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Toyota Highlander Real World MPG



  • My wife has a relatively new '09 V6 Limited with about 750 miles on it, and she is getting about 19.6 mostly city driving.
  • kkd1kkd1 Posts: 1
    I bought my 2009 Highlander a couple months ago- not even 1000 miles on it yet. It started out getting 18 mpg in town, then 15, then 13. Today it used 1/4 tank of gas in 20 miles. There has to be something wrong, but what?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    My minivan has averaged 21 mpg lifetime over the last nine years. But the first ten tanks varied between 11 and 20mpg. It really didn't settle in with consistent mpg until 3,000 miles, and even then it kept creeping up over the years. It didn't hit the EPA rating until 7,000 miles.

    I'd try to fill the Highlander consistently (i.e., no partial tanks, fill it just to the first click, and even use the same pump every time if you can), and keep good paper records for the next 2,000 miles. Then you'd have reason to worry that something is wrong if the mileage doesn't approach the EPA estimates.

    In the meantime, there's not much you can do about "winter" gas, but these tips may help.
  • Just wanted to post that with about 6k on our 2009 4 cyl. Highlander, we're averaging right at 23 MPG. We do a mix of highway and city driving, but no long mostly highway trips yet. Overall, we've satisfied with the mileage and power. We're getting about the same mileage as we got with the 2003 4wd CR-V we replaced, but with a lot more space and comfort.
  • tjcattjcat Posts: 3
    I have an 09 Sport with just over 4300 miles on it. I drive a very short commute (2 miles each way) to and from work. When I bought the car this summer I was getting 16.5-17 MPG on all my tanks for this same in-town driving. For the last 2 months (November to now in KS) I am only averaging 13.5 or worse! I have taken it to the dealer and they claim nothing is wrong. We even took it on the highway at the holidays and going got only 15.5 but managed 20.5 on the way back. I am VERY disappointed in the mileage. Our V8 4x4 Silverado does better than this! Any suggestions from anyone? Should I get a second opinion from another dealership or give it more time (I realize I drive short distance in stop and go and it is winter)?
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    Only 4300 miles.....short commute.....winter blend have nothing to worry about. It will get better.
  • tjcattjcat Posts: 3
    I hope so. I can't justify keeping it if it doesn't. Our truck is doing better and the HL was supposed to be our better MPG vehicle.
  • I agree. I have the 2009 Toyota Highlander Limited 4x4; my last FULL tank of gas got me only 230 miles...230 miles in a 19.2 gallon tank! It's awful...I cannot stand the mileage on this car. I'm considering trading it in because of it's awful mileage.

    I do city & highway driving. I drive to work and it's about 10 miles round-trip. I only reached 24MPG ONE time since owning the car...and that was after driving highway for close to an hour. I have never, ever been in the 20's other than that day.

  • tjcattjcat Posts: 3
    I've got trade in thoughts as well. I LOVE the car otherwise. It handles well, did awesome in the crazy blizzard we had over the holidays, but we already have one gas guzzler. This thing would have qualified as a clunker this summer! When I questioned it with the service advisor at my dealership, he didn't believe me when I told him the window sticker said 17 and had to go look for himself. The service manager told me to give it time, "they don't fully break in until 15K miles". I'm not sure I can wait that long.
  • beachfish2beachfish2 Richmond VAPosts: 177
    How many gallons did you put in when you filled up. I'm assuming you didn't run the entire 19.2 gallon tank bone dry. I know my '06 Avalon still has 3.5 gallons left in it when the low gas light comes on. It's an 18.5 gallon tank; minus the 3.5 reserve leaves 15 and that's a typical fill-up for me.

    Doing a little math in my head, if you refilled when the light came on you might have only used 16 gallons or maybe even as little as 15.5 gallons. I've only had my 2010 Limited a couple of weeks and I haven't measured my reserve yet. Anyway, 230 miles divided by 16 gallons equals 14.375 mpg. Not too far off from the 17 they claim.

    I had a 1978 Datsun B210 with an engine so tight that it didn't break in until it had 12,000 miles on it and then the gas mileage increased by 50%. I don't think a Toyota will do that well in this day and age, but some improvement is expected.

  • 77,249.8 miles divided by 3,091.0 gallons = 25.0 mpg

    This has included 1 trip per year from Massachusetts to Indiana, and a smaller road trip or two each year (for example, Pennsylvania, Ontario, New York). Otherwise it's a lot of suburban driving with trips several times a week into the city of Lowell, Mass.

    Regarding the comment in the earlier post about giving an engine time to break in and mileage will improve, that's not been my experience. After 10,000 miles my Highlander had averaged 25.7 mpg.

    Similar experience with an '03 AWD Matrix, a '94 Corolla wagon, an '89 Nissan Sentra AWD wagon, an '87 Chevy Nova, and a couple of late 1970s Hondas. The fuel economy held steady or even declined slightly over the years. I have never had a car that got markedly better gas mileage at 40,000 or 60,000 miles than it did from day one.
  • beachfish2beachfish2 Richmond VAPosts: 177
    Good numbers, and record keeping.

    I've never seen mpg improve past 5k, 10k or maybe rarely 15k miles and that was primarily in older cars. In the '60s the engines were pretty much worn out by 60k or 80k and using a quart of oil every few hundred miles or so. Sure, some of them lasted longer, but it wasn't a good bet to count on it.

    My father wore out a new '53 Chevy engine in less than a year working as a safety officer for a trucking company. The engine was rebuilt at 80k and he put a total of 113,000 miles on the car in 12 months. Went through 24 tires, too. I can't imagine driving that much entirely on the old pre-interstate roads in Virginia, Tennessee and PA with regular trips to the home office in the GM building in Manhattan. He's 88 and misses driving.

  • I am new to all this forum stuff and this has probably been answered 100 times , but can you help me out. 09 Highlander w/25,000. 6 cyl Summer MPG is 19.5- 21 City and 23.8 Highway. As soon as winter hits it drops to 16.5-17.8 MPG a combination of city and highway. That includes some nasty New York Weather using 4x4 at times. Are these normal numbers for this vehicle during the winter. The dealer had said something about more methanol in the gas for the winter etc. I have never had a car that drops substantially int he winter. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
  • Mostly freeway driving, always use the cruise, and run the speed limit. Currently at 148,000 miles, and I've never managed to get better than 22 mpg.
  • kingfans1kingfans1 Posts: 137
    I have 2006 camry le v6. 176,000 miles. last week, i drove 399 miles. average 32.5 mpg. used cruise control. michelin tires, manufactured recommend psi at 29, shell 87 octane..

    I beat epa estimates by 4 mpg. so it is possible you can beat epa estimates...
  • redpearlredpearl Posts: 14
    Sold my 2005 V6 Highlander and purchased a 2009 Sienna. Currently on first cross country road trip: 2,220 miles of primarily interstate driving along with state roads and cow paths. Average MPG=27 which I never attained with the Highlander.
  • toyspenotoyspeno Posts: 1
    2001 4 cylinder AWD Highlander 125k miles

    Just finished up a 2000 mile trip of 90%+ driving at 70-75 average, people + cargo was about 700lbs, averaged 21.4 MPG. There were some really strong cross winds and intense rain down south for about 250 miles that affected the outcome somewhat. I accelerated to pass quite a bit. Mileage would have been better with patient use of cruise control.
  • typesixtypesix Posts: 321
    Yes, that is low for the 4 cyl, even at 70-75 mph. Likely all that passing with 700 lbs of freight sucked up a lot of gas, along with the weather you cited. My 2004 4cyl fwd will easily meet old EPA highway rating of 27 mpg at 65-70 mph w/o AC, with about 500-600 lbs.
  • herzogtum71herzogtum71 Posts: 470
    86,904.8 miles ÷ 3,465.9 gallons = 25.1 mpg

    This is probably half highway and half in-town. Odd thing about this vehicle is that tanks (350 to 400 miles) on the highway rarely hit 28 mpg, and tanks in town even in the winter rarely fall below 22 mpg.
  • tdivertdiver MinnesotaPosts: 18
    Does anyone have info on the 2011 Highlander? I am looking at a 2010 Limited and wondering if there is enough new on the 2011 to wait for it to come out. Not even the dealers seem to know of course I know they are looking for a sale now. Any info would be appreciated.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Given that the Venza, Sienna, and 2010 RX350 now already have the new F/awd system it seems improbable to me that the 2011 HL will not have it. Also, many engines are now in the process of being converted, certified, with DFI, Direct Fuel Injection. Substantial improvement in FE and HP due to increase of CR to ~12:1.

    Might even see an I4 with F/awd with the advent of the DFI engine performance improvement. 210HP..??
  • tdivertdiver MinnesotaPosts: 18
    wwest which drive system is better the one on the Highlander now or the new one on the Venza, Sienna etc.? As for DFI yes I think that is the wavy of the future in engines but due to Toyota's problems of late I don't expect to see that for a couple of years (I may be wrong). Anyway I was thinking on the lines of if the 2011 well have memory seats, 6 speed auto, HID's etc...
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The current HL, as did the previous RX, uses three "simple" open differentials. All four wheels are driven as long as all four have roughly equal, high or low, roadbed traction. Should one wheel slip then TC, Traction Control, braking is used to "restrain" that wheel in order to simulate traction and thereby maintain engine torque at a high enough level for the non-slipping, tractive, wheels to get/keep you moving.

    When TC activates in this manner the engine also gets dethrottled instantly.

    The new system "PRO-ACTIVELY" couples a variable (condition dependent) level of engine torque to the rear any time you accelerate from a low speed, below ~25MPH, to a higher speed, or need extra torque to start moving, towing, hill, etc.

    Regretably if/when that doesn't work the system reverts to TC braking and full engine DETHROTTLING.

    But progress is progress.

    6 speed auto, yes, memory seats, HID, there's always Ebay.

    Toyota has a vested interest in not "stealing" Lexus Rx sales.
  • tdivertdiver MinnesotaPosts: 18
    Thanks wwest that was a very informative and easy to understand explanation. It does sound like a bit of a wash between the two systems.Though the new system make have a slight edge. I am use to a 2004 Subaru Forester XT which works very well but at 57 I really like the quiet and smooth ride of the Highlander Limited. Also we have driven Toyota's since 1981 and my wife would like to see me get back to a Toyota. We still have the 2001 Avalon XLS and she well not give that up for anything. If the 2011 has the 6 speed I think I may have to wait.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Were I to purchase one of the new F/awd systems it would immediately get a switch wherein the rear clutch could be manually engaged in times of need.
  • wwest,

    What is the story with the Highlander Hybrid rear wheel, does it send power there normally?

    The way I see it, wait until 2011 HL specs come out before doing anything.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited July 2010
    It is my understanding that the F/awd HH and RXh will NORMALLY power the rear wheels only during acceleration. Other than that I don't know.
  • helmut122helmut122 Posts: 6
    I was told by one salesman that there is a slight redesign for the 2011 highlander and another salesman told me that there will be no styling changes.
    I am in the market for a new vehicle but I don't want to spend 49k on a vehicle that may be redesigned and available within a month or so.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited July 2010
    For some, adoption of the F/awd system might be considered a "slight redesign".

    No visual difference, except underside.
  • ushy66ushy66 Posts: 366
    Hi Guys-

    for a first (partial) look of the 2011 Highlander, the reveal may come @ the Moscow Auto Show on August 25th in three weeks. Reportedly the US version will be virtually the same. Refer to this link: nch-at-moscow-motor-sho/

  • Here is the media packet with more pictures:
  • See some interesting stuff in the PDF; split third row seat, and that blue color is back, or at least it is in Russia. Now what about the AWD system. Looks like a winner to me.
  • Wow thanks for the pdf link! If that split folding third row seat makes it to the USA, I might be replacing the minivan...
  • The local dealership is flooded with 2010 Highlanders like never before. Either the economy is that bad, or, I am thinking the factory is switching over to 2011, so they built a bunch so during the switch over so dealers have something to sell.
  • Most other 2011 models are announced or even hitting dealers, yet there isn't a peep of official information on the Highlander. Granted, it does seem overpriced so perhaps it is a supply issue. Or maybe they will skip 2011 and bring an early 2012? Anyone heard anything?
  • I was wondering the same thing. The only date I've seen was an unofficial September 24 release date:

    I was waiting for it to go on sale, but I'm going to need a new car by the end of October... They might miss my transaction.
  • I was told by 2 dealerships in FL that the new models are coming this week (Wed). My salesperson sent me the specs for the SE. Comparing it to the 2010 specs, it looks like they have added the iPod interface, the 50/50 split for the the 3rd row, it might have XM radio already with a 90 day trial, phone/music streaming via bluetooth, autodimming rearview mirror camera w/compass. Again this is for the SE model 6951
  • Nice, thanks- sounds promising for a split 3rd row in the hybrid. That would probably be enough for me to consider it despite the overpriced sticker. I hope they improve the fuel economy as mentioned earlier in the thread. If only they'd offer a 2WD hybrid and a 4-cylinder for those of us who don't need to tow or drag race, it would easily be 30mpg city.

    See if you can tap your guy for the base hybrid info;-)
  • Looks like the media embargo is lifted today as reviews are appearing now. The hybrid gets the 3.5L v6 with 28/28 mpg and a split folding third row seat standard in all trims. Nice.

    Looks like the base hybrid also gets bluetooth streaming and fog lamps.
  • Not much of a refresh for 2012 to my eyes. Still the same dull dated dash... no 6 speed trans for the V6; no improvement in MPG at least for gas engine. Pricing will likely be more firm. With the new RAV4 coming next year I may wait.
  • Info is up on Toyota's site now. IMO, the changes to the hybrid are very nice, except that they uglified the front end a bit.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    I generally like Toyota, but the new conventional engined Highlander is a disappointment. Only change to mediocre interior appears to be a split, but still minimally usable, 3rd row seat (now mandatory in all models). Fuel economy only meets Honda Pilot and is behind Chevy Traverse, Ford Edge and probably new upcoming Ford Explorer. Same stupid odd sized 19" Toyo tires. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because the updated RAV4 still has the side hinged rear tailgate that most people don't like and that is [non-permissible content removed] backwards for American roads. I think Toyota hasn't cured its GM -itis yet. Arrogant thinking that just because of their name people will buy whatever they offer. I imagine it won't take long for the 2011 Highlander to have the same big discounts and promo's as the previous model. Give this one 6 months and you should save a lot of money.
  • ushy66ushy66 Posts: 366
    edited September 2010
    Just compared 2010/2011 HL LTD's. I like most of the mild cosmetic changes made to the interior and exterior of the 2011 HL, but can someone please explain the rationale behind the design change that resulted in the funky blister/bubble-like headlights on the new HL? I just don't understand it, AND it looks really ugly! And since increasing MPG is suppose to be one of the carmaker's goals, why didn't they use a 6 speed AT in the new 6-cyl HL like they did in the Avalon and some of their other 6 cyl models in the last 1-2 yrs?

    Thanks, Jake
  • johnd15johnd15 Posts: 41
    Made a comment earlier on "refresh". Now can pass on more as I test drove a 2011 SE. Impressed by comfort, handling, acceleration. SE model is pretty loaded. The keyless ignition and auto unlock is only Limited model feature I'd like. Have to say, at least for black on black color scheme, interior seemed very nice. It's the beige that I dislike. The new "face" gives the Highlander a little more "attitude" than the old. MPG (17/23) not a selling point to me; maybe vs Pilot. But look what Honda has now on new Odyssey, another 4000 lb + vehicle: 19 city, 28 hwy! Also drove a Touring Pilot. Felt slower, more trucklike. Personally, don't care for looks. Dash & interior not as nice looking as HL to my eyes. EPA - disappointing. Sorry Honda - from a guy with a Odyssey & Fit in my driveway. If my wife/kids have their way, a new Highlander may be coming our way.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Any idea when the 2.7L 4 cylinder will be upgraded, improved FE/HP/torque, to/with DFI...??

    When will, if ever, will the HL get the new Sienna's new, more functional, F/awd system..?

    And what are the chances of getting both in the same HL..??
  • You mean to say Toyota did NOT change the AWD, its the same traction control/three open differentials/one wheel drive/brake modulation/back off the throttle type of AWD?

    That's too bad, I like the split third and blue color.

    It appears In Chicagoland area if you want Highlander Hybrid you have to take Limited, woof, $40K+. That's alot of money sitting in the parking lot as fellow employees open their car doors into it.

    I can get a Subaru Outback with 4 cyl CVT for a lot less, and back seat can fit three in a pinch, so no need for third row.

    And now all kids meet Illinois state rules of 8+ years and 50+ lbs for no car seat. Yes!

    Still don't like that Pilot; lots of kids on our block, afraid of hitting them, and to get camera have to get leather.
  • While I'm not a big fan of Toyota's implementation of AWD in current Highlanders it's proven to be more then adequate in everyday city/suburbia driving. I've been through 3 Ohio winters with it, and drove through number of major snow storms. I can't say a single bad word about it. It does what it is supposed to do, and not too bad on fuel comparing to other "better" 4WD implementations.
  • cpsdarrencpsdarren Posts: 265
    For the hybrid, I believe there is no center differential. My understanding is that a separate electric motor drives the rear axle independently. It is quite possible that power transfer from one wheel to the other on each axle is done by brake and throttle modulation, though. Does anyone have technical details of the 4WD-i system in the hybrid? Toyota's site is dumbed down and the link to more information on the system goes to a page about the enviroment:-(

    Dealer inventory always tends to the high end models, but I've found that Toyota dealers are willing to order base models equipped any way that Toyota allows for your region. There's also Carmax in Kenosha that has a new Toyota dealership where we got our Prius at a much lower fixed price than the Chicago dealers wouldn't match. We also got our Outback there back when they had a Subaru new dealership. If only Subaru offered a hybrid or even gave lip service to fuel economy, we might have another one. Instead they re-classified the Outback as a light truck to get around the CAFE standards for passenger cars. Really, unless you are close to the lake like NW Indiana, AWD is pretty unnecessary in most of the Chicago area. I wish Toyota offered the Highlander Hybrid in front wheel drive like the do on the Lexus hybrid SUV.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited October 2010
    Toyota cannot easily disclose the details, "theory of operation" of the HighLander and RX hybrid F/awd system without making obvious the shortcomings, poor wintertime safety factor, of their non-hybrid F/awd systems.

    With the hybrid system if the lateral, stearing, g-forces are substantial enough the front "drive" can be made negligible with the rear wheel providing the major drive force.

    An IDEAL F/awd system would have the ability for the engine's ENTIRE drive force to be allocated to the rear with SEVERE lateral forces in play. On an icy, slippery surface it would be desireable to have NO engine drive torque, leasing or lagging, on the front wheels should the stability control system indicate an understearing/plowing condition.
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