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Toyota adds fuel-efficient four-cylinder option to 2012 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander, fresh from a vehicle revision in 2011, now offers a 25-mpg highway rated, four-cylinder engine to complement the popular 2012 Toyota Highlander V6 and Hybrid models. The three-row crossover moves into 2012 continuing to offer the exceptional value cited by numerous third-party authorities.
Posted: September 15, 2011 - 7:35PM
Author: Don Bain

The 2012 Toyota Highlander is available in Highlander, SE and Limited grades produced at Toyota’s Princeton, IN manufacturing plant in both front-wheel and four-wheel-drive models.

The new four-cylinder engine provides a less expensive, fuel-efficient option to the Highlander Hybrid that still provides an exceptional blend of performance and fuel economy, with class-leading 28-mpg EPA combined fuel economy ratings. The Highlander Hybrid is, of course, slightly higher priced.

A 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is standard on the Limited grade and available on the other models. All Toyota Highlander Hybrid models are equipped with four-wheel-drive with intelligence in Highlander and Limited grades.

The new four-cylinder option gives the Toyota Highlander three distinct levels of performance.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine develops 187 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 186 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,100 rpm with an EPA-estimated 25-mpg highway rating. The engine has a variable intake manifold and dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), controlling phasing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts and optimizing torque and fuel efficiency. The 2.7-liter engine is exclusively linked to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

The available 3.5-liter V6 that comes standard on the Highlander Limited produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. The V6 is also has dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. However this model features a five-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission with selectable manual sequential shifting.

The Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has gained a new, more powerful 3.5-liter V6 last year, replacing a 3.3-liter V6. The system pairs the gasoline V6 engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for total system output of 280 net horsepower. A second rear motor provides automatic on-demand four-wheel drive traction.

The 4WD Highlander Hybrid exclusively generates rear-wheel power with a separate electric motor that provides additional drive torque on demand. Thus, the Highlander Hybrid 4WD-i system saves the additional weight of a power-transfer gearing or driveshaft, but electronically varies front and rear torque distribution based on ambient conditions.

The 2012 Toyota Highlander builds upon its delivery of the smoothest, quiet rides in the segment thanks to four-wheel independent suspension via MacPherson struts up front and a dual-link strut rear suspension system. All Highlander models have four-wheel disc brakes and full-time four-wheel drive is available on all V6 conventional models.

Also standard is Toyota's Star Safety System, which integrates operation of enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electric Power Steering (EPS) and the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).

Gasoline Highlander models also feature straight-line steering, specifically assisting when varied traction causes ABS to apply different left/right braking force, the system can apply steering torque to offset directional pull.

All 2012 Toyota Highlander models incorporate a corner-braking feature, taking advantage of the vehicle’s dynamic control systems, that limits brake pressure on inside wheels during cornering to help enhance handling through the turn. Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backward from a stop by applying braking pressure for approximately two seconds on all models.

Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is also standard on all Highlander 4WD gas models.

Outstanding standard features include front and rear air conditioning; multi-function keyless entry system; UV-reduction windshield and rear privacy glass; sun visors with vanity mirrors and sliding extensions; conversation mirror; scheduled maintenance indicator light, full-size spare tire and much more.

The Highlander SE and Limited grades come with a backup camera standard and a 3.5-inch multi-information display. On 2012 Toyota Highlander grade vehicles, these features are part of the optional Tech Package. The display includes a backup camera monitor, clock, outside temperature and cruise information, including average fuel economy and speed, distance to empty, current economy level and a trip timer.

Available options and accessories include a voice-activated touch screen navigation system with an eight-inch screen; JBL audio systems; leather-trimmed seats with front seat heaters, and a power tilt/slide moonroof.On models equipped with the optional navigation system, the rearview images are seen on the seven-inch navigation screen.

The optional tow package for V6 models enables up to 5,000-pound towing capacity, while the four-cylinder package allows up to 3,500 pounds towing capacity. A power liftgate operated by a key fob or driver side control is optional on the Highlander grade and standard on SE and Limited.

It would seem the 2012 Toyota Highlander is observing the company mandate to Keep Moving Forward.