy a set of Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires.

    Good luck. I have loved my HH and live in NE North Dakota (cold and snowy).
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