2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD - Platinum
Toyota has offered a seven-seater SUV for more than two decades in the form of the Toyota Highlander. It's been an enormous success! People don't know that it was also the first one to be offered with a hybrid powertrain 16 years ago! With all that experience, the Japanese automaker has refined its product in 2019, and nowadays, the Highlander is in its fourth generation and facing fierce competition. Our test model had an MSRP of $57,250. It's manufactured at the Princeton, Indiana plant.
Exterior-wise, the design of the Highlander is evolutionary rather than a complete departure from the previous generation, and this is a good thing. Buyers are offered an incredible amount of crossovers and SUVs, and Toyota doesn't need the most striking design to attract buyers to this particular vehicle. One thing that stood out was this huge bump on the rear doors. It is kind of strange but a bit dynamic compared to plain doors on the side of the vehicle.
When you climb inside the 2021 Highlander, the quality of the interior is striking. Usually, car interiors are black within mainstream brands, but this Glazed Caramel interior is a welcome sight. The seats are wrapped in orange-ish tone leather with stitching embroidered in the first and second row and brown accents across the doors' interior, the dashboard, and the sides of the center console. You will find the practical Toyota layout with the heated steering wheel and the Multi-information display from the driver's seat. In the center, the excellent 12.3-inch touchscreen with its clever climate control tab and the overall easy-to-use feeling with this infotainment system. We are always pleased to see volume knobs and physical buttons for climate controls, so this is great to adjust the temperature on board. We are not sure about the practical side of the wireless charging pad; it's installed inside the center armrest; it feels like an afterthought. Fortunately, this unclutters the area near the gear lever.
As said earlier, our Highlander was the seven-passenger version with captain chairs in the second row. These seats are comfortable; adults can sit in them without many complaints on road trips. A bit more side bolstering would've made them even better; nonetheless, they are more than adequate. They are also heated and have their own climate zone, so everyone inside the vehicle can feel cozy. The access to the third row is easy since the captain chairs slide forward and tilt to create as much room as possible. In the back, these seats are comfortable for children or smaller adults. We feel it is important to remind you that the Platinum Highlander is a seven-seater. If you want the 8-passengers, you need to step down to the LE version.
If you get the 8-passenger version, you will have a substantial flat cargo room. The second and third rows will both recline flat on the floor. In the 7-passenger version like this one, even if you only drop down the third row, you have enough room for the luggage needed for four adults. With the third row up, cargo room is limited, as is the case for almost all 7-passenger SUVs. As for child seats, they can be quickly attached to the captain chairs since the ISOFIX ports are within reach of the parent's hand, and the rear anchors are clearly in the back. The ISOFIX ports are a little harder to reach in the third row, but there are still the easy-to-reach rear anchors.
We are now getting to the mechanical side of things. The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by a combination of a 2.5L 4-Cylinder, the Hybrid synergy drive (the name for the Hybrid setup at Toyota), and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This powertrain has an output of 243hp and has a towing capacity of 3500lbs. This vehicle doesn't feel overly slow despite its 0-100km/h of 7.7 seconds. The small battery gives it a little bit of boost. Also, all the hybrid versions are all-wheel-drive. The wheels on this SUV are pretty huge; they are mounted on 20-inch wheels.
As said earlier, the Highlander Hybrid Platinum isn't sporty by any stretch of the imagination. The direction is vague but not to make the vehicle feel dangerous, and the suspension is cushy. Still, overall, it's perfect for its intended purpose: transport your kids to school and their soccer practices or music recitals, for example. Its most significant advantage is on the fuel front: Toyota announced 6.6L/100km in the city, we did even better! Our average was an excellent 5.9L/100km; it is nearly perfect for a vehicle of this size and weight. On the highway, we were dead-on with the figures announced by the manufacturer, 6.8 announced, and 6.7 achieved. These figures are why so many buyers have chosen the Toyota Highlander for 15 years.
At the end of the day, the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD Platinum has been of the very few seven or eight-passenger SUVs to be offered with a hybrid powertrain for buyers looking for the best fuel economy from their daily commuter vehicle. This vehicle is versatile, comfortable, and fuel-efficient, but in our case, it comes at a hefty price. We'll be honest; you don't need all the bells and whistles we had in our test vehicle; for many families, the XLE version at $49,390 will be enough. Overall, the Highlander Hybrid is a practical vehicle with an impeccable reliability status, so it's no wonder why this vehicle is very popular with parents all over the continent.
Toyota has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Toyota Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.