Auto Service World
News   January 5, 2004   by Auto Service World

Toyota’s Debuts Hybrid SUV in Detroit


The all-new Toyota Highlander Hybrid gasoline/electric mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) made its world premiere
today at the 2004 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
“Highlander Hybrid is the world’s first seven-passenger hybrid SUV marking the introduction of a second all-new hybrid vehicle from Toyota before most manufacturers have shown their first,” said Tony Wearing, Managing Director of Toyota Canada Inc. “The addition of a hybrid system to this popular SUV provides further evidence that Toyota’s commitment to hybrid technology will continue to spread.”
Like the popular four-cylinder Prius gasoline/electric hybrid, the 3.3-litre V6-equipped Highlander Hybrid will be powered by another 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 new 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 total 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.
The Highlander Hybrid uses a regenerative braking system to further boost system efficiency. When the vehicle is coasting or the brakes are applied, the
electric motor functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes and converting it into useable electricity to recharge the batteries. In addition to its impressive performance, the Highlander Hybrid will also deliver the best fuel economy in the mid-size SUV segment. Highlander
Hybrid’s combined fuel efficiency will be significantly better than the current US EPA average for a compact sedan, which is 8.5 L/100 km. And, its estimated driving range is 965 km on a tank of gas.
Equally important, Highlander Hybrid will be rated as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV), one of the most stringent emissions rating in the industry.
In addition to providing the fuel economy of a 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 vehicle stability problems and correcting them with a combination of braking, and throttle control. The new VDM system is less obtrusive than conventional VSC and ultimately more
effective. It permits for more spirited driving while acting quicker and more effectively to assist when the driver needs to help.
Other safety features include, a tire pressure warning system, and optional front seat-mounted side airbags and front and second row curtain side airbags.
The first seven-passenger hybrid SUV, Highlander Hybrid will feature three rows of seats as well as rear privacy glass, a rear heater system, and rear seat cupholders. “Walk-in” steps and a second-row sliding seat ease entry to, and exit from 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, bumper, and rear LED tail lamps and will 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. This includes 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 audio 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 consumption, outside temperature, low tire pressure warning, and a Hybrid Synergy Drive energy monitor. Like the Prius, Highlander Hybrid will also monitor the gasoline/electric power distribution of the Hybrid Synergy Drive on an 18 cm touch-panel display monitor. All options currently found in the 2004 Highlander may also be available in the 2005 Highlander Hybrid.
“The Highlander Hybrid will join Prius in the Toyota lineup in 2005,” said Wearing. “This duo will not only broaden the demographic of hybrid owners, it will firmly establish this important new Toyota technology in the
hearts and minds of mainstream consumers.”


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