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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks



  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Oh one more thing. Do not shift into N.

    We did that in the beginning and noticed there is no charging occurs when in N so the battery stays low. This will make continuous electric runs impossible.

    We needed to stay in N even when gliding so battery is charged and ready for the next electric run.
  • johnny_5johnny_5 Posts: 10
    Every technic really counts for everyone here. This forum is by far the most responsive and supportive that I have seen yet, and I have looked around.

    I sometimes wish that I had the facy schmancy navigation screen that tells me what I am getting, but have to rely upon the little diagram above my steering column. I hope that with the disappearance of the arrows at the "sweet speed of 40" I am doing things right.

    BTW, is there a cheaper way to get the NAV system for the HH than by going straight through Toyota? there has to be an OEM store out there that supports our 06 models at a fraction of the current $2000 range.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    We needed to stay in N even when gliding so battery is charged and ready for the next electric run.

    I meant to say we needed to stay in D, Drive, when gliding so the wheels can charge the battery. N, Neutral, cuts off all charging. Thanks to a reader for pointing that out.
  • You may not need that fancy screen.

    To get a feel for your instant MPG number, you can bring up the "Bar Graph MPG Indicator" to replace the "Engine Flow Diagram". I use that bar graph to show me what MPG I am getting at various speed on the freeways.

    Whenever the graph reaches the middle between 20 and 40, I know I am getting close to 30 MPG and something good is happening :). When it falls to 20, I know I am gunning it too much. When it is on electric, the bar fills the whole graph all the way out beyond 60 to 99.9 MPG.

    The "game" is to keep the bar extended way beyond 20 for as long as possible (safely) through all driving conditions. If I can do that, the average MPG cannot be that bad.

    We are finally up into 28+ now.
  • ulevulev Posts: 57
    After recently posting declining mileage results I took my non-Ltd 4wdi HH to the dealer.
    They drove the care with a computer attached and gave me a printout of results...
    It showed that my vehicle was achieving 35 mpg hiway and 55 city ????
    With this inconslusive result, I drove home Iand decided on an impulse to check the tire pressure.

    Found the left front tire was down to 22 Lbs....all tires should be at 32 lb.

    I have driven through 1/2 tank and have noticed markedly improved gas mileage.
    I will run this tank close to mt and will report back.
    BTW I asked the dealer about the fuel 'bladder' and their techie said the HH did not have if you are filling up with 19 gals (as was reported on this site) then it must be going down your pants leg....
  • ulevulev Posts: 57
    I have been able to maintain a 45mph electric glide for short periods of time on local one lane 'country' roads.
    I have used a varianrt of the Prius Pulse n' glide, but found that my non-ltd 4wdi HH
    has different thresholds.

    Most of my 'electric' traction motor only glides can only be accomplished after driving for some 15-20 minutes.

    I accelerate per the P&G directions to 48-50 then ease off the pedal and monitor the horizontal bar graph gauge. I also search for the 'sweet spot' which on my HH seems to be just at the top part of the dashed (white) portion of the analog KW gage.
    I use this same 'sweet spot' while on the x-way when I release the accelerator pedal. Of course I dont P&G very often on the x-way.

    At the end of day, when returning to my home, I can accomplish an electroglide up several hills here in the Dunes, until I hit my driveway when the ICE does kick in due to the slope.

    I have 1600 miles on my HH and word is that the mPG will improve as I'm told the ICE only works half as hard as a 'normal' ICE and it takes longer to 'break-in.'
    In closing take heed of my previous post on tire pressure. I do not have a leak or damaged tire and the pressure on the left front was 22 Lb oinstead of 32lb...evidently has been ever since I picked it up from the dealer. :mad:
  • mmreidmmreid Posts: 88
    Hmmm - checking tire pressure we discovered one was 31, one was 33, one 34 and one 34 1/2. . .first time we ever checked it. . .have no idea what this would or could have done. Anyone? Making them all 32.

  • obfgobfg Posts: 1
    New to hybrid, just found forum. Have a HH Limited 4wd with nav in Houston , Texas have completed 1106 miles and three tanks of fuel, mostly in 25 mile one way commute to work in North Houston. I use mostly side and back roads only short distance on freeways.
    My calculated and computer indicated mileages are as follows
    27 --- 29.5
    28.05 ---30.4
    28.54 -- 30.3
    I have been extremely happy with the HH but would like to increase fuel economy. I understand and have done the glide. But need much more detial on other techniques.

    Would also be very interested in a plug in charger to start each trip with max battery and a solar panel charger.
    Interesting report at
    titled "250 miles per gallon? They're doing it" on the Prius
  • The manual says VDIM will not work correctly with uneven tire pressure, so it is important to check the tires regularly. Still can't believe Toyota did not include tire pressure monitoring in this car! We notice this car drives really smooth and plush at 32 PSI even on dirt trails. It is stiffer at 35 PSI on all surfaces. We have not paid attention to mileage impact die to tire pressure change.

    For those who take this car off pavement onto dirt trails where there may be jagged rocks, you may want to consider increasing pressure to 35 PSI or change to tougher truck tires.

    We visited Mt. Shasta (CA) base camp for a day hike and lost a tire on the seemingly flat and easy dirt trail. Lucky thing was we reached the trail head and parked before it went flat. Our best guess is that at 32 PSI, the sidewall bulges out and reaches too low for dirt tracks. The Goodyear Integra seems to have weak sidewall so at the right angle and right pressure, a well embedded sharp rock on the road surface can puncture or cut the bulging, low reaching side wall.

    At 35 PSI, the sidewall bulges significantly less so there is less chance (still possible!) of a rock embedded in the road surface cutting the sidewall. Of course, if you get too close to one portruding from the side, that is a different story.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485

    Our dealer emphasized that Toyota is very strict with warranty. If we touch the electrical system on the car, changing it in non-Toyota approved manner, they will void the warranty. Charging the traction batteries could mean "changing" the electrical system.

    You may want to contact your dealer and find out what they say.

    We have a solar powered trickle charger with automatic cut-off for charging normal car battery, it will work for the normal 12V in our HH. After reports of how HH sometimes will not start due to the 12V running low, we plan to use the solar charger in the winter when 12V are more likely to run low.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    Higher tire pressure easier to pop. Plus, if ever stuck lower pressure ussually gets you out, particularly in sand.
  • Thanks very much. I can't wait to try this. Saves pencil and paper calculating too.
  • johnny_5johnny_5 Posts: 10
    I never thought to look at the mpg meter like that. I already have the bad habit of looking down at the dash alot due to trying to keep the arrows blank.
    Whoever came up with that instant mpg screen I think was on crack. Who wants to know the "instant" mpg you are getting? To me it is a pretty screen, but otherwise worthless. On the limited edition, I think you get the "actual" mpg on the screen. I would have preferred that anyday. Or if they would have changed it to a number other than a graph, it would have made more sense. I hate guessing the numbers especially when I am running on electric. That way you can still get bragging rights on the little screen.
  • Absolutely no sand track for this vehicle :), not confident that it can get out. Even if it can, afraid the rear motor will burn out. Sure hope these tires do not pop on our next trip out into the woods, we want to run them down some before getting new truck tires.
  • Yeah, not sure why they did not just show a number, guess that is a way to make a sale on the fancy screen? It is such an obvious thing just like the tire pressure monitor.

    The Ltd NAV screen does show the actual MPG but we do not use that when driving, too dangerous to look that way when driving.

    In electric, the bar will fill the entire line out to 60 MPG but you must do what is most comfortable for you. The bar is just an alternative that may or may not work.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    By the way, I got 32MPG from baltimore to NYC. I was trying but other times I'd have to drive fast or accelerate (so this wasn't for the record books). So, this car can do reasonably well . . . but it's not easy.

    The type of driving I had to do should be done by the cruise control. It take a lot of attention and not to the road. I can pretty much feel when the engine kicks in and back off now but I wish the computer could do this on its own.
  • I drove a Subaru Outback VDC Wagon (6 cylinder 3 liter), and this vehicle BLOWS that one away in all categories except road handling, which is because Subaru is lower to ground and 500 lbs. lighter. Still, the Hylander Hybrid Limited 4 WD-i is very nice indeed! A 4230 pounder that gets 24 mpg in the first 500 miles of mostly in-town driving ! It holds the road great, although it's hard getting used to the bulging sidewalls at exactly 32 lbs. pressure. You can't please everyone though. I read in the manual that if you live in a country that "allows" you to drive at 100 mph and higher, fill up the tires to 35 psi. I may split the difference and go for 33.5 all around. Thing I really like is this vehicle has the same engine specs as the Lexus 400h for around 10 thousand $ less. The only difference I've been able to find besides Lexus' luxury interior items is that according to one reviewer, the Lexus handles better; the suspension must be tuned differently. It is a few inches longer and around 100 lbs. heavier. Perhaps that will be my next Hybrid!
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    I believe that the 32 psi recommendation is low, very low. Toyota seems to have been recommending low tire pressures in order to soften the ride in a lot of their vehicles. This is true for many manufacturers. The problem is that handling, fuel economy, tire wear and safety all suffer when tires are under inflated. Toyota's recommended pressure for the 01-03 Prius resulted is such poor tire wear on the OEM tires that they extended the tire warranty. People were getting less than 20,000 miles on 36,000 rated tires.

    I know for the 2001-2003 Prius, if you maintain the Toyota recommended pressure, you see classic signs of underinflation wear. Pump them up 5 psi and handling and wear improve dramatically, and you get a bit stiffer ride. I run my 2001 Prius 9 psi above Toyota's recommendation (8 psi below the maximum allowable pressure) and get record tire wear on the OEM tires (over 36,000 miles). I'm close to that with the 04 Prius. I'm running the HH at 38 psi, with an improvement in handling and steering stability with each vehicle.
  • ulevulev Posts: 57

    Aside rom a stiffer ride, do you see any mileage improvement with higher pressure ?
  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    I did on the 1st Prius. I pumped up the Highlander and second Prius the day after I got each one.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485

    32 MPG is impressive! Can you please share techniques you are using?

    We are past our third tank getting about 28.5. At start of fourth tank, we began with 29.7 for the first 40 miles and have since dropped to 29.1 at 74 miles. Looks like our techniques are not good enough to break the 30 MPG mark yet.

    Keep up the "hyper miling" benchmark for the rest of us!!!
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    It needs to be qualified that if T had made this on the 4cyl and/or configured consumption over performance, mid 30s would be the rule for everyone without trying. Furthermore, even as is, if they had a P&G cruise control with an upper and lower speed limit and preference for electric motor instead of gasoline engine, we'd all be happy.

    I just got 32.4 from Delaware beach to Baltimore (100+ miles) last night. This time with hyper inflated tires. But again, when there was a truck bearing down on me or a slow coach to zip by, I'd abandon and slurped gas down. I’d say I was trying 75% of the time. I’m sure that you could get 45 if this was your only aim and never accelerated or felt peer pressure from other drivers.

    As for my strategy, I'm really just trying to keep the motor(s for 4WDi) going as long as possible. The combo engine/motor's fine, too, you can see that it's still getting in the 40s. When it's all engine then I rev up and get to a fast cruising speed and let go again. I don’t waste much time trying to stay neutral between the two arrows as it’s hard and I don’t mind if I’m recharging or using the motor to keep the speed going.

    I’ve notice that a slow acceleration doesn’t use any motor - only engine. But if you do a moderate acceleration the motor(s) help the engine and (I assume) that helps consumption.

    I P&Ged between 70-60 and other times 60-50.

    What really helped me both times was traffic (this time at the bridge). I glided through it, anticipating goes and slows from the traffic ahead. I must've done 5 miles exclusively on motor (and the bridge is quite an incline (for tankers to pass beneath). Of course, coming down was easy. Both times that seemed to make up for the non-disciplined accelerations I did.

    I want to get back in my old 4Runner and see if P&G works with engine-only vehicles. I used to save quite a bit of gas by having a kill switch and having it in neutral for any downhill or stop light, for that matter. Now I’m wondering if speeding up and then gliding without engine would do the same even if there’s no electric motor?

    One thing I know is that the HH rolls with far less resistance than the 4. My goodness you can push the HH around with a finger on the flats and you have to heave your shoulder into the 4 to get it even moving even on a downhill.

    It’d be fun to have a tortoise and hare race with hybrids where it’s based on distance.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Thanks for the informative post.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    I should add that in the beginning I got some really disapointing numbers. I think the car wears in a little and you learn to drive more in tune with the electric. Short runs are the killer though. You'll never get good mileage on a short run from a cold start . . . untill you adapt to plug in.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485

    You certainly have to decide for yourself whether 22 vs 26 is worth the money.

    As for calling reports of >30MPG "BS", that word choice is unfortunate. Observing etiquette rules of this forum, it would have been better to use "...exaggerated...".

    Most, if not all, of HH owners posting here, I believe, are not interested in huffing and puffing about our cars. If it has "warts", you will likely see us talk about it here. We are just interest in learning and sharing driving tricks so all of us can eeek out that extra 1 MPG. "BS" or not, only we will know, personally, I won't bother trying to convince non-owners.

    Those of us (my family included) who have reached the 28-30 MPG mark know what this car can do and wish Toyota could have done more to let us push it up into 35-40 MPG. May be the next version.
  • tomslycktomslyck Posts: 70
    I've always heard that low tire pressure hurts mileage, but I never paid much attention until recently. Our HH was dropping in mileage, so I checked my tires and found that they were all around 25 instead of the 35 shown on the side of the tires. Our mileage went up around 3 mpg since then -- from 25.2 to 28.4. I guess I'll have to watch that from now on.
  • mike4698mike4698 Posts: 18
    I went on a 4 hour trip. Got 26.6 miles per gallon. Like to seen better. Then when I got back, I seen on the board here about checking tire pressure. Checked my tires Tuesday and they were all at 20 lbs.Tires now are 32 lbs. I reset everything, after 67 miles later, I'm getting 27.7. They let the tire pressure down when they put them on the trucks for they don't roll easy. Must be some dealers don't check the tires when they get them in. So, check your tires. What a GREAT SUV. Love It.

  • ulevulev Posts: 57
    You are correct !!
    I deserve to be corrected.

    I am guilty of 'over exuberance' in my characterization, not of individuals but of statistics. What is that saying we all learned in college? "statistics don't lie only..."
    I leave it to the collective imagination to finish the sentence.
    Also, if you kindly notice the '>' included in my post, which of course means 'greater than ' it delineates the statistical population I was referring too.
    Perspective is yet another consideration, if you previously drove a Tahoe with 10 mpg/tank then you are HAPPY with getting 2.6 times your previous mileage with the Avg. 26 mpg of the HH...if you are a previous Toyota Truck owner like myself, a 0.846 times previous mileage result is less than satisfactory.

    The vehicle is 'well built' I cannot argue that point, and drives like a tank, as well as havingnumerous safety features, having survived a 'headon' accident several years ago, if it saves your life, it is priceless.

    However as you have mentioned, there are 'warts' and one of them is the heralded gas economy, which when compared to 'older' models kinda makes you wonder..

    It is not so much 'revisionism' as it is 'realism'.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,080
    I am enjoying the Vineeta website. I am curious. Do you plan to take your HH on 3rd world journeys?
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137

    I do share your view that older T's are bullet proof (literally in our case). T stopped making the 22RE for the same reason the textile industry stopped making polyester . . . it never wears out and that's bad for business.

    The HH could've never made that trip. And only a fool would try as there's not technician outside Japan and N America who can even work on one, never mind that it’s really a Camry. (To answer your question, gagrice, we will do a short one to Alaska next year and then later try a modified world tour with less offroad when there's more H support from T).

    We got a rock-steady 20mpg with a mix of in city, hwy and offroad and the later would've left the HH with burned out motors and no undercarriage. (Sorry, no screen shot for this).

    My wife and kids (3 and 5 – born on the way) did that trip (so you can be sure I wouldn’t risk brakes or steering) and that car’s the best thing I’ve ever owned and the HH will be a cube of crush metal before the 4R ever sees a grave. My wife, to this day, won’t drive the HH and still loves the 4R. I don’t think I have to tell you how the kids feel about the 4R as they literally grew up in it.

    I will never wax poetic about the HH as I do about the 4R.

    The HH is not for everyone or every environment (though it is better for the environment). It's sadly not all it could be. The world doesn't need an SUV that goes under 7 seconds in 0-60. It needs an SUV that goes over 40mpg and this could with 4cyl and p&g cruise control. I'll never change my opinion about that even if I break the 35mpg barrier by driving like Arnie Palmer on a golf course.
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