Toyota Debuts Hybrid-electric Highlander SUV

Highlander Hybrid will join the Prius in early 2005 after late 2004 introduction of Lexus RX hybrid

Published: 04-Jan-2004

The all-new 2005 Toyota Highlander Hybrid gas-electric mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) made its world premiere at a press conference today at the 2004 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The press conference also featured the unveiling of the FTX full-size pickup concept truck, offering a glimpse into Toyota's future full-size truck strategy.

"The Highlander Hybrid is the world's first seven-passenger hybrid SUV and marks the launch of a second all-new hybrid vehicle from the Toyota Division," said Jim Press, executive vice president and COO, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc.

"The addition of a hybrid system in our best-selling SUV provides further evidence that Toyota's commitment to hybrid technology will continue to run deep and wide."

Like the popular four-cylinder Prius gas-electric hybrid, the 3.3-liter V6-equipped Highlander Hybrid will be powered by a new version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. The system was specifically developed to meet the load-carrying requirements of a mid-size SUV.

The system features a larger-capacity battery that will deliver nearly double the power of the battery in the Prius. An all-new high-speed electric motor will operate at twice the speed and deliver more than twice the power as the motor in the Prius. With combined peak-system power projected at approximately 270 horsepower, the new system will improve upon the V6 Highlander's already impressive less-than-eight-second zero-to-60 acceleration.

In addition to providing the fuel economy of a four-cylinder compact sedan, the Highlander Hybrid will offer the versatility, refinement, and comfort demanded in a mid-size SUV. Highlander Hybrid will come standard-equipped with front-wheel-drive and offer electric four-wheel-drive with intelligence (4WD-i). Models with 4WD-i are equipped with front and rear electric motors that will deliver balanced power to all four wheels, providing instantaneous acceleration.

To enhance safety and all-weather capability, the Highlander Hybrid will feature a Vehicle Dynamic Management (VDM) system. Monitoring a variety of sensors, the system is capable of anticipating pending vehicle stability problems and then correcting the situation with a combination of braking and throttle control. The new VDM system is less obtrusive than conventional VSC but acts quicker and more effectively.
Additional safety features include a tire pressure warning system, and optional front seat-mounted side airbags and front- and second-row curtain side airbags.

The Highlander Hybrid will feature three rows of seats that will include rear privacy glass, a rear heater system, and rear seat cupholders. "Walk-in" steps and a second-row sliding seat make it easy to enter and exit the third row. The third-row seat also folds completely flat into the floor to create added cargo space. The second-row 60/40 split-fold seat also reclines and folds forward flat for added comfort and utility.

The exterior styling will be freshened with the addition of a new front grille and bumper, and rear LED tail lamps. The Highlander Hybrid will also ride on 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Highlander Hybrid will feature an array of amenities owners have come to expect in their mid-size SUV, including standard air conditioning, power windows, mirrors, and door locks, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, and a deluxe 3-in-1 AM/FM/ETR cassette/CD sound system with six speakers. A multi-function display is conveniently located just beneath the speedometer that calculates and displays various mechanical and performance information including instant and average fuel economy, outside temperature, low tire pressure, and a Hybrid Synergy Drive energy monitor. A navigation system will be available on the Limited grade. Like the Prius, it will also monitor the electric-gas power distribution of the Hybrid Synergy Drive on a seven-inch touch-panel display monitor. All options currently found in the 2004 Highlander will also be available in the 2005 Highlander Hybrid.

"The Highlander Hybrid will join the Prius in early 2005, with the Lexus RX hybrid arriving toward the end of this year," said Press. "The trio will not only give consumers a broadband of hybrid-powered choices, it will firmly establish this important new technology in the hearts and minds of mainstream consumers."

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