Expert Reviews

2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the midsize SUV for families that value efficiency and safety over outright space.

While Toyota offers a non-hybrid version of the Highlander, this gas-electric option is the clear fuel economy winner.

For 2024, the Highlander Hybrid comes in three trims (LE, XLE, and Limited), plus a pair of packages that can be optionally added for more comfort and convenience features, along with some styling upgrades. For those in need of more space, the same hybrid powertrain is offered under the hood of the slightly larger Grand Highlander, and standard in the Sienna minivan.

Styling: 7/10

Although the Highlander Hybrid is thoroughly modern and bears a definite resemblance to other SUVs in the Toyota family, the exterior styling is a bit of a mixed bag. Some will find it eye-pleasing, while others might not love it.

The XLE trim tested here was equipped with the optional Nightshade Edition package ($1,570), which added a few styling upgrades to spice up the overall look. These include 18-inch black alloy wheels with matching lug nuts, black roof rails, and other black exterior accents.

The interior is an indisputable winner. With an appealing tone-on-tone colour scheme and soft, padded surfaces, the cabin has a tailored look and an upscale feel.

Safety: 10/10

Toyota has made safety a priority with all its vehicles, with a standard safety package that has evolved and improved over the years. The latest take is the so-called Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes advanced driver assistance systems like lane departure warning and keeping assistance, forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, junction turn assist that can warn of oncoming traffic when making a left, and automatic emergency braking.

It also boasts a lane recognition system that looks at the line of travel in situations where road markings are temporarily interrupted, and the ability to automatically slow the vehicle if it’s travelling too fast when approaching a curve in the road. That’s in addition to adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert.

Moreover, the Highlander Hybrid gets a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and a five-star overall rating for crashworthiness from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Features: 9/10

Toyota offers the Highlander Hybrid in three trims: LE, XLE, and Limited. While all of them get convenience features like keyless entry and push-button start, only the two higher trims get wireless phone charging, and only the Limited gets 110-volt outlets (two of them) for plugging in small electronics.

The LE and XLE trims come with a six-speaker stereo and an eight-inch touchscreen, while the Limited gets 11 speakers and a 12.3-inch screen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections are standard across the lineup.

User-Friendliness: 10/10

The Highlander Hybrid was designed to be practical, comfortable, and a pleasure to drive. All features and functions are intuitive and user-friendly.

The wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems are easy to connect with and worked flawlessly during this test. All controls are intuitive, which means you likely won’t need to thumb through the owner’s manual in order to operate the sound system, the heating and cooling controls, or other features.

Front- and second-row occupants should find it easy to get in and out of the Highlander Hybrid, and the second-row seats slide forward conveniently for access to the somewhat cramped third row.

Practicality: 7/10

Although the Highlander Hybrid comes with three rows of seats, and technically has room for either seven or eight occupants, the third row is awkward – especially for long hauls. That’s where this SUV’s larger siblings come in.

As far as cargo is concerned, there’s plenty of room for the stuff families haul around with them (453 L with the third row upright, 1,370 L with it down). There’s even 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) of towing capacity – enough for a small trailer.

Comfort: 8/10

Well insulated from the outside world, the Highlander Hybrid has a quiet and comfy interior. All trims come with heated front seats, while the Limited gets ventilated front seats, too. Heated second-row seats are optional in the top trim with its Platinum package ($1,870). Second-row captain seats are standard in the Limited and available as part of a package in the XLE.

All trims come with an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and while the base LE has a four-way manual passenger seat, XLE and Limited versions get an eight-way power adjustable passenger seat. Fabric upholstery is standard in the LE, while the XLE gets synthetic leather, and the Limited gets the real stuff.

The XLE and Limited trims also come with a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, which is a big plus for our Canadian winters. The only gripe is that the heating elements are restricted to the sides of the wheel – not the top and bottom portions.

Power: 8/10

All Highlander Hybrid models come with the same 2.5L four-cylinder engine that’s coupled with a pair of electric motor-generator units and an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Meanwhile, there’s a separate electric motor in the back, providing on-demand all-wheel drive. With 243 net hp, the setup is perfectly adequate for daily driving and passing manoeuvres, both on and off the highway.

Driving Feel: 9/10

The Highlander Hybrid was designed to offer a solid ride, with minimal body roll, and a comfortable environment for all occupants. As a daily driver for families, it delivers a stable and predictable ride, with handling characteristics that inspire confidence, and that don’t put a strain on the driver. With minimal stress in mind, acceleration isn’t brisk, but it is perfectly adequate for daily driving needs.

Fuel Economy: 10/10

Fuel economy is one of the Highlander Hybrid’s strong points. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the Highlander Hybrid is rated at an impressive 6.7 L/100 km in the city, 6.8 on the highway, and 6.7 combined. We managed to squeeze 7.1 L/100 km combined out of this tester.

In comparison, NRCan rates competitors like the slightly smaller Kia Sorento Hybrid at 6.8 L/100 km combined.

Value: 8/10

The 2024 Highlander Hybrid starts at $52,852 for the LE trim (all prices include freight, but not taxes). The XLE starts at $55,712, while the top-of-the-line Limited model starts at $61,112. Toyota has managed to pack quite a bit into each version, which translates into decent value for the money.

In comparison, the Sorento Hybrid starts at $42,083 but isn’t as feature rich, especially on the advanced safety front, nor is it as spacious. The larger Grande Highlander Hybrid starts at $55,720 before tax, while the hybrid-only Sienna is a comparative bargain at $46,880.

The Verdict

The 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is well priced when you consider all the standard features, the extensive list of safety technologies, and the fuel-efficient powertrain it comes with. While the base LE trim is well equipped, for $3,000 more the XLE model ticks all the boxes with added creature comforts and goodies.

Engine Displacement 2.5L
Engine Cylinders I4 Hybrid
Peak Horsepower 243 hp
Peak Torque N/A
Fuel Economy 6.7 / 6.8 / 6.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 453 / 1,370 / 2,387 L seats up/down
Model Tested 2024 Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE AWD
Base Price $52,450
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,930
Price as Tested $56,050
Optional Equipment
$1,570 – Nightshade Edition package, $1,570