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2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV - Overview

Research another Highlander Hybrid:

$34,700 – $41,020 MSRP

$31,577 – $37,122 Invoice

27 / 25 MPG City/Hwy


2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

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What Changed for 2009:

  • New 4-cylinder engine is available; previously, the Highlander came with a standard V-6 engine
The 2009 Highlander is Toyota's midsize crossover utility vehicle, offering car-like ride and handling combined with the styling, interior room and cargo capacity common to an SUV. Originally introduced for the 2001 model year, the Highlander was redesigned and enlarged for the 2008 model year. For 2009, it carries over unchanged except for the availability of a new 4-cylinder engine in the base version.

Model Lineup
The 2009 Toyota Highlander is available in Base, Sport and Limited models. The Highlander Hybrid is offered only in Base and Limited models and uses a Prius-style powertrain that links a gasoline engine with an electric motor powered by a battery pack to enhance fuel economy and allow limited operation solely on battery power.

All gasoline-engine Highlanders are available with front- or 4-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD) with the exception of the new 4-cylinder Base model, which comes only with front-wheel drive. All Highlander Hybrids have 4-wheel drive, with the gasoline engine powering the front wheels and the electric system powering the rear wheels.

The Base Highlander rides on 17-inch wheels and has power mirrors, windows and door locks; 40/20/40-split flat-folding rear seat; air conditioning; cruise control; tilt and telescoping steering column; under-floor rear cargo storage area; 10 cupholders; and an AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3/WMA playback capability.

The Sport adds 19-inch wheels; sport-tuned suspension; smoked chrome exterior trim and lighting lenses; fog lamps; in-glass antenna; cargo cover; leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and other controls; 3.5-inch multi-function computer display; upgraded seat fabric; power-adjustable driver's seat; illuminated mirrors on the sun visors; and second-row reading lamps.

The Limited adds heated folding exterior mirrors; chrome exterior trim and clear lighting lenses; leather seating with 10-way power adjustment for the driver's seat and 4-way power adjustment for the front passenger's seat; Smart keyless entry with engine start/stop button; dual-zone air conditioning; satin mahogany wood trim; one-touch fold-flat second-row seat; HomeLink universal transmitter; auto-dimming interior rearview mirror; exterior puddle lamps; and an in-dash 6-disc CD changer.

The Highlander Hybrid Base model gets blue-tinted lamp lenses; the multi-function display; silver and birch wood interior trim; 5-passenger seating with upgraded fabric; and the Smart Entry key system. The Highlander Hybrid Limited adds silver-painted roof rails, 7-passenger seating with power adjustment for both front seats, and a Center Stow seat and console.

A variety of options and accessories are available on the Toyota Highlander, including a power rear cargo door; voice-activated touch-screen navigation system with 8-inch screen; JBL premium audio; Bluetooth hands-free telephone connection; 3-zone climate controls; rear-seat entertainment system; heated seats; power moonroof; and a towing package that allows the Highlander to pull as much as 5000 pounds.

New to the Highlander lineup for 2009 is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 187 hp. The engine, which is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission, had not been rated for fuel economy figures by the EPA when this was published. Also available is a 270-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine linked to a 5-speed automatic transmission and rated at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway in Highlanders with 2WD and at 17 and 23 mpg, respectively, in vehicles with 4WD.

The Highlander Hybrid uses Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive, pairing a 3.3-liter V-6 engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator and a second, rear-mounted motor to provide on-demand 4WD. The powertrain delivers a net 270 hp with 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, or about a 30 percent benefit compared to the standard Highlander V-6.

All 2009 Toyota Highlanders are equipped with front and side air bags for the driver and front-seat passenger and with side curtain air bags protecting occupants in all three rows. In addition, a separate air bag is employed to protect the driver's knees in a frontal crash. Furthermore, all Toyota utility vehicles are equipped with what the automaker calls its STAR Safety System that includes Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). VDIM integrates anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, stability control and traction control so that they work in tandem to prevent a loss of control. Finally, driver confidence and control is improved with Hill-Start Assist Control, designed to help prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards from a stop when traveling up a steep hill. This system provides braking pressure to all four wheels for approximately two seconds to prevent a backward rolling motion, therefore helping to ensure a smooth start.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2009 Toyota Highlander receives 5 stars (out of 5) in frontal crash testing for the driver and 4 stars for the front passenger, 5 stars for protecting rear-seat occupants in side impacts, and 4 stars for resistance to rollover. The 2009 Toyota Highlander received a "Top Safety Pick" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), achieving "Good" ratings in all three of the Institute's crash tests and by offering stability control.

The Highlander Hybrid has standard 4WD thanks to a second 45-kW electric motor that provides up to 96 lb.-ft. of drive torque to the rear wheels. Thus, the Highlander Hybrid 4WD-i does not require power-transfer gearing or a driveshaft from the front. The system automatically varies front and rear torque distribution depending on traction conditions.

The Highlander Hybrid can travel at low speeds on battery power alone. Activating an EV (Electric Vehicle) mode switch located on the front center console allows the driver to operate strictly in electric mode under certain conditions for a limited distance at low speeds, or in certain stop-and-go driving conditions. The resulting benefit is reduced fuel consumption, emissions and noise. Further, a new ECON drive mode switch activates a throttle control program that smoothes out the throttle response. This action helps limit excessive acceleration thereby helping to enhance fuel economy.

A third new fuel-saving feature is a Hybrid System Indicator located on the left side of the Optitron gauge cluster. This feature provides the driver with a guideline to help reduce fuel consumption. When the driver increases acceleration, the Hybrid System Indicator automatically switches to "acceleration mode" and encourages the driver to keep the power meter needle within white dashes to help achieve maximum fuel economy.

Available Trims for the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

  Transmission MSRP Engine City/Hwy MPG
Base (CVT) continuously variable automatic $34,700 209-hp / 3.3L 6-cyl 27/25
Limited (CVT) continuously variable automatic $41,020 209-hp / 3.3L 6-cyl 27/25

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