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2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

With 12,309 km showing on our Highlander Hybrid’s odometer, we’re really starting to get the hang of driving this gas/electric wonder. You do have to alter your driving style slightly to get the best out of the system. Basically, it comes down to a gentler right foot to keep that gas engine off as much as possible.

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With 12,309 km showing on our Highlander Hybrid’s odometer, we’re really starting to get the hang of driving this gas/electric wonder. You do have to alter your driving style slightly to get the best out of the system. Basically, it comes down to a gentler right foot to keep that gas engine off as much as possible.

One staffer took the sport ute on a family vacation right into the heart of New York City and on to rural Pennsylvania. It thankfully escaped the Big Apple unscathed, though logbook comments were as plentiful as N.Y. Yankee pennants by the time the family was back on Canadian soil.

“As predicted it performed flawlessly throughout the trip,” quipped our editor. “After watching the hybrid display in the dash for some time, I still don’t have a good feel for when the various motors decide to come on and off — the program that decides so must be infinitely variable.”

We all agree that the feeling of the electric motor kicking in to boost acceleration is a unique sensation that’s not quite as linear as a traditional gas engine, though the truck really sprints when both motors are working hard.

As the gas motor wears in, its on-off action in stop-and-go traffic is becoming more noticeable, but as one driver said, “it’s a small price to pay for added efficiency.”

Our nomadic editor noted, “the hybrid technology really paid off at a 2.5-hour wait at the border. The gas motor never came on while we stood motionless, and I could creep forward on electric power when I had to. The gas motor did come on occasionally to re-charge the system. A real advance over idling.”

From a usability standpoint, some of our drivers with kids onboard would rather see captain’s chairs in the second row, like minivans and SUVs, as it would “help quell the sibling clashes.”

Despite all the hybrid technology tucked away under there, the cargo area is still plenty useable with the third row stowed. The Highlander took the same amount of luggage that filled our long-term Suzuki Grand Vitara to the gunnels, and “could hold more.”

Finally, our Toyota went in for its first service at just over 8,000 km. It was your basic oil and filter service, totalling $39.85 — the only coin we’ve put into the truck aside from fuel thus far.


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