Sunday, September 23, 2007
Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV
Something I would like to share with all of you this week is that I am on the Women’s Tennis Team at the University of Arizona. I am a senior on the team and we are in our fall season. This weekend, I traveled from Tucson, Ariz., to El Paso, Texas, to compete in a tennis tournament.
The trip was 4 ½ hours long. The driver, Vicky Maes, head coach of the tennis team, happened to drive a hybrid SUV. I thought to myself, “How perfect!” and I was able to score an interview with her this weekend during our drive to Texas.
My long trip to Texas allowed me to examine my coach’s 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV to the fullest detail. My experience in the car was great. I took naps, ate, stretched-out, sat in the front and backseats, listened to music, played around with the A/C, and opened-up different compartments.
I am one of those people who can take naps wherever I am, whether I am on a plane, train, or automobile. I have to say that the Highlander was very comfortable. The first two hours of our trip, I slept in the backseat. The car drove very smoothly and swiftly. I barely felt the bumps on the road.
The car was also very quiet. When my coach started the vehicle you could here it start, but then it went so silent that I thought it was off again. When the car drove in reverse I couldn’t hear it at all. It was almost as if the car was falling back in an off/neutral position.
I also noticed that the car was very spacious. It is just like a regular SUV. The backseats are a little tighter than a regular SUV, but I am only 5’2” so I didn’t bother me much. The trunk is huge. We were able to fit three backpacks, three suitcases, two tennis bags, three shopping bags, and three purses in the back.
There were also a lot of cup holders everywhere. There are cup holders in the front and backseats of the car. It was very convenient.
What I liked best about the car was the sound system. There is no difference between a hybrid and a regular car when it comes to quality and sound of music.
We only stopped twice to get gas our entire trip. Our coach filled it up before we left, once during our trip to Texas, and once more on our way back to Arizona. I was impressed.
Here is what my coach had to say when I interviewed her:
Q: Is this the first hybrid car you have owned.
Maes: Yes, this is the first one.
Q: What was your last car?
Maes: A Toyota Forerunner.
Q: How does your last car compare to the Highlander?
Maes: The Forerunner was a V8, this is a V6. I feel a little bit less safe in this car because it is more swift. Sometimes I feel like it can tip over on sharper turns. The gas mileage is better though and the gas emission is a lot lower. It’s also quieter. It is less bumpy and it feels a lot lighter than my Forerunner.
Q: Do you think you would ever switch back to a regular car?
Maes: I’ll try not to but it all depends. I prefer a hybrid, but some cars just don’t come in a hybrid. I like to do my part for the environment. With the great amount of driving I do, I’d like to help the environment.
Q: Do you have friends that drive hybrids?
Maes: Yes, I know a lot of people. It’s funny but I also get a lot of questions from people. I get stopped a lot at the gas station or anywhere where I have to stop. A lot of people seem to be interested in switching over [to a hybrid car].
Q: Is it good for taking trips up to the mountains and camping?
Maes: It is really good for going up to the mountains. Although it is a V6 it is really fast. It is the same performance wise to the Forerunner. It just doesn’t feel as stable.
Q: How do you fuel the car?
Maes: I fuel it exactly the same way as you would a regular car. The gas tank is smaller but fueling is the same.
Q: How much mileage does the Highlander get?
Maes: Mileage is 32 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway, but I don’t get that much. I never get more than 25 in the city.
Q: How much is the hybrid Highlander?
Maes: They tend to be more in price then the regular cars. This one is about $35,000 to $40,000.
After my interview I went online to see how my coach’s Toyota Highlander Hybrid compared to the Toyota Prius.
The coast of the Toyota Prius is $20,000 to $25,000. It is supposed to get 48 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. However, from reviews I have read that those numbers tend to drop down from 35 to 40 mpg. The Prius is a lot smaller. For people who are looking to purchase an eco-friendly SUV, I would recommend the Toyota Highlander Hybrid because of a great personal experience.
In the end, my trip was great. My teammate and I got 3rd place in doubles. I went on to win the consolation draw in singles and my teammate ended up getting 4th place.
Here are a few websites you can check out: