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To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago

For the 2022 edition, we include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and new vehicles coming to market in the next few years.

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited-L4 AWD

Vehicle Type: SUV/Minivan Hybrid
 overall score
Category Ranking: 17

Vehicle Price

Base Price: $47,115
Price as Tested: $50,088

Fuel Information

Fuel Type: Regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 17.1
EPA City mpg35
EPA Highway mpg34
EPA Combined mpg35

Advanced Safety Features

  • Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
  • Advanced Headlights [S]
  • Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • Blind-Spot Warning [S]
  • Forward-Collision Warning [S]
  • Lane-Departure Warning [S]
  • Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
  • Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking [O]
  • [S] Standard, [O] Optional
NHTSA Rating:

Overall Observations

Introduced in 2006, Toyota’s iconic Highlander Hybrid was the first midsize 3-row hybrid SUV. It was redesigned for 2020 and is now in its fourth generation. The Highlander Hybrid’s drivetrain delivers 243 hp total and, even better, gets 35 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Apart from its powertrain, the Highlander Hybrid has the same commendable qualities as its gas-powered sibling: a smooth, relaxing ride; attractive styling inside and out; and a spacious interior with lots of cargo space and storage cubbies. Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5+ suite of advanced driver-assistance features and excellent LED headlights come standard. But, like any vehicle, the Highlander Hybrid isn’t perfect. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine feels underpowered and suffers from excess noise and vibration, some interior materials feel cheap, rear visibility is restricted by a small back window and rear-seat headrests, and the third-row seating is cramped and unsuitable for adults.
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Strengths and Weaknesses

Strong Points

  • Plenty of room forpassengers in the first2 rows
  • Smooth, comfortable ridequality
  • Excellent fuel economyratings and range

Weak Points

  • Lots of noise andvibration duringgas-engine operation
  • Underpowered
  • Tight third-row seating
  • Inconsistent interiorfit and finish

Vehicle Specifications

Model year tested: 2021
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/6
Curb weight (lbs): 4600.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 194.9 / 76.0 / 68.1
Wheelbase (in): 112.2
Number of air bags: 10
Warranty (months/miles): 36/36,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Goodyear Eagle Touring
Front and rear tire size: 235/55 R20
Max towing capacity (lbs): 3500
Headlight type: LED
Transmission type: Hybrid drive
Drivetrain type: All wheel
Engine/motor: 2.5L 4-Cyl. 16-valve DOHC
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 186 @ 6000
Combined system horsepower: 243

Test Data

Test Vehicle Scores

Advanced Safety Features:


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