Thank you DriveShop for providing me with the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid to test-drive for a week!
My sisters and I spent a few days in Chicago back in August. It was nice being able to change my scenery for a few days and Chicago is definitely the place for that. One of my favorite parts was being able to drive the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid during our trip.
The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was probably one of the best vehicles I’ve had the chance to review because it was a great car to take on a road trip. Not only does it seat up to 7 passengers, but there is also a lot of storage in the car, too– making it perfect to store your luggage, coolers, snacks, and other necessities.
I went to Chicago with my 3 sisters, my son, and my nephew and one thing I was worried about was that the car ride– which was about 5 hours long– would be too boring and trying for my son and nephew. It was actually Zach’s first time being in a car for that long so I was afraid he would get car sick, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The Highlander came equipped with a 9-inch Blu-ray Disc™ entertainment system that comes with a remote and two wireless headphones. This was a lifesaver! The boys watched a few movies during the trip and took naps to help pass the time.
Storage and Seating
Traveling with 6, we were able to fold down one of the seats in the back to make room for our luggage and boy did we have a lot of luggage. Each of us had a carry-on and the boys had a travel bag. We also had a cooler and a lot of snacks and food with us during our trip, too so we definitely needed all the storage we could get.
We obviously spent a lot of time shopping in Chicago, so we had even more luggage and bags with us on the way home and we were STILL able to fit everything in this bad boy. It was unbelievable, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this car in terms of storage room.
Not only that, but if you were traveling with fewer people, you would be able to fold down the back row seats all the way for even more room. The second row captains chairs made my sisters very comfortable as well and we loved the added leg room.
The adjustable power lift gate made it even more convenient for us to load and unload the car during our trip as well. We were parked in a garage, a hotel parking lot, a few parking structures, and more so being able to adjust how high the lift gate opens with just a press of a button. On a few occasions I had to just grab something really small from the back and I didn’t need to open it completely, so I lifted the hatch window for even easier access which was convenient.
The cupholders in between the captains chairs in the second row were really convenient to use during our trip as well. My sisters had their drinks and snacks there and being able to fold it down and back up made getting passengers into the third row even easier. Plus, the added leg room in the second row made my passengers so comfortable!
Getting to Chicago was a breeze with the amazing navigation system that comes with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We input our address for the hotel and off we went. There are some navigation systems that I’ve tried in other vehicles that just did not cut it for me and often times I would have to rely on my phone instead. Not with this one!
The turn-by-turn navigation was so helpful and we were also able to listen to our favorite tunes on the road, too without any unnecessary interference. The navigation volume would simply raise when calling out a direction and then go back to a lower volume so we can enjoy our music. Even at a glance the upcoming directions would be on screen so we were always ready for our next move. Another cool feature is that the navigation is also available directly in front of the steering wheel too, so we didn’t have to even look at the larger display most of the time. VERY convenient!
Comfort and Peace of Mind
A few notable features that made our trip more comfortable and convenient were three-zone automatic climate control, backup camera, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure alert. My son and nephew were in the back of the car and we had their temperature a little cooler than ours because they get hot really easily, so it was nice to be able to keep all passengers comfortable no matter what temperature setting they prefer. There is also a screen on the windows to help with shade during the sunny weather which was much appreciated.
The backup camera came in handy while backing up and parallel parking. It would not only let us see directly behind us on the display screen, but it also let us know if there were cars approaching on either side as well and would beep if there was. Sometimes you can’t see that especially if they’re still far away, so that was very handy. While driving, the lane departure system would alert us if the car was veering out of it’s lane, which didn’t happen very often but it was a very nice feature to have. Also, the blind-spot monitoring system was a dream to use on the highway!
Let’s talk about fuel efficiency. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid generates and uses electric power and you can see how much you’re using with the hybrid system power meter. This was a cool feature to have because it lets you know when the system is charging and shows you how much electric power is being used. You can also see when it’s using its electric motor, gasoline engine, or a combination of both. I’m pretty sure it was using a combination of both while we were trying to and from, and we did have a fill up on gas a couple of times both ways, which wasn’t too bad.
Everything Within Reach!
One of my other favorite features, a simple one but definitely a favorite, was the dashboard in general. The metallic accents and wood-grain details were very aesthetically pleasing but I have to give props to the in-dash shelf. Such a clever idea. This in-dash shelf is where I stored my cell phone and wallet while driving and it gives me easy access to the power and USB ports while keeping all the cables neatly stored away for less clutter. It was such a clever addition to this car from a driver’s point of a view and I know my passengers enjoyed it too.
Overall, I really enjoyed the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It was probably one of my favorite cars to have reviewed so far that is perfect for a road trip with a big family like mine. The storage space and convenience of seating along with the 3-levels of climate control made my family very comfortable during our trip. Getting to Chicago was a breeze with features like the navigation, music system, and safety features like blind-spot monitoring and lane departure which were perfect for the highway. The hybrid system made our trip fuel efficient and we had such a blast driving it around!
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