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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Driving Tips & Tricks



  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    We truly appreciate your frustration and concern. Did not know you are an owner because I do not normally check back old posts.

    I had exactly the same deep concern for the first 850+ miles even though we did not buy this car just for its MPG. It was returning only 22-26MPG regardless of what we did. My wife had to the voice of reason each time I computed the MPG at the pump.

    We are now seeing low 29's from on-board calculation, subject to verification at fill-up. We compute our own MPG when we fill up and the difference is about +/- 0.015 gallon depending on if we top off. So we are confident that in our area, this car can achieve >= 30 MPG. May be in the fifth or sixth tank.

    The MPG variables are terrain (hilly, mountainous, flat), driving style (P&G, aggressive), tire pressure (32?, 35?), distance (short, long) and someone said weather (A/C or no A/C).

    Give it time, try P&G that suits your driving conditions and it may work out yet.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    we will do a short one to Alaska next year

    The HH should be great for that. I work with a guy that goes back and forth to South Dakota twice a year in his Lincoln Town Car. The Alcan is like any other highway for the most part. It would be worth the effort to come all the way up to Prudhoe Bay. Then you will have been to both ends of the continents.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137

    If you've got a wager there please state is precisely. I didn't understand other than an artful escape from my wager, which was very clear and declined.

    At least three posters understood from your post that you didn't have an HH. Re-read and see. I'm not doubting that you have an HH but you can't doubt that your post gave the opposite impression as everyone who replied thought you didn't.

    But no biggie, we've moved on.

    I didn't report to greenhybrid until I had 2.5k. It was under 2k that I got my most dissapointing results. As my average on green hybrid is still below 30mpg my first reports can't've been over 30mpg, logically. I think my first was 29.4 or something. Dont remember but my first report was after 2.5k and at a mpg below 30mpg. I've only added the NYC trip and beach to baltimore, as they're the only ones I've recorded.

    Around the world was relevant to the 4R kill switch on brakes and steering that you brought up. Not HH. I was talking about nonH.

    I don't know what else to say other than this is still insulting and way out-of-hand.

    I'd again suggest that you discuss your car and techniques and I'll discuss mine and we don't deny what we can't know.

    As for proof, I'm all for that. Tell me what wager you're willing to make.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    You know, there's only 150 kms of road missing from Prudhoe Bay to Tierra del Fuego (Colombia-Panama border). And if they built a bridge (or had a ferry) from Alaska to Siberia, you could drive all the continents (Australia's an island) without a ship. Last I was there the Alcan's was gravel. Now it's paved?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    It is not all paved. They use some type of hardening agent that is really better than paving. It does not seem to get the frost heaves. I would recommend the Cassiar highway if you are going in the summer/fall time of year. It is much more scenic and cuts off 130 miles. the last time I drove it was 1994 and it was pretty good then.

    We just befriended a French Canadian that has ridden his bicycle to the North and South of every continent. Prudhoe was his final leg. It took him 5 years. Very interesting stories. I can only be envious of you folks that have had the inner strength to leap out into the unknown whether in a vehicle, by foot or bicycle.

    Thank you for sharing your website with us.
  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    Thanks on the site.

    I, when younger, biked Africa and it's the best (and certainly cheapest) way to travel. No arguement about MPG.

    Am I understanding that you're in PB? Also there are two roads up? That'd be great because we'd do one up and one back down (but I thought there's only one).
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,112
    Yes I am in Prudhoe Bay. The Cassiar is a shortcut that is only open during the summer. It cuts off just south of Whitehorse. It by passes Watson Lake & Liard Hot Springs. Just an alt route for part of the Alcan. Have a nice trip and take care. Keep us posted how the HH works on long trips.
  • mmreidmmreid Posts: 88
    In the wake of increased hurricane activity, we went and purchased two rechargeable battery lamps yesterday, both of which say they can be recharged in your car if the power is out. So I started wondering if the HH can be used to do that - husband said his BMW is a "hot" car and that he even has to unplug his fuzz buster everytime he turns off the car or it runs the battery down. But not the '93 Toyota pick-up. . .so what does that mean in case we need to charge the lamps? Do I have to run the engine or can I simply turn it on and let the battery charge up. I guess you can tell I'm not terribly mechanical but living in the Gulf Coast I do need to be able to deal with a major hurricane and we have pretty frequent power outages anyway (lots of thunderstorms). And how many stupid ways are there for me to run the battery down accidentally (so I won't do them)?
    And since I can't drive and figure out the NAV screen programming at the same time, can I sit in my driveway with the vehicle on and play with the screen without running the battery down? Or how long is safe?

    In light of what was said the other day about not getting great mileage on short hops (which is unfortunately most of my driving) is there anything I can do to increase my mpg? I'm one of those people who would probably benefit a lot from the plug-in technology as most of my daily round trips are less than 20 miles. And on fairly flat turf. I still have less that 2K miles on the odometer. I took the suggestion of putting up the little screen behind the steering wheel that shows the mileage with the bar instead of the one with the engine and that helps without having to look at the NAV screen and run the risk of an accident. But there seems to be times - going up small hills or road so flat you can't coast at all, where I'm using gas and have to stay in the 45 mph speed limit. Any suggestions?

  • gazguzlergazguzler Posts: 137
    Godspeed to all of you avoiding Katrina and the Waves.

    I've not done much 12v charging with the HH but, as has been discussed, the battery is hopelessly undersized. If you want to do anything with 12v, you better get a bigger battery and move the WW fluid spout to accommodate this.

    When we were doing serious travel with electronics we had two batteries in the 4R, which could be disconnected to stop drain from each other. We even had a solar panel to recharge when camped a long time. There's not enough space under the HH hood.

    Cigarette lighters are normally connected with tiny wires and fuses and it's always better to direct connect to the battery. I had heavy-duty cables coming from a battery to the inside of the car for this.

    The NAV screen in motion has been solved.
    darmock, "2006 Hybrid Toyota Highlander" #1100, 31 Jul 2005 7:18 pm

    Plug-in is going to be answer for a lot of problems. On a short morning run I do with my wife, I've been experimenting with turning off the engine and gliding in neutral to stop signs. It's absurd but I can't stand to see the engine revving just to charge the batteries.
  • I have taken my HH onto the sand. I can not say I have been tracking in the Mojave, but it did well on a remote stretch on Cape Cod. I have a pass to drive on Nauset beach in Orlean/Chatham MA and the HH did great. I did notice I had to take the tires down to about 10 instead of the 18 with my old Suburban. Most of the trails are pretty well established two track but there are a few spots that got completely washed out last winter and are really loose. I would not feel comfortable taking the HH out into any serious sand but for the 15 mile round trip at Nauset it did great.
  • Has anybody out there actually timed how long your engine warms up for? I understand the idea is to warm up the catalytic convertor to reduce emmisions. My ICE stays on for a consistent 1 minute and 57 seconds. This is dragging down my mpg because the majority of my trips are less than ten minutes(my commute is only 4 miles.) I have been getting about 25 mpg with my awd ltd on short trips but have gotten in to the mid forties with 30-40 mile trips. The average temperature here is about 75 in the morning and I am wondering if the winter will cause even longer warm-up times. Why can't the exhaust simply warm when the ICE is used? It seems a bit wasteful to burn gas just to warm up the convertor.

    I saw another poster mention a 30 second warm-up but was not sure if that was a guess or an actual time.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    After all, the converter is warmed up by the exhaust gases. There's really no way around that. I imagine that that's about the most efficient way to get the converter up to operating temperature.

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  • Does it make a difference whether the converter is warmed up sitting in the driveway or on the road? It seems to me that more or less the same amount of pollution results, but gas is wasted while it's in the driveway.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    I don't think I'd sit still waiting for the converter to warm up. Only seems to make sense to get the vehicle moving.

    Think of it this way... you're going to burn X amount of gas to warm that converter up. The converter doesn't know or care if the vehicle is moving or not. It just needs enough hot exhuast gas to get itself heated. If you sit still, you'r going to get 0 mpg for that X amount of gas. If you manage to go a mile or so, you'll have a postitive number.

    The emissions will be the same, but you'll be further towards where you're going.

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  • Just to make things clear, I am not sitting in my driveway waiting for the ICE to shut off. I only have one short stretch of less than a half mile that is over 30mph on my commute to work. I can make it to work without even using the ICE if I had to and nobody was behind me. My first two miles has a 25 mph limit, so in my case the ICE is running needlessly.

    If anybody has the time, just see how long it takes in the morning or from a cold start from when the ICE kicks in to when it shuts off with the HH in the driveway. Make sure there are no extra drains on the system like AC and the battery is about 2/3 full.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485

    We did a quick experiment on our HH and found the following:

    1. The ICE of our HH comes on for 30 seconds every AM upon start-up. This is timed.
    2. Our HH's on-board MPG indicator value did not change after this 30 sec. run.
    3. On one AM last week, the traction battery had only 2 pink bars left and the ICE stayed on for a good long while charging until traction battery showed 3 blue bars, then it shut off.
    4. For this charging while sitting idle, on-board MPG indicator dropped from 28.3 to 28.1 MPG.
    5. We failed to time length of this charging run, :(.

    In general, we get rolling upon start-up "READY" so the car is already moving even when the ICE is on warming up for those first 30 seconds. We do not believe 30 seconds is too bad in the larger sense but whatever it takes to squeeze in that extra mile :).
  • Both the dealer in Nashville, TN where I purchased my HH and the dealer here in Florida told me 5,000 miles for service and oil change. OR every six months. Since I put so few miles on a vehicle in a year, I end up usually doing the every six months oil change.
    The guys on Car Talk recommend that too (if you are a low mileage person).

    We are taking the HH back up to Nashville next week to babysit the grandkids for a week and it is a mixture of interstates 10 and 65 and rural highway (Hwy 231 in Alabama which takes you through small towns and lots of traffic lights at times). Any suggestions as to using cruise control or not using it? I've not been in a situation to really check out whether using the cruise control increases or decreases mpg. This is the first real trip the vehicle will be taking since we bought it and were told not to use the cruise bringing the car back to Florida. It is about a 1,000 mile round trip, not counting any driving we do in Nashville (which is nice and hilly and I'll get a lot more chances to check out pulse and glide). Any and all suggestions appreciated. It's also going to be our 2 yr old dog's first big road trip too. We always took husband's car on road trips but as gas prices soar, the HH makes a lot more sense plus even a thousand mile road trip once or twice a year still doesn't add up to a lot of miles for me when my commute to work is a walk to my studio. Right now the HH has 1900 miles on it. . .and I've had it three months.

  • Hi Mmreid,

    The cruise control has worked well for us. It has been able to do better on MPG on a few stretches of our local freeways. With cruise control, the on-board MPG shows 28-35 MPG for a 10-mile stretch while I can only do around 24-28 on the same stretch if I use my heavy foot.

    The only time we do not use cruise is climbing a steep freeway grade when there is traffic. The HH will move too fast while there are cars slowing on the climb.

    Have a safe trip!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Having and using cruise control is somewhat comparable to having an autopilot in an airplane. Cruise control allows you to concentrate on other things that are of importance. I find that setting my cruise control allows me to more easily drive ~500 miles a day and at the end of the day I am a whole low less stressed out, more relaxed.

    I get better than 28 MPG in my Porsche C4 at a consistent 75 MPH. 22 MPG in my 2001 AWD RX300 at ~65.
  • 2nd Tank Friday.

    15.072 gallons, 347.6 miles. That's about 23.1 mpg. Only 690 miles on the vehicle yet and still using lots of A/C around here.

    Cruise control (was able to use after 500 miles) does seem to improve MPG. I also took the tires up to 35 psi.
  • The auto-pilot analogy is a perfect match for the HH and general driving.

    For a time, I was also zipping around between lights, always in a hurry to get some place. One night, an old friend who is a fighter jock talked about what he does on duty and it put my driving habit to shame.

    Since then, I treat street driving as "taxiing" on the runway, merging onto freeway as take-off and freeway driving as cruising at altitude. This simple change in mental state really helps with learning how to drive our HH to reduce gas consumption.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    With cruise control I can spend more time watching the traffic ahead, behind, and around. Watching the traffic, especially ahead, allows me to "plan" my path and be in the correct lane at the right time so I can remain on cruise control.

    I haven't used a radar detector for over 10 years but I do note that there seems to be enough of them out there(***) that I get an early warning. Watch for brake lights when the traffic ahead is cresting a hill or rounding a curve. Sometimes you can even see the detector lights, especially at night.

    Not encouraging anyone to speed, as I do not, just a heads up since lots of drivers take eratic actions when their detector trip or they first see a trooper alongside the hwy. Many states are advising construction crews not to use drone radar when operating near the traffic flow due to the traffic conflict that develops and may threaten their lives.

    *** ~26 million are estimated to be in use, more commonly used at higher speed roads, freeways, etc. Apparently about 12% of truckers use them although it is illegal for a commercial vehicle to have them. The 12% number is dramatically multiplied by the truckers use of CB radios. Apparently about 12-15% of passenger cars are also radar detector equipped.
  • On our non-Limited HH you can watch the current mpg gauge vary using cruise control as the speed and up and down of the road effect the regen/motors/engine systems. You really don't notice it by feel, the computer seems to be consistently adjusting to meet its programming standards for fuel efficiency/performance. I suspect no driver can be as accurate as the computer in this regard, pretty much use it any time there's an open road or interstate. And it does make the drive more pleasant.

    Comments that you do need to cut out cruise on hills - you're not kidding! The HH just keeps on chugging, though compared to a standard engine/automatic you don't get the feel of the downshift to tell you you're going to speed up. The HH just goes. Pretty much would overtake anything if the driver wasn't quickly correcting for inclines. It's also different on downstrokes, regenerative braking maybe seems to keep speed under control while the tailgaters coming over the crest - trucks especially - don't have the same slowdown. Have to watch the vehicles behind too. - John
  • Being in SATX, traffic really gets congested around 4:30 and I can sit at a light for at least 3 cycles. I have noticed that the battery gets drained quickly and when I have just started the hh, the engine continues running while I am in the line to go through the light. :confuse: I have now gone to turning off the vehicle completely in some instances to save the battery and to eliminate the engine from continually running. Once I get out of the 2-3 lights that I need to navigate, the vehicle runs like a champ and the battery recharges.

    Question: If the vehicle isn't moving but the engine is on indicating that it is driving the tires, is the battery being charged? I don't think it is but please give me your insights.
  • My guess is that the battery already has a sufficient charge and is not being charged. The reason the engine is running is not to charge the battery but to heat up the catalytic converter. Once the engine, and the the catalytic converter ,are up to temp you will experience longer electric only periods.

    Also, before the battery can be used it has to be in it's operating temperature. If it is too hot or too cold they may run on the ICE. Only using the battery in it's operating temperature is one way they extend the overall longevity of the battery.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485

    Are you referring to the 12V draining down? or is this the traction battery draining when sitting at a traffic light?

    Each time we turn off the engine and restart the car, regardless of ambient temperature or how short the stop was, the ICE comes on for 30 seconds to do its thing. On days when we have multiple short stops, this just kills our MPG. So turning off/on the engine frequently may not help and may actually bring down your MPG.

    We have taken the oppostie course of action by leaving the engine ON for short stops of 5 minutes or less. One of us will wait in the car of course. The ICE never comes on during these 5-minute stops and the traction battery never drains down, at least not that we have noticed. To prevent the 12V from draining during such stops, we turn off stereo, AC, display and everything that requires power but the daytime running lights will stay on.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Question: If the vehicle isn't moving but the engine is on indicating that it is driving the tires, is the battery being charged? I don't think it is but please give me your insights."

    If the battery needs charging, it is being charged, otherwise no. The ICE always provides charging power along with electric boost, while driving the wheels.
  • If the engine's on past the first minute after start up and you're stopped, it's recharging the battery. No other reason to be on. On the big NAV screen it shows the arrow going from the engine direct to the battery.

    BTW, I've caught the big NAV screen and the small indicator with the insturment panel showing different info at the same time more than once.
  • On my non LTD awd HH I notice that the KW guage shows battery discharge--sometimes over 50 Kw--while the graphic display of ICE-battery does not show any battery discharge. It shows that only the ICE is running. Can anyone explain this?

    The lack of an electronic average MPG display(on non-LTD) is puzzling because all the info needed--instantaeous mileage and trip distance--is being collected electronically. Is there any reason why Toyota could not program the below speedo display to include average mpg? If reprogramming is possible, all non-LTD HH owners should bombard Toyota with that request.

    BTW, the KW guage is very confusing in the recharge (blue) range. It rarely dips far into the blue except during braking on steep hills. Is the guage linear? If so, the maximum recharge rate would be about 20 kw.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Our dealer spent time discussing this when we picked up our HH. The tech said the KW gauge shows a combination of ICE+Battery output, not just battery discharge. It is possible for the ICE to provide all the power to the wheels while the battery does nothing. This may explain your observation.

    It would be nice to have a tachometer or a Power Curve display on the ICE just to see how it is behaving.
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