Real-life Review: 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

  • Power train: 3.3 liter V6 DOHC hybrid engine, 288 v-nickel metal hydride battery.
  • MPG:32/27
  • Mileage at test drive: 110,000
  • NHTSA rating: 5/5 stars
2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

A rare 2007 Toyota Highlander hybrid suns itself in captivity.

Something that quiet can’t be up to much good, right?

I used to think hybrids were the sissies of the car world. Ungainly, ugly, and ill-mannered. Too quiet for my taste. I like to know what my cars are up to at all times. Won’t catch me dead driving one of those greenie cars. No way.

Get off my lawn and all that.

Naturally, I got my ego handed to me when one of my long-time neighbors flipped me the keys to her 2007 Toyota Highlander before going on vacation.

I honestly didn’t want to give the car back four days later. I also wanted to run back over to her house screaming “TAKE ALL MY MONEY!” Here’s why:

The 3.3 liter 268 HP engine delivered plenty of punch on the main highway, which is more like Death Race 2000 in this corner of the world. Coupled with firm, nimble handling, this car was a sweetheart.

It’s quiet, well-composed, responsive, and eager to run despite its relatively advanced age of 9. That alone is a testament to Toyota’s long-term staying power and my neighbor’s near-obsessive attention to the car’s maintenance schedule.

Unlike the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe I tested, the Highlander featured better fit and finish, higher quality materials throughout, and a firmer less, tippy ride.

The Highlander’s party line over the four days I had it was, “What? That’s all ya got? Sissy!” as I tip-toed it around town. Well, okay then.  Cornering in the Highlander was a delight and it handled the hilly coastal roads with a sure-footedness and power I wasn’t expecting.

It accelerated smoothly and without complaint. Despite its age, there were no mysterious rattles that sometimes plague older cars. Passing and merging were a breeze. The CVT was smooth and seamless.

The instrument cluster was well-laid out and easy to read. While it lacked the excitement and jet-engine feel of newer cars, fans of the “less is more” aesthetic will appreciate the 2007 Highlander’s no-nonsense approach.

The center stack was similarly well-organized, with buttons and controls within easy reach. The center console featured two storage compartments with integrated cupholders in the larger compartment.

Center stack 2007 Toyota Highlander hybrid

Sound quality from the 6-speaker sound system was excellent. Strauss never sounded so good!

Front headroom and legroom were generous at 40.1 and 42.9 inches respectively. Cargo space with seats up is 39.7 cubic feet, more than adequate for a busy family or active driver hauling people and cargo.

Whooping this mid-size SUV around town was a delight. Noise dampening was outstanding for a car of this vintage.

They said it wouldn’t last

Back in 2007 (the Pleistocene era in car years) hybrid technology was a  question mark in terms of battery life. There was much pearl-clutching and speculation that hybrid cars would bite the dust anywhere between 60-100,000 miles.

Based on the herd of Prii in my area and this Highlander, the earlier pearl-clutching was for naught. Everyone is alive and well, complete with their original batteries. Of course, these are spoiled, well-tended cars. Checking out maintenance records is key when buying a used car, but even more so with a hybrid.

The Highlander earned a 5/5 star rating from the NHTSA.

It’s a sturdy, likable vehicle with clean, sculpted lines and an eager to please demeanor. Featuring an assortment of standard goodies with few extras, the 2007 Toyota Highlander hybrid base is a smart choice for used car buyers looking for a lean, reliable used SUV.

 

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