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New Toyota Highlander Hybrid Owners - Give Us Your Report



  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Has anyone ran their tank "dry" or at least significantly past the "E" light? This past week I only took 14.7 to fill up after the light came on. In the Camry Hybrid I know there was consistantly 3 gallons left in the tank after the light comes on. That's pretty nice to know since I hate stopping to fill up. If I know I have another 50+ miles when the light comes on then I won't be worried about filling up at the 1/4 mark.

    My 4Runner seems to be accurately measuring an empty tank, but apparently the Hybrids have a bigger safety factor built in. I was just wondering if this is everyones experience with the HH or if I might see something different next time.
  • cat46cat46 Posts: 4
    I had a highlander even before the commercials were out for it (Jan.01) and loved it til the day it was replaced by an 08 hybrid limitedin Oct. I live in the Pocono region of Pa. How silly of me to assume that the hybrid would be just as good, if not better, at winter driving than the original model. First I find out that it is almost impossible to get winter tires for this vehicle.Second, I find out that the car drives mainly in front wheel mode and is not all time all wheel drive like my other highlander. I love the HH and the ride, but am terrified of driving it in the snow. I had to turn around and take out my husbands Infiti M35x,which by the way, has a snow feature and drove like a tank. Had I been aware of the fact that this is a vehicle for Florida, I would have kept my original until they made a hybrid that can be driven in all climates. I am so disappointed with Toyota in this area. Guess I'll have to sit out the next snow storm. Anybody out there know of a snow tire that will fit my HH? 245/55R19..Please help. The manual suggests chains for the front tires only. That's a red flag.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    "Anybody out there know of a snow tire that will fit my HH? 245/55R19.."

    Yes, Bridgestone makes Blizzak tires in this size. So far that is the only ones I have found.

    I live in NE North Dakota and we have had a very snowy fall, and had lots of snow last winter (I bought my 2008 HH in Nov. 2007). It does great in the snow. I haven't been able to get it stuck even when trying to test to limits. The stock tires, after 7000 miles, do not have great grip on ice. But they are more than adequate. Just slow down.

    The VDIM does a great job of keeping you in control, but it does have limits. If you try to make a turn on ice too fast, it will prevent you from spinning out of control, but you may not be able to make the turn you intended.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    ". . . took 14.7 to fill up after the light came on."

    My experience is that mine will take 14.2 (thus leaving 3) just a few miles after the low gas light comes on.
  • cat46cat46 Posts: 4
    I won't be able to get the Blizzaks until the summer accoding to the dealers in my area. Apparently all the snow tires were shipped to Canada since they passed a law requiring all 4 tires have snows on them. You would think Toyota would give buyers a "winter package" option such as a snow traction button or something similar. Or better yet, put a common wheel size on. I would much rather the ability to drive in the snow over heated seats and mirrors anyday. Any other tire available that someone might know about that is available in N.E.P.A.?
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    "I won't be able to get the Blizzaks until the summer . . ."

    You can order them from, they are $232 each.

    I agree that Toyota has done its customers a disservice by selling the HH with only the 19" wheels. The 17" standard tires would have been better, Toyota does not actually ship any HH's with those tires.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    with the choice of large wheels and tires on the HH. It has to hurt FE and should be considered a sport option, not a combo on a vehicle people purchase for the FE. Toyota marketing messed up on this.

    As for snow, I researched this a lot before buying. Yes, the HH has a unique set up with the motor driving the rear wheels but for other than really deep snow and with proper tires this should be more than adequate.

    Also, It might be cheaper in the long run to pick up a set of Hylander 17" wheels to put "cheaper" and smaller snow tires on if you plan to keep the vehicle long term.
  • Don't know if your 08 is different than the 07. My 07 HH has an advertised 17 gal tank. The light routinely comes on with 2.8 gals. left in the tank. One time I consumed 16.2 gals. on a tank, the needle was below the E line by at least a needle width.

    After 84,000 miles, I am fairly comfortable driving another 50 miles after the light comes on.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    I have an 09 but was curious about the tank. In my Camry Hybrid I never took more than 15 gallons to fill and when it said "E" it had 2.5+ gallons left. That was good for an easy 75 miles, which one time I drove it well past E. Several of the more fanatic TCH'ers drove theirs toempty just to prove the point. I couldn't find on this board where anyone had done that for the HH. I'm guessing it's Toyota's design to do it that way but I would prefer a gage that accurately told me when I was empty. Mentally I can't bring myself to consistantly drive it to "E" before I fill. In the TCH I could always drive 550+ miles on a tank and I really miss that. The HH does well but the range is not any more than most SUV's. 4 more gallons would probably only added 50 pounds, counting the gas and extra tank materials. That would have been nice.

    It's been in the 20's here a lot and I'm getting around 23 so I see no reason I shouldn't average 25 when it warms up. I am finding that the computer is almost 2mpg over reading the FE. I don't see why that is so hard of thing to get right

    Overall I am real happy with the HH. I am considering the 2010 Prius to share duty with the HH, or perhaps the new TCH when it gets the Gen3 hybrid system.
  • I love everything about this vehicle (2008 model) except the wood grain trim. I wish there was some way I can change it to be solid black. I am averaging about 32MPG. Mostly city driving. I got every extra other than NAV and DVD screen system (i dont have many back seat passengers, my main reason for SUV is my big dog and when I move every 4 years i can take more stuff with me). I do plan to do an aftermarket NAV, because I heard toyotas isnt that great.

    I am paying alot more than Im used to, but Ive never had the feeling of every time i sit in my car, I absolutely love it. Totally worth every red cent.
  • This is a 2007 model, Limited with all the electronic junk. Car failed to start three time in last 7 months. For some reason, the car does not start. You are stranded with no other recourse but to call a towing service. God forbids that you don't have your whole family in the car in the middle of nowhere. Dealers are not sharing anything about this problem other than give curdory explanations like: maybe the battery was a little bit low, maybe one of the interior lights were left ON, maybe you opened a door other than the driver's door first, etc. In my opinion this is a problem waiting to happen. I am disssappointed by Toyota.
  • I share your pain. I also have a 2007 Highlander Hybrid and it has failed to start three times now in the last 7 months. The dealers keep saying that the battery was a little low. I don't trust this car anymore. I have never had a car this new that just plain will not start and there is nothing you can do except have it towed to the dealer. I think Toyota is sweeping this problem under the rug.
  • llbonnerllbonner Posts: 3
    Do you have one of the DVD players? Is it an after-market one (either that Toyota put in or one that someone like Best Buy put in?) b/c if so, it could be the DVD player. I had an after-market DVD player (installed by Toyota at the time of sale so it came with it but it wasn't installed in the factory in Japan) and couldn't leave the care for more than 2 days without the 12V battery dying. I was told I had left the lights on (I hadn't), left the door open (I didn't), etc. I finally searched the net and discovered that for people with after-market DVD's (and you might not even know you have one, depending on your Toyota salesperson) this happens with the hybrid. I got the dealer to replace my 12V battery and install a kill switch for the DVD player and problem solved. A few months later my DVD model was recalled b/c it was draining the battery power for regular (non-hybrid) cars. So if you have a DVD player see if you can find out if it's after market and if it is, try to get the kill switch installed. Good luck!!!
  • All the equipment is standard Toyota and came with the car. They just told me again today that all they did was to recharge the battery and now the car starts again. For how long?
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    Well, your battery is almost 3 years old. You may need a new one.
  • @ cat46

    "I find out that the car drives mainly in front wheel mode and is not all time all wheel drive like my other highlander. I ... am terrified of driving it in the snow....Had I been aware of the fact that this is a vehicle for Florida, I would have kept my original until they made a hybrid that can be driven in all climates"

    According to the reviews at Edmunds, the first-gen Highlander Hybrid AWD wasn't true AWD, but rather included a third electric motor, on the "AWD" model, that kicked in on the rear wheels when additional traction was needed. The gas engine, according to those reviews, never distributed power to the rear wheels. Still, I've seen drivers from high-altitutude, heavy-snow areas say the HH "AWD" performed great for them in snow. Your fears may be unfounded: I'm guessing maybe a salesperson or literature just made you aware for the first time of how the HH "AWD" works, and you didn't realize that's how it worked in the previous gen HH, too.
  • I do not like the following things about it:

    1. Brake slippage or gap at low speeds to a stop. I am sure that some of you know what I am talking about.(The braking we are told that we have to get used to by most dealers).
    2. FE Highway city ratings are actually reversed for me. Worse in the city than highway. I bought this car mostly for city driving. I live in a slightly hilly area, Essex county, Northern NJ so we are not talking mountains and am lucky to get about 18-20 MPG with city only driving. Worse in winter with running the heat and engine taking longer to warm up. Highway best was 28MPG but usually around 25.
    3. Hasn't happened for me yet but a friend and others have reported that the stock tires go bad quickly. At 15K my friends tires were almost bald. In fact their HiHy slid down a hill unoccupied, while it was parked one icy day. Lucky that it didn't hit anything. Keep an eye on those tires.
    4. Rear visibility was decreased in the 2009 Ltd.

    That's about it, but the brake thing bothers me the most right now. I am wondering what is the difference with this problem and the Prius braking problem.

    Other wise it is the best car I have ever owned. Smooth ride, fast, good pick up, comfortable, pretty good on gas mileage but not as good as the rating suggests. Definitely not enough to recoup the extra dollars spent on a Hybrid as far as I can see.
  • When the heavy snow high altitude drivers said, "Great," did they also mean the MPGs they got or just driving performance?
  • 89fj6289fj62 Posts: 20
    I purchased my new 09 Hybrid last July in the cash for clunkers deal.I love the way ift rides on the highway. Driving like an old man I manage to get 26 mpg in town driving. and 26 mpg in highway driving. I bought this vehicle to replace my Land Cruiser. I plan to use my HH to tow a small tent trailer. I like that I can fit in this vehicle and that is the main reason that I bought it. As I don't trust the HH with summer tires in high snow I have it garaged for the duration of winter. I now have 3,200 miles on my HH.
  • synch22synch22 Posts: 16
    edited April 2010
    We have had our new limited for the past week now and are so far pleased with everything. Averaging 25.5 mpg right now with city and highway driving with some hills here in driving although it seems you make up for hills on the other end (downhill coast). I would like to try and increase the mpg but we will see. I have not once noticed any kind of braking issue that was mentioned but have kept my eye out for it. The car is pricey but i think the premium paid so far is worth it in our eyes, not expecting the payback in savings but rather enjoy the technology of the ride with slightly better mpg.
    One other thing is the Nav is not my favorite so far, we have not had GPS in any car up until now so maybe it will be handy when needed. I do like the other features the screen provides (consumption #1, radio touch screen etc.)
  • 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.
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