2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

188.4” x 68.1”


Four-wheel drive



The good:

  • Gas mileage (Highlander Hybrid)
  • Versatile second-row seating
  • Responsive transmissions
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Easy-folding rear seats

The bad:

  • Mushy brakes
  • Lackluster handling
  • Inconsistent cabin materials
  • Cramped third row

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2024

Notable features

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Rear climate controls
  • Split-folding third row
  • Available hybrid version

2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review: Our expert's take

Vehicle Overview

Offered in front- and all-wheel-drive form, the Toyota Highlander crossover comes with a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The Highlander can seat up to seven people in three rows of seats, and competitors include the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.

A hybrid version of the Highlander is offered, and it features styling changes to differentiate it from the non-hybrid model.

(Skip to details on the: Highlander Hybrid)

New for 2012
There are no significant changes for the 2012 model year.

Chrome accents adorn the rocker panels, and base and SE trims have 17-inch alloy wheels. The Highlander SE also features fog lights, a glass hatch that opens separately from the liftgate, and black roof rails. The Limited trim level adds 19-inch wheels and chrome roof rails.

At 188.4 inches long, the Highlander is one of the smaller three-row crossovers on the market. Its turning circle, 38.7 feet, is on the narrower side of its class. Exterior features include:

  • Standard variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Optional moonroof
  • Optional power liftgate

A third-row seat is standard, and it folds into the floor in a 50/50 split. The second-row bench features a removable center seat that stows in a compartment below the front-seat center console. Without it, the second row converts into two captain’s chairs with a center aisle or a center console (also removable). Both seats can recline and adjust forward and back, and the passenger-side seat has a walk-in feature for easier third-row access.

Fold down the second and third rows, and the Highlander’s 95.4 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is class-competitive. With the second and third rows up, however, there’s just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo volume — small for its class. Other interior features include:

  • Standard fabric upholstery; leather optional
  • Standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Standard air conditioning; optional three-zone automatic air conditioning
  • Standard CD stereo with MP3 jack
  • Optional touch-screen navigation system
  • Optional rear entertainment system

Under the Hood

A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, and a 3.5-liter V-6 is optional. Four-cylinder models come with front-wheel drive, but if you get the V-6 engine, you can have all-wheel drive. Mechanical features include:

  • Four-cylinder makes 187 horsepower and 186 pounds-feet of torque
  • V-6 makes 270 hp and 248 pounds-feet of torque
  • Six-speed (four-cylinder) or five-speed (V-6) automatic transmission
  • Maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds (four-cylinder) or 5,000 pounds (V-6) when properly equipped

Standard safety features include:

  • Antilock brakes
  • Side-impact airbags for the front seats
  • Driver’s knee airbag
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Electronic stability system
  • Active front head restraints

Highlander Hybrid
A 3.5-liter V-6 underpins the 2012 Highlander Hybrid’s drivetrain. With the help of an electric motor, the Highlander Hybrid makes a combined 280 hp. Equipped with standard all-wheel drive, the hybrid uses an additional electric motor to power its rear wheels rather than the usual driveshaft coupling in most all-wheel-drive models. The Highlander Hybrid can cruise at low speeds on electric power only. A dashboard EV button allows drivers to maximize the threshold for electric-only propulsion, given a sufficient battery charge.

An electrically variable automatic transmission is standard. A display alerts drivers to which sources of power are being used — the gasoline engine, electric motors or a combination of both — as well as battery charge and overall gas mileage.

The Highlander Hybrid is styled similarly to the non-hybrid Highlander, but several elements — a unique grille and bumper, plus vertical fog lights — aim to differentiate the two. The headlights and taillights are tinted blue as well. Trim levels include the base and Limited, with equipment similar to the regular Highlander. Back to top

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.9
  • Interior 4.8
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value 4.4
  • Exterior 4.7
  • Reliability 4.9

Most recent consumer reviews


MOST reliable mid-sized SUV for the past 12 years

We have owned our 2012 Highlander Hybrid Limited for almost 12 years now. It consistently gets 28 mpg, which is STILL (12 years later) impressive for a mid-sized SUV. The car has taken us all over the US as a military family and has never disappointed. We now are living in WNC with lots of winding roads and the Highlander, although not a Porshe, Tesla, or Subaru WRX, performs amazingly well in turns. I would say that the only thing that is a slight negative are the two 3rd row seats: they are fine for a short drive or for small kids (under 70 lbs), but not made for adults or teenagers. We have only done regular maintenance (regular oil changes, tire changes about every 40k miles, and wiper blades about the same interval) to the vehicle and changed out the windshield once due to a rock thrown from a dump truck. This is an excellent vehicle and one of the most reliable gas or hybrid vehicles on the market today. I would not hesitate to buy another Highlander Hybrid.


Best DEAL in and out for years to come

Great resale value. This car lasts for a lot of miles upto 300k easily. Drives great and save on gas too. I would buy this SUV again and again


Best vehicle I've ever owned.

Bought this used. I've driven about 10k miles, all around town. I am very deliberate with the gas pedal and I am getting 30+ mpg around town on mid-grade gas. It is the most comfortable car I've ever driven. I get all kinds of compliments from passengers. Hybrid is outstanding. Limited trim with leather is great. AWD is flawless in the snow. We're planning on trading in on a new one soon. We have a leased 2018 Lexus 450h F Sport, which stays parked while we drive the Highlander. My only reservation is that the third row, which I rarely use, is a little tight. I understand the new model has increased room. This is Toyota quality and is a great vehicle.

See all 22 consumer reviews


Based on the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid base trim.
Combined side rating front seat
Combined side rating rear seat
Frontal barrier crash rating driver
Frontal barrier crash rating passenger
Overall frontal barrier crash rating
Overall rating
Overall side crash rating
Risk of rollover
Rollover rating
Side barrier rating
Side barrier rating driver
Side barrier rating passenger rear seat
Side pole rating driver front seat


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Toyota
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
60 months/60,000 miles
Hybrid electric
96 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
24 months/25,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
7 years/less than 85,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12, 000 miles
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
160- or 174-point inspections
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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