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New Hybrids? August 05, 2004 4:58 PM

Hello! I am in the market to buy a new hybrid and I heard that Toyota will be coming out with a Hybrid Highlander in the next year. Does anyone know anymore about this? I'm trying to find out more info, but even the dealer I talked to doesn't know very much. And the Toyota website only mentions the Prius as it's only hybrid. Does anyone know of any other 4WD hybrids that are coming out?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hi Caroline August 06, 2004 5:31 PM

Can you explain why you want or need 4WD? And why you want or need a hybrid? Maybe tell us what you're driving now and what you'd like to improve and why? I'd like to get a thread going here about the technology and costs/benefits. Like limosines or unicycles, hybrids aren't best for everything. Having driven one a couple of years, and having spent much more time on engine design, I think we can have a useful discussion.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hi Darryl August 06, 2004 5:39 PM

Right now I have a Toyota Camry and it gets pretty good gas mileage and I love my car. I think Toyota overall builds very dependable vehicles. So A) I want to stick with Toyota, but I also think Honda is good. B) I love skiing and I live in a state where we receive a lot of snow and we have lots of icy weather. A 4WD will be nice so I can get around the mountains a lot easier. C) I'm looking at the highlander because my boyfriend and I are still pretty young and we do a lot of moving, so the space and towing capacity is a definite plus. I also work for a furniture company where I wish I could do deliveries for some of my customers to save them money, but alas, my camry just doesn't hold that much. D) When I am doing field work (biology), my camry cannot make it on many dirt roads. So I usually end up having to rent a truck, would like to avoid doing that. E) Hybrid because I am very environmental and I want to use the least amount of fossil fuels as possible. All other 4WD's use more fossil fuels than normal, so a hybrid 4WD would be great. I'm not entirely thrilled about buying a SUV, I wish I could get a Hybrid Tundra instead, but the Highlander is the closest thing to what I need and I don't want to wait years and years for a Tundra Hybrid to come out. I hope that helps and I'm curious to hear what problems you have had with hybrids.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Caroline.... August 07, 2004 11:00 PM

I've taken some time to reply, trying to determine the best response. Sounds like you need a Suburu, but the fuel efficiency stinks. Nice and reliable though. So much for that. Since there aren't any 4WD hybrids, and probably aren't going to be any with decent mileage in the next few years, that doesn't seem to be an answer. You mentioned renting trucks when necessary. I'm thinking that buying a Prius - and renting a jeep or Suburu or truck when necessary, might be the best answer. You need to run the numbers, how many times a year you really need 4WD, what they cost to rent, what the mileage improvement would be on the Prius versus your Camry times your miles per year times your best guess at gasoline prices. And you need to factor in the joy of owning the hybrid, the satisfaction in knowing that you're helping pull the future closer, all that sort of thing. Frankly, that is the main reason today for purchasing a hybrid at all. My 2003 Civic Hybrid will earn back the extra cost over a normal Civic in fuel saved over its life, but really won't return any monetary reward beyond that. The satisfaction that I get, and the bragging rights, make it very worthwhile. If I was in the market for a new one, it would be the Prius. Electric air conditioning (doesn't quit at traffic lights) and the ability to travel short distances on battery alone make the Prius my choice. Probably in a year or two Honda will come out with things that put them back in front, we'll see. The Honda cannot go anywhere on battery alone. You pull into a parking space, stop a couple of feet too soon, the engine quits, then to move the last two feet the engine starts again. No big deal, but it doesn't seem right. The Continuously Variable Transmission is great. It doesn't shift, it slides up and down an infinite number of "gears" as needed. As someone point out on another thread, hybrids make sense in the city but not at constant highway speeds. I spend a lot of time at 75 mph and don't get the improvement that city drivers do. (But on the other hand, I don't have to endure city traffic either!) At those speeds I usually get 45 mpg or so, if the headwinds get real bad it can drop into the high 30s and going the other way (tailwind) I can get 65 mpg at 75 mph!! Over 40,000 miles so far, no squawks. If I can help in running the numbers, let me know.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Confused . . . August 08, 2004 11:54 AM

Hi Darryl, I am a little confused now. So, why wouldn't a hybrid Highlander work? It has 4WD and gets 28 miles to the gallon and is a SULEV, so wouldn't that be better than any other SUV on the market? When my camry is paid off, the next midsize car I will buy is a Prius. But I need a larger car for both work and play and I think the Highlander will be a good choice. I have heard it is pretty safe too compared to other SUV's but I wasn't sure what anyone else has heard on that. Do you have information on the Highlander that makes you think that wouldn't be a good, valid buy? I am interested in your thoughts as it seems you know alot about these cars.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Caroline August 08, 2004 2:46 PM

I really don't know anything about the Highlander except what is on Toyota's site In my opinion, 270 horsepower is about 200 too many, but that's just my opinion. The Highlander isn't really 4WD in the normal understanding of that term. For example, in a normal 4WD all the engine power can be supplied to the rear wheels if the front wheels are on ice and have no traction. The Highlander is not that way, the rear wheels only have a small electric motor to drive them. I haven't seen a rating for that motor, but would guess maybe 10 or 15 horsepower. The front appears to have a similar (maybe identical) electric motor too. My Honda has about 13 hp electric, but that is paired with an 85 hp engine. With the much greater power of the Highlander, the motors appear so small that they're really there for sex appeal rather than utility. Of course it ain't out yet so the real numbers aren't available and maybe I'm wrong. Even the Honda should have a much bigger electric motor, but that means more battery and more weight and more cost.......etc. I guess I just don't trust the philosophy behind any 270 hp vehicle. Toyota is obviously trying to complete with other SUVs on performance, and performance is going to use fuel, lots of it. I'd like to see actual fuel burn numbers for the Highlander in stock configuration, and again with the "hybrid" stuff disconnected. My sense is that they would be almost the same, in other words, the hybrid stuff is there for sales sizzle, not for engineering reasons. Again, I might be wrong.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Ford has a supposedly more efficient hybrid SUV August 09, 2004 10:41 AM

... but I have to kinda agree with Darryl in that... basically, buying an SUV of any kind encourages those "big box" vehicles (& companies that produce them) in general... the greener versions are like pop with aspartame... an effort in the right direction... but still not ideal (though good for the product it serves). We all live in the real world though! Cars are essential, especially for you since you live out in CO. Do you have any good public transportation? I really hate to be yet another fly in your ointment... but I also know lots of people who are fine with only owning one car... even only one per household... Renting or maybe car sharing with a local business might be a great alternative. Here we have the option of going with a service called "I-Go" that you can find online at in case you're interested. It might be perfect for those delivery jobs! Good luck with school too! Wow, you sound like a very thoughtful, busy, and well-intentioned lady. Thank you for your post (it made me go find the I-Go info & post it finally!), Ruth  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Hi Ruth August 11, 2004 11:32 AM

Thank you for your post. I've given a lot of consideration to what you and Darryl have both said. Right now, I probably actually sit in my car twice a week (at the most). I ride my bike to work everyday, except the day when I bring all my clothes to work. And then I will drive only one other time a week to buy groceries that I can't carry by walking. I hate driving, so I do avoid it as much as possible. I will have to drive more in the winter, because I work over 3 miles away and just isn't really possible to walk that far every cold morning. The hybrid highlander actually gets better gas mileage than my camry. It's gets 28 mpg compared to my camry's 26. Plus, it is a SULEV, while my camry is only LEV. The non-hybrid models of the highlander only get 24 mpg (highway) so it is an improvement. I personally will probably wait till I can actually see one, drive one and see if the gas mileage is as good as they say. I think they are only approximates right now, as they aren't actually selling them yet. Eventually, I would like to have a Prius and one other vehicle that I can use for towing and the like. So, that is why I am so interested in the highlander. For my lifestyle and the weather conditions out here, having a 4WD vehicle really makes sense. And the Prius would the all around car that I would use for errands and long-distance summer trips. Right now splitting one car between 2 people is hard enough and I don't know how we are going to do it in the winter. When the weather is already bad(rain), I have to drive my bf to work at 7:30 am, than come back, get dressed, go to my job at 9:30, than when my bf is done with work, he has to walk a 1/2 mile to my workplace at 5pm and then hang out for 2 hours until I get off work at 7pm. Long day huh? Then it is really tough when we want to visit family because they all live in Wyoming and in case you aren't familiar, Wyoming is a state with a very sparse population and incrediably spread out towns. The only public transportation in Wyoming is the Greyhound bus and after doing that a few times, I wouldn't want to wish that experience on anyone. :) So, if one of us is visiting family, the other has to pray the weather holds. Whew, so there is my story. I haven't really looked into Ford, because I really just don't like them as a company and I think Toyota has been greener for much longer.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Environmental records of car companies.... August 12, 2004 1:19 PM

I know Ford started his company by thinking that soy would change the world... he even had a soy fiber suit! But overall, I think you're right that Toyota has a much better record. I know, sharing a car can be a drag! & Because you are in a relatively isolated area... you are the perfect candidate for taking advantage of the new tech hybrid vehicles that are getting to the market. You know what? If we all just do what we can do I think it will make a difference... it has already a little bit (and when Kerry gets in maybe his administration can undo some of the damage done by the neocons so we can actually see some improvement). These cars were just ideas 14 years ago when I started getting active with environmentalism! You should feel good that you're going to be voting FOR the environment with your dollars when you do make your car purchase. Take care & stay in touch, =) Ruth  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
hybryds August 14, 2004 1:03 PM

We are on a list in our area for awaiting the new Highlander. It is not even on schedule until Feb '05. We also picked up a short term vehicle at a Nissan dealership and inquired about Nissan hybrids... not anything of remark as of yet. We were told that GMC will have a hybrid Envoy out next year. Do not have any statistics at all. Not even sure if this is info that will hold water. But we want the safety of a higher set vehicle. Too many large vehicles that if they hit a smaller vehicle it would not be a thing of justice. So yes, we also want a SUV with hybryd qualilty. As to comments about Kerry becoming president. Not a good thing-- he is related to Barbara Bush and his agenda will not be any better than the Bush administration. We look to have John Kennedy as the write in president to come to make real changes... look his platform up and you will be refreshed. Read alternative newspapers on the web... get familiar with: and that will bring about reform at the highest level. It will bring technology that truely is for a safer and kinder planet, where all people have rights and prosperity. There is light at the end of this tunnel for each of us once we become educated at the highest level. sincerely, reta  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Reta August 14, 2004 1:53 PM

>But we want the safety of a higher set vehicle.< My opinion is that you're moving away from safety, not toward it. What you say is often true in two car collisions between a larger and smaller vehicle. Not always, but more than 50% of the time. But the greatly-increased chances if rollover in the high-set vehicle is important too. There are lots of one-car crashes involving rollover. Plus, a good driver will sense the impending rollover and will prevent tipping over by limiting the amount of evasion that can be accomplished. It is much easier to avoid a deer in a low vehicle because you have so much more maneuverability. Ditto for avoiding another vehicle or any other hazard. You will notice that race cars are low, not high. They need to maneuver without tipping over. Well, we all need that. So, if you ARE in the collision your chances are somewhat better in the high car, but your chances of avoiding the crash altogether are much better in the low car. Personally, I'd rather miss altogether.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
TV show motorweek August 18, 2004 10:01 PM

On this show they showed the development of hybrid technology in commercial vehicles and how it would reduce pollution of deisels by 25 percent. As for Hybrid SUVs, I like the ford Escape, the hyland is probably nice to though.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Reta August 20, 2004 12:19 AM

This is a group about Hybrid vehicles... but if you want to bring politics into it more than a back-handed comment about current events... I do read a lot... from many sources. It's very presumptous of you to assume otherwise. ... so you think that a write in candidate will be president? Wow... good luck with that... honestly, I wish you the best of luck. I'm not thinking that much will change... but Bush has been just so completely without a conscience that the (realistic) alternative has got to be better. Kerry does have a relatively liberal record... and you know what cousin... we're all related! If you want to discuss it further, let me know what group you want to hash things out in (I'm tracking this, but I work quite a bit just to let you know, so I may not answer immediately... but I will eventually answer all appropriate questions & am happy to debate when I have time =). Take care, Ruth  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Honda August 20, 2004 4:05 PM

I bought two Civics last year. In July I bought a 2000 Civic VP, well it's in my name, but it's my daughter's car. In December I bought a 2004 Civic Hybrid. One of my concerns was space. I do a lot of gardening and hauling - would I have enough room? My daughter's Civic has a fold down back seat - so she can take a tremendous amount of stuff in her car. I don't know her mpg, but it's not too bad. Although her old car, a 1987 Honda Accord LXi, was getting up in the 30's on long trips (until the engine blew). My Civic can haul it's share - even though the back seat can't fold down because of the battery. I was surprised how much stuff I could fit in there. The trunk is nice and deep - easily 8 bags of mulch and two bags of soil with room to spare. I've gotten furniture in the trunk and back seat, too. The handling is great. The gas mileage? I usually fill up every 500 miles, but it can easily go over 600 before running out. In fact, I now sometimes forget about gas. A few weeks ago I was on the NJ TPK when the "Low Gas" light came on!! ooops. How embarassing would that be to be stuck on the shoulder of the NJ TPK in a hybrid out of gas?? lolol But, with 47 mph even if I had only one gallon left I could easily make it to the next service station... which I did.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
RE Margrets Honda, and space August 20, 2004 6:04 PM

I had a crx which I am sure is on the same frame as a insight, I had a thule roof rack with a lockable enclosed container, it was a great addition for space.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Thanks Margaret & EnviroC August 20, 2004 11:50 PM

We have to get a (cheap, used) car pretty soon. My husband won't think about a non-American-made car... so I haven't looked too much at Honda. But the one I had ~14 yrs. ago was really good with cargo space... which may just be the right "selling point" for him. The separate compartment for stuff sounds good too... (in case we do go with a Ford or something) do you know what they're called or a good website or place to shop for them? Thanks much, Ruth  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Ruth G... August 23, 2004 11:31 PM

>My husband won't think about a non-American-made car...< Have you thought about changing husbands? Seriously, you might want to ask your husband what an American car is. If the parts come from all over the earth, is it an American car? Is it OK to be held together with metric bolts? What about an American-made Toyota? And I wonder, does he feel the same about non-American fuel for his American car?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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