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To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago in the AAA Green Car Guide, which initially focused entirely on rating fuel-efficient, low-emitting vehicles.

For the 2021 edition, we've expanded the focus of the guide to include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and the development of autonomous vehicles.

home Home » Search Results » 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD
How The Car Guide Rating Works
Test Results and Rankings:
The green cars tested by the ARC are evaluated on the basis of 13 categories: emissions, fuel economy, crashworthiness, braking, acceleration, handling, cargo-carrying capacity, ride quality, interior noise, ease of entry and exit, maneuverability, roominess, and visibility. The scores for the categories are totaled, and the cars are ranked from high to low.

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

Vehicle Type: SUV/Minivan Hybrid
 overall score
Category Ranking: 10
Vehicle Price
Base Price: $47,115
Price as Tested: $50,088
Fuel Information
Fuel Type: Regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 17.1
EPA City mpg35
EPA Highway mpg34
EPA Combined mpg35
Advanced Safety Features
Adaptive Cruise Control [S]
Advanced Headlights [S]
Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
Blind-Spot Warning [S]
Forward-Collision Warning [S]
Lane-Departure Warning [S]
Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [S]
[S] Standard, [O] Optional
NHTSA Rating:
star star star star star
Overall Observations
The Highlander Hybrid dates back to 2006 - it was the first hybrid midsize three-row SUV - and is now in its fourth generation, redesigned for 2020. And as a concept, it makes perfect sense: Start with a practical vehicle like the Toyota Highlander, add the automaker's proven hybrid powertrain - good for 243 total system horsepower and 35 mpg in combined city/highway driving - and you've increased the reasons families have to consider this midsize three-row SUV. It has the same qualities that distinguish its gas-powered sibling: a smooth, compliant ride; improved styling inside and out; and a spacious interior with plenty of storage options and cargo space. In addition, Toyota's Safety Sense 2.5+ suite of advanced driver-assistance features comes standard; excellent LED headlights, standard as well, are an added plus. Highlander Hybrid weaknesses we observed were noise and vibration during gasoline-engine operation, some interior areas that look and feel cheap, poor rear visibility due to a small rear window and rear-seat headrests, hard braking feel, cramped third-row seating, and the absence of a hard-key recirculate button on the A/C controls.
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Strengths and Weaknesses
Strong Points
  • Plenty of room for passengers and cargo
  • Smooth, comfortable ride quality
  • Excellent fuel economy and range
  • Rear-seat reminder
Weak Points
  • Noise and vibration during gas-engine operation
  • Underpowered
  • Tight third-row seating and cargo area
  • Inconsistent interior fit-and-finish
Vehicle Specifications
Model year tested: 2021
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/6
Curb weight (lbs): 4600.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 194.9 / 76.0 / 68.1
Wheelbase (in): 112.2
Number of air bags: 9
Warranty (months/miles): 36/36,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Goodyear Eagle Touring
Front and rear tire size: 235/55 R20
Max towing capacity (lbs): 3500
Headlight type: LED
Transmission type: Hybrid drive
Drivetrain type: All wheel
Engine/motor: 2.5L 4-Cyl. 16-valve DOHC
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 186 @ 6000
Combined system horsepower: 243
Test Data
Test Vehicle Scores
Advanced Safety Features: 10.00
Fuel Efficiency: 6.26
EPA Emissions Score: 7.00
Acceleration: 3.82
Braking: 2.49
Crashworthiness: 5.60
Handling: 7.45
Ride Quality: 7.61
Interior Size: 4.65
Easy of Entry and Exit: 7.19
Visibility: 8.00
Interior Noise: 5.82
Cargo Capacity: 4.95
2020 BMW X3 XDrive30e
More Details
Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 21/27
Price as Tested:  $65,020
 out of 130
2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place SUV/Minivan
More Details
Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/114
Price as Tested:  $53,190
 out of 130
2020 Volvo S90 T8 E-AWD R-Design
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Large
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Large
Fuel Type:  Hybrid
mpg: 28/31
Price as Tested:  $73,840
 out of 130
2020 Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
More Details
Vehicle Type:  SUV/Minivan
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 80/72
Price as Tested:  $84,276
 out of 130
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Car Guide Winner: 1st Place Small
More Details
Vehicle Type:  Small
Fuel Type:  Electric
MPGe: 127/108
Price as Tested:  $43,735
 out of 130
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