The availability of a new hybrid version of the Highlander is the news for 2006. The Highlander Hybrid coupees a V-6 engine with one (2WD) or two (4WD) electric motors. A new Sport trim level with unique styling and a sport-tuned suspension is available with Base and Limited models, and Base models are now available with 7 seats and the V-6/4WD powertrain combination.
The Highlander was Toyota's first entry into the Midsize Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) segment. Introduced in 2001, the Highlander was slotted between the 4Runner SUV and the RAV4. Interior space is similar to a mid-size SUV, but its car-based running gear gives the Highlander superior fuel economy and better on-road handling at the expense of off-road ability. The Highlander offers the choice of a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 155 hp, or a 3.3L V-6 with 215 hp. Four-cylinder models receive a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 gets a 5-speed automatic; both are available with front- or all-wheel drive. An optional third-row seat boosts passenger capacity from 5 to 7. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, seat-mounted front row side airbags, and roof-mounted side curtain air bags for first and second rows.
The hybrid version of the Highlander coupees Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive with a special 208-hp version of the 3.3L V-6. Two-wheel-drive models use an electric motor and produce 165 hp and 247 lb.-ft. of torque, while 4WD models have an additional 67 hp/96 lb.-ft. motor driving the rear wheels. Toyota claims that the 4WD version moves from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 33 mpg city/28 mpg highway for front-wheel-drive models, and 31 mpg city/27 mpg highway for 4WD models. The Highlander Hybrid has a sealed (zero evaporative emissions) fuel system that meets SULEV standards. It is available in two trim levels: Base and Limited.
J.D. Power and Associates Research
What do owners think about the quality of Toyota Highlander as it comes off the assembly line
Highlander ranks highest in initial quality in the midsize multi-activity vehicle segment in the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Initial Quality Study.SM Highlander performs well in the seats, audio/entertainment/navigation system, and the driving experience categories. Highlander performs better than segment average in the exterior, engine/transmission, features/controls/displays, seats, audio/entertainment/navigation system, and the driving experience categories.
The Highlander competes in the Midsize CUV segment. Though relatively small, this segment is growing; the Highlander was pitted against five competitors in 2005, but that number will grow during the year as more vehicles in this segment are released. With fuel prices continuing to rise, consumers will increasingly turn to these vehicles that offer interior space comparable to mid-size SUVs, with better fuel economy.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Toyota Highlander was the sales leader in this segment with 137,409 units sold in calendar-year 2005. Chrysler's Pacifica was next with 85,557 sales, followed by the Ford Freestyle (76,739). Other vehicles in this segment include the Nissan Murano, Buick Rendezvous, and Subaru B9 Tribeca, along with two newcomers, the Ford Edge and Saturn Outlook.
|Base w/o 3rd Row (A4)||4 speed automatic||$24,530||155-hp / 2.4L 4-cyl||22/27|
|V6 w/o 3rd Row (A5)||5 speed automatic||$25,590||215-hp / 3.3L 6-cyl||19/25|
|Sport V6 w/o 3rd Row (A5)||5 speed automatic||$27,765||215-hp / 3.3L 6-cyl||19/25|
|Limited V6 w/3rd Row (A5)||5 speed automatic||$30,460||215-hp / 3.3L 6-cyl||19/25|