Best Bet
  • (4.9) 14 reviews
  • Inventory Prices: $13,586–$29,026
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 28
  • Engine: 231-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel Drive
  • Seats: 7
2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

What We Don't Like

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

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 Reviews

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


Average based on 14 reviews

Write a Review

Absolutely love the vehicle!

by MC from Ithaca, MI on October 4, 2017

The only reason I'm selling is because I bought a new one, I love this vehicle! I recommend this vehicle to anyone that wants the versatility of an SUV and the economy of a hybrid.

Read All Consumer Reviews

2 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid trim comparison will help you decide.

2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Toyota Highlander Hybrid Base V6

Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Toyota Highlander Hybrid Base V6

Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Front Seat
Rear Seat
Side Barrier
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage





Roadside Assistance Coverage


Free Scheduled Maintenance


What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.


Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years