2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
List:$42k, final price: $38.8K
Purchased 4/29/06
Sold 1/11/15
for $9,500 with 100,906 miles

This is a very sweet car. And looks badass in Black. The only drawbacks:
- Hauls 10 Cubic feet less than our Land Cruiser (which iit replaced).
- Steering wheel doesn't telescope
- Has one touch windows (up/down with one touch) only on the driver's side-why not do it for all windows?
- Mundane looking unless black or blue
- Owners complain they aren't getting the quoted gas mileeage.
Other than that, it is amazing. Quite possible the best all around car available. Recorded 0-60 in 6.9 seconds.

Here is the blog I wrote a while ago that got me psyched.

Our '98 Land Cruiser is in the shop for a major tune up/smog cert. I decided to get a rental car, and for $9/day, Toytota 101 gave us the Highlander Hybrid. Wow. This is probably the most all-around capable car I've ever been in.

Road Test:
- 0-60 in 6.6 sec according to Motor Trend. My Audi A6 4.2 is supposed to do that in 6.7 seconds. So I tested both (in the rain). According to my stopwatch, the Highlander did it in 7.66 seconds. The Audi in 7.67. [note, the one we bought does it in 6.9]
- Driving through mud. There is a section of dirt I park in to go running. It is now a saturated mud bog because of the rain. When I drive the big old Land Cruiser in there, it starts to slip and slide as the huge tires get gummed up. The Audi, with it's also huge low profile tires, overcompensates with it's anti-skid control and also bogs down in the mud. The Highlander, with taller/skinner tires just dug in and plowed through with the least drama.
- Braking in wet/Anti Skid control. The Anti Skid is muchh more advanced in the Toyota. It doesn't kick in as abruptly as the Audi's.

Specs:
Gas mileage: claimed 27/30 mpg, though a lot of owners have complained it "only" gets 25 mpg. That's 127% better than the Land Cruiser and 47% better than the Audi.
If you drive 15k miles a year, at 3$ a gallon:
- Land Cruiser (11 mpg): $4091
- Audi (17 mpg): $2647
- Highlander (25 mpg): $1800.
Over 5 years, the Highlander would save nearly $11,500 vs the Land Cruiser and $4,235 vs the Audi in a gas costs! There is a site that describes exhaust emissions; the Land Cruiser would dump over 6000 pounds in a year; the Highlander, 3000 pounds.

Cargo Capacity: This is what's great about the Land Cruiser; it hauls all of our camping crap; 60 cubic feet behind the middle row. The Highlander is 50 cubic feet.
The real test is putting the baby jogger in the back without having to disassemble; easy with the Land Cruiser. I tried in the Highlander-didn't quite fit. Then I noticed that the 2/3, 1/3 rear seats are on rails and you can easily move the seats up. Presto-baby jogger fits! *I tried to put my bike in the Highlander. Had to take off the front wheel. In the LC, I could stand the bike up without removing anything. Advantage: Land Cruiser.

3rd Row Seating: The Land Cruiser has removable 3rd row seats. They have terrible leg room but workable in a pinch. At first I thought the highlander didn't have a third row-it is so cleverly packaged, they fold in to the floor. Leg room is definitely worse, but still available for small kids.

Rear Seat Comfort: The rear seat of the Land Cruiser is our daughter's playground. She has all of her toys back there. It has enough leg room to be comfortable for me, even if the front seats are all the way back (I am 6 feet tall). Guess what-the Highlander felt just as roomy. Also, you can actually recline the rear seats!

Front Seat Comfort: I really like not being too cramped. The audi feels spacious. Highlander-even more! The only thing wrong with the Highlander is the steering wheel doesn't telescope.

Navigation: My Audi has a first gen nav system. It's useless and impossible to operate. The Land Cruiser has none. The Highlander has the bad-ass ones with the real time map. Impressive.

Sound System: Though not great, the amp has more watts than either the Land Cruiser or the Audi. Upgrading speakers would make it rock.

Safety: The Land Cruiser has front air bags. The Audi and Highlander have front plus front/rear side airbags. In crash tests, the Highlander received "Good" and "Excellent" ratings; the Audi received "Good" and "Fair" ratings.

Driving the Highlander.
So, like the Prius, hybrids are different. When you start them up, it's silent. The Highlander doesn't have the goofy key fob/sensor, just a regular key. Perhaps the biggest drawbacks is the weird feeling of the continuously variable transmission. It sort of lurches as it changes ratios. And the noise of the engine(s) under power isn't pretty. But when cruising, it's incredibly quiet.

Availability:
The most amazing thing-after years of waiting for these things, dealers actually have a ton of them. On the phone, the sales rep said their asking price is $42k fully loaded. But without prompting, he said he'd easily drop to $39k. They have 2.9-4.9% financing and really low lease rates as well.

What's wrong with it?
The Highlander is kind of butt-ugly. There isn't a lot of road feedback through the steering wheel. It doesn't "feel" as fast as it is. It doesn't have as much room as the Land Cruiser. It doesn't have real 4wd capability (tho, does that really matter?). And there aren't a lot of used ones--getting a used one will only save aout $3k.

I love our land cruiser but want to unload it before it becomes unsellable as gas prices keep climbing. It's got 120k plus horrid gas mileage. Now if I can only convince my wife...