Thursday, September 15, 2016

Highlander Hybrid might be just right for your needs

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – So you’re looking to buy a new Toyota – something one of every five California auto shoppers currently does, according to Golden State registration statistics – and you need something for the family, which enjoys regular road trips and transportation comforts.

Getting good gas mileage is high on your list as well.

Maybe you want a Toyota RAV4, but is that going to be big enough?  And that $85,000 Toyota Land Cruiser is too big in price and size, right?

What you might want is what I recently drove for a week: a 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum with all-wheel drive.

Size-wise, it’s perfectly situated between the RAV4 and the behemoth Land Cruiser.  The Limited Platinum model is loaded with passenger-pleasing perks (to the tune of $51,385 on the tested sticker’s bottom line).  And you get some pretty good fuel mileage on this sturdy roadway cruiser – 27 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

And you’re in luck if you’re looking for the 2016 edition.  Dealers are likely going to be willing to bargain with the new-and-improved 2017 Highlander on the scene.

What I found in the tested Highlander Hybrid were smooth, quiet road manners and handling that required only the lightest touch on the steering wheel.  I expected to work harder from the cockpit seat, but the tester pretty much made my motoring life a breeze.

This gave me the opportunity to enjoy the extras offered in the “Platinum Package.”  That included radar cruise control, a lane departure alert system (it was a little sensitive, I confess) and automatic high-beam headlights that were spot-on in their timing.  The package also included leather captain’s chairs in the second row.  Nice.

I’ll admit to being spoiled by the 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator.  The marriage produces a max 280 horsepower, performance to spare in this class.

I was also pleased to hear virtually no whining out of the V-6/electric pairing.  In other hybrid vehicles, I’m constantly startled by a high-pitch whine that sounds a lot like the approach of a speeding fire engine.

If you’re one of those folks who keeps score right down to the inch, the 2016 Highlander includes nearly 160 cubic feet of interior cabin space.  That’s plenty of spread-out room for families, even when they’re taking full advantage of the third row of seating.

Throw in a blizzard of safety features – enough to win a top-level five-star rating from the feds – and this Highlander stacks up as must-test-drive model on your SUV shopping list.

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