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2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

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San Francisco:  Toyota is the current leader in automotive hybrid technology and to keep that lead they just introduced another vehicle in their hybrid lineup, the 2006 Highlander Hybrid SUV. This SUV comes in 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive models and gets 32-MPG city and 27-MPG highway for a combined EPA rating of 30 MPG.

The city numbers are higher because this SUV can be driven on battery power alone around town. And because it’s a Hybrid vehicle the onboard generators recharge the battery pack that’s mounted under the back seat so you never have to plug it in. It is a completely self-contained power package that is seamless, smooth and silent. You just drive it like a normal vehicle and let the computers do all the work. That’s the beauty of a gas / electric hybrid vehicle, it’s all automatic with zero input from the driver. Just turn the key and go.

Here is how all this happens. The Highlander Hybrid is a less expensive copy of the Lexus RX 400h using basically the same Hybrid Synergy Drive train and components. Both are equipped with Toyota’s 3.3-liter V/6 Hybrid engine coupled to two electric motors that are also generators. The 4WD models get a third electric motor mounted on the rear axle assembly that powers the rear wheels. The rear axle electric motor works only when the vehicle dynamics management systems sense wheel slippage and routes torque to the rear axle.

The V/6 engine coupled to the electric motors give the vehicle a 268 HP overall rating. This is accomplished by adding the 208 HP and 212 lb-ft of torque from the V/6 gas motor and adding in the 167 Hp and 247 lb-ft of torque of the second electric motor plus the rear mounted motors 68 HP and 96 lb-ft of torque, and thru the magic of the laws of physics and advanced mathematics it comes out at 268 HP.

Good luck trying to figure that one out on your own. Basically Toyota says the Highlander Hybrid has the power of a V/8 engine with the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder engine and gets about a 30 MPG average. Not bad numbers overall but these numbers don’t come cheap.

The base price for the 2-wheel drive model sans options starts at $33,030 and goes up from there. The third seat costs extra, plus the delivery fees and adding in the popular stuff your looking at an average MSRP somewhere north of $35,000, plus tax and plates.

The 4-wheel drive model starts at $37,890, so your over $40 large with all the goodies added in on that one, plus again the sales tax and license plates. Both come in Limited Edition Models for even more big bucks in the luxury package editions.

So what do you get for your $40,000 investment? A very “green” machine with a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) rating that gets good, if not great gas mileage for a midsize SUV, and maybe the ability to drive in the commuter lane, with only a latte and your favorite CD playing on the stereo.

Plus it comes with all the good things a nice SUV should come with. Adjustable seats, ample rear cargo space, 60/40 split & fold flat second row seats with slide forward capability and a third row seat that folds flat into the floor and disappears. Now add in a smooth ride with crisp handling to the great gas mileage and this SUV has it all in one very nice looking package.

The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV, tomorrow’s technology at your local Toyota dealership today.  By Tony Leopardo  © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

“Tony the Car Guy” is a freelance automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to  and he will answer your automotive questions in the order received.

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: 
 Tomorrow’s technology at a Toyota dealership today
 The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV
Word Count:  
Photo Caption: 
 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV
Photo Credits:  
Toyota Internet Media
Series #:   2005 - 48

MODEL:  Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV
ENGINE:  3.3-liter DOHC V6 with Hybrid Synergy Drive
HORSEPOWER:  268 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION:  Continuously Variable Transmission
WHEELBASE:  106.9 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT:  184.6 x 71.9 x 66.1 in.
TIRES:  P225/65R17
CARGO:  80.6 cu. ft.
ECONOMY:  32 mpg city/27 mpg highway/30 mpg average

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