2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

With the return of $4-per-gallon gas small cars are in. However lots of people still want or even need a large vehicle. We have 6 kids so own a mini van, but we also own a small car for short trips to save on gas. I wish I would have done my research on larger fuel efficient vehicles before we purchased our car because I know for sure the Toyota Highlander hybrid would have been something we looked at!

Gas Mileage

The Highlander is a 280 horsepower vehicle that boast a V6 engine and a 17.2 gallon tank! It has a fuel-economy rating of 28mpg which makes it the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger vehicle on the market!  The gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain turns in EPA mileage estimates that are roughly 50 percent better than comparable non-hybrid crossovers and 25 percent better than the only other seven-passenger hybrids on the market. It even has a 28 mpg city driving rating! I get a mere 24 in my small compact car and have to hire a sitter for the kids! We drove the car a bit harder during our week test drive and still averaged 26.2 mpg I had no idea that this was even possible in this large of a vehicle and shed tears for my wallet when it left!

Cargo Space

With all the seats up you don’t have much room for anything with just 10.3 cu. ft. However with the third row folded down you get 42.3 cu. ft. which is more than enough for the largest of double strollers. If you push the second row down as well you get a whopping 94.1 cu. ft. of cargo space! If you have something large you need to pick up or travel with- odds are the Highlander can transport it for you!

I found that with just one third row seat folded down- I had ample room to grocery shop!

Entertainment System

The rear-seat DVD entertainment system comes with a large 9 inch display screen, RCA jacks, one 120V AC power outlet and two wireless headphones. The entertainment system is an extra option when you purchase a Highlander and comes with a hefty price tag of 4,400.00+ but also includes a touch-screen navigation system, backup camera, 4-disc CD changer, nine speakers including subwoofer, SiriusXM Satellite Radio,hands-free phone capability and more. In my opinion this option is a must have. All my favorite things about this car came with this package. And did I mention how quiet rides were with my kids glued to the screen?

Four Car Seats

I was easily able to fit four car seats in this vehicle. With enough room for even the bulkiest of seats like the Britax Frontier. The second row middle seat folds down very easily for kids to crawl into the third row seat. I do recommend putting two children in the third row that know how to properly buckle themselves in or only installing one seat in the second row so you can fold down a side seat for easy access. The second row seats are both latched in, while the third row seats are buckled because there is no latch back there. Pictured below is the Combi Coccoro, Britax Frontier 85, Diono Radian and Sunshine Kids Radian!

Rear Seat Comfort

The second row was used for the majority of our test drive for car seats- but we also used it for regular seats! My teen does her majority of riding in the back seat. The second-row bench seat offers a  40/20/40-split. The center section can be removed and stowed away, leaving an open center aisle. This configuration allows for a pair of second-row captain’s chairs with fold-down armrests! She loved that she could recline and slide her seat around to achieve front seat comfort- even in the back seat! She was even able to sit in the third row 50/50 seat. It has more leg room than any of us have ever experienced in in a third row! Two adults could easily fit back here for a trip as long as the middle row is upright!

The vehicle I tested has a price of $36,480.00, which included the Voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system, cargo cover, 19-in. alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control system, Smart Key System, privacy glass on rear windows, blue-tinted headlamp and taillamp bezels, leather-trimmed front- and second-row seats, Multi-Information Display with backup camera display, moonroof, 10-way power driver’s seat, power windows, power door locks and leatherette-trimmed 50/50 split third-row seat

You can find a dealer near you to test drive or purchase a Toyota Highlander hybrid  by clicking here.

Special thanks to Toyota for letting me test drive the Highlander for a week.


  1. What a gorgeous vehicle! absolutelyThe features are unbelievable. It is absolutely fantastic on gas mileage. You would save a whole lot right there. I love the interior features — entertainment system is fabulous, loads of room & then some, the seats are interchangeable — very roomy, plus glamorous look. The only thing I would change would be to have all leather seats; definitely a plus for me.

    Love to own this vehicle or even test drive it ( I’d be spoilt)

  2. Jenny Sims says

    What a great looking small SUV! Is there a smaller Toyota SUV, I feel like there is but I can’t put my finger on the name. Either way, I love the size of this one, especially the cargo room.

  3. Mary Happymommy says

    I love the fuel efficiency! The interior looks so luxurious.

  4. Jennifer Mae Hiles says

    28mpg city driving! That is awesome – especially for an SUV. I’m afraid if I test drive one I’ll want to buy it! I have a Ford Focus and it averages about 33mpg which is awesome since I commute 2 hours a day but if I ever upgrade to an SUV I will seriously consider a Toyota

  5. Wow! This looks so roomy and great MPG for an SUV. LOVE it! That DVD System would be great for our long trips back to Michigan from Florida.

  6. Wow the Highlander looks gorgeous! I love the color you got, the rear DVD and the third row seat features. I am not a fan of wood paneled interior, but that isn’t standard so it’s not a big deal.

  7. I can’t believe how much room that has!!! I have been debating getting a mini van but really don’t want too. This might be the answer

  8. Jessica Snow says

    This is a gorgeous SUV. I would love to get one of these. Thanks for the review. =)

  9. kristen byler says

    i would love to have this car. it will be a dream unless i win the lottery

  10. i love this vehicle! we’re looking for a larger one and i’d really like something like this. i appreciate the larger space and good gas mileage…with today’s gas prices we really need something that isn’t going to be guzzling gas!

  11. Liz Ticona says

    this is truly a great car for a mommy. My sister has it and the backseat is so roomie and the it drives very nice and smooth, other than the safety features which are great! Thanks for such a great review!

  12. betty wojnar says

    I am always looking for an suv like this stylish and efficient.

  13. jeanne jewett says

    I love this vehicle! Can’t seem to get away from the SUV types.. fits my lifestyle! I could not ask for more if it was in my name!
    Good review, great car!

  14. The Toyota Highlander hybrid looks very nice. Thanks for the interesting and informative review!

  15. Ginger Furr says

    Wow! The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is definitely the car for me. We have 6 kids, as well, and I drive an Expedition. My gas tank always leaves my wallet crying, not to mention me. This vehicle has a lot of the features in my expedition, but takes it a step further, like the stow away seats, I have to take mine completely out. I also love the gas mileage. We are in NC and have to take several 11 hour trips to TN a year. This would take that 500 dollar allotment down to about three. I love it!

  16. this car is beautiful and a hybrid – yeah Toyota!

  17. Daisy's Reviews says

    thats awesome

  18. Abbie Olson says

    Sounds like a great car! We love our smaller hybrid, but if we ever have a third kid, this would be worth looking into for us!

  19. I am a Chevy driver, but after looking at this SUV, the inside is very nice and roomy!! Not to mention the gas milage it gets….WAY better than mine!

  20. Lisa Brown says

    I like the looks of this car, lots of interior space.

  21. Tasha Schifsky says

    Would love the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. I have 4 kids all in car seats. It is hard to find a vehicle that is not a mini van or a big big suburban to fit everyone! I have no clue there were other vehicles that were cozy for 6! The interior is wonderful! We have to vehicles a mini van from the year 2000, and a car for my hubby to go to work from year 1998. so wish we could get something like the Toyota Highlander!

  22. Kelly Mills says

    this is my fav ride. I love the space and gas mileage.

  23. Michelle Feliciano says

    I like how big and spacious the trunk is!

  24. I’m in the market for a new vehicle and was looking primarily at the jeep.grand Cherokee. W a sticker price comparable to the jeep and better gas mileage, this truck will get a look from me. I love the seating configuration and storage capacity. Making my spot to.test drive this one!

  25. Ambrielle Bender says

    I love the highlander! We rented one last Christmas and drove to DC! This will be our next vehicle…. No competitor we have decided. 😉

  26. i love this vehicle! the color is awesome! and the interior is to die for! and on top of all that there is so much room!! it would be a great vehicle for traveling and road trips! i love it!

  27. Carissa N. says

    Wow! I am impressed, for sure. This is definitely a vehicle I would like to consider when my current car dies. There would be plenty of room, love the fuel economy, overall just think it would be a good fit for my family.

  28. Nichelle Clemons says

    I have always wanted and many times need a SUV. I have not purchased due to the added fuel cost associated with them. However with the new hybrid varieties I may have to rethink my choices.

  29. Kathy Idol says

    I have never had a SUV but I like what I seen on here. Will do some more looking at theses.

  30. Rochelle Dyer says

    We have four children, so the space is great especially when we go on family vacations!

  31. Sounds great! Nice SUV!

  32. sara m ford says

    what a sweet car and you could fit your family I would love to have this car

  33. marthalynn says

    Oh my goodness! I want this car! I love all the cargo space. And your pics are so helpful.

  34. Bekah Kuczenski says

    I love everything about this car! It has so much room!

  35. Carolyn Ann Colley (Griffith, Smith) says

    very nice, I like it

  36. Pamela Halligan says

    I’ve always liked the Toyota Highlander and trust the Toyota brand. The gas mileage is pretty good for such a large vehicle. We have two large dogs and one small dog, so having a large vehicle is nice when we travel with the pets. Thanks for the review.

  37. Theresa Reed says

    I like this vehicle. I would love to own one of these.

  38. We’re in the market for a new vehicle. this one never even entered my head, but now I’m going to seriously consider it. Thanks for the review!

  39. talk about having all the bells and whistles, omg. Love the color.
    Love how the seats fold down.


  40. Alice Kingsleigh says

    We are in the market for a new vehicle, with 2 kids, 1 on the way and 1 thats always with us not to mention the slue of other kids/people that I’m always hauling around. I need something with lot’s of seat but I refuse to drive a mini van (no offence) and good on gas. I would have never considered this, I kind of stuck on the Ford Flex, but I will go test one out now. Thanks!

  41. Laura Mckissock says

    As a parent of a young child that uses an electric wheelchair I have found that it is hard to find a vehicle large enough to hold my three kids and the chair as well as have the features and fuel economy that I want…I am in love with this car…it has everything we need and everything that we want…as well as the name brand of Toyota to give you the comfort of knowing that you are buying a great product…

  42. Fantastic – all the features we want, gas savings, room for everyone PLUS priced right. Thanks for the great review.

  43. Right now, I drive a gas-guzzling Infiniti QX4. This Highlabder sounds (and looks) perfect for me and my family!

    Terri P
    pr4gatheringroses AT gmail DOT com

  44. sandra Hughley says

    This is my dream car!!

  45. Karen Hand says

    This is a vehicle I would consider in the future as the need arises. There have been a few instances where we needed a larger vehicle on family trips, and this SUV seems to fit the ticket. I am especially fond of the extra leg room feature and fuel economy.

  46. Great review! Love the picture with all the stuff in the back – that’s what we need just to buy groceries!

  47. I love the Highlander and I’m looking for a hybrid for my next vehicle, so this is the perfect car for me. I am a teacher and need a lot more room than my Mustang allows for toting supplies around. I’ll also enjoy having an SUV with good gas mileage for family road trips! Also, the built in GPS is a must, as I am gravitationally deficient!

  48. Ok, so seven passenger is the big sell for us, being we have 6 in our house and can have a friend of the kids at any given time. So tired of a van and I like this design.

    I figure our van gets a maybe 18 mpg city. SO, we usually get about 300 miles per fill up , each about $60. If we are saving about a third, we save $20 for EACH fill-up with an extra 10mpg on this vehicle. If we put on about 15k a year, that means about $1000 saved in a year on gas mileage. In a 6 year loan, (which I hate but we have to do), we are saving 6K on gas, if prices stay the way they have. So, with a pricetag of 36K, it is not out of the question. We might pay 25-30 K on a nice vehicle, and if you look at resale of Toyotas, this should be a great resale! I have family that loves Toyota, but we have not ever bought…YET! I love reviews that put so much info in…and love the pics. THANKS for showing this Toyota off for us! Our van is 13 years old and need a new vehicle soonish.

  49. This is a great review. I currently have a van but the kids are getting older i have been looking at getting something a bit sportier. You have described this wonderfully. I love all the space of the SUV and great gas mileage

  50. katklaw777 says

    This looks like the perfect car for us to use on vacations and camping…thanks for the great review!

  51. I have always wanted a highlander. It would be great and roomy with three kids in it. I love that it’s also a hybrid.

    • I love the Toyota,I have two,cars from theme,they are very good as long as you do the right maintenance,I love the new Highlander,very stylish

  52. Becky VanGinkel says

    I love this Highlander! Very cute and sporty.. and awesome gas mileage!

  53. Stefanie McMullen says

    Love it! It is fuel efficient, better for the environment and has all the space that my family needs. Oh, and it looks good too!

  54. I absolutely love how spacious this vehicle is, excellent review as well!

  55. Julie Keyworth says

    I love how efficient it is on gas….I also love how much room it has! I would still need something bigger, having 7 kids, my husband and myself to tote around, but it would still be nice as a second vehicle!

  56. Sherrie C. says

    I love the fuel efficiency and storage capacity of this vehicle. Not to mention it’s a Toyota! I own two Toyota’s and absolutely love them! Thanks for the in-depth review 🙂

  57. Samantha Jenkins says

    My husband and I have been looking into the Toyota Highlander Hybrid for our next big vehicle. I currently drive a Toyota Yaris so I can vouch for Toyota’s quality and reliability. I’ve had my car 5 years with not one issue. I also get amazing gas mileage for the Yaris not to be a hybrid and I know that gas mileage is a BIG deal! My husbands car is a gas guzzler big SUV from Mercury. It has nothing but issues :/ So this Highlander would be a dream come true for us because we need the space for surfboards, groceries, our dog, and a big car seat. Most of all we need a nice family car. This was a great review thank you!

  58. I only have two kids, but love to have space for toting extra children and family around. I hadn’t really considered the Highlander because it was a Toyota and I’m not particularly a fan. I love your review. It may be one of the cars in the running when we go shopping later this year for a new vehicle. Thanks.

  59. Raina Delrio says

    My hubby has mentioned getting a Highlander. Thanks for posting this review. It certainly helps in the decision!

    • Hello,
      I love this car. One, I like Toyota’s, it does fantastic on gas which is exactly what we need today. The interior is beautiful – lots of room, unbelievable, loads of features that I would love to see in a vehicle, such as an exquisite DVD system, power locks, etc., tinted windows, sunroof plus much more. To top it all off there is someone here who has done a great deal of research on this vehicle! Thank You!
      This 2011 Toyota Highlander is the one for me.

  60. I really like this SUV!

  61. I have 5 girls and hate my minivan. With the third row seating, this would b perfect!

  62. Thanks for sharing your research. This is a great alternative for those who is resisting mini vans. It’s actually better than a mini van being that it’s a hybrid to save money, especially since us parents drive everywhere. Toyota is a reliable company and I’ve always liked their customer service.

  63. so stylish and spacious

  64. Marianne Reeher says

    I love this Highlander! Very cute and sporty.. and awesome gas mileage!Love the color too on this one.

  65. I’ve been wanting to trade my minivan in on an SUV and this one has all the features (and more) that I want!

  66. Erika Lowery says

    I am between a few 7 passenger vehicles, and this hadn’t even crossed my mind before reading this. Hmmm now to debate between a minivan and SUV.

  67. Stephanie O says

    I really like this but not the price tag… sigh

  68. My sister has a Highlander and she loves it. I like it a lot, but for the money I would rather have a Sienna. My mom has a Sienna and it is amazing. It has more room and is more comfortable for longer trips. Right now my little family has a Corolla. We are a Toyota family! 🙂

  69. I am a Toyota lover and this is absolutely the vehicle I need to own. The only negative is the price.

  70. This would be a geat vehicle for my daughter with growing family.

  71. This would be the perfect vehicle! It is exactly what I am looking for. I hope someday to be able to purchase it.

  72. I love this Highlander! That color is so cool! My sister has a highlander,it’s an older one but it’s still nice. It’s roomy and comfortable for long drives.

  73. justpeachy36 says

    This is definitely what I would want in a hybrid vehicle. I have considered the Highlander and will probably make it my next vehicle purchase.

  74. I love Toyotas and when I can afford to get another one I will definitely consider the Toyota Highland because of it’s economical features and it’s room and style. Great review! Thanks!

  75. This is the second time I’ve seen this beautiful Highlander and it makes me wish I could afford one. 🙂

  76. NotSoSuperMom says


    I have a friend who has an older model and she loves it! This one is loaded!! Perfect for families and still green!

  77. I would love to have this vehicle.

  78. Beautiful car! I love the features!

  79. Susan Slacky Faatz says

    like the car has lots of room

  80. Love this one! Would be perfect for my family!

  81. Jessica Snow says

    Wow, I absolutely love this SUV! I wouldn’t mind owning one. =)

  82. Sara Campbell says

    I love the color of this one. It looks like it is very spacious and comfortable. There are four people in my family and our current vehicle feels like it is getting smaller everyday. Just wish this vehicle wasn’t so pricey.

  83. Julie Thompson says

    Being an Irish girl I love the name of it but would not own one simply because I am a GM girl.

  84. Christine G says

    Toyota’s are the best. I owned a 4Runner for 12 years! The Toyota Highlander is awesome!

  85. I have wanted one of these since they first started making Highlander Hybrids! The 2011 looks fantastic with all the options.

  86. oooo, I love the look of this! So pretty. If I could combine this vehicle with the some of the ‘hearse-like’ Ford Flex’s awesome features, it would be my PERFECT dream ride!!

  87. This SUV has looks, style and efficiency – sign me up.

  88. Lisa Puckett says

    Wow!! Love this SUV, very nice. Would love to own one!! Thank you for the review!

  89. I’m not really a Toyota ”person,” but this vehicle looks pretty nifty!! : )

  90. Love all the room inside! That dash is gorgeous too.

  91. Athena Schrank says

    I like that this car is a hybrid, but it also has a lot of space inside and is very elegant.

  92. sandy weinstein says

    this is one of the cars i am looking at but the 2013 model. very $$$ and does not get that great gas mileage as other hybrids….so comparing to new ford escape hybrid 2013…..

  93. Betsy Rubendall Barnes says

    I have always loved Toyota’s and the Highlander Hybrid is amazing. Definitely on my list as the number one vehicle we will look at when we start looking. Thanks 🙂

  94. Diane Sallans says

    I’ve got the 2008 model, but I’d love to get the Hybrid for my next car.

  95. Michelle Feliciano says

    its a great sleek looking car. I love how big the trunk is.

  96. Liz Ticona says

    my sister has a toyota highlander and i love it! I’m having a baby soon and she’s always raving about it but now hearing from another mom that it’s a great car, i trust that this is a great car to get! 🙂

  97. sandy weinstein says

    was looking to buy this car, but very $$ for the money and not get that great mileage for a hybrid….

  98. Risa Robinson says

    Nice – wish I could upgrade my current 2007 Highlander 🙂

  99. This seems like a great ride — sweet looking and the mileage rocks. Wish I had one!

  100. Love the features, beautiful car.

  101. I love the color and style of this car.

  102. Carolyn Ann Colley (Griffith, Smith) says

    I love this one, it’s looks a lot like my Haundayi Sante Fe. Love the color.

  103. I can see my family in this one:)

  104. Judy Bradley says

    My son has one of these and really likes it. I found it to be comfortable to ride in too. They have 5 girls, so wanted to make sure even their 2nd car had room for all of them if they needed to use it. I have another dil who has one and she loves it, she said she wants to keep it forever and recently when she finally had to replace it, she got another one, same color even!

  105. angela dupree says

    This is the one for me!

  106. Wendi Scharrer says

    It looks so small from the outside. However, not the case. I can not belive how roomy the Highlander is. Not how pretty this hybrid is! 🙂

  107. Wendi Scharrer says

    Last line above should say *Not to mention how pretty this hybrid is!

  108. I looked at the other biggish vehicles that were being reveiwed but I decided that this is the one that I like best. I like the way it looks, the gas mileage and the size. I only have 3 kids but they do not like to be squished together. I really liked some of the features that you mentioned for the Flex and the Sorento but I like this one the best overall.

  109. This car would be perfect for me! I can dream! ;P

  110. Want one! Need more room for our family. This is beautful and excellent gas milage for its size!

  111. Rebekah Lebahn says

    this is the one I want ! All that room for me and my expanding family ! And money savings at the gas station ! YES PLEASE

  112. Still my fave of them all!

  113. Tamra Augostino says

    I love the sounds of this car. I’ve been shopping for a new car for about 6 months now. The Highlander is the last of them for me to try out. I’ve just been waiting for the right moment to test drive and hopefully buy one. Great review – thanks for the indepth descriptions.

  114. Looks like a great vehicle… Definitely something I will look into after reading your review! I have been looking at the Jeep Grand Cherokee… It’s going to snow here soon and it’s time for a new vehicle! 🙂

  115. That is a true beauty! Love the different fold down seat options. As a mom with a family of five, I absolutely need flexibility and versatility in any vehicle we choose.

  116. Lisa Cordodor says

    I have the ’08 model and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this vehicle. Our last major highway road trip we got 33 mpg. Lots of space, comfort and quality. I highly recommend!

  117. I love this car. It would be so great to get great mileage. It’s enough room are me.

  118. Christina Strapp says

    This is really nice and I love the color. I love that it has 3rd row seating.

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