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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Good," frontal offset test and side impact test
Five stars, front driver impact; four stars, front passenger impact; five stars, side impact
Comes with front-side airbags, rollover-sensing side-curtain airbags
Stand-alone backup camera option
There are few areas of the automotive review industry that are truly objective, but it's hard to argue with safety ratings. It's difficult to deny, then, that the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the safest vehicles on the road today.
The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has been crash tested by both NHTSA and the IIHS, and it very nearly earned perfect ratings across the board. NHTSA has awarded the Toyota 2009 Highlander Hybrid perfect five-star ratings in the front driver impact and side impact categories, while the only blemish on the Toyota Highlander Hybrid's NHTSA scorecard came in the front passenger impact category, where it earned four stars. The IIHS has given the Toyota Highlander Hybrid a ringing safety endorsement, awarding it the highest possible rating, "good," in both the frontal offset and side impact tests. Furthermore, the IIHS named the Toyota Highlander Hybrid a Top Safety Pick for its outstanding overall crash test performance.
In addition to the solid construction that yields such high crash-test ratings, the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid sports a wide range of safety features. Cars.com proclaims, "Toyota didn't skimp on safety features," as "all Highlanders come standard with four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system." ForbesAutos adds that "brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution are standard across the line," and Cars.com says "seven airbags are standard, including the required dual front airbags, a driver's knee airbag and side-impact airbags for the front seats."
The one characteristic of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid that detracts from its overall safety record is the poor visibility to some areas. MyRide.com claims that "with the third row seat and headrests up, the view straight back is like a tunnel," and the visibility "over the right shoulder is only OK because of the second row headrest and the height of the rear side window." Fortunately, ForbesAutos mentions that "a back-up camera" is standard on all 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid models, which is a huge help when reversing.
The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a robust SUV with great safety features, including a very welcome backup camera.