Highlander Owners

Discussion in 'Toyota Hybrids and EVs' started by acdii, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Tell me about the HiHy. How does it perform, comfort, problems, towing, cargo, etc. I am on the fence with my 13 FFH, and Ford. There are 5 people in my family, Wife, Mom, and 2 kids in car seats. The Fusion is just barely wide enough for my wife and 2 car seats in the back seat for short trips, long trips, forgetaboutit. We had a 2010 Flex for trips, replaced with an F150, but we decided the truck was just too much for us, and replaced it with the Fusion.

    So unless Ford can assure me that the car can be repaired, and soon, I may just cut my losses and replace it with something else, and the Highlander Hybrid came to mind. I am looking for a used one, possibly a 2010 model. The Flex was a great car, it fit everyone comfortably and did OK on the highway, but I was looking to consolidate, I had an F350 Dually Diesel at the same time, so replaced both the F350 and Flex with the F150. So I am looking for something like the Flex that gets better MPG and can tow, the Escape is too small for us, and a sedan is too small, why car seats have to be so wide is beyond me. I also need cargo room for picking up horse feed, the car only gets us 4 bags, and they can go through that in a week or less.

    It is a tough decision to make since I really like driving the Fusion, but at the premium of the Hybrid system and it not delivering its potential, 34 instead of 47, the cost savings doesnt add up, and if I can get a used vehicle that we like and fits our needs for less per month, I may just do that, but it has to fit our needs.

    What I am most interested in are the negatives, what dont you like about it, what should be corrected, what I should look for, etc.
     
  2. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    The Highlander is smaller than the Flex, particularly in terms of cargo space when the third row is in use. With a load of 3 adults and 2 kids, I suspect you will find that fitting a road trip's worth of luggage to be a lot more difficult than the Flex, unless you purchase a roof or hitch mount cargo carrier.

    The Highlander is not much wider in terms of fitting three people in the third row than any midsize sedan like Fusion or Camry. For the third row to be most useful, I would suggest looking at 2011 and newer models, as that is when the split-folding third row seat became standard. In terms of fuel economy, you obviously will be getting considerably less than a FFH with the Highlander Hybrid, but certainly a lot better than a Flex.
     
  3. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Thanks! I have been looking at the MKT as well, and fits the budget a wee bit better than the only Highlander I can find around here. Anything newer than 09 is over 32K.

    The good news is Ford is sending an engineer out this Wednesday to work on my car, so hopefully they find the problem, but if returned once again with the same line of no problem found, it's the cold, it's your driving, same ol line of S***, then it will be adios. There is an MKT available with everything I am looking for that we can deal on to knock our payments down $68. May not make up the difference in gas savings, but it will be used far less than the Fusion is now.

    The Fusion was bought to help alleviate some of the miles we are putting on our 2010, we had it 16 months and already put 35,000 miles on it, and want it to make 5 years. When we had the other Flex, I drove it on Tuesdays, or when we all went somewhere on the weekends or evenings, and can do that once more. It would be roughly 150 miles a week on it instead of the 450 I put on the new Fusion now, so hopefully the gas works out.

    Today we had to get horse food, and had to take both cars, and the kids to do it. What I would normally carry in the Flex or F150, weighed down both cars, 300# in one and 480# in the other, and both are sitting with the rear wheels an inch from the fender. We have to do this once a month or more, especially now that Hay is scarce, so we are using more of the bagged food now, so more trips are needed. It isnt until you no longer have it is when you discover how much you needed it!

    I did some reading on towing with the hihy and found it is considerably less than the Flex/MKT, and even lower in reality, but will still give it a look, already got an idea of what it will cost us, just need to give it a good look before we decide. We looked at an MKT today, just looked, didn't get inside, they had just detailed it, and we weren't interested in that particular one, it had 90K on it, but wanted to see it in person, since all we have seen are pictures, and we liked it. It is very similar inside to the Flex, and has the same dimensions, but the third row is a bit tighter in the head room than the Flex, and rear cargo area a bit tighter, but still more than the Fusions.
     
  4. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    The MKT is very nice, but it is definitely a luxury rebranded Flex. The space behind the third row is the big difference. Third row legroom is pretty typical of similar SUVs; only suitable for kids on a long trip.
     
  5. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    The reason we are considering the MKT over the Flex is the Adaptive Cruise control and BLIS. More so the BLIS than the ACC. We found a Flex Limited for the same price, but more miles on it, which makes the MKT a better deal, still has a little warranty time left. The both fit our needs, and we have two little ones still in car seats that will fit fine in the back.
     
  6. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    For all the space it has, I wish the third row wasn't so low to the floor. Otherwise it would be more tolerable for teens and adults. The same is true for the other larger midsize models, like the Traverse/Enclave/Acadia. I had the Infiniti JX for review recently. It has a whole set of optional advanced safety features and is also pretty roomy. Probably not many on the used market yet, though.
     
  7. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    It really is hard to find a fuel efficient family vehicle that can haul a trailer and carry heavy loads. The Flex did OK fuel wise, with the twin turbos and play time I was seeing 18.5 average, and have got as high as 27 on the interstate. We both like the Flex, but the safety features of BLIS are only available on the MKT, and we really like those in the Fusions. I found a few that we can work the numbers on, and be comfortable cost wise.

    So depending on what the Ford tech comes up with on Wednesday, we will have some choices to lock in, or not have to. Somehow though, my gut is telling me they will come back with the shaft instead of a true fix.
     
  8. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    I haven't looked at this thread carefully, but OP should also consider the vehicles at The Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs | Best SUVs for fuel economy - Consumer Reports and Best & Worst Fuel Economy | Most & Least Fuel Efficient - Consumer Reports that are large enough for his needs.

    See The Most Fuel-Efficient Cars | Best Cars for Gas - Consumer Reports for context re: CR's mileage tests (and last page of http://www.consumersunion.org/Oct_CR_Fuel_Economy.pdf for their method vs. old EPA method).
     
  9. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    Try narrower child seats in the Fusion. People who want to use 3 child seats in the back of a Prius use 2 Radians to give them a little more room.
     
  10. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    I looked at all of those, and they are all pretty much smaller than the Flex. The Flex is about as small as I can go while still able to fulfill all our needs. #1 is it must be able to tow 4500#, and that pretty much rules them all out. I looked at the escape and Edge, and neither one would work for us. For one thing the seat belts in the edge are goofy. I dont see how you could fit a person in the middle unless they were a foot wide. The buckle was mid way on my right butt cheek. My butt aint very wide either.

    I have a horse trailer rated at 7500#, and with one horse comes in at 3700, so at the minimum I can pull it with one horse in it.
     
  11. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    The Highlander Hybrid is a great vehicle. It's comfortable. It's quiet. It's quick (0-60 in 7.5 seconds or less), it can tow 3500 lbs, it has AWD. All that with better overall fuel economy than any other 3-row vehicle. Significantly better if you live in a warmer climate and do basic hypermiling.

    It's still a tradeoff if you are coming from a larger vehicle. We came from a minivan and yes, it is a big compromise. We made it work on long trips with a hitch cargo carrier. If the main priority is improved fuel economy, you can usually find a way to make it work. Much like those who have traded their mid and full-size sedans for a Prius or C-Max have made the smaller car work. Obviously, if you routinely have 8-passengers, have to tow over 3500 lbs frequently or something, then you probably can't make it work at all, unless you have an appropriate second vehicle or can use a rental if you only tow or take long trips once a year or something.

    I chuckled recently when someone told me they wanted something more fuel efficient, but NEEDED an Escalade because they had 3 kids, needed AWD and had to tow a heavy trailer. Of course, the reality is that they use it 99.9% of the time for 3 hours of commuting alone every day and lament about gas prices. Then they take one or two trips a year where they actually have to tow. In Chicago, AWD is pretty much unnecessary, as we don't actually get a lot of snow and when we do, it's usually plowed pretty quickly. Plus, AWD/4WD doesn't help at all for what they actually need: stopping quickly on slick, congested expressways. For the price of that Escalade, they could have purchased a more fuel efficient crossover like a Flex or Durango for those couple towing trips and also purchased a fuel-efficient car for the commute and still had money left over, even after buying a set of premium winter tires for both vehicles. Or better yet, saved a ton of money and purchased a single, more fuel efficient vehicle like Honda Odyssey Touring or HiHy for family and commuting, then rented a big SUV once or twice a year for when they need to tow. Of course, that's not as cool as having an Escalade in the driveway (because it doesn't fit in their garage!).

    acdii- the new 2013 Pathfinder tows 5000 lbs standard and is rated 19 city 25 highway in 4x4 trim. Not bad if you can make do with 5000 lbs.
     
  12. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Yeah, just checked pricing, lowest price range for towing capabilities is 37K, a wee bit out of our price range. Looking to reduce monthly expenditures if we can. I already did so getting the Fusion(which has been a nightmare) in place of the F150, saved $70 a month, but found out how much we actually used the truck for picking up things. Took two vehicles to get what we normally got as a small load with the Flex and F150. This is the reason behind getting a Flex/MKT/HiHy.

    I would prefer the Highlander, provided I can find one that fits our budget, but from my searching so far, they are out of our price range. Only one can be found under $30K and its a 2009. Going to at least take a look at it to see if it would at the very least meet 80% of our needs.
     
  13. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Test drove one this afternoon, it was a 2009 and while it drove nice, was comfortable, it lacked a few features we are accustomed to, like the USB connection for iPhone, the 3rd row is one peice as previously mentioned, not much room behind the 3rd row, and it was missing the hitch, so it put it out of contention, but I did see over 30 MPG at times in it, and was easy to get into EV. Nice vehicle but pretty high in price for what it had.
     
  14. drewbabich

    drewbabich Junior Member

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    Yea buddy! I just posted another piece on my 2006 hihy and how weak the MPG numbers are on the highway in the winter.

    Don't get me wrong, driving under 60 mph and playing the maximize fuel economy is a blast, but if you gotta cover lots of miles on the highway and want to move a ton of people and gear.... the HIHY is a big disapointment for how much they cost. Not to mention if you ever run into a hybrid servicing problem forget about getting a deal on service. I got to bed praying my HIHY doesn't have any suprises for me down the line. You're at toyotas mercy.

    Last night I had to move one adult and four children to the airport with luggage and I was embarrassed at the seating conditions I had to pack the children into. Forget about it if it they were adults. I should of taken my Kia borrego SUV which is way bigger and gets about the same highway mpg's. I only went with the HIHY in hopes of saving some fuel. Wasn't worth it.

    Minivans are bigger and more comefortable on the inside and probably get better mpg's or the same on the highway.

    If you're getting over 20 in your flex you'll never recoup the resale and purchase price cost of swapping to a hybrid suv if towing and highway is your priority. Where i'm from in New England you get spanked big time with taxes each time you buy a different car.

    I love my HIHY but fortunately i don't need it for road trips. If I did, i'd desperately try to cram everything into my prius, or my Legacy wagon.

    The HIHY has a TON of power which is cool if you want to murder your MPG's but it is bouncy and sloppy handling wise. My prius is more sporty in the turns (which isn't saying much) and my Subaru legacy is 1000 times more sporty feeling in the turns and at high speed.

    Basically what i'm saying is dear god why can't they make a seven passenger prius v or hybrid minivan in america. Its insane that they don't.

    The only time I'm glad I bought this HIHY is when I driving below 50 mph nursing the gas pedal to get 25-28 mpg. (I'm slowest person off the line at a green light trying to run without the ICE kicking in)... People behind me must HATE me. In a lot of ways I'm ashamed of myself......
     
  15. acdii

    acdii Active Member

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    Well, I had forgotten about this thread. Last year I finally made a deal to dump that Blue Devil and got a really nice Flex EB. It was perfect, and was destined to be my long term vehicle. Well on 2-21 we were in a 7 car pile up, and while we were pretty much unhurt, just a few bruises and muscle aches, the poor Flex took a beating. I hit a Saturn on the right rear, and basically blew the doors off it, the front drivers side of the flex was bashed in pretty good, but the worst was getting hit from behind moments later. Kudos to Ford, they really made the Flex safe in a crash, 4 of 6 bags went off, and everything did exactly what it was supposed to. The car dialed 911 through my phone, and activated the 4 way flashers.

    The Flex easily got 21 MPG even though it has 365 HP and moved like a bat out of hell. It was very comfortable to drive, had plenty of room and handled a trailer very well, even though the trailer towered over it and was the same length. A very sad day for us.

    Now comes the fun part, replacing it, I never thought I would have to replace it in less than a year, but here I am looking for another car(thankfully I have GAP). The problem I have now, I cannot find one just like it, the one I had was black, with the appearance package with black wheels, Adaptive Cruise, Roof rails and tow package. I cant find one like this in any color, the closest I find has those stupid DVD players, and I am not paying $2 for headrests that will never be used. I am looking for an MKT and found a few, but they are hundreds of miles away, and I would hate to commit to one and find out it doesn't live up to what is listed and come home with no car. I am also not going to buy new, $13K in 10 months loss is what it resulted in. Not that it matters much, since the long term plan is drive it well after it is paid for, but that big depreciation does hurt. Also buying used reduces the monthly payment by a couple hundred a month.

    Anyhow, after work I am entertaining the thought of checking out a 13 Highlander, non hybrid to see how it compares to what we had. After the crash in the Flex, I know it is a very safe vehicle and lived up to its goals 100%, so this will be at the top of my list. How does it compare to the Flex/MKT from an accident standpoint, does it automatically call 911 when an airbag deploys? Does it require special services to do it, that are standard in the Flex with out services? Sync includes 911 assist in all models, no subscription required. Does it engage the hazards after an impact? Does it have full side curtains all the way back?

    Then onto conveniences, does the 2nd and 3rd row fold flat and give a nice large floor for hauling things, how high do things need to be lifted to put in there. We monthly buy 6-800 pounds or more of horse supplies, bags are 50# each. I also haul my RC planes, and I have one that has a 104" wingspan and it fit snugly in the Fusion, when it would barely fit on the back of my F150 with the elevator and prop removed.

    In our Fusion(yes I replaced my 2010 with a 2013 HyTi that was ordered to replace the BD, then I got the Flex, but the HyTi was still built, and I loved it the moment I saw it, and has been great since day one, no issues like the first one), My wife can fit in between the two cars seats comfortably, and we had taken a road trip last July in it like that. However in an Edge or Explorer, the middle seat belt is nearly in the center of the seat and I cant see how anyone can sit there. So that will be another thing to check, just in case we need to haul something and have to fit 3 across. Easily done in the Flex.

    So far the Highlander is the only one that has Adaptive Cruise, which now is a must have for me, My Fusion has it, the Flex had it, and it is a fantastic feature. This is what makes it to my list, I hate minivans, and dont want a hulking gas guzzling V8 SUV, and especially one that looks like a bubble(Lexus RX comes to mind). Getting 21 MPG in my typical drive was great, though highway miles, unknown since I never had a chance to take it on any long road trips, but if it is anything like the F150 was, 24+ MPG should be the norm. Biggest comparison is the Entune vs the MFT. I happen to like MFT now that I know how to use it.
     
  16. drewbabich

    drewbabich Junior Member

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    Your 'typical' 21 mpg drive? Was that on 50 mph country roads or open freeway 75 mph crusing. I always liked the flex a lot. I thought that would make a sick taxi. Always wondered about the MPG's. 365 hp is a crazy amount.

    My subaru legacy 2005 five speed MT could do 28-32 mpg at 75 mph no problem and I used to load insane amounts of stuff into it. That car defined 'overacheiver'.

    I had like 100 granite pavers in it that must of been 8-12 lbs each. I used to go on ski trips with four other people, and five sets of skis and boots all inside the vehicle. (one person was a four year old though)

    I fit five 55" tv's in it (half were in box).

    If they made that car in seven seater like the old staion wagons I'd own four of them and never own a different car.
     
  17. drewbabich

    drewbabich Junior Member

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    And i know what you mean about wanting a big giant black vehicle. If you gotta drive a soccer mom car, making it all black with tinted windows makes it so much cooler.
     
  18. CPSDarren

    CPSDarren CPS Technician

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    My experience is that it gets just above EPA estimates around 30mpg on the highway year round on average after 3 years. A bit less in Chicago winters, a bit more in summer. It's not aerodynamic and with the big V6 going all the time at highway speeds with cruise control, even the EPA of 28mpg is actually pretty reasonable. To pulse & glide on a road trip makes it pretty annoying for passengers, but you could probably do better if you don't mind annoying wife, kids and everyone else on the road;-) Our Prius is great on the highway in terms of fuel economy, easily exceeding EPA estimates, sometimes by 20% or more. The Highlander is limited to more of a city/suburban appeal. I get about the same overall mileage in the suburbs, but it's much higher in the summer and much lower in the winter.

    I've saved a lot of fuel vs. our minivan, though I ended up not driving enough miles to make it break even. Still cut back on emissions and foreign oil imports, though. Now if I lived somewhere like SoCal with no severe winters and drove 15k a year, it would have been a no-brainer. Any other V6 AWD midsize SUV would be very lucky to get half the mileage of the Highlander Hybrid around the city in warmer areas, when driven by someone with even a little experience maximizing EV mode driving. That's a big deal.

    Even if you drive it like a normal car it doesn't look too bad in comparative testing:
    The Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs | Best SUVs for fuel economy - Consumer Reports

    As for servicing, it's basically a regular Highlander for the most part. The hybrid components and battery are covered by a pretty generous 8y/100k warranty in most states, 10y/150k in CARB states like California or New York.

    Minivans are bigger, no question. We fit our family of 2 adults and 3 kids just fine for a road trip from Chicago to Niagara and back in our Highlander. The minivan could have fit one more person comfortably. We could have folded one rear seat and totally crammed all our luggage inside the HH with some difficulty. Instead we put some on a hitch carrier. All that stuff would have fit behind the third row seat in the Honda Odyssey EXL that we replaced with the Highlander.

    Our youngest is fine in the third row, but an adult would not make it back there on a long trip. The minivan third row is a lot more comfortable, especially for adults because it is higher off the floor. Other than that, the Highlander was much quieter, had a smoother ride on the road and more comfortable overall. The best mpg I ever got in the Odyssey on a full tank was a hair under 30mpg in ideal conditions with no A/C. In the Highlander Hybrid we got 31mpg on one tank on that trip, even with A/C running and a hitch carrier behind us.

    The problem for 2014 is the fuel economy dropped very slightly with the increase in size and weight, plus you can no longer get the sub-40k base model. I paid 5k more than a similarly equipped V6 AWD regular Highlander, making it possible to break even if you drive enough miles. If I had had to spend 5-10k more on a Limited trim, I'd still be driving a minivan. I also would love a hybrid or turbo diesel minivan. Even a Grand C-Max would have been nice, but they didn't bring it to the USA. A hybrid Mazda5 would be nice, too. At least there is some competition now with the Pathfinder, but it's fuel economy is worse because I think it is more of a mild hybrid?

    I really like mine, other than the front end styling which is awful, though at least somewhat distinctive. I also enjoy hypermiling around town in both our Highlander and Prius. I'm not an extreme hypermiler, but also not a moving roadblock. Have to make some compromises with driving style, heat and A/C when you run kids around most of the time! Other than maybe a Tesla, or a GL-class Bluetec if cost was no object, I can't think of anything else I'd rather be driving for running the kids around town. That may change at next year's auto show, of course, but I'm not planning any trade-ins anytime soon.
     
  19. drewbabich

    drewbabich Junior Member

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    Yea the highlander 2011's are better cause they are bigger and look way cooler like something you'd be proud to driver vs. the Forrester styled 2006's.

    I read that the 2006's were 400 lbs lighter and smaller then the 08+ ones so they got better MPG's and were faster though, plus I picked mine up for 8500 bills and put 400 into it replacing the rear wheel bearings. My warranty is up at 130,000 miles.

    I do expect to take this thing to 300,000 miles, but if you read the other reviews and do run into hybrid system operating issues or a bad battery you're looking at expenses so crazy you're gonna probably have parts car. Thats at least what the other reviews have said.

    If there was an nice 08+ available in my area for even 10 grand more I probably would of gone for that. But there wasn't. These things are so rare and hold value like crazy.

    I'd be much better off with the larger better looking HIHY for taxi use.
     
  20. drewbabich

    drewbabich Junior Member

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    And i would never want to tow a horse trailer with my highlander. This thing feels like a barely beefed up camry, not a F150 like my truck based SUV.

    I feel confident I have the power to tow something ginormous, but not the suspension or frame strength. Not to mention i don't want to put any extra tax on my expensive to fix and replace hybrid componentry.
     
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