2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid juggles practicality & efficiency - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid juggles practicality & efficiency

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With 49,654 units sold in 2023, the Highlander Hybrid is one of Toyota’s most popular hybrid SUVs in the U.S. Currently in its 2024 model year, the mid-size SUV slots above the RAV4 Hybrid, offering two extra seats and targeting customers with bigger families. Recently, I saw a gray-colored 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid in the top-of-the-line ‘Platinum’ grade on display at an event and explored its design and features in detail. Here’s what I think about the mid-size hybrid SUV:

Design

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has the same design as the SUV currently at your local Toyota dealer. I get the feeling that 2024 is the last model year for this look, with the MY2025 update expected to be a facelift with cues borrowed from the bigger Grand Highlander.

Swept-back headlamps, muscular bumpers, a sleek greenhouse, chiseled lines, and an athletic shape make up a stylish exterior on the 2024 Highlander Hybrid, which I still don’t think is winning any beauty contests. With next year’s refresh, I think the radiator grille could look better. Designers can rethink the strange shape and the whisker-like Toyota-badged wing to create a more memorable design.

In my opinion, the most interesting feature of the exterior is the Bronze Edition’s special 18-inch wheels. They change up the usual family hauler vibe, giving it a custom shop feel, maybe something out of LA! This would not be every Highlander owner’s taste, but certainly, fashion-forward buyers would take it.

Interior

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid interior dashboard
I like how Toyota is retaining physical controls for functions like HVAC and volume while going fully digital with the cluster and infotainment, which makes this interior practical.

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid takes on the previous model’s interior as well. It’s plush, well-appointed with modern features, and aesthetically pleasing, especially in the Glazed Caramel shade of brown. The horizontal dashboard is beautifully laid out and has a concave surface that, along with the slim AC vents, reminds me of the sleek exterior design of the SUV. The chunky bar that vertically splits it into halves in the middle, on the other hand, is a cue to its athletic shape.

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid infotainment system
I suggest Toyota moves the volume knob closer to the driver with the next redesign.

The infotainment system is snappy and intuitive and supports wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. The shortcuts are on the driver’s side, which makes them more easily accessible, but they disappear on turning on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I think Toyota should make its home button visible everywhere, no matter which menu the user is in or which function the user is operating. It comes to me as a relief that the Highlander Hybrid uses physical volume and temperature control knobs and switches wherever they’re essential.

The soft padding on the dashboard is a nice touch that improves the ambiance. The same material is found even on the center console, door panels, and armrest. The plastics in the lower part of the dashboard and in the door panels are cheaper. The seats are trimmed in SofTex synthetic leather, and for those concerned if it feels as good as genuine leather, I can tell you that it’s almost as good!

There are plenty of storage spaces, including a large center console box and two shelves carved into the dashboard itself – one below the passenger-side dash and the other below the infotainment system. The shelf below the infotainment system integrates a Qi wireless charger, allowing the front occupants to place their smartphones for charging conveniently.

As for passenger space and comfort, the 2024 Highlander Hybrid is not the best pick in its segment for these aspects, but it feels adequate. Entering the SUV is easy, thanks to its higher floor and seat position. The front seats offer great flexibility, allowing the driver and passenger to set them in 10 or 8 different ways, respectively. As a six-footer, I find the headroom just about adequate.

In the second row, Toyota offers the option of a three-person bench and two captain’s chairs. Sitting in the latter configuration, I could stretch my legs out with the driver seat set to my position. Headroom, however, is just adequate.

Accessing the third-row seats is pretty easy, as the second-row seats can be slid forward with ease, even folded down if needed. There’s no fancy power-operated sliding function, though. The third-row seats are cramped and obviously suited for kids. I also feel the rear quarter glass could’ve been bigger and squarish, like on the Grand Highlander, even if it meant sacrificing style on the outside.

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid panoramic sunroof
You need to move up to the top-end model to get niceties like heated rear seats and a panoramic sunroof.

There’s 16 cu. ft. of luggage space, expandable to up to 84.3 cu. ft. by folding down both second- and third-row rear seats. In this aspect, too, the 2024 Highlander Hybrid is not the best model in its segment.

The 2024 Highlander Hybrid offers a plethora of useful modern electronics, including a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen infotainment system, a 10-inch color head-up display, four USB-C ports, and more. The 12.3-inch displays have crisp graphics and give clear readouts of the information.

Driving impressions

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a 243-horsepower powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter gas engine producing 186 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque with two motors, one of which is a traction unit used for electric propulsion. All-wheel drive is optional, enabled by a second traction motor installed at the rear; there’s no mechanical connection between the e-CVT employed at the front and the rear wheels.

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid side profile
The Highlander Hybrid delivers 36 MPG (combined), which makes it a top pick in its segment. On a full tank of gas, it could easily cover 500 miles.

Based on different reviews, I think the 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a decent commuter but not exciting. There’s a good amount of low-end torque, as is typical of electrified vehicles, but there is a lack of power felt on the highway, and the inadequacy will become more apparent in the model’s usual use case, which is driving with lots of people and luggage. The hybrid system doesn’t welcome heavy footing, as it lacks sprightliness and becomes quite noisy when the driver floors the gas pedal.

Fortunately, the 2024 Highlander Hybrid makes up for what it lacks in performance with great fuel efficiency. As standard, it delivers 36 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway, and the combined figure also stands at 36 MPG. With the optional electrified all-wheel drive system, it’s possible to achieve as much as 35 MPG (city/highway/combined). The chassis is also tuned well, offering decent driving dynamics, although it’s not suited for pushing the vehicle around corners. The transition between regenerative braking and mechanical braking is quite predictable and works just fine.

Price

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s prices start at USD 40,720 and go up to USD 51,175, excluding USD 1,395 DPH fee.

TopElectricSUV says

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is great value for money for big families who don’t intend to use third-row seats for adults. The SUV is smaller than its rivals, is easier to maneuver and park around town, and delivers excellent fuel economy. If you really don’t need the girth offered by competitors like the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, the Toyota hybrid SUV is the right pick for you. For those who are looking to upgrade in 2025, the mid-cycle refresh is expected to bring solid improvements in style and performance.

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid FAQs

Which models are the competitors of the 2024 Toyota Highlander?

What is the 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid price?

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at USD 40,720 and goes up to USD 51,175.

What is the 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid release date?

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is available at U.S. dealerships.

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