The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid receives a complete redesign for 2008, although its basic styling keeps very close to that of the previous version. Several reviews read by TheCarConnection.com wish that Toyota had made a few more changes, at least on the outside.
The 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in both "base and Limited models," according to ForbesAutos, unlike the standard Toyota Highlander, which offers a mid-range Sport trim. The exterior of the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is smooth and aerodynamic, and Cars.com says the Toyota 2009 Highlander Hybrid is "sleeker than its predecessor and features smooth sides." However, they add that this Toyota Highlander Hybrid "seems a bit too slick—like a convenience store shopper who won't take off his glasses." Cars.com also points out that differences between the Hybrid and its gasoline-only powered siblings are "minimal," consisting mainly of the grille and taillights. Most reviewers were indifferent regarding the ho-hum exterior styling of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, with the notable exception of Car and Driver, where reviewers feel that the Highlander Hybrid "exhibits no more charisma than Al Gore hosting a paint-mixing seminar." Edmunds simply refers to the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as "beefy," while MyRide.com calls it "odd looking," thanks to "boxy fenders [that] don't fit with the overall shape."
The exterior of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is no head-turner, but Toyota rarely botches the chance to turn out a stylish interior, and this certainly holds true inside the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. ForbesAutos points out that the interior is "efficiently designed," and MyRide.com raves about the "modern" interior that sports "a curvaceous two-tier, two-tone dashboard." Cars.com has mixed feelings about the interior of the Toyota 2009 Highlander Hybrid; they appreciate the "oversized knobs for major functions [that are] within easy reach" but are disappointed to find that "the climate controls sit below the stereo, and they're awfully cluttered."