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2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Posted: 02/05/2008 - 5:56 PM ET

The 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid midsize SUV is completely redesigned for the new model year, boasting a wider, longer and more aggressively curvaceous stance. Also new this year is a new chassis that boasts improved Hybrid technology. Despite its larger dimensions and brisk acceleration, this is the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger vehicle on sale for 2008. An environmentally friendly V6 gasoline engine works in conjunction with three electric motors that have resulted in frugal midsize SUV EPA estimates of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. Electric propulsion is used to a greater degree at slower speeds, which is why the Highlander Hybrid gets better mileage while driving in the city. It is estimated that battery replacement and disposal fees fot the Highlander Hybrid would run around $5000.

The Base Model has seating for 5 occupants and is equipped with 17" alloy wheels and a comfortable, versatile interior featuring a multiple function display screen centrally located within the handsome wood grain trim. The display projects the images captured by the back-up camera as well as other information, including gas mileage. Versatility is optimized with the 40/20/40 second row bench seat featuring a remove and stow 'jump seat' in center section of the bench that can easily be removed and stored away creating 2 second row captains chairs and a pathway to the rear seat. The Base model also features a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a CD/MP3/WMA-capable stereo system with auxiliary audio jack, and power windows, mirrors and door locks. Additional options for the Base model include a third row seat, dual zone automatic climate control in the front and the rear of the cabin. The Limited model has room for up to 7 passengers due to the standard 3rd row seat configuration. The Limited also features larger 19" wheels, power rear lift gate, leather wrapped steering wheel, power driver seat and an upgraded audio system that includes a 6 disc in dash CD changer. The Limited model is furthermore eligible for heated leather seats, a premium JBL audio system integrated with Bluetooth technology, a rear seat DVD player, navigation system and a sunroof.

3 electric motors supplement the 3.3 liter V6 gasoline engine resulting in a sizable combined effort of 270 horsepower. Full time all wheel drive is facilitated by a continuously variable transmission and the incorporation of two separate electric motors driving the front and rear wheels. The electric motors are used to start the gas engine and fuel its nickel metal hydride battery pack, as well as provide additional and admirable driving force. In 'EV' driving mode, the vehicle will operate solely on electric power; however this is only economically useful and practical when the vehicle is traveling short distances at low speeds. Econ mode is more realistic a choice for daily travels that restrains throttle acceleration to increase fuel economy. Switching from one mode to the other during sluggish traffic jams is simple enough and operations are unrecognizable. What you will recognize is the fuel savings.

The 2008 Toyota Highlander has a visually sophisticated and roomy interior. Cabin noise is minimal at best and the easy to operate fold flat 3rd row seat and 2nd row jump seat makes increases or reductions in passenger or cargo space quick and easy. Overall performance is strong, the ride is smooth and the handling capably delivers a smooth ride. The hybrid system operates virtually undetected, quietly saving the environment and saving you money at the same time. This may just be one of the easiest to drive earth friendly vehicles available today.



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