Car Reviews

Toyota Highlander: Hybrid or Gas-Powered, Which Is Better?

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 04/29/2022

Toyota is one of the largest automobile companies in the world and a leader at the forefront of sales of hybrid electric vehicles. It is one of the largest companies to encourage the mass-market adoption of hybrid vehicles across the globe, and the first to commercially mass-produce and sell such vehicles, with the introduction of the Toyota Prius in 1997.


Toyota Highlander is a sought-after SUV for families, this can be attributed to its relatively larger interior, better gas mileage, a great many safety features, great safety scores, and a good reputation among SUVs. 



Toyota Highlander first premiered in 2001 as the fifth model in Toyota’s SUV lineup. Highlander seats eight people, has a good reliability rating, a roomy cabin, and cargo space. Toyota Highlander also comes with lots of standard features to keep you comfortable and entertained on the road. Its Hybrid model has great fuel economy and was named US News 2021 Best Hybrid and Electric SUV for Families.


Are you trying to choose between both options?


We will help you make your decision by comparing them. Our comparison is based on pricing, performance, interior, fuel economy, and safety. 


Comparing Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Gas-Powered Highlander

1. Pricing

Highlander Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $38,735 and can go up to $48,690 depending on the trim and features. The gas-powered Highlander has a starting MSRP of $35,085 and can go up to $47,240 depending on the trim and advanced features. These prices show that you may spend a little bit more on the Hybrid model, depending on the trim or features.


At wholesale auctions, the Hybrid model is cheaper than the gas-powered model. If you want to save money the hybrid model is a good option. 


2. Performance

Highlander Hybrid comes with a 4-cylinder engine that is paired with two electric motors to produce 243-hp. It offers quick acceleration, shifts gears smoothly, and comes with a CTV. 


The gas-powered Highlander comes with a V6 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission producing 295-hp. It accelerates quickly and has enough power for many driving scenarios. 


When it comes to handling, the Hybrid feels controlled and polished while driving. It has responsive steering, and its balanced handling gives a refined and smooth ride. Its suspension system runs over bumps with ease. It has sportier handling that the gas-powered highlander and a towing capacity of up to 3500 lbs. 


The gas-powered Toyota Highlander feels balanced and at ease while driving. Its spongy suspension keeps the ride smooth thanks to absorbing imperfections on the road. It has a towing capacity of up to 5000 lbs. 


Both the gas-powered and Hybrid models earned an above-average predicted reliability rating. 


3. Interior

Both the gas-powered Highlander and Hybrid are 8-seaters with an attractive and roomy interior. Both SUVs have roomy cargo space for your cargo and you can fold seats to haul more cargo.  



They both come standard with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot, an 8-in touchscreen information system, and Amazon Alexa. 


4. Fuel Economy

Highlander Hybrid has a fuel economy of 36 mpg and 35 mpg city/highway. When using AWD fuel economy rate is 35 mpg city/highway.  


The gas-powered Highlander has a fuel economy of 21 mpg and 29 mpg city/highway. When using AWD has a fuel economy of 20 mpg and 27 mpg city/highway. 


Even though the gas-powered Highlander has a fuel efficiency rating that is above average, the Hybrid model has better fuel economy. 


5. Safety

Highlander and Highlander Hybrid come with the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety features. These features include lane departure warning, road sign assist, automatic high-beam headlight, and adaptive cruise control.   


The gas-powered Toyota Highlander Hybrid received a five-star rating from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and both earned top scores for all six crash tests conducted by IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Both SUVs are good options in terms of safety but the gas-powered model earned Top Safety Pick by IIHS giving it a higher safety rate. 


Final words!

Both Highlander Hybrid and its gas-powered sibling have a lot in common. They both have spacious cabins with good safety features and technology as well as good reliability ratings. The Hybrid model however has better fuel economy while the gas-powered one is less expensive and has more towing capacity. 


Choosing between both vehicles is all about what you value most and your preference. If you want a vehicle with lower emissions that can contribute to addressing climate issues – the hybrid model is a better option for you. If you’re concerned about towing capacity a gas-powered model is an option. 


In Africa, especially West Africa where skilled labor wasn’t readily available a few years ago and battery cells were mostly used – it was a challenge to purchase a hybrid. But skilled labor to fix hybrid issues is increasingly becoming readily available and hybrids are common sights on West African roads. 


Further Reading

  1. Buying the Best Used Honda Car for Sale 
  2. How to Choose the Right Used Hyundai for Sale 
  3. Used Ford Car for Sale: How to Choose the Right One 
  4. Best Used Cars You Can Buy This Year Under $10,000


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