2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review, Seating Capacity & 3rd Row

The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the best midsize SUVs on the market, especially for families who are seeking to reduce their fuel costs while also minimizing their vehicle’s carbon footprint. With a wide range of features that are useful for families and single professionals alike, this SUV is an excellent example of high-quality automotive engineering.

In This Guide


Seating Capacity & Configuration

The 2017 Highlander includes seating for eight adults in three rows. The spacious interior allows for abundant legroom for both the driver and passengers, with easy access for second and third-row passengers. Finally, the second-row seats have anchors for up to three child seats, while the third row can fit two child seats if needed.

Third Row Room

The three-across third-row seating benefits from increased forward travel for the second-row seats. Although the hybrid battery reduces legroom to some degree, the third-row seats can still easily fit adults for shorter trips or children for long trips.

What’s New for 2017?

The 2017 Highlander Hybrid has added a number of features when compared to earlier models, including two new trims. Perhaps most importantly for larger families, the 2017 model comes with an eighth seat and a large cabin that can help make long road trips comfortable for the entire family. In addition, the 2017 model continues to improve its already impressive fuel efficiency, while a new V6 engine and automatic transmission provide greater power when compared to earlier models.

Interior Design and Seating

The interior makes use of quality materials and comfortable, spacious seating. A standard six-speaker sound system and integrated smartphone support help ensure that both the driver and his or her passengers will enjoy even the longest trip.

Standard comfort features include tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth enabled systems, push-button start, a centrally mounted 6.1-inch touch screen and Siri-enabled voice recognition. Rear air conditioning is a standard offering that will be especially beneficial for owners living in the hotter parts of the nation.

Although the cargo storage is not the greatest on the market, with a total of 83.7 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats folded, 42.3 cubic feet with the third row folded and 13.8 cubic feet with all seats in use, the interior has a number of cleverly placed storage spaces for the use of the driver and passengers alike. This makes it easy for the passengers and driver to access needed items, both on the road and at their destination.

Performance and Powertrain

All Highlander models share the same engine, a 3.5-liter V6 engine which is hooked up to three electric motors, generating an impressive 306 hp. This provides impressive acceleration on city roads and highways alike. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard on all models and is responsive to the driver’s needs.

Most importantly, the Highlander gets excellent mileage when compared to other vehicles of its size and weight. Fueleconomy.gov rates it at 29/27 mpg for city and highway driving. In addition, the hybrid engine is particularly stingy with gas consumption during the start and stop traffic conditions that can be so common in urban areas, making this an excellent choice for frequent commuters. Finally, the engine provides a quiet and relaxing ride for the SUV’s occupants.

Safety Features

The Toyota Highlander has a comprehensive set of safety features. Among the features available in all trims are 4-wheel disc brakes, driver and passenger airbags, child safety locks, traction control, and auto-on headlights. In addition, Toyota’s Safety Sense Plus is included, which integrates active cruise control, pedestrian detection, and lane-departure alert. A rear view camera completes the hybrid’s safety features. In general, the Highlander Hybrid has received high marks from reviewers for its safety, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration giving the vehicle an overall 5-star rating for safety.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the Highlander provides a smooth, pleasant driving experience. It handles well, giving the drive fast acceleration on demand, while also being very maneuverable for its size. Even during inclement weather, the all-wheel drive keeps the SUV steady on most roads.

In the city, the all-wheel drive and responsive engine make for an SUV that is very suited for moving in and out of traffic. A 3,500-pound tow capacity also makes the Highlander very attractive for families who go on frequent excursions, especially when the SUV’s expansive passenger and cargo space is taken into account.

Trim Levels, Options & Pricing

The 2017 Highlander adds two new trims, giving a total four options for new purchasers. The LE and LE Plus will cost the buyer approximately $36,270 and $41,330, while the XLE and SE trims are $44,760 and $47,880, respectively. Among the features included for each model are the following:

  • The Hybrid LE includes a tire pressure monitoring system, backup camera, cruise control, vehicle alarm, auto-off headlights, keyless start and entry, power door locks, and an entertainment system that includes an MP3 player, stereo and wireless cell phone connection.
  • The Hybrid LE Plus adds a sunroof, power liftgate, navigation system, remote trunk release, satellite and HD radio, leather seats, and for added safety, a blind spot monitor.
  • The XLE trim offers all of the above and adds a rear parking aid system, premium sound system, cooled driver’s seat and quad bucket seating.
  • Finally, the SE trim offers a dual moonroof, onboard hands-free communication system and heated rear seats.Final Evaluation

One of the best features of the Highlander Hybrid is that it is not simply an excellent hybrid; it is an excellent SUV. Anyone purchasing this SUV can rest easy in the knowledge that it is both environmentally friendly and an excellent SUV for the entire family. With a reasonable price tag given its excellent performance, passenger comfort and cargo capacity, this SUV should appeal to anyone wanting a dependable and sporty SUV.

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Over to You

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