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This is my first Hybrid and it is quite interesting. You can not tell when it's running and it has a smooth ride. It has all the conveniences of a large SUV but not a gas guzzler as most .
I bought my Highlander in January of 2007. I was expecting something close to the MPG estimates of 32 city and 26 hwy. What I am getting is an average of 24 both city and hwy. I have never achieved 30 MPG anywhere. I get excited when I get 26 in the city, where most of my driving occurs. I guess I expected more. It dosen't make much difference how you drive it, slow and cautious or regular with starts and stops like everyone else, I still get 24 MPG. I talked to the dealer and got no satisfaction, just a bunch of double talk about how mileage estatements are figured. I like the car, but I wish they would be more forthright in what you may expect in real time mileage.
In early July 2010, I purchased a Highlander Hybrid 4WD and am happy with it. I had read some on-line reviews of the vehicle and knew what to expect in advance of test driving the vehicle. The Highlander rides well and is very comfortable much like a Camry rather than the stiff ride of a pickup. It has lots of legroom even in the backseat and can easily accommodate 4 six-footers. My primary reason for buying this vehicle was cargo space and gas mileage as I have two boys heading off to college. I am happy with the cargo space as can accommodate 5 large suitcases and 3 overnight bags without resorting to the luggage rack. I also moved to a new house and the vehicle, with the back seat folded down, allowed me to many things in advance of the movers arriving. My only disappointment has been with the gas mileage. My Highlander Hybrid was rated for an estimated 30 mpg for highway and 34 for city. My best combined mileage has been 24.7 thus far and I had been hoping for the 26-27 mpg range. This is common with hybrids in that they deliver well under the EPA estimated mileage which I discovered after buying. To fully optimize your results, you need to avoid jackrabbit starts, use your cruise control whenever possible, drive between 45-60 mph, etc. Overall, I am very happy with the vehicle and would most likely buy it again. I would consider purchasing a 2WD version rather than the 4WD for better gas mileage.