Doug Drives: How the Hell Does the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Not Have Any Competitors?

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
doug drives how the hell does the toyota highlander hybrid not have any competitors

I was driving along the other day and I realized something: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is currently the most popular vehicle in North America.

Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration. For instance, I am told that the bicycle is quite popular. But on a list of today’s most popular vehicles, the Highlander Hybrid is right up there with the bicycle, and the wheelchair, and that Ford pickup that sells more units in an afternoon than Ferrari sells globally in an entire calendar year.

It is very obvious to see why the Highlander Hybrid is so popular. For one thing, it’s a normal family SUV with three-row seating, which is incredibly hot right now; so hot that I am quite certain it is not actually possible to rear children in today’s society without a three-row SUV. If you showed up at a child’s birthday party in a Toyota Camry, and you had forgotten to dress your child, and you had brought the wrong child, and your child was vomiting all over everything in sight, people would not call attention to your child-related issues. They would ask: Why don’t you have a three-row SUV?

But the Highlander Hybrid is not just a three-row SUV. It’s also a hybrid, like the Toyota Prius, or the Honda Insight, or the liger. This makes it double popular, because people also love hybrids in the sense that I believe some portion of the population wishes the hybrid car was also a human being so they could marry it and procreate with it. At which point they would cart around their half-car, half-human children in a three-row SUV.

The result of this whole part-hybrid, part-SUV thing is that the Toyota Highlander Hybrid returns 28 miles per gallon in the city, 28 miles per gallon on the highway, and 28 miles per gallon if you accidentally press the gas pedal instead of the brake and crash into a 7-Eleven.

Basically, it’s going to get 28 miles per gallon no matter what you do, sort of like Tesla owners are going to get obnoxious vanity plates, no matter how many times you explain that WATTSUP isn’t really all that funny.

Now, this 28 mpg business is a huge improvement over the regular model, because that one only gets 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. So basically the hybrid version gets 9 more mpg in the city and 3 more mpg on the highway, which is an increase of roughly 56 percent, assuming that you do not check my math. If you did check my math, you’d discover that percentages are not my strong suit, much in the same way that “getting bad gas mileage” is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit.

And this brings us to my question today, which is: why the hell aren’t there any competitors to the Highlander Hybrid?

To be clear, there are many competitors to the regular Highlander. For instance, there’s the Honda Pilot, and the Nissan Pathfinder, and the Ford Explorer, and the Chevrolet Traverse, and the Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Kia Sorento, and I could go on naming these forever but what I think we can all agree on here is that there are a lot of three-row SUVs out there that cannot be told apart by the average human consumer.

Meanwhile, there are also a lot of hybrids. There’s the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Honda CR-Z, and the Honda Accord Hybrid, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid, and the Ford C-MAX, and the Chevrolet Volt, and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the Kia Optima Hybrid, and several other vehicles with “hybrid” at the end of their name and blue badging to remind people they aren’t just lookin’ at any old Hyundai Sonata.

And yet… there are no other hybrid midsize SUVs.

Oh, sure, people have tried to make hybrid midsize SUVs. Actually, only Nissan tried, and it was somehow a dismal failure. I’ve never understood this. Toyota has been selling the Highlander Hybrid in enormous numbers at sticker price for a decade, and Nissan cancels the Pathfinder Hybrid after about 45 minutes on the market. This would be like building a U.S. automotive factory in the early 1980s and pulling out in 1989, thinking that U.S. automotive production was not a good plan for the future. (NOTE: This actually happened to Volkswagen, worldwide leader in bad ideas.)

Since the Pathfinder Hybrid, there have been no other challengers. Honda offers three hybrid cars, but doesn’t see fit to compete with the Highlander Hybrid in the SUV world. Ford offers at least two hybrid cars; probably more, who knows. And they, too, can’t get a hybrid powertrain into the Explorer.

This makes no sense! All they need to do is take an existing SUV, stick in a hybrid engine, and get 28 miles per gallon. It could outsell the wheeled office chair.

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  • Analoggrotto As we Tesla owners receive our life energy from the greatest son of the gods of all time, Elon Musk; His cherubs and His nephilim may remove whatever they wish from us for unto him we owe all for our superiority above all the rest of humanity.
  • Kcflyer Nice to see California giving NY some competition to be the worst run state in the union.
  • Wolfwagen I see my comment was deleted (BTW nice way to censor) so i will say it again:GTFO here with the pseudo "wealth distribution" BS. A crime is a crime is a crime.Its a slippery slope, what happens next, Jail a rich guy when he kills a pedestrian and let the poor guy who kills a pedestrian walk? What about if the poor guy is a crappy driver and has the record to prove it then what?Or we could go crazy and just institute the death penalty across the board for every driving infraction. That will make people better drivers or stop driving altogether which will make the greenies happy (damm it I just gave them an idea - SOB!!!)
  • Wolfwagen No. Bring back the J80 with an inline six and reduced electronics (i.e. no giant touch screen) and they will probably sell like hotcakes
  • David S. " test vehicles sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic."??? Test vehicles are programmed by humans, HUMANS sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic, Duh!!