|The 2008 Highlander Hybrid.|
Toyota unveiled the all-new next-generation 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size sport utility vehicles (SUV) at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.
The 2008 Highlander is significantly larger, heavier, roomier and more powerful than the vehicle it replaces, but with comparable fuel consumption to its predecessor. All three conventional Highlander grades will be powered by a new 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 270 horsepower (201 kW)—a 55 horsepower gain over the previous generation’s 3.3-liter engine—and 249 lb-ft (338 Nm) of torque.
The hybrid retains a 3.3-liter V6 and uses an upgraded Hybrid Synergy Drive that slightly increases the vehicle’s total output to 270 net horsepower (up from 268 hp in the 2007 model) and maintains the hybrid’s fuel economy at 31 city and 27 highway despite the extra 500 pounds of vehicle weight in the 2008 model.
The hybrid also offers a user-selectable full all-electric (EV) mode; albeit with extremely limited range, given the size of the vehicle and the NiMH battery pack.
Offered in two grades, all Highlander Hybrids will feature Toyota’s VDIM stability system that integrates full-time four-wheel drive, electronic brake and throttle control with electronically controlled, active steering.
The Highlander rides on an all-new chassis derived from the current Camry and Avalon. It is nearly four inches longer and three inches wider, with an inch more ground clearance and three inches of additional wheelbase.
In 2006, Toyota sold more than 170,000 units of the Highlander Hybrid, Camry Hybrid and Prius combined. Of that total, the Highlander accounted for more than 31,000 units.
The conventional new Highlander arrives at dealerships in July, with the hybrid model following two months later.