Highlander, Toyota’s largest SUV, is on sale in western Europe for the first time, offered in an all-hybrid model range. To create the new Highlander Hybrid, Toyota has drawn on 23 years of experience in making hybrid vehicles and more than 16 million global sales. The model’s fourth-generation self-charging system provides up to 80 percent emissions-free driving, combined with Toyota’s renowned quality, durability, and reliability. Built on Toyota’s GA-K platform, Highlander has the large SUV attributes of seven seats on demand, comfort, drivability, and safety. The all-wheel-drive 245bhp/182kW hybrid powertrain is exceptionally quiet and offers fuel economy (WLTP combined cycle) from 39.2 to 39.7mpg with 160 to 163g/km CO2 emissions. Acceleration is smooth and powerful, and Highlander can tow loads of up to two tonnes. Toyota Highlander joins RAV4, C-HR, and the forthcoming Yaris Cross to complete a comprehensive Toyota European SUV line-up. It is Europe’s largest hybrid SUV range; in the UK all these models are now hybrid-only. Hitherto, the electrification of large (E-segment) SUVs has tended to focus on plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology. Despite the benefits this offers, customers in this part of the market tend to travel longer distances with a greater percentage of motorway miles that a PHEV’s electric range may not be able to meet. Highlander’s self-charging hybrid powertrain and an electric cruising speed of up to 78mph (125km/h) efficiently meet the segment’s customer needs.
The interior is designed with all the practicality, durability, and flexible space-on-demand expected of a seven-seat family SUV while offering a comfortable and luxurious environment for everyone on board. The instrument panel has a solid central element that houses the eight-inch multimedia display and flows across the full width of the dashboard, framed by smooth, soft-touch padding. It is visually supported by a wide, square center console. The switchgear is shaped to flow seamlessly from the panels and for ease of use. Satin and wood grain trim finishes add to the prestigious ambiance, while the soft-touch padding uses finely textured leather with precise stitch work. The interior is upholstered in black perforated leather with textured silver ornamentation and dark wood trim.
New Toyota Highlander Hybrid is 4,966mm long, 1,930mm wide, and 1,755mm high and has a 2,850mm wheelbase. It has the sleek and sophisticated styling of a premium urban SUV while communicating the power, strength, and durability of a rugged and versatile all-wheel-drive model. The wide front and rear tracks (1,662 and 1,690mm respectively) are given extra emphasis by flared wheel arches and the trapezoid shape of the upper and lower front grilles, reinforcing the car’s broad and powerful stance. The powerful look is further expressed in the wide flaring of the rear wheel arches, while the rear end is characterized by sharp, slim rear light clusters and large under-run. In profile, there is a strong sense of dynamism generated by a sturdy, forward-leaning lower body and a rear-sloping, tapering cabin with blacked-out pillars. Large, 20-inch alloy wheels add to the premium quality appearance – silver five-triple-spoke for the Excel model and dark grey/machined 10-spoke with the Premium. Seven exterior paint colors are available, including a new Moondust blue pearlescent which uses a two-layer coating process. This gives a solid look with the luster of pure metal.
Highlander uses Toyota’s fourth-generation self-charging hybrid electric system, combining a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine with front and rear electric motors (giving the SUV intelligent all-wheel drive) and a nickel-metal hydride battery, located beneath the second row of seats. Smooth, powerful acceleration is delivered on-demand and the car can cruise on all-electric power at speeds up to 78mph (125km/h). Appropriate for its size and status, Highlander can tow braked trailers of up to two tonnes. The hybrid system’s maximum power output of 245bhp/182kW enables 0-62mph acceleration in 8.3 seconds and a maximum speed of 111mph. WLTP combined cycle fuel consumption is from 39.2 to 39.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 160 to 163g/km. The driver can select their preferred drive mode to suit the occasion or conditions – Eco, Normal, Sport, and Trail. All four modes can still be used when the vehicle is operating in its (separately selectable) EV all-electric mode.
The four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC 2,487cc Atkinson cycle engine has a world-class 41 percent thermal efficiency. Its D-4S fuel injection system provides direct cylinder and port injection, the method changing according to the driving conditions to optimize power output and fuel efficiency. The engine’s Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve-timing uses electric motor operation on the intake side rather than oil pressure control, which enhances output and fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. The long bore and stroke ratio (87.5 x 103.48mm) and innovative cooling system combine to further improve the engine’s overall efficient performance. The hybrid system uses a smaller, lighter transaxle than its predecessor, adopting a dual-axis structure for the motor and generator. This delivers a low-loss gear train with a narrower width. The parallel axis design allows for a reduction in the motor’s size and an increase in its rotation speed. The gear ratio has been optimized for maximum fuel efficiency and dynamic performance. Resonance and noise have been suppressed by measures including polishing of the gear teeth and a new gear structure design, making the hybrid system quieter than ever before.
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