The 2012 Highlander Hybrid generates some power for its rear wheels with an electric motor that kicks in some extra torque as needed. An EV mode lets a driver go at low speeds for short distances. Toyota recommends its usage in stop-and-go traffic.
The Highlander Hybrid gets a new engine for 2012. It's a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 than the 3.3 liter that was in the 2011 trucks. Last year the engine was a 3.3-liter V6. The new powerplant generates 280 horsepower.
A new ECON switch added for 2012 adjusts throttle response when the hybrid accelerates, which maximizes fuel economy.
The 2012 Highlander Hybrid is distinguished from other Highlanders by a unique grille and bumper design, color-keyed rockers with chrome accents and vertically stacked fog lamps. The projector beam headlights and taillights have blue lens covers.
The Highlander Hybrid employs the advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, which Toyota says is designed to "enhance handling, traction and braking systems that normally react to vehicle driving conditions by anticipating tire slippage before a skid, slide, or wheel spin occurs and helps to make corrections in a smooth, progressive way."
Besides things like traction control and ABS, the Highlander Hybrid uses special software to integrate the Electronic Throttle Control with intelligence and Electronically Controlled Brakes.
The base Highlander Hybrid has easy-clean fabric seating, along with an eight-way power driver’s seat, Tech Audio, a third-row seat and manual rear climate control. There is an available Leather Package that includes leather-trimmed seats with front seat heaters, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, power moonroof, HomeLink, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and engine immobilizer with security alarm.
The 2012 Highlander Hybrid Limited adds automatic climate control standard for rear seating and sports perforated leather seating surfaces.
The interior of Hybrids are all 94.1 cubic feet, slightly smaller than standard Highlanders (95.4).
The HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter are covered by Toyota's warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles. All Highlanders come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles.
You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or (248) 747-1550. Or follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.