2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid LTD Test Drive

By dancurranjr On February 28th, 2009

toyota-highlanderMechanical and Performance

3.5L 270-HP 24-valve V6 eng. 4/dual VVT
5-speed automatic transmission w/sequential Shift
Electronic power steering system
Hill start assist controls
19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels


Anti-lock brakes w/brake assist & EBD
Driver knee airbag/driver & front passenger seat
Mounted side airbags /3 row roll-sensing
Side curtain airbags/driver and front passenger active headrests
Daytime running lights
Second row CRS lower/top tether anchors


Color-keyed bumpers/foldable power htd
Mirr/small rear spoiler/chrome door handles
Fog lamps/in-glass ant/rear privacy glass
Puddle lamps/front var and rear intermittent wipers

Driving the Highlander, gets you caught up in the comfort, economy, and energy of the vehicle, and might just let you forget about the array of safety features found on all Highlander models.

Driver and passengers are surrounded by an array of safety features as indicated above (seven air bag systems) along with simple but helpful items such as the direct tire pressure monitoring system.

There are four braking systems and stability control technologies that help the driver avoid accidents.

Hill start assist control that helps ensure smooth hill starts by applying brake pressure to all four wheels for approximately two seconds in order to help hold the Highlander and prevent roll back.

Downhill assist control helps to control the vehicle during a steep descent by helping the driver negotiate steep low speed descent by automatically controlling the brake force at all four wheels and help reduce wheel lockup.

Enhanced Stability Control helps prevent the vehicle from losing traction while cornering in wet or other challenging conditions. The system automatically regulates engine output and brake-force distribution to the wheels, plus simultaneous electric power steering assists torque to help the driver steer in the direction that provides greatest control.

TRAC is a traction control system that uses Highlander’s advanced braking technologies to help control wheel spin when starting or accelerating on a slippery surface.

The EPA fuel economy estimates is 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway. During my test drive I got a little less than the estimate in town and about two more mpg on the highway. The Highlander sells for $37,000. Government safety ratings are five-star for frontal driver crash and side crash for front and rear seats, and four stars for rollover.

The emergency button was easy to identify on the console. I would have preferred the outside lights that blink indicating an emergency to be red, rather than the white-yellow color that flashed instead.

The engine was very quiet because of the hybrid engine; I had some trouble at first knowing when the engine was on. I have a hearing problem and just could not tell when it was on, so I would often try to start the engine, yet it was already running. I quickly learned that I could tell when the engine was running by watching the gauges.

SOURCE: Epoch Times

Toyota Highlander online

Green Cars to Shine at Melbourne Motor Show

By dancurranjr On February 27th, 2009

melbourne-auto-motor-showGM Holden will unveil a new small car and Toyota will display its next generation hybrid Camry in an unprecedented focus on green technology at the opening of the Melbourne motor show tomorrow.

Holden, which drew record crowds to Sydney with a reborn Monaro a decade ago, will stand its tradition of motorshow surprises on its head with a frugal four-cylinder instead of the fire-breathing V8s of the past.

The Holden small car will be a pointer to the model that will be made in Adelaide from 2010 and show off fuel saving technology such as direct petrol injection. As work on the final shape of the car gets into full swing at Holden the show car will be an important test of buyer reaction.

Holden’s entire stand will have an environmental focus, with ethanol and LPG versions of the Commodore as well as a V8 with cylinder shutdown technology, which has just gone on sale.

Both Holden and Toyota are under pressure to show that they are making progress after accepting money under the Rudd Government’s car plan to reinvent the local industry.

Earlier this week in Melbourne, Toyota rolled out three alternative power concepts to feature on its stand including the next generation Prius and the Camry Hybrid due be built at its Altona plant from next year.

Ford, which has yet to receive money under the plan, has already announced it will assemble a small car in Melbourne from 2011.

Its stand will feature an imported small car that will boast the best fuel efficiency available in Australia when it goes on sale later this year, as well as a freshened up version of its locally built Territory SUV.

The Melbourne motor show will be the only event of its kind in Australia this year after the cancellation of the usual capital city events due to the global slowdown. Its next motor show will now be in 2011 after the organisers agreed to join forces with the Sydney motor show to host events on alternate years.

The green theme will continue throughout the exhibition halls with hybrid and electric cars. The battery powered Mitsubishi iMiev, a small city runabout, is currently under evaluation for sale in Australia while Subaru’s plug-in Stella, which goes on sale in Japan this year, will both be centre stage.

Honda will have show its new Insight petrol-electric car fresh from its unveiling last month in Detroit. Touted as the most affordable hybrid on the market, it should be on sale here by next year as competition for Toyota’s next generation Prius, which arrives mid-year.

SOURCE: The Australian

Kids! Enter Your Essay, Win a Yellow Hybrid Bus

By dancurranjr On February 27th, 2009

hybrid-bus1Taking a cue from the trend toward eco-friendliness, a bus manufacturer is offering a free hybrid bus to a school whose “green” practices are best extolled in a student essay.

Warrenville, Ill.-based IC Bus, which describes itself on its website as the only manufacturer of hybrid school buses, says its bus reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and improves fuel economy compared with a regular diesel school bus. The company created an essay contest to encourage students from kindergarten through 12th grades to start environmentally friendly programs in their schools.

“We feel strongly about the fact that every school bus takes 36 cars off the road, about the billions of gallons of gas that it saves per year for every school bus we have on the road,” says IC Bus president John McKinney.

Students who enter the contest, which is open until April 30, should write 500-word essays on the ways their school seeks to become green.

Christian Laskaros, a junior at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills, N.Y., entered a few weeks ago. He described how small eco-friendly programs at his school, including a paper recycling program, fliers with energy-saving tips in classrooms and ceiling lights with timers, add up to make a big difference.

“I really hope (the judges) grasp the entire gist of the essay, how you can see nothing being eco-friendly one day, and the next day you’re looking at the bus you’re riding on in the city and how eco-friendly it actually is,” Laskaros says. “And you look at your water bottle, something so small, and realize how much damage it can do.”

For contest judges McKinney and Terra Wellington, author of the upcoming book The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home, the contest is all about who is the most excited about going green.

“I’m looking for that passion and emotion in the essay,” Wellington says. “I would love to see children who write these essays show how maybe they got their school involved. Children have a capacity to influence.”

Students can enter their essay at AmericasGreenestSchool.com, where they can read about hybrid buses and learn ways to create a more eco-friendly school, such as shutting off unnecessary classroom lights and packing “litterless lunches” in reusable containers.

Ten finalists will be posted on the website May 11-17, and the public will vote on who should win. In addition to the hybrid bus prize, the winning student will get a $5,000 scholarship, and a faculty sponsor can win $3,000 for educational materials.

Source: USA Today

Porsche Delivers Preliminary Mileage for Cayenne Hybrid

By dancurranjr On February 27th, 2009

porsche-cayenne-hybridPorsche unveiled more information about its upcoming Cayenne Hybrid SUV. The gas-electric hybrid will debut next year with a supercharged V-6 engine borrowed from Audi that pumps out 333 hp, combined with a 52-hp electric motor. The company says its 0-62 mph time is 6.8 seconds, which is roughly the same as the V-8 Cayenne S.

The bigger news is that the company says it will return combined mileage of 9 liters per 100 km, which by rough conversion is around 26 mpg. Porsche won’t, however, commit to a U.S. EPA figure. The Cayenne S gets 15 mpg, and a four-cylinder Honda Accord gets 25 mpg combined.

We’ll have to wait until next year for final mileage figures, but anything that sounds this fast with mileage this good can’t be a bad thing. Of course we’d expect the sticker to be much higher than the $59,400 price tag on the Cayenne S.

SOURCE: Kicking Tires

Honda’s New Insight Hybrid is Hot in Japan

By dancurranjr On February 27th, 2009

2010_honda_insight_hybridThe new Honda Insight hybrid, slated to go on sale in April in the U.S., is already big in Japan.

Reuters reported today that Honda has received almost triple the number of orders it expected for the car after it went on sale in its homeland on Feb 6.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Honda executive Hiroshi Kobayashi told reporters at a test-drive event in Tokyo. Demand has been such that the automaker intends to expand its production plans for the car, Kobayashi said, although he declined to specify by how much.

The Insight, he added,  is drawing interest from a broad range of vehicle owners, from mini-vehicles to sedans to minivans. There’s currently a 30-day wait to take delivery of a new Insight.

The strong response is occurring even as the Japanese auto market suffers through the same slump that is depressing auto sales around the globe. New vehicle sales were off 20% last month in Japan.

The Insight’s popularity could be due to its price — it starts at around 1.89 million yen (just under $20,000 at current exchange rates), almost 20% less than the rival Toyota Prius.

In Japan, Honda is also boasting fuel economy of around 61 miles per gallon for the Inisght. Based on U.S. mileage tests, the current-generation Prius gets 46 MPG in combined city/highway driving. The third-generation Prius, due in showrooms in the U.S. and Japan this spring, will get around 50 MPG combined, Toyota has said.

honda_insightYou may remember that the original Insight, a futuristic looking two-seat that hit these shores in December 1999 — actually beating the Prius to the U.S. market by more than six months. The Prius made up the lost ground, however, and became the purpose-built hybrid of choice for Americans. The original Insight was R.I.P. by 2006.

The new Insight is slated to go on sale in the U.S. in April. Officially unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January, it has been lampooned a bit for looking too much like, well, the Prius. But, as in Japan, it’s expected to cost less than the Toyota hybrid, which should be an important selling point in these economically challenged times.