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Toyota Highlander Hybrid MPG-Real World Numbers



  • gwnorthgwnorth Posts: 6
    We have just under 6K on our 08 HHL and have averaged 26.7 MPG since we had it. The mileage has ranged from a high of about 29 to a low of 25. We see the lowest mpg on the highway, traveling between 65-70 mph. When traveling in rural areas (95% of our driving) we see around 27mpg so we have been pleasantly surprised. It does take some change on the part of the driver, focus on take off's and breaking and really try to squeeze the mpg out of it. It is definitely more $$ but I didn't see a $12k premium back when we purchased in may, it was closer to $4k. With the $3k my wife received from her company for hybrid credit and the fact we are planning on keeping it for 10+ years the incremental costs were a no-brainer IMO.
  • Dear Fellow HH drivers:

    I want to focus on only one aspect of "cold" weather mileage drops. This observation is based on 18 mo. (18,000 mi.) of driving a 2007 HH Limited 4WDi. It rarely gets below freezing where I live but, when outside temp is below about 50 deg F., I notice that it takes a lot more driving to get the ICE to shut off and the batteries to take over. Engine cylinder head temperature is already well warmed up but something about cooler weather delays the batteries.

    What is that "something?" And, here is my point or my question: Is that "something" a sensor different than the engine temp gauge? If so, can that "something" be tricked, modified, or bypassed to permit earlier electric motor activation in cold weather?


    BTW, I have kept track of every gallon of fuel used and every mile driven, and my average has been 28.5 MPG, with about 50-50 highway/city driving. My highway driving has been at 55 MPH and I drive conservatively.



    P.S. What's the latest on aftermarket mods for plug-ins? Any actually installed on HH?
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "What is that "something?" And, here is my point or my question: Is that "something" a sensor different than the engine temp gauge?"

    The Catalytic Converter also has to get up to temp, in fact, this is why the engine runs - just to heat up that part.
  • I just completed a fairly long trip, 1033 miles, filled the tank 3 times. My 2008 HH averaged 27.75 mpg for the entire period (calculated actual miles/actual gas). During the trip I finally hit 5000 miles on the odometer and feel that the car is breaking in. This trip included extensive driving in Duluth, MN on steep hills and city driving (including hauling my ex-wife, 22 year old daughter and their dog).
  • "The Catalytic Converter also has to get up to temp, in fact, this is why the engine runs - just to heat up that part."

    I am not sure that is correct. I have a block heater on my '08 HH which will bring the temp sensor up to almost operating temperature in mild weather (50 F). The car will back out of my garage on the traction motors and I can then hear the ICE start. It will shut down at stops after running only a minute or two. I do not believe that this is long enough to have brought the cat. up to operating temperature.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    I am not sure that is correct. I have a block heater on my '08 HH which will bring the temp sensor up to almost operating temperature in mild weather (50 F). The car will back out of my garage on the traction motors and I can then hear the ICE start. It will shut down at stops after running only a minute or two. I do not believe that this is long enough to have brought the cat. up to operating temperature. "

    I'm pretty sure on this. All the hybrids have to get that converter up to temp due to pollution controls. The Prius has a hot thermos bottle that stores the engine coolant, which speeds up the process. By using a block heater you are doing essentially the same thing.

    My FEH runs for about 5 minutes before allowing EV mode - in Socal summer conditions.

    It really bugs me with my 2008 FEH, which won't run on electric only until everything is warmed up. I sometimes want to move the car only a hundred feet or so - and the engine has to come on...
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    My wife was always a few mpg's behind me on the TCH but with only a few miles on the 09 HH it was showing 24mpg. Mot bad I thought since winter has hit us early, but today I took it to the dealer on a 28 mile roundtrip to pick up the all weather floor mats. Driving just under the speed limit with some 4 lane, some small town traffic lights and some rural 2 lane hilly driving the computer showed 28.8 mpg. The road was wet with light snow and it was 27F (all things that killed the FE on the TCH). I was pleased!
  • I get 24 to 25 mpg 50-50 city-hwy if I drive normally. I can get upwards of 28 mpg if I baby it. That requires slow starts, slowing to 50 on up hill on freeways, overall a pain to tweek out an extra 3 or 4 mpg. I forget about it now and am happy with 24mpg as my buddy gets less than 18 on his non hybrid HH.
  • I have 25,000 miles on my '06 and am getting about 25 mpg average in the Summer, about 22 mpg average in the Winter. 50/50 city/highway. Not as good as expected, but as others have stated, a non-hybrid Highlander won't come close to this.
  • newski3newski3 Posts: 42
    About a year ago last June I made a 1400 mile trip. To my surprise, I averaged only 26.0 mpg during this trip (total car mileage was about 27,000 miles at the time). I had normally seen somewhere between 27.5 and 29. On other shorter trips subsequently, the mileage didn't improve. As winter came on and gas blends changed, mileage went down a little more. About 3 weeks ago and since I was approaching 36,000 total miles, I decided to take the car into the local Toyota dealer. I talked when the service rep prior to making the appointment. I mentioned to him that:
    1. My gas mileage has gone down starting at least last June '08.
    2. My ICE seems to run most of the time and even takes more time than usual to shut down at stop lights. Also, when coasting long distances, the ICE usually did not shut down.
    3. My car used to go into battery only drive when traveling at a steady slow speed (about 30 - 40 mph) but it rarely goes into battery only now.
    4. I was only getting about 24.5 mpg around town.
    5. If you don't find anything wrong, will you reset the "learning computer"? (answer was Yes)
    6. Will you check the hybrid battery for performance? (answer was Yes)
    I then left my car.

    After returning to pick up my car, I was told:
    1. The mechanic found no "out of limit" alarms so the car seems to be operating normally. ( I assume that the dealer checked the OBD ii indications which I could have told him that I had received NO warning lights.) As I know that there are several temperature inputs to the computer that may keep the ICE on line, I asked if those out of limit checks would tell the mech if ALL temperature inputs were working correctly. I got no answer.
    2. I asked if the hybrid battery was performance checked. The answer was NO. In fact, the service rep said further, we cannot even charge a dead hybrid battery and if that needs to be done the Toyota rep must be called in to do it himself.
    3. I asked if the hybrid learning computer was reset. "No, that computer cannot be reset."
    4. I told the service rep that I was going to leave tomorrow on another 1400 mile trip and I will again see how my mileage performs, but when I return I will be a little over my 36,000 miles. But I reported to you the dealer that I had a problem before my warranty ran out. He said if I still feel I have a problem after returning, bring the car back in but "don't wait too long."

    The mpg on this trip was 25.5mpg, the worst I have ever seen on a trip. A few days later I went by the dealer. I told the service rep that I still have the mileage problem, that there isn't any reason for you, the dealer to look at it again since all you're going to do is check the "out of limit" alarms, and that I need some answers that I haven't received so far. I told him that I would like to be scheduled to talk with a Toyota rep that is knowledgeable in the hybrid system. Hopefully, he will be able to explain to me why my car is still functioning properly. I also told the rep that my batteries are under warranty by Toyota not the local dealer so if they need to be tested, then they should be tested. The rep said it would be fine with him for me to see the Toyota rep but he didn't know the reps schedule. Said he will check with his manager. A couple of minutes later he returned and said that the service shop manager would like to talk with me if I had the time. "Great, I do have the time." The manager came out and we talked a few minutes. He then wanted to see my car. We walked to where it was parked. He looked at my tires and noted that I had replaced them from original. Yes, but the rolling resistance is "good" as per Consumer Reports, I said. He then proceeded to disconnect the Negative battery cable (not hybrid battery but the normal battery found under the hood). He told me that by leaving the cable disconnected for about 10 minutes will computer reset the computer!! I told him that I was told that resetting the computer could not be done. No comment.

    Let me stop this long winded story here. After the computer was reset, my car now opeates as it did for the first 20,0000 miles or so. The ICE shuts down often, even short coasting events. Since the computer was reset, I have averaged 29.2 mpg for the first 134 miles, expressway and stop & go!!!!

    Moral of the story, you can reset your computer yourself by disconnecting the negative cable of the normal battery (not hybrid) for at least 10 minutes. Another thought: be aware of your car and try to understand the technical aspects of how it works. Armed with this knowledge will help you when receiving service from your dealer.
  • ever since buying my HiHy, ive been using cruise control more than the gas pedal it seems. I am consistently getting 30-32 mpg. CC is the biggest gas saver.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Hi Newski,

    I assume the "reset" refers to the ISL or Idle Speed Learning reset?

    Sorry you had to go through all this. I remember several of us posted about this nearly two years ago. Back then, several of us were noticing sudden improvements in mileage after service and we were trying to find out why. Someone posted the ISL "reset" note.

    The ISL "reset" happens when the battery is disconnected, then the computer has to relearn everything as the car is driven again. There is no way for Toyota service to set anything that can influence the ISL. Our local Toyota mechanic explained this to me when the ISL Tech Bulletin was out in '06 or '07 for the '06 HH.

    He said the most they could do was to test drive the car gently to get the learning process rolling but the mileage improvement will come after we start using the car.

    Glad you are getting great mileage again!
  • mcgustomcgusto Posts: 7
    My wife and I just went through our first tank of gas with our 09 HH Limited. 311 miles total and 14.4 gallons to fill the tank. (21.59 mpg) I would say the driving was 50-50 city/highway. 22mpg seems a lot lower than we would expect. Any ideas on why this would be? We have been using the air conditioning, probably at least 50% of the time. Could it make that much of a difference?

    Tire pressures on the display were showing a variance from 33 to 43 psi, but when I checked at the gas station (manually), all were just above 31psi.

    Also, could someone post the major points of getting the best gas mileage? I read through the first 9 pages of this post, but to go through all 40 pages...UGH!

    Thanks in advance,


    p.s. I notice the gas engine will frequently turn on when we turn the car on, even while we're sitting in the driveway and the battery shows almost a full charge. Is this normal?
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,832
    I think I'd wait for more than one tank of gas to make any judgment about mileage performance, especially the first tank of gas. I'd wager that once you fill it up, run it through the next tank of gas, fill it again and do the calculation that you're going to see a higher number.

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  • For us it was a combination of things and it took substantial time before we saw increased improvements.

    1 - Multiple tanks of gas to break in. It really took 2000 miles or so to stabilize our mileage.
    2 - Driving habits. Anticipating accelerations and learn to "glide" helped a bit.
    3- Tire inflation. We inflated to the tire limits and that helped a bit.
    4- Location, location, location. - We lived in a relatively hilly area and those short trips always included going up and down a series of moderate "hills". When we moved to the (flat) burbs our mileage improved by about 3-4 mpg.

    Good luck, be patient and enjoy the ride. It's not a bad car at all.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    Last week I had to drive 350 miles to Duluth, MN (from ND) for my daughter's college graduation. I made it to Duluth on 10.02 gallons of gas, 353 miles between fill-ups. I admit there was a brisk tail wind for the first 200 miles.

    I returned hauling almost 500 lbs. of my daughter's possessions in the back of the car. That dropped my milage to 29.5 for the first 655 miles of the trip (I filled up about 85 miles east of home).

  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    The '06 HH always runs the ICE for 30 seconds or so from a cold start to warm up the engine. This is normal. We complained about this way back in 2005 but I guess there is no way around this.
  • mcgustomcgusto Posts: 7
    Thanks for the tips and knowledge in dealing with the hybrid system. It just struck me as kind of odd only getting 22mpg, when on this forum I routinely see people recording 26mpg+. Something's telling me my wife is running the air conditioning more than I'm aware of (Here in SoCal we have had almost 2+ weeks over 80 degrees). Does anyone have any experience with lower mpg due to excessive air conditioning use? We also just had our tire pressure adjusted, and the tires are reading 32-34psi.

    Thanks again,

  • mmccloskeymmccloskey Posts: 168

    I don't have a 2008-09 HH, I have a 2007 HH FWD. I reside in central VA. Anyway, I believe the A/C in the 2006-2009 HH is electric and runs off the battieries so it shouldn't have that much of an affect on your MPG. I was stuck in a traffic backup for about 20 minutes last Summer. The ICE was off most of the time but did cycle on/off for brief periods to keep the batteries at a certain level while the A/C continued to pump out cold air. I have been averaging 26-27 MPG during the cooler months and have gotten over 29 MPG during the Spring/Summer early Fall timeframe. I've had my HH for a bit over 2 years and am extremely pleased with the overall quality, performance and MPG.

    Regards -

    M. J. McCloskey
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    Yes, running the A/C does lower your gas milage. The A/C is electric (as opposed to being belt driven from crank shaft pulley), but the electricity is supplied, in part, by the ICE driven alternator/generator. I believe that the A/C in the HH has less effect on the milage than on belt driven A/C compressors.

    There are sites on hyper-miling you might want to read. The first thing is to increase your tire pressure. I run mine (2008 HH) at 39 psi. This is within the limits for the tires.
  • I've had my 06 HH sinc the first of May. I have driven almost 2,000 miles and averaged 25.1 MPG. 90% of my driving is city and 10% is highway. This is a huge improvement over the 14 MPG that I was getting in my '00 Explorer 4x4!
  • mcgustomcgusto Posts: 7
    I just wanted to follow up on my previous messages. Like I said before, my wife is the primary driver our new HH Limited, and I had expressed concern over her first 2 tanks of gas returning only 22mpg.

    This past week I had the pleasure of being the sole driver of our HH for 2 straight days, and drove it over a 100 miles with a mix of city and highway driving, probably 50-50. By doing the things previously stated on the board - we had just filled the tank up the day before- I was averaging between 25-27 mpg. I quickly came to realize my wife wasn't adjusting her driving style to the hybrid synergy drive.

    A couple of quick notes:
    1. Trying to coast as much as possible
    2. Trying to keep the power meter on the very bottom 2 bars seems to use the electric motor more
    3. Cruise control on the freeway - Speeds of 75mph returning around 24-25mpg
    4. Gently depressing the break while coasting downhill to optimize battery recharge
    5. Letting your foot OFF the gas pedal when not accelerating (This kind of goes with coasting, but it's kind of habit, at least for me and my wife).

    We did not inflate the tires up to 35psi yet. They're still running around 30-31 psi, so I'm thinking this will increase mileage a bit more too.

    Thanks to all who've contributed to this forum.

  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I quickly came to realize my wife wasn't adjusting her driving style to the hybrid synergy drive.

    And from experience I speak, she probably won't change.
  • I bought my 2009 hh back in Nov.'08. Since then Toyota has been telling me that it will take at least 10,000 miles to "break in the vehicle" and get the stated mileage. I mentioned my bad mileage at my 5,000 service and again today at my 10,000 service. I'm getting 19-22 city and 24-26 hwy. I have been so irritated at these numbers and getting no assistance from Toyota. I do live in NC where we run our AC April-October, which I understand may have something to do with my MPG. I haven't checked my tire pressure but did note that was something other people posted. Any other suggestions or help?
  • peraltaperalta Posts: 94
    Fuel economy is very much affected by duration of each trip. The first ten minutes of the trip is the one that takes the most fuel. If you have short trips then expect below average FE since the system needs to be brought up optimal operating temperature.

    The second thing is how you use your gas and brake pedal. A slow/gradual but continuous downward motion on acceleration, and then slow/gradual but continuous upward motion of gas pedal when coasting, yields the best FE. Also a slow/gradual but continuous downward motion of brake pedal yields the best energy regeneration or battery recharging.

    This can be hard to do unless you have to plan your speed and look 5 cars ahead or 1 to 2 blocks ahead so you can plan how you can exactly execute those slow/gradual pedal motions.

    Don't mind if the engine is running or not since the computer will just sort it out for best FE.

    For city driving accelerate moderately (not slowly and not jackrabbit quick) until you reach your desired speed then gradually release the gas then reapply just enough to maintain speed.

    A slow and long duration build up of speed gets the worst FE. Acceleration phase should be brief. Maintaining steady speed gets best FE. Abrupt acceleration and braking hurts FE.

    For highway, you can set the cruise from 50-65 mph and forget about it. Or you can regularly modulate the gas pedal without allowing power needle to go above the half mark on acceleration nor dip below the zebra when coasting.

    I inflate to 34 psi on all 4 wheels.

    My 2006 AWD HiHY averages 30 MPG per tank, 95% highway. With warm engine, I am getting unbelievable FE in the city trips, like 35-40 MPG. With cold engine my short city trips ranges from 17-25 MPG.

    I am sure this will help you.

    Please let me know if there are changes after you tried this technique.
  • I have a 2008 Highlander hybrid. It is now at about 5600mi. We have never hit the 26mpg average mark in the entire time that we have had it. On long highway trips, it got 22-23mpg. I always thought that it was strange to get better highway than city mileage. I had heard about the 8000mi breakin period, and held that out as a distant hope. At the 5000mile service, my wife mentioned that despite trying to use some of the hypermiling techniques, our mileage had fallen to 15mpg for the last 3-4 tanks. I wondered whether it was running the AC all the time during hot Texas summer. The service rep told her that she should just drive the car like a normal car instead of coasting, and there was nothing else they could do.

    Then, I searched one last time and saw the postings on ISL reset. (I had been looking since 1/09, but these are newer posts since I last searched in March.) I unhooked the negative terminal for 20minutes. Then, on our drive last night, I hit 25.8mpg on a highway trip that rapidly nosed over 26mpg on the last city stretch before home. I had been having trouble entering EV mode despite coasting and being light on the gas. Now, the car seems to prefer and enter EV at every possible opportunity!!!! Yeah!!!! I had begun to lose faith in out HH, as we bought it to avoid the SUV gas suck. 15mpg is not exactly hybrid-worthy, and the noticeable difference points out to me how important the tech/computer function is relative to the mechanical function in these highly sophisticated machines.

    In conclusion, I believe that the ISL reset works in our 2008 HH as well.
  • I bought the 2006 HH in June and I have also been experiencing low gas mileage - 19 - 21. You mention unhooking the negative terminal - what is that? I don't do a lot of highway driving, mostly in city and shorter trips. But I am being cautious on my driving. Easy on the gas, good on the breaks, etc. I am sooo disappointed. What else can I do?
  • jonny8: Disconnecting the small 12V battery under the hood will supposedly "reset" the computer that controls the engine. It made -0- difference on my '06. Might as well try it though... it costs nothing to do.
  • If I reset the ISL(Disconnect the 12.V battery) will it mess up the 5000 mile service reminder?

    Also, will it void my warranty to do that?
  • akyotaakyota Posts: 1
    Hi AKDeeDee'

    We live in SE AK and are considering buying a used highlander hybrid 4wd. Are you still getting poor millage in Anchorage? What issues should we consider before buying? We have a few days each winter with -0 temps. Thanks.
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