Hybrids Rock

This post is more than 2 years old.

So, a week or so ago my wife and I decided we needed to get rid of our Town and Country minivan. Ever since an accident a few years back, it had been flakey. It died on my wife and the shop did a full scan but was never able to find a problem with the van. We weren't satisfied with that, so we picked up the Highlander Hybrid Limited from Toyota. This car is an absolute dream. I've never seen a Hybrid up close before, and if you had told me how quiet it was I wouldn't have believed you. In fact - the thing I enjoy most about the vehicle is starting it front of people. No one believes the machine is actually running. (In fact, Toyota added a 'Ready' indicator to the dashboard just for that reason.) You turn the key - and nothing. Period.

In fact, my wife was picking me up a few days ago, and when she drove up, the car sounded like a hovercraft or a land speeder from Star Wars. (Actually the land speeders were louder I think.)

After a week or so, I can highly recommend the Highlander. It has plenty of pick and go and drives like a dream.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Neil posted on 11/22/2005 at 1:10 AM

We seriously looked at the Highlander about 2 months ago - the hybrids just don't.....I dunno..feel the same. I ended up convincing my wife (after some serious discussions :)) to go with a Tahoe. Definitely not the same kind of gas effiency, but simply ridiculous to drive - I LOVE it.

Gas prices not withstanding, when they can make a hybrid that drives as well as a...non-hybrid?...I will buy one.

But, to each his own, right? If you're happy with it, that's great.

Before the accident, how'd you like the Town & Country? My wife currently has a Bonneville that she wants to get out of, and is thinking about a van. Would you recommend the Town & Country?

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2005 at 1:39 AM

The one we got is 4 wheel drive, and feels -very- strong when I hit the gas.

The T and C was very, very nice. The sound system was especially nice - the best I've heard. I've got a Mini Cooper with Harmon Karmon speakers, and the TC still blows it away. Maybe it is the 'roomy' space of the TC. Anyway - it _was_ perfect until the accident.

Comment 3 by Christopher Wigginton posted on 11/22/2005 at 2:02 AM

They really need to come down on the higher cost of the hybrid's. The cost differentials between a standard and a hybrid are too great. While it may make sense if you do a lot of city driving, where Hybrids are fantastic, it doesn't make sense if you do a lot of highway driving.

Toyota Highlander Base ($24,530)
27 mpg Hwy (as per familycar.com)

Toyota Highlander Hybrid ($33,030)
28 mpg Hwy (per the Toyota site)

Amortizing the fuel savings over a 5 year period just doesn't add up to the nearly $10,000 cost difference. even at today's gas price of around $2.29 a gallon.

18K miles at 28 mpg @ $2.29 = $1472 in gas per year

That extra mile per gallon highway only saves you about 53.14 a year in gas.

And while I'd love to be "Green" minded, I also have to put food on the table in a very tight economy, so I'll vote with my pocketbook, which I assume a large portion of the U.S. does as well. True the gas could spike again upward of $3.00 and stay there, but I doubt it.

What I'd really like to see are more completely electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or bio-diesel run cars.

Comment 4 by Ian Sheridan posted on 11/22/2005 at 2:47 AM

everyone always seem to forget about the methanol run cars. actually you can convert a Regualy gasoline run engine to use it with very little effort (reletivly speaking of course). Man you *grow* methanol.

Crazy man... anyway I might be wrong here but the hybrid seems like a scam at time. oh yes it good for the planet but come on! take a look at what Wigginton talked about.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2005 at 3:09 AM

Hey - you guys need to stop knocking my new car - are at least wait a few years until the note is paid off. ;)

Comment 6 by Joshua cyr posted on 11/22/2005 at 3:26 AM

I have had a Prius for over a year now. I LOVE it. My girlfriend bought one two weeks after me. Her parents did too. I have the storage of a wagon, it looks cool, great options and safety plus I get kick butt MPG. My friend tells me I still drive my cars like I stole em, which tells me that it is pleanty peppy. Though no racing machine.

FYI, what Toyota puts on their site for MPG is what the EPA tells them (I think its required by law). Real life is different. I drive very little and only get 45-50mpg. My friend gets 55-60 from his Prius. So it largely depends on how you drive and what kind of area you are driving in. Also it gets a bit better after its broken in a bit I have found.

So the MPG on the toyota site for base is 2WD: 33/28 ( city/highway) hybrid - base is only 2WD: 22/27. That would be a more apples to apples comparison. Basically Highway is only small improvement, but city is much better. If you are in traffic and stop/go, then you will get even better compared to base as it will just shut off when not in use.

The EPA avg for the hybrid is 30mpg. Which is SO much better than most suvs.

Grats on the hybrid! It is good for milage, savings and of course its better on the earth and its resources than a Hummer and the like. ;-)

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2005 at 3:31 AM

Thanks for making me a little better. ;) FYI, we went for the 4WD version, which may account to why it feels so powerful. First 4WD vehicle I've ever owned.

Comment 8 by Jeff posted on 11/22/2005 at 8:18 AM

If you want "real-world" driving mileage, go here:


I'm sure that the 26 mpg you get for the Highlander is going to beat the minivan.

I have my eye on a Prius, but I'm still hoping to squeeze a few more years out of my Caravan. And then, I hope that the hybrid price has dropped and mileage improved.

Comment 9 by Sean Corfield posted on 11/22/2005 at 9:13 AM

The 4WD has the dual electrics, right? According to all Toyota's blurb, that means it is a V6 with V8 power (due to the assistance from the two electric motors).

I love my Prius! 15,000 miles in six months so I've saved a *lot* of money...

Comment 10 by Martin Kristensen posted on 11/22/2005 at 1:39 PM

I just wanted to remind you-all (americans) what gas prices are like outside America. In Denmark Gas is currently 9.31 kr a liter - whitch converts to 5.6$ a gallon. (Gas prices is not even peaking right nov).

Comment 11 by Martin Kristensen posted on 11/22/2005 at 1:46 PM

Check the conversion for yourself:


Comment 12 by Trond Ulseth posted on 11/22/2005 at 2:55 PM

Gas prices in Norway are similar to Denmark, but where we really stand out is in the car prices. A Prius, which acording to toyota.com start at $21,725 in the US, costs more than $43,000 here. That's right - more than double the price. And that is the reason I still have a 10 year old Toyota Carina.

Comment 13 by Terry posted on 11/22/2005 at 8:30 PM

Toyota is really getting the Hybrid thing down... Hybrid technology is here to stay and will only get better.
You get in, start it, and drive it. The Highlander is a little more "normal" then the Prius, but they are both just cars. Drivability is essentially like any automatic car and the electric integration is pretty much seamless.
The Prius has amazing power for the engine size. The Highlander will be much better because they are using the same V6 as the non-hybrid version.
We have an '05 Prius that is great! I'm not a tree-hugger by any means, but my wife has averaged 53mpg over 16,000 miles of mostly Jacksonville city driving. Aside from the gas savings, it is really a nice car and comes with some extras that most cars in it's class don't have. Will it ever pay for itself? It will over an extended time, but I don't buy cars as an investment anyway, so who cares?

I've been toying with getting the Highlander as well, but haven't pulled the trigger yet. Glad to see someone enjoying one.


Comment 14 by Neil posted on 11/22/2005 at 9:49 PM

Gas prices in Norway, Denmark, etc.... doesn't the rest of the world exist to serve America??

I'm kidding.

The reason gas prices are so much cheaper here is because we use MORE. If we buy.... I dunno... 10 million gallons of gasoline a year, and Norway buys 1 million gallons of gasoline a year (of course these numbers are wholly made up), you would expect for the larger consumer to get a sort of "bulk rate".

The same goes for cars. If we buy 50,000 of a specific model, and Denmark consumers buy 5,000, again, one would objectively expect the larger consumer to get a better deal on the "per unit" sale.

I understand that, if you don't live in the U.S., it sucks.

Also, if a consumer is paying .50 center for a gallon of gas, and tomorrow he has to pay $1.20, its not really fair to tell him to stop whining because gas in Europe is 5 bucks... His only frame of reference is that he now has more than a 100% increase in HIS gas prices....

Comment 15 by Trond Ulseth posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:01 PM

Neil, while your asumtions are logical, they are wrong never the less.

First of, Norway is in no need to buy gasoline, as we are one of the biggest producers of gasoline/oil in the world.

The reason for the higher prices for cars (and gas) is mainly due to goverment taxes. The 100% higher price we pay for cars do not go to the car manufacturers or sellers, but to the Norwegian goverment. Of course we can moan about it (and we do), but it is also a fact that we live in one of the best countries in the world when it comes to social welfare etc.

Comment 16 by Neil posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:11 PM

Social welfare....???? Mother of God....

I completely understand taking care of people (CITIZENS) who can't take care of themselves. However, really, what in the name of GOD is wrong with asking (FORCING, if necessary) people who can to pull their own weight?

Social welfare....

Seeing as this seems to have turned into a discussion on world politics (or did I turn it into such a discussion?), can someone PLEASE explain to me why (it seems, anyway) the entire WORLD hates the U.S. with a PASSION - UNTIL a disaster hits somewhere, or until some pissant dictator needs to be dealt with, or until the U.S. aid budget comes up in the senate? OH, THEN THE WORLD LOVES US.

As for Norway, if you guys have no problem paying through the nose in order that social welfare programs are the best in the world - I'm loving you guys. In fact, I think we ought to start taking out billboards in Massachusetts talking about the fantastic social welfare programs in Norway and get rid of some of our own dead weight.

Ok, I'm done with my soap box now.

Comment 17 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:28 PM

Let's please put an end to the politics. I -do- discuss politics on this blog (just ask me about President Monkey), but as this thread wasn't about it - I'd rather it not go down that route. Please. Thank you. Etc. ;)

Comment 18 by Neil posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:30 PM

My apologies...

Comment 19 by Trond Ulseth posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:31 PM

Neil, I'm sorry if I offended or provoced you in any way. That was not my intent. The only point I was trying to make was that we (Norwegians - my self included) tend to moan and whine about how expensive stuff is here. Beleive me, I would love to buy a newer and safer (and environmental friendly) car to drive around my kids in. But I am also very happy that if any of my kids, my wife or my self get sick or injured, then I don't have to worry about being able to afford the medical care that is needed. That is what I meant by social welfare.

How you managed to bring the worlds view on the US into this I don't know, so I won't comment on that.

Comment 20 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:36 PM

I don't think anyone is offended, and no apologies are needed, I'm just making sure things don't go too far. Again - if this were another thread, I'd like yall go hog wild.

Comment 21 by Neil posted on 11/22/2005 at 10:45 PM

hahaha come on, no offense taken or intended. Just the rantings of a man who pays far too many taxes his own self. Ray, my apologies for turning YOUR blog into MY own personal soap box.

Comment 22 by Scott Stroz posted on 11/22/2005 at 11:00 PM


Actually, we use a lot less oil form the Middle East. About 10% o fteh US oil comes from teh Middle East, as opposed to about 90% for most European countries. So Europeans are more at the mercy of the Middle East.

Our gas prices should actually be a lot lower, however, as I have read, we (the U.S.) absorbs some of the costs to avoid oil prices from skyrocketing (even more) in Europe, and other areas that are almost, wholly, dependent on oil form the Middle East.

If I can find the article the discusses this I will post the link.