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Toyota Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, 2012: diversity rules

The 2012 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid move into 2012 as three-row crossovers that offer a four-cylinder or V6 power, front-wheel drive (FWD), full-time four-wheel drive (4WD) as well as a hybrid that provides a class-leading 28/28 mpg city/highway fuel economy ratings.

All Highlander 2012 models feature a standard 50/50 split third-row seat and rear climate control for customer comfort and flexibility. The Highlander is available in Highlander, SE and Limited grades with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD). A 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is standard on the Limited grade and available for the others. All Highlander Hybrid models are equipped with four-wheel-drive with intelligence and are available in Highlander and Limited grades.

The Toyota Highlander offers three performance levels:

* A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 187 horsepower at 5,800 RPM and 186 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,100 RPM and offers an EPA-estimated 25 MPG rating  in highway driving. The engine is equipped with a variable intake manifold and  dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls phasing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts to optimize torque and fuel efficiency. The 2.7-liter engine is teamed exclusively with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

* A 3.5-liter V6 (standard on Limited) produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 RPM. The V6 is also equipped with dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. A five-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) offers selectable manual sequential shifting.

Toyota Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, 2012: diversity rules 1

* The Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive gained a new, 3.5-liter V6 in the previous model year, replacing a 3.3-liter V6. The system pairs the gasoline V6 engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for total system output of 280 net horsepower. A second rear-mounted motor provides automatic on-demand four-wheel drive traction.

* The 4WD Highlander Hybrid uniquely generates rear-wheel power with a separate electric motor that provides additional drive torque on demand. Thus, the Highlander Hybrid 4WD-i system does not require power-transfer gearing or a driveshaft from the front. The system electronically varies front and rear torque distribution depending on traction conditions.

The Highlander comes standard with Toyota’s Star Safety System, which integrates operation of enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electric Power Steering (EPS) and the anti-lock brake system
(ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).

Highlander models are also equipped with a straight-line steering feature. When varying traction causes ABS to apply different left/right braking force, the system can apply steering torque to help offset left/right pull.

The Highlander Hybrid employs the advanced Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system. VDIM is designed to enhance handling, traction and braking systems that normally react to vehicle driving conditions by anticipating tire slippage before a skid, slide, or wheel spin occurs and helps to make corrections in a smooth, progressive way.

In addition to integrating all of the Highlander’s dynamic control systems (VSC, TRAC, BA, EPS, EBD and ABS), the VDIM system also employs powerful proprietary software to integrate the Electronic Throttle Control with intelligence (ETC-i) and Electronically Controlled Brakes (ECB).

The Highlander comes with seven standard airbags: Driver and front passenger airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, driver’s knee airbag and side curtain airbags.

Standard features on all Highlander models include front and rear air conditioning; eight-way adjustable driver’s seat (10-way on Limited); power door locks and windows with driver’s window jam protection and auto-up/down feature; manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; multi-function keyless entry system; UV-reduction windshield and rear privacy glass; digital clock; dual sun visors with vanity mirrors and sliding extensions; conversation mirror; illuminated entry system; scheduled maintenance indicator light ans full-size spare tire  A variety of available options and accessories include a voice-activated touch screen navigation system with an eight-inch screen; JBL audio systems, leather-trimmed seats with front seat heaters, and a power tilt/slide moonroof.

The optional tow package for V6 models enables up to 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity, while the four-cylinder tow package enables up to 3,500 pounds of maximum towing capacity. A power liftgate that can be opened and closed
with a key fob or driver side control is an available option on the Highlander grade and standard on SE and Limited.

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