Like the popular four-cylinder Prius gas-electric hybrid, the 3.3-liter V6-equipped Highlander Hybrid will be powered by a new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. The system was specifically developed to meet the load-carrying requirements of a mid-size SUV.
The system features a larger-capacity battery that will deliver nearly double the power of the battery in the Prius. An all-new high-speed electric motor will operate at twice the speed and deliver more than twice the power as the motor in the Prius. With total peak-system power projected at approximately 270 horsepower, the new system will improve upon the V6 Highlander's already impressive less-than-eight-second zero-to-60 acceleration.
In addition to its impressive performance, the Highlander Hybrid will also deliver the best fuel economy in the mid-size SUV segment. Its combined city-highway fuel efficiency will be significantly better than the current EPA average for a compact sedan, which is 27.6 miles per gallon. And, its estimated driving range will be more than 600 miles on a tank of gas.
Finally, the Highlander Hybrid will be rated as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV), one of the most stringent emissions rating in the industry.
In addition to providing the fuel economy of a compact sedan, the Highlander hybrid will offer the versatility, refinement, and comfort demanded in a mid-size SUV. Highlander Hybrid will come standard-equipped with front-wheel-drive and offer electric four-wheel-drive with intelligence (4WD-i). Models with 4WD-i are equipped with front and rear electric motors that will deliver balanced power to all four wheels, providing instantaneous acceleration.
To enhance safety and all-weather capability, the Highlander Hybrid will feature a Vehicle Dynamic Management (VDM) system. Monitoring a variety of sensors, the system is capable of anticipating pending vehicle stability problems and then correcting the situation with a combination of braking and throttle control. The new VDM system is less obtrusive than conventional VSC but acts quicker and more effectively.
Additional safety features include a tire pressure warning system, and optional front seat-mounted side airbags and front and second row curtain side airbags.
Inside, the Highlander Hybrid will feature three rows of seats that will include rear privacy glass, a rear heater system, and rear seat cupholders. "Walk-in" steps and a second-row sliding seat make it easy to enter and exit the third row. The third-row seat also folds completely flat into the floor to create added cargo space. The second-row 60/40 split-fold seat also reclines and folds forward flat for added comfort and utility.
The exterior styling will be freshened with the addition of a new front grille and bumper, and rear LED tail lamps. The Highlander Hybrid will also ride on 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Highlander Hybrid will feature an array of amenities owners have come to expect in their mid-size SUV, including standard air conditioning, power windows, mirrors, and door locks, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, and a deluxe 3-in-1 AM/FM/ETR cassette/CD sound system with six speakers. A multi-function display, conveniently located just beneath the speedometer, calculates and displays various mechanical and performance information including instant and average fuel economy, outside temperature, low tire pressure, and a Hybrid Synergy Drive energy monitor. A navigation system will be available on the Limited grade. Like the Prius, it will also monitor the electric-gas power distribution of the Hybrid Synergy Drive on a seven-inch touch-panel display monitor. All options currently found in the 2004 Highlander will also be available in the 2005 Highlander Hybrid.
"The Highlander Hybrid will join the Prius in early 2005, with the Lexus RX hybrid arriving toward the end of this year," said Press. "The trio will not only give consumers a broadband of hybrid-powered choices, it will firmly establish this important new technology in the hearts and minds of mainstream consumers."
(Jan. 04, 2004)