The new 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid will be unchanged after a huge update on the current version. The Japanese carmaker switched the V6 petrol unit and mated an electric battery with a four-cylinder unit. The sacrifice is the power output, which dropped by 65 ponies. On the other hand, the fuel economy is making the Highlander a class leader. Can you find any other midsize SUV returning 35 mpg? It is hard to do in the compact tier.
The new vehicle was also revisited to be more attractive to new buyers. For a long time, this was the only hybrid vehicle with three rows of seats. Nowadays, more SUVs with such combinations are on the way. Ford Explorer is already out, and Honda is in the market with the premium Acura MDX. The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid will be available in at least four trim levels. Currently, there are LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. There is a word about the Highlander TRD Pro model, which could also hold a hybrid engine under the bonnet. All in all, the ultimate goal is the full electrification of the midsize SUV.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Specs
Until last year, Highlander Hybrid was relying on the V6 petrol unit as the main powerplant. Combined with the electric motor, it was able to burst 308 hp and reach 31 mpg. However, engineers turned a different page. This time, the gasoline unit is a four-pot mill. Well, some midsize three-row SUVs are downgrading the power, but only at entry-level trims, which, by the way, are not so popular.
A 2.5-liter four-banger is capable of producing 185 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. With the help of the battery pack, the total output reaches 243 hp, which is 65 ponies fewer than the previous edition. You can purchase the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid with front- or all-wheel drive. In the first case, you will get 36/35 mpg, while the AWD drops the mileage by 1 point. This configuration is also pretty capable to haul. Total towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. The standard setup with a V6 engine reaches 5,000 lbs. A CVT transmission is a power router.
Plug-In Hybrid and EV
This is another step in the complete electrification of Highlander. However, Toyota is not ready for this move, yet. For a long time, the Japanese carmaker is a leader in electrification. We could hear things that next model could debut as the PHEV, but the company is not making it official. Some sources claimed the new 2021 could get it. With such configuration, the Highlander is going to be able to cover some range by using the electric power only.
Under the bonnet of the standard SUV is a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This one is exactly what we expect from a midsize model – it pumps out 295 hp and 265 lb-ft of twist. Unlike the hybrid engine, the petrol unit is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which forwards power to front wheels. The fuel economy is above the average for this tier and Highlander returns 25 mpg combined. With AWD the rating drops to 24 mpg and 23 mpg with the Platinum package.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Trim Levels
Hybrid configuration is not available only with the base L trim level. That means the SUV is not going to offer advanced drivetrain, but also interior equipment. The offer starts with the LE badge. Highlights of this package are power tailgate and LED fog lights. The carmaker also spiced the interior with a leather steering wheel and HD radio, while safety gets a boost from the blind-spot monitor system. Of course, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now available for Toyota SUVs. Most controls are coming from an 8-inch touchscreen display.
The XLE is the next trim available for the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and it adds captain’s chairs for the middle row, dropping the seating capacity from seven to six. However, this will improve the comfort. Synthetic leather upholstery and moonroof are premium features for the XLE. Limited version uses leather and advanced audio by JBL. Navigation becomes standard and fronts seats are ventilated, not only heated. Outside, you will see larger wheels with a 20-inch diameter. The top of the line trim level is Platinum. A 12-inch screen is dominating the dashboard. Panoramic moonroof and HUD are the most advanced options Toyota has to offer.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Prices
With a V6 engine, the SUV will cost just under $35,000. The LE model’s price is currently $36,800. This is the base trim level for the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Compared to conventional drivetrain, electric support increases the price by $1,500. The XLE adds about $3,000 and you will have to spend at least $45,000 for the Limited edition. Platinum is the most expensive with a price tag of $48,200. Add a few options and the destination, and you will reach $50,000.