2011 Toyota Highlander and Hybrid: First Look

September 23, 2010

After a global debut at the Moscow auto show, the 2011 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are making their way back home to the U.S. with new faces, new tails and other updates.

For the Highlander Hybrid, there's a meaningful increase in power. The gas-electric crossover's petroleum-drinking powerplant has been upgraded to 3.5 liters. In tandem with its motors and battery packs, the Hybrid now turns in the equivalent of 280 horsepower--while it's also EPA-rated at 28/28 mpg. Quick, play the lottery! The Hybrid also gets styling updates similar to those on the standard version, but with the Hybrid's usual distinct grille and blue-tinted badges.

For gas-powered Highlanders, the changes are a bit more basic. The front end wears a new grille, a slightly reshaped hood and new headlights. In back, new taillights and a new bumper give regular Toyota buyers an excuse to update to the '11 model.

The base Highlander still sports its 187-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder, but the same engine is now offered in the SE version as well. Limited editions come standard with a 273-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. All-wheel drive is available; it's standard on the Limited.

Toyota's also boosted the standard equipment on the Indiana-built crossover. All versions have dueling air conditioners, power windows/locks/mirrors, telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and keyless entry. The SE and Limited add a rearview camera. Options include a Tech Audio package with a USB port, Bluetooth and satellite radio (the package comes standard on Limited versions); voice-activated navigation; leather seat trim; a sunroof; and a towing package.

Base prices for the Highlander start at $27,390 not including destination charges. An SE V-6 with front-wheel drive runs $33,150 before destination; the Limited V-6 is $36,345, not including destination.

Hybrid versions have a base price of $37,290 not including destination, to $42,945 for the Limited--again, without destination charges included.

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