• (4.9) 25 reviews
  • MSRP: $36,270–$47,880
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 28-29 See how it ranks
  • Engine: 231-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel Drive
  • Seats: 7-8
2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Our Take on the Latest Model 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

What We Don't Like

  • Small third-row headroom for adults
  • Hybrid price premium
  • Cargo room behind third row
  • No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Handling

Notable Features

  • New V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Restyled front end
  • Seats up to eight people
  • Four- or six-cylinder engine
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Hybrid version available

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

The Verdict

If you're in the market for a non-luxury, hybrid SUV with three rows of seats, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a party of one. Now, thanks to wider trim level availability for 2017, the price is more reasonable than ever.

Versus the competition

The Highlander Hybrid offers much better fuel economy than other three-row SUVs, but it also costs more.

For 2017, the regular Highlander gets a new powertrain and styling tweaks; the hybrid model gets the updated engine and fresh face, but its transmission carries over from 2016. The big news is that the hybrid is now available in LE and XLE trim levels, rounding out a lineup previously made up of the top Limited and Platinum trims only. All have all-wheel drive standard. You can compare the 2016 and 2017 hybrid models here and read about the non-hybrid model here.

Popular three-row SUVs include the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Explorer; compare them here.

Exterior & Styling

It looks like Toyota is pulling a page from Lexus' stylebook with the Highlander's 2017 update. Both the hybrid and regular model now wear a large, plunging grille, but its look here is less hourglass, more pout than on Lexus' SUVs. Hybrid models get subtle badging but otherwise blend in with the rest of the lineup. Two new exterior colors join the Hybrid lineup for 2017: Celestial Silver Metallic and Toasted Walnut Pearl.

How It Drives

The hybrid variant is the most powerful Highlander; it overcomes both the pokiness of the heavy, AWD non-hybrid model and the squirreliness of the two-wheel-drive model, which can get a little wily when too much power is routed to the front wheels. The hybrid gets power from the regular Highlander's new direct-injected, 3.5-liter V-6 but adds batteries, two electric motors up front and a third for the rear wheels, amounting to total output of 306 horsepower. Low-speed acceleration is surprisingly brisk, and passing power is strong.

The drivetrain's continuously variable properties, similar to a continuously variable automatic transmission, results in some engine drone, but it's not enough to be intrusive. In fact, I found the hybrid model to be much quieter overall than the traditional Highlander, with better isolation from engine harshness and road noise.

Around town, the hybrid can cruise at low speeds solely on electric power, and I found it easy to sustain EV mode in city driving. The transition from EV to gas is impressively seamless. In EV mode, the car gives off a subtle, futuristic whir. Another hybrid component, the regenerative brakes, are also well done; they're responsive and have a more natural pedal feel than many other hybrids.   

The Highlander's highway road manners are comfortable, with a firm but not harsh ride and adequate bump absorption. Handling is a weak point, however, with light, dull steering and lots of body roll.

The Highlander Hybrid comes only with AWD and gets an EPA-estimated 30/28/29 mpg city/highway/combined in LE guise and 29/27/28 mpg in other trims. That's slightly more efficient than last year's hybrid and beats the gas-only V-6 AWD version by up to 7 mpg combined. It likewise cleans up compared with other three-row SUVs; base AWD versions of the Pilot (18/26/21), Santa Fe (18/24/20) and Explorer (16/22/18) all do worse.

Interior

My test version was a top-of-the-line Limited Platinum, and the cabin finishes were appropriately upscale. That trim's plush standard leather seats and convincing matte, woodlike panels and chrome trim gave the interior a Lexus-like look and feel.

Where the Hybrid previously maxed out at seven seats, it now joins the regular Highlander in offering seats for seven or eight with captain's chairs or a second-row bench, respectively. My model had the captain's chairs, and they're separated by a handy pop-up cupholder and console tray. The cabin is full of thoughtful features, such as a heated steering wheel and a conversation mirror above the rearview mirror that makes the rear seats visible to the driver. There are also pop-up sunshades in the second row. They're small touches, but they make the cabin more comfortable.



Second-row headroom and legroom are plentiful, so even adults can stretch, but the third row is punishing. Getting back there is pretty easy: The second-row seats collapse and slide forward in one motion, opening a decent-sized walkway to the third row. Kids should also be able to fit between the bucket seats for third-row access. Sitting back there, however, is tough. Though it technically has three seats, not even one adult can get comfortable without some contortions. The seat is firm and flat, and it's one of the smallest third rows in the segment.

Cargo & Storage

The Highlander Hybrid passed my family's junk test with flying colors. Its center console is wide, deep and multitiered for better stuff-management. A favorite feature is the small shelf that runs the length of the dash, which is great for storing a phone or, in my case, snacks. The 2017 model is even more useful with the addition of two more USB ports up front for device charging.

The cargo area, however, disappoints. Behind the third row, the Highlander has just 13.8 cubic feet of space. That nearly matches the Santa Fe (13.5) but is bested by the Pilot (16.5) and Explorer (21.0). Folding the third row is easy, and doing so opens up 42.3 cubic feet of space. That's more than the Santa Fe but still trails the others. With both rows down, maximum cargo room is mid-pack. The regular Highlander has the same amount of cargo space as the Hybrid.

Two cargo-area features stand out: There's a shallow underfloor storage bin that's convenient for organizing small items, and the independently opening rear window is handy for stowing small items quickly, gaining access in tight quarters and preventing cargo from spilling out as it might when you open the full liftgate.

Ergonomics & Electronics

The control setup is not pretty — screens, touchpads, buttons and dials crowd the panel — but the system is easy to use once you cut through the visual clutter. The climate and audio controls are straightforward. It was simple to use the audio preset menu and input a destination into the navigation system.

Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite is standard on Hybrid models. Its 8-inch touchscreen is clear and large, and apps like Pandora internet radio integrated seamlessly with my Android phone. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are unavailable.  

One oddity to note: The available Easy Speak system is a strange gimmick. It transmits your (possibly stern) voice to the rear speakers, helping get your point across to your (possibly misbehaving) kids in back. The system worked but required a deep dive into several menus and occasionally produced ear-assaulting microphone feedback.

Safety

The 2017 Highlander earned top safety scores from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Included in the institute's mid-size SUV class with the Highlander, the Pilot and Santa Fe also earned IIHS' top score, but the Explorer did not fare as well.

New safety features join the Highlander Hybrid this year. Standard across all trim levels is Toyota Safety Sense P, a package including forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. A backup camera is standard and a new 360-degree camera system is optional. The camera is ideal for low-speed parking maneuvers and features a trailer view for towing.

In our Car Seat Check, we had no trouble installing two child-safety seats in the second row; they installed with ease and had ample room. There are no Latch anchors in the third row and only one top tether anchor.

Value in Its Class

The Highlander Hybrid's pleasant road manners, comfortable cabin and standout fuel economy impress, but be ready to pay extra for all that with this model. The base Highlander Hybrid starts at $37,230 (including destination), a little more than $2,000 higher than the least expensive V-6, AWD non-hybrid Highlander. Competitors' base AWD versions, however, start around $3,000-$4,000 less. It's going to take a lot of trips to the pump to make up that price premium in this climate of historically cheap gas.

Consumer Reviews

(4.9)

Average based on 25 reviews

Write a Review

petershs

by hp from Panhandle Florida on November 19, 2017

love the city mileage, too high in price, need more incentives, a bit stiff handling, front leg room is great, but could use a bit more room in front.

Read All Consumer Reviews

4 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid trim comparison will help you decide.

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE V6

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE V6

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Driver's
Passenger's
Side Barrier
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
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.

Recalls

There are currently 2 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $1,400 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

60mo/60,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

24mo/unlimited

Free Scheduled Maintenance

24mo/25,000mi

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

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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