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2011 Highlander Hybrid Purchase- Now a 2 Hybrid Family

Discussion in 'Toyota Hybrids' started by CPSDarren, Apr 2, 2011.

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  1. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    After 10 years of driving a Honda minivan, I finally pulled the trigger on the '11 Highlander Hybrid last Tuesday. I had strongly considered one 5 years ago when I bought my last van, but the lack of a split folding rear seat made it a lot less practical for our 3 kids.

    Since the announcement of the 2011 model with a split 3rd row seat and increased fuel economy, I had been watching supplies in the area since late last fall. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything but white and silver in the Chicago area when I was finally ready to buy in March. I'm not real fond of the new front end appearance of the 2011 HiHy, and I think it looks a lot worse in lighter colors. Shoreline Blue was basically impossible to find anywhere in the midwest region. Black could be found in Limited trim, but I only saw one in base trim and it dissapeared a few weeks ago. Red and Gray were not to be found in any trim in the Chicago area, but I did find some not too far away in Wisconsin and Indiana.

    Unfortunately, some local dealers started cranking up prices a couple weeks ago, presumably in response to rising gas prices and supply concerns from the Japan disasters. In fact, the Carmax new Toyota dealership where my wife bought her Prius raised their "no-haggle" advertised price by $3000 on their two HiHys that had been sitting on the lot for a couple months. Prior to the increase, those two were selling for hundreds under invoice price. I did find a few local dealers offering white or silver between invoice and $500 above invoice, but nothing to be found in any other color. A few local dealers raised their prices from near invoice to MSRP just over a week ago, also. I had pretty much resigned myself to waiting another year until the supply panic was over, as there only seemed to be about 20 HiHys in the area in recent months and the number had started to drop (less than 10 remain as I type, based on buyatoyota.com inventory listing).

    I decided to make one last effort by emailing some dealers within a few hundred miles I found by Googling the VIN numbers that turned up on the buyatoyota.com inventory search (you have to click the "calculate montly payment" option to see the VIN for a moment, stop your browser then copy it). Anyway, I found a few in gray and red, but none in black or blue, my favorite colors. I didn't care for the red, so I contacted one dealer about their Predawn Grey model.

    In a day of swapping emails with the internet sales department, we had reached an agreement that came out to about $300 over invoice, after I got them to throw in the mudguards (they apparently didn't have the paint protection film in stock to also include in the deal). He also gave me a reasonable quote on my trade-in, which was the key to the deal. It was a 3.5 hour drive to get there with a lot of unknown about the trade-in, but I decided it was worth a road trip for the day. It was certainly better than my nearest Toyota dealer, who had the worst deal. They wanted sticker price and estimated 13-14k for the trade-in on a silver model they had in stock. I'm sure they will sell it on such a deal, but not from me.

    Fortunately, it all turned out fine once I got to central Wisconsin! The gray was darker than I thought, so it looked even better than the photos and video I've seen online. The dealer honored their price quote. $300 over invoice wasn't a great deal just a few weeks ago, but probably a very good deal at the time I bought it, especially for one in a dark color. More importantly, they also honored their estimate on the trade-in after the appraisal. I had pretty much decided to walk if there was any change, as I was already above the deal I thought I could get before the supply concerns. Other than some time waiting for a previous customer to be done with the finance manager, all went very smoothly and quickly.

    I now have a 2011 Predawn Gray HiHy in the garage, probably one of very few in the greater Chicago area and maybe just one of a literal handful of base models that aren't white or silver. Given the $670 price increase this week and the supplies that have dwindled to almost nothing in the last week, this may be the first vehicle I've purchased that ever appreciated in value!

    The best part? According to the computer, I got 29 mpg on the 200+ mile trip back from the dealer and it has risen to above 30mpg on the current tank since driving around town for a hundred miles. That's only a few mpg better than my Honda Odyssey on the highway, but over 50% better around town. The Odyssey fuel economy was quite impressive for that size vehicle, as it is clearly roomier and more flexible than the HiHy, especially in the third row. While the 28/28 mpg estimates are nothing compared to the 50mpg overall we get in our Prius, there isn't a single AWD vehicle with 3 rows of seating that comes close to the HiHy. Still, I do need a bumper sticker that reads, "My other car is a Prius"!

    Finally, thanks to Kolosso Toyota for honoring the fair price they quoted me by email, considering the 3.5 hour distance. Aside from the Prius they were delivering at the same time, I'm not sure they had any others.
  2. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Congrats! Pics of the new Pre-Dawn Mica! I've only seen it on the Sienna SE V6 and it matches (esp. with the bodykit and graphite 19" alloys) but would be curious to see it on the '11 HiHy.
  3. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    Sure thing- nice to see someone reads threads down here lol!

    I haven't seen a Sienna in predawn gray yet, but I did see mine next to a regular highlander in the magnetic gray. The predawn seemed a hair lighter with a bit less metallic sparkle. I liked the magnetic gray a bit more, I wish they had put that on the HiHy. The photo makes it look somewhat lighter than it is, due to the reflections.

    So far, it's quite nice. The third row legroom is low, even for older kids. That's mostly because the seats are low to the floor, perhaps due to the batteries or other hybrid components below. The bluetooth system works fine, but is cumbersome in regards to commands and importing contacts, at least compared to an Acura TSX wagon I had recently to review. The rear view camera is small, but does the job well.

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  4. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Haha. Well I "View New Posts" so it lists everything.

    Looks nice. If I didn't know what Pre-Dawn looked like, I would've guess that was Winter Grey. I know Pre-Dawn has a bit more purple than in the picture (at least when I saw it on the Sienna indoors)

    IIRC, it's just as poor in the regular HiHy. Most 3rd rows in SUVs are like that (they don't have the lower floors of minivans)

    At least the camera's standard. You have to get the nav to get the full 7" screen. The backup camera will be displayed there instead.
  5. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    Yup- A main reason I even considered it was for the standard backup cam and bluetooth. Stuff I wanted, without getting things I didn't really care about like leather or moonroof. I had dark leather in my van and while I will miss the heated seats in winter, I won't miss the leather in summer!

    There does seem to a slight tint (I thought it was bluish) in the sunlight sometimes. It was overcast when I took the picture so perhaps less color showed on the photo.

    Seems I found an installer to put full hood paint protection film on. Now to find a small subwoofer that will fit under a front seat or take up minimal cargo area...
  6. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Yeah esp up north here, the Corolla LE is the first Toyota in recent years that I can think of that has heated seats with the fabric interior. The other models require a leather seat upgrade.

    Winter Grey has a bluish tint (as evident in the paint colour code. The first number is the same number as the blue family)
  7. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    First fillup was 30.2 mpg, exactly what the trip computer said. Our 2010 Prius computer usually over-estimates by about 5% or so. Almost 200 miles of that was interstate driving around 70-75mpg and the computer said 29.0mpg after that first drive back from the dealer. The mpg went up just over 1 mpg after almost 300 miles around town. Average temps have been in the 40s and 50s mostly.

    Our Prius is back to normal now that it is warming up, getting just above 50mpg, after the usual winter dropoff of 20% or more.
  8. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Yeah I'm down to 4.2L/100km (up to 58mpg) showing on the computer which probably means 4.5L/100km (or about 53mpg) by hand. Much better now that daytime highs are on the correct side of freezing. Good to hear that the HiHy has numbers closer to reality.
  9. Dolce_Vita

    Dolce_Vita Member

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    Congrats on your new car! I wish Australia got the hybrid variant of the Highlander! post more pics? :)
  10. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    I have a few pics and video in a blog review. Probably not much interest for Prius fans, but one marketing study I found determined that one target demographic for the Highlander Hybrid were current Prius owners...
  11. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    So far, I've had 3 full tanks of 500 miles each. As temperatures have gone up, so has the fuel economy. I've also started to drive it more conservatively like our Prius. I got 30.2 the first tank with some highway miles. The next two tanks were almost 31mpg and 33.5mpg in all suburban driving with no highway trips. I'm over 35 mpg part way into my current tank. With the same conditions and style of driving, I would get in the mid-to-upper 50s in our 2010 Prius. It's pretty flat here in the Chicago suburbs with moderate traffic. I don't have a daily commute, it's mostly errands around town, usually a mile or two each way, some up to 5 miles each way. Temps have been in the 80s and 90s.

    I drive moderately conservative, coasting as much as possible. I just started with some pulse and glide and increase my tire pressures up to the sidewal max rating. I'm sure a pro hypermiler could get over 40mpg, but I'm pretty happy with low-to-mid 30s, especially for such a heavy vehicle with a big V6 and AWD.
  12. Sergiospl

    Sergiospl Senior Member

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    Wow, putting this into perspective; a 3-row full size SUV with the combined mileage of a Honda Fit: 31 Combined!
  13. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    That's impressive. That new engine/HSD combo works well and improves mileage over the 3.3 litre/HSD combo.
  14. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    I'm up over 36mpg after 100 miles on this tank, so I'm pretty sure I can do 35 without being a moving roadblock.

    The Lexus 450h is rated 4 mpg higher in the city without AWD. I wish I had that option in the Highlander Hybrid, I'd probably be hitting 40 mpg. Can't recall if it needs premium or not, though.

    Supposedly Toyota added a couple cold weather fuel economy improvements from the 450h as well. Hopefully it won't be any larger of a drop this winter than our Prius that usually loses over 20% of its fuel economy.
  15. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    The 3.5 litre engine can make do with regular fuel (On the ES350, premium is recommended but not required but as you can see the difference in hp between the ES and the Camry V6 - 272hp vs 268hp, it's not much).

    I thought the 2011 HiHy also came with all the 2010 Prius enhancements (exhaust heat recirculation and cooled exhaust gas recirculation)
  16. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Is it 4 wheel drive, or some sort of on-the-fly 4 wheel drive? Also, is there only one drive configuration for the hybrid, or do you have a choice?

    BTW, I can recall looking through a Highlander brochure and being pleasantly suprised by the mileage improvement in the hybrid version. Obviously not a Prius, but the Hybrid version has a big improvement over non-hybrid.
  17. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    It's essentially AWD (just like the regular HiHy). Toyota calls it 4WD-i which means it eschews the standard AWD setup of a centre differential for a simpler rear electric motor to simulate AWD.
  18. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    Yup, ideal for inclement weather. Probably not suitable for anything but light off-roading or anywhere you need sustained torque from the rear axle.

    No option to omit AWD on the Toyota, but you can on the Lexus.



    Yes, that's what I was told by Toyota marketing. I guess the Lexus had that prior to 2011 also. So, I hope it's no worse than our Prius on a percentage basis this winter.
  19. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North Staff Member

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    Yeah cause the RX450h came out in 2010. I guess Toyota wanted to wait until the midlife update to introduce it. I'm surprised they didn't introduce the 3.5 litre HSD setup in 2008 but I guess they wanted the RX to get it first and make it look like it trickled down. (That and it's easier to use the 3.3. litre V6 HSD on the HiHy and get more returns from its R&D before making the switch).
  20. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    I was up to 37mpg city when I took a short road trip today, about 50 miles or so round trip averaging probably 65 mph. I'm back down to 34 mpg now. Between poor aerodynamics and poor pulse&glide technique on the highway, I do a lot better around town where I know the roads and traffic signals much better. Granted, there were also 5 people on board with max A/C, so that hurt a little bit, too.
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