By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It competes with the Chevy Tahoe and the Honda Pilot.
(upbeat music) Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder, senior editor of Cars.com. Here with the 2008 Toyota Highlander hybrid. We have videos detailing the Highlander itself so I will give you information about the hybrid.
Driving hybrid has become so much like driving a regular car. Really the only thing to show you is the different readouts, the information that the Highlander hybrid gives you to help you maximize your driving for the best mileage. To start out with, the energy read out here shows you how much electricity you're using when you accelerate in kilowatts. That's why the needle is climbing, but when you break, the needle drops down into this charge area to let you know that the electric motor that is otherwise driving the car is acting as a generator and helping recharge the battery pack. That's how it saves some of the energy that you've already spent and reuses it. There is a navigation system on our unit here. I'll show you how the readout works. This is pretty common among the Toyota and Lexus hybrids. You hit the info button, which gives you the trip information selection, and you get an energy monitor here. And what this does is it shows you whether the energy is coming from the battery to the motor to drive the car, whether it's coming from the engine to drive the car or charge the battery. And then when you're braking, if your inertia, your momentum is used to recharge the battery. Now what's interesting about this hybrid it comes only as all wheel drive that's 'cause this additional electric motor is in the back. That gives you power to the wheels, and it also helps regenerate power when you are breaking. Now, if you look at the consumption screen, this gives you an idea of how your mileage has been over the course of several minutes that you've been driving on the X axis here it tells you minutes and on the Y upright axis here, it's your miles per gallon. The little green cars tell you that you've recharged 50 watt hours of electricity. Basically that means you've been driving and then braking and recharging the battery. What I think is the best new feature in this hybrid is this small display up high. And what that gives you is a lot of those neat readouts that you would get with a navigation system. But if you don't wanna pay a couple of grand for that, you can still get it here. Likewise, if you do have the navigation system and you want navigation up, so you can see the map, you can use this screen to show you some of that other stuff that you otherwise would have to switch screens for. It gets to be a big drag. Again, if you wanna have your navigation screen up in this particular car, you can see the climate control settings on this one. Push the button again and this is the tire pressure monitoring system it gives you the actual tire pressure of each tire, including the spare. The car has an EV mode, which is an electric vehicle mode, supposedly to drive an electric power only. You push the button, you get the little green display up here and it's supposed to let you drive a little bit more and a little bit faster in electric mode. I find that it's still very hard to do that with any traffic behind you, without turning the engine on by accident. Another big advantage to the small display, whether it's a hybrid or a regular Highlander is it allows you to buy a backup camera for a few hundred dollars instead of having to pay a couple grand for the navigation system like we have here, which shows you what's going on behind you when you back up. So there you have it. What is pretty much state of the art in the amount of information a hybrid can give you, which aside from being really cool helps you pattern your driving style, learn to go easy and maximize your gas mileage. <v Announcer>For additional information on this car or any other, go to Cars.com and our blog, Kicking Tires.