Toyota Presents New Highlander Hybrid SUV

March 29, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Toyota Motor Corp. (Nagoya, Japan) announced that it will introduce the 2006 Highlander Hybrid gasoline-electric mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) – the industry’s first seven-passenger hybrid SUV – in June 2005. The 3.3 L, V6-equipped Highlander Hybrid will be powered by another new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. The system was specifically developed to meet the load-carrying requirements of a mid-size SUV.

The new system features a larger-capacity battery and a new high-speed electric motor that will deliver more power than Toyota's current-generation Prius hybrid-electric automobile. With total peak-system power projected at approximately 270 HP, the new system will improve upon the V6 Highlander's less-than-eight-second, 0 kph to 100 kph acceleration. The Highlander Hybrid provides acceleration with a 0 mph to 60 mph time of just 7.3 seconds.

The Highlander Hybrid uses a regenerative braking system to further boost system efficiency. When the vehicle is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric motor functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes and converting it into useable electricity to recharge the batteries.

The Highlander Hybrid 4x2 carries an estimated EPA fuel efficiency rating of 33 mpg in city driving, and 28 mpg on the highway. Its combined city/highway estimated EPA fuel efficiency rating of 30 mpg exceeds most V8 powered SUVs by more than 100% and is better than the current EPA average – 27.1 mpg - for a four-cylinder compact sedan. The estimated EPA city/highway average for all 4WD-i models is an impressive 31 mpg/27 mpg with a combined rating of 29 mpg. In addition, Highlander Hybrid will be rated as a super ultra-low emissions vehicle (SULEV).