2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE
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How to Get 40mpg in 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: a Test Drive

Learn tips and techniques to help you get very strong gas mileage in your new 2020 Highlander Hybrid.
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I recently had the opportunity to review and test one of Toyota’s newest and most talked about models – the 2020 Highlander Hybrid. In fact, I took an LE trim level for a 20-mile trip to see just what it was capable of.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to simulate the types of driving most people will encounter during daily and weekend travel. I tested suspension along winding country roads. Figured out, I think, the best ways to get great fuel efficiency in city subdivisions and neighborhood streets. And, of course, traveled the highway at cruising speeds to learn how Highlander Hybrid accelerates and handles itself at 70mph+ speeds.

2020 Highlander Hybrid vs gasoline models

Typically I am used to driving a Toyota Highlander that produces 295 horsepower with its traditional 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This is true with all gasoline-powered trim levels. The obvious wonder is how its Hybrid counterpart drives with less power.

A 2020 Highlander Hybrid LE is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 2 electric motors. This is a system that has been perfected over time and one that is more compact, lighter and more efficient than its preceding generation Highlander. An electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission completes this powertrain team.

With lower horsepower production than its gasoline-only counterpart, people may be hesitant to buy a 2020 Highlander Hybrid due to questions about how it may get up to cruising speeds or accelerate up hills. However, during my test drive I was pleasantly surprised. This midsize Hybrid SUV met my expectations in passing vehicles when needed going from 0 to highway speeds, and also traveling up steeper slopes and hills.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE interior current energy monitor

I found minimal road and wind noise even at higher speeds. Rumors were that this new fourth-generation Highlander was built quieter with less interior noise. Nice to see for myself these stories appear to be quite accurate.

But what about gas mileage?

Tips for better MPG with 2020 Highlander Hybrid

First off, I filmed and uploaded a test drive video on my “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel so you can see from my perspective how 2020 Highlander Hybrid LE drives and what types of gas mileage it gets in real life. I hope you find this helpful as part of your research.

One of the most beneficial changes this year was giving customers the opportunity to purchase either a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive 2020 Highlander Hybrid. I drove FWD for my review.

VIDEO: See my impressions of how Highlander Hybrid drives in my video review.

If you purchase AWD, expect to see posted fuel efficiency of 35mpg combined, while FWD offers posted 36mpg combined numbers. Since ratings are similar for both options, you can make the best choice for you and your family based on whether you need additional traction or if you want the best gas mileage possible.

I purposely tried to switch up driving styles during my test drive. As we all know, driving tendencies have a tremendous impact on how you do at the pump. It seems obvious to say, but I’ll say it anyway. If you are a faster driver with more of a lead foot, you will get worse mpg than a normal, slower and more conservative driver. It is what it is.

Here are some suggestions for getting optimal mpg in your 2020 Highlander Hybrid. (You may also enjoy a previous Torque News story I wrote on how to get optimal Prius gas mileage).

Try to coast as much as you can. This may mean letting off on the gas pedal sooner before you slow down to a red light or stop sign. The more you have your foot off the accelerator the less gasoline you will use.

Also, try not to “beat anyone off the line” when the traffic light turns green. Speed up as slowly as you can until you get to your cruising speed.

Utilize ECO and EV modes when you can. ECO mode takes a little off your throttle and HVAC systems which, in turn translates into better fuel efficiency. It is recommended mostly for city driving conditions and speeds, but feel free to try it on the highway as well to see how you do.

EV mode is electric-only and can be used at slower speeds under 25mph. While only working for up to one-half mile, it is perfect for when you are slowed for construction or an accident. I used it in mall parking lots and subdivision streets with tremendously positive results. You will see your miles per gallon monitor read 99.9mpg while in EV mode, and that may encourage you to try this more often. It may just save you money.

The first half of my test drive allowed me to achieve up to 67mpg along city and country roads. I was thrilled to say the least.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE interior energy monitor mpg

I was purposely more aggressive during the second half of my drive. I suggest keeping your highway speeds at about 75mph or lower to maximize your fuel ratings. Also, take advantage of dynamic radar cruise control. I found while in this mode, my current mpg actually increased on the highway.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE interior multi-information display mpg

All in all, I ended my 20-mile drive at an average of 38.3mpg. This is more than Toyota’s listed 36mpg combined rating, so I hit my goal. As Rob Schneider would say, “You can DO it.”

Time for your thoughts on 2020 Highlander Hybrid

There are times when all of us drive slower, when we drive more aggressively, when we speed and when we stay under the posted speed limit. In short, we mix up our driving styles. This is how I reviewed and tested the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE.

I was pleased with acceleration, with minimal outside noise and with its smooth suspension. But, I was most excited about the mpg.

What do you think about 2020 Highlander? Will you be more interested in the Hybrid or the gasoline-only versions?

Do you have any tips and suggestions for getting optimal mpg?

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I tell the story of a man trading in his 1999 Toyota Tacoma with 500k miles for a brand new 2020 Tacoma Limited. You've got to see this.

SEE ANOTHER HYBRID: What do you think of this 2020 Highlander Hybrid Limited in my comprehensive video review? Please Subscribe to Torque News YouTube channel for current automotive analysis and Toyota information.

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Comments

Even averaging 35MPG in a relatively big SUV is excellent. And to Toyota’s credit the jump in price to the hybrid model is now only $1400, where it used to be over $10k more, for only a 3-4 MPG improvement. Still, I am hoping for a Hylander Prime, plug in hybrid model to come out. I think that the RAV4 Prime is going to be a huge hit, offering almost 40 miles of EV only driving as well as great gas mileage.