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TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2010 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid to bring you this hands-on review that covers styling, performance, safety, utility, and features from on-the-road observations. TheCarConnection.com's editors also researched reviews from other sources to give you a comprehensive range of opinions from around the Web-and to help you decide which ones to trust. High Gear Media drove a manufacturer-provided Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid to produce this hands-on road test.
- Quiet, refined ride
- Economical four-cylinder and hybrid models
- Clever second-row seat arrangement
- "Light" off-road capabilities
- Suspension too soft for most tastes
- Electric steering feels numb
- Optional third-row seat is cramped
- Traction control can't be turned off
The Toyota Highlander was completely redesigned for 2008. In the process, it grew a full size larger than the previous version, from compact to mid-size, adding an optional third-row seat in the process. It's a popular family crossover, with the unusual feature of an available hybrid model, which only the compact Ford Escape and the luxury Lexus RX line offer. The base 2010 Highlander starts at $25,855, the 2010 Highlander Hybrid at $34,900, and the line competes with the Honda Pilot, the Chevrolet Traverse, the Mazda CX-9, and the (five-seat) Ford Edge.
Like many Toyotas of recent years, the styling of the 2010 Highlander and Highland Hybrid has grown more rounded but no more distinctive. With the exception of the space-age Prius hybrid, Toyota vehicles rarely stand out, and that includes the Highlander. While the interior is well built and offers all the amenities buyers expect, it's not particularly stylish-which seems to be just fine with hundreds of thousands of Highlander buyers.
The base engine on the 2010 Toyota Highlander is a new 187-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder paired to a six-speed automatic. It provides acceptable performance and decent fuel economy, although it's not quite as silky and responsive as the smooth, torquey 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that's the optional engine. Toyota may call its five-speed automatic the "Super Intelligent Electronically Controlled Transmission," but its lethargic downshifts, even in manual mode, drains some zest out of the big V-6.