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2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: What You Need to Know

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 6/12/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car driving on a road: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid© Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The high-ranking 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specializes in what matters most to midsize SUV shoppers: solid performance around town and a spacious, high-quality interior. The cherry on top is a plethora of standard driver assistance features.

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is ranked:

Is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid a Good SUV?

Overall, the 2018 Highlander Hybrid is a very good midsize SUV. It has a decent amount of cargo and passenger space, solid fuel economy, a premium-quality cabin, and a long list of standard features—though some are frustrating to use. The Highlander Hybrid also has a comfortable ride and good power output from its hybrid engine setup, but it suffers from touchy brakes and uninspired steering.

Should I Buy the Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

If you're looking for a 3-row midsize SUV with a roomy, upscale cabin, high gas mileage estimates, and plenty of advanced safety features, the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a good choice. This is especially true if you were thinking about purchasing a heavily optioned nonhybrid Toyota Highlander. However, if you are on a tighter budget and can make do with less space, consider the smaller Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Its interior is not as nice as the Highlander Hybrid’s—and it only seats five—but it has great mileage estimates and similarly outstanding safety and predicted reliability scores.

Compare the Highlander Hybrid, Highlander, and RAV4 Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

There are no major changes for the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, so you may want to consider a similar older model to save money. The 2017 Highlander Hybrid underwent a midgeneration refresh, adding a new available engine and transmission, standard Toyota Safety Sense, and styling updates. Many of these safety features were available as options in earlier models, but you may have to hunt around for them. If neither the newly available powertrain nor the styling updates interest you, you may want to shop for a 2014, 2015, or 2016 Highlander Hybrid to save even more cash. This Toyota was fully redesigned for the 2014 model year, so models older than that are noticeably different. Check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid »
We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 35 Toyota Highlander Hybrid reviews—along with safety scores, reliability ratings, and more—to help you decide if the 2018 Highlander Hybrid is the right SUV for you.

This 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Cost?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at $36,670, which is one of the highest prices in the midsize SUV class. Three higher trim levels retail for another couple thousand dollars, and a fully loaded Highlander Hybrid can top $54,000. For more information about the Toyota Highlander Hybrid's standard and optional features, check out the “Which Toyota Highlander Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?” section below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Toyota Highlander?

The biggest differences between the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota Highlander are fuel economy savings and price. The gas-only Highlander gets 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, and its base price of $31,030 is about $5,000 less than the hybrid’s. Choosing the Highlander Hybrid will save you about $400 per year in fuel costs, but it would take you roughly 14 years to make up the MSRP difference. The Highlander Hybrid comes standard with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive. In comparison, a V6 Highlander Hybrid with all-wheel drive starts at $34,540. With this setup, making up the price difference would only take about five years.

Which Is Better: Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?

The 2018 RAV4 Hybrid has slightly better fuel efficiency than its larger hybrid relative, and its fuel costs are about $150 less per year. Additionally, its starting price is roughly $9,500 below the Highlander Hybrid’s. That said, the RAV4 Hybrid is part of the smaller compact SUV class. As such, it has less overall cargo space and seating for only five people (as opposed to the Highlander Hybrid's seating for up to eight). The smaller Toyota SUV also has a lot of plastics scattered around the cabin. The larger Toyota SUV looks and feels nicer, with more soft-touch materials. The RAV4 Hybrid is an excellent choice if you're searching for an efficient and affordable hybrid SUV. If you're willing to spend more for a higher-quality interior and additional space, opt for the Highlander Hybrid.

Compare the Highlander Hybrid, Highlander, and RAV4 Hybrid »

Highlander Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the Highlander Hybrid Seat?

The 3-row 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid seats eight with a standard second-row bench seat or seven with available captain’s chairs. Cloth seats come standard, while leather upholstery, power front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated captain’s chairs are optional. The first two rows have ample comfort and space for passengers, and the middle row slides for easier access to the back. Adults can fit in the third row for short trips, but they’ll be stuck in an awkward knees-up riding position. Children will be just fine back there.

Highlander Hybrid and Car Seats

The Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors in the second row. There's a top tether anchor for the middle bench seat (if you have it) and another tether anchor for the third-row middle seat. Overall, the LATCH system is simple to use. The lower anchors are high enough in the seat cushions that they’re easy to find, and the tether anchors are distinct from other hardware on the seatbacks.

Highlander Hybrid Interior Quality

Plenty of high-quality materials adorn the Highlander Hybrid’s cabin, and everything is wrapped up in a pleasing design. Higher trim levels offer supple leather and soft-touch surfaces that might remind you of a luxury vehicle.

Highlander Hybrid Cargo Space

With all its seats upright, the 2018 Highlander Hybrid has 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s on the low end for a 3-row midsize SUV and comparable to some sedans. If you don’t regularly use the last row of seats, keep it folded down to enjoy 42.3 cubic feet of space. Folding both rear rows results in a maximum of 83.7 cubic feet, which is good for the class. You can opt for a power tailgate, or you can choose a rear window that opens separately from the hatch itself. The window will allow you to load shopping bags without having to open the whole liftgate, or haul long items by sticking them out of the window.

Highlander Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the 2018 Highlander Hybrid include proximity key entry, push-button start, five USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment system, and a rearview camera. Optional features include tri-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a panoramic moonroof, a 120-volt power outlet, Driver Easy Speak, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 12-speaker JBL premium stereo, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and the Entune App Suite. It takes some time to familiarize yourself with the Highlander’s features and get past certain quirks—like the absence of a dedicated navigation button to quickly jump back to the navigation screen from other menus.

Read more about interior »

Highlander Hybrid Performance

Highlander Hybrid Engine: Smooth and Steady Power

The Toyota Highlander’s hybrid powertrain pairs a 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 engine with three electric motors. All-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission are also standard. The system puts out 231 horsepower. Low-speed acceleration is brisk, and power delivery stays strong as the vehicle continues to speed up. The Highlander Hybrid drives quietly despite its good performance.

Highlander Hybrid Gas Mileage: Good for Its Size

The 2018 Highlander Hybrid gets EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. As the sole hybrid in the class, it’s no surprise that the Highlander Hybrid leads all midsize SUVs in efficiency. The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid still gets better fuel economy, though, at 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

Highlander Hybrid Ride and Handling: Middle of the Road

The Highlander Hybrid rides with ease over most surfaces, absorbing bumps in the road to deliver a serene trip. Just don’t expect a very engaging ride—and prepare for the Highlander’s brakes if you’ve never driven a hybrid before. The regenerative braking transition isn’t particularly smooth, so it can be a challenge to apply the right amount of force to the brake pedal until you get used to it.  

Read more about performance »

Highlander Hybrid Reliability

Is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Reliable?

The 2018 Highlander Hybrid has a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five. A score of three is considered average for all new cars.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Warranty

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hybrid-related components are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Read more about reliability »

Highlander Hybrid Safety

Highlander Hybrid Crash Test Results

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received five out of five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards it the highest rating of Good in five crash tests, in addition to a 2018 Top Safety Pick designation.

Highlander Hybrid Safety Features

The Highlander Hybrid comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-P) pre-collision system of driver assistance technologies. That includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. A rearview camera also comes standard. Optional safety features include front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a surround-view camera.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Highlander Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in four trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. All models come with the same hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive. Most additional features are added by moving up the trim ladder, but there are a few stand-alone options (depending on the trim), such as remote start and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

The best value trim is the Highlander Hybrid XLE. It builds on the base model’s numerous standard features with extra comforts like leather seats, heated seats, satellite radio, and an upgraded infotainment system. Higher trim levels cost thousands of dollars more and don’t provide a lot of added value beyond ventilated seats, parking sensors, and a surround-view camera.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at $36,670. Standard features include cloth seats, proximity key entry, push-button start, five USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE

The Highlander Hybrid retails for $41,730. It includes leather seats, heated front seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a flip-up rear window, a power tailgate, a 120-volt power outlet, Driver Easy Speak, satellite radio, HD Radio, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, the Entune App Suite, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

Upgrade to the Highlander Hybrid Limited for $45,160, and you’ll get heated and ventilated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, a 12-speaker JBL premium stereo, and rear parking sensors.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum

The range-topping Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum costs $48,280 and adds a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, a panoramic moonroof, front parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a surround-view camera.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a fuel-efficient midsize SUV that boasts an elegant interior, a comfortable ride, and a strong powertrain. However, you can get those same qualities—and a much lower price—with the regular Highlander. Go for the Highlander Hybrid if saving gas is your main priority, but choose the conventional model if you’re looking for a good family hauler that will still leave some cash in the college fund.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

 

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