2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited-Platinum AWD

Susan Frissell
womenwithwheels.com

Yet another category in which consumers find themselves making big decisions. The SUV midsize field is growing and getting better all the time, including such notables as Ford Edge, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango and Ford Flex. Even Toyota’s own 4Runner could be a contender in this category of about 19 competitors.

Not unlike other automobile categories, the midsize SUV is big and demands that consumers do their homework before stepping into the showroom. Better prices than featured on the window stickers can be had, it just takes some time and patience. Toyota’s vehicles remain at the top of the heap and in demand, but the good news is there is competition.

For 2017, the Toyota Highlander becomes a more versatile entry. Two new trims have been added, and an eighth seat! The features added are impressive and will likely appeal to all, as well as a more spacious cabin. Looking at the car from the outside, it’s clear the Highlander has taken a different path. Much more handsome and a little bit more square, it’s a beautiful, comfortable road cruiser.

Our test Highlander was the Hybrid version so we can only attest to its prowess, comfortability and fuel economy. We think most will be impressed, though, with safety features, reliability and
Passenger-friendly features for all. However, expect to pay for these stand-outs, as the Highlander is up there for ‘most expensive than most’ midsize sport-utes.

Toyota has added two new trim levels for 2017: LE and XLE. And as mentioned before, now the seat count is up to eight. More versatile and affordable for 2017, the newly redesigned Highlander offers two additional new trims, as well.

Arguably, one of the finest SUV’s out there, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid ranks high among auto buffs and consumers, alike. A great SUV-Hybrid for families, the Highlander is a great road vehicle, with all the comforts. Performing well in crash tests, offering all safety features as standard equipment, and such goodies as adaptive cruise control, pedestrian and vehicle detection and pre-collision system, you can’t beat it.

Our test Highlander Hybrid came in a beautiful Toasted Walnut Pearl, drew ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’ from friends and family alike. I only wish I could have taken a road trip in it. The new standard eight-seat configuration is different and handy, and fuel economy is very competitive.

Expect excellent acceleration and top notch navigation of highway ramps, as well as no trouble keeping up with traffic. For a large SUV, it drives effortlessly. If you choose the Hybrid version, expect great fuel economy-without any drop in power-and better horsepower than its gasoline cousin.

As with all Toyota products, dependability and reliability are not a worry. The 2017 model has been updated even more so, yet, still recognizable as the popular Highlander Our Liimited Platinum version had all the bells and whistles.With AWD, and of course, Hybrid, minor changes are noticeable. The 2017 Highlander sports a little more squared off front end, but we think. more handsome look.

Our test version, the Hybrid Limited-Platinum AWD (top of the line) hovered just over $49,000, so not a cheap venture. However, we can imagine owning this vehicle for years to come, without much need to trade up.

The average SUV in this category runs around $30,000; however, the Highlander is one of the most expensive, starting at $36,270; only the Buick Enclave comes in higher. However, one can’t dismiss the Hybrid powertrain (added cost), and the fact that it is a Toyota product, the Highlander is first-rate, and hard to beat, we might add.

If we had to look at any ‘cons’ of the Highlander, they might include lack of any gasoline savings. However, we maintain, if you’re driving a sport ute vehicle, are you thinking that much about fuel economy?

Secondly, the Highlander’s third-row seat isn’t as roomy as some of its competitors. Again, we maintain, how often is that third-row seat occupied? And, for our nit-pics, we point out the distance between the touchscreen and controls: A long reach, and not easy to do while operating the vehicle.

For every con, though, there are always pros, and the Highlander clocks in with many, including a size that is just about right for most families. The high-tech features, such as accident-avoidance appeal to many. And, with all Toyota products, you have a quiet, easy-to-maneuver vehicle.

The Smoked Chrome auto on/off headlights and foglights are impressive. LED DRL’s are a longtime safety feature, and the chrometic roof rails match the wheels. We appreciate the folding heated power side mirrors-with puddle lamps, no less-when parking in over-crowded spaces. We shopped while in the Highlander so appreciated the easily-operated liftgate for groceries.

The Entune system, with a powerful, great-sounding JBL speakers is a feature one didn’t expect in an SUV vehicle in years past. The sound was very good, and at times, this writer couldn’t differentiate between sound from the Highlander’s system and one outside the vehicle. Touchscreen Nav, AM/FM/CD/MO3/USB/AUX and HD, SXM are all standard. Bluetooth phone, Music/App Suite and five USB ports will please those who are high-tech. The Birdseye view camera has a split screen so that drivers can keep an eye on what’s behind and on the side of the car. A perimeter scan helps tremendously when maneuvering in tight areas.

Our test Highlander came with two options: Body Side Molding ($209), and carpet floor mats, cargo mat ($225). The Platinum Package was included and offers: Panoramic Moon Roof, heated steering wheel, perforated leather heated second row outboard seats, rain sensing windshield wipers, Birds-eye view monitor, Drak Chrometic 19inch wheels.

SPECS

MSRP: $47,880; total vehicle price $49,254
Engine: Hybrid system, hp: 306, torque: 215 lb.-ft., V6
Transmission: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable, electronic on-demand AWD
Wheelbase: 109.8 in.
Length: 192.5 in.
Width: 75.8 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheels: 19-inch chrometec
Tires: P245/55R19
Hybrid Versions:
LE: $36,370
XLE: $41,330
Limited: $44,760
Limited Platinum: $47,880
Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs.
Warranty: 3 yrs/36 months basic,

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