Some of the following is from a comment I left in Mings "The Hype-rid Challenge: Value vs. Vogue" thread, but I decided to start my own when I did some more digging and got even more dirt on the Highlander Hybrid.
First I'll start out on the premium that you are paying for this car based SUV. You pay $7,000 (not including dealer markups mind you) straight up more then the conventional gasoline model. There are many standard features that are optional on the regular model but in my opinion all these optional features made standard are simply fluff to hide the fact that you are paying $4,500-$5,000 more, then a conventional motor, when the features are taken in to account.
And that is a $4,500 premium for what? I have a feeling most of its buyers are not performance enthusiasts trying to shave 2 seconds off the 0-60 for their vanilla styled Highlander. And it sure as heck isn't for fuel efficiency savings. Wait a second, its a Hybrid, thats the point...right? Read on...
The auto journalist in my local newspaper recently test drove the hybrid for a week. The EPA is 31 city/27 highway for the hybrid, while the EPA for the conventional motor is 18/24. Lo and behold the average gas mileage he got with 3/4 city driving and 1/4 freeway was 23.5 mpg. hmmm, thats a lower rating then the conventional motor, and with more city driving where the hybrid is supposed to excel.
What is that you say? It depends on his driving style? Then surely others have at least gotten better numbers then the conventional motor EPA ratings. How about these numbers from www.autochannel.com
hmmm 0 for 2...those odds aren't looking to good for Toyota. I wonder what the boys over at www.autoweb.com mustered out of the Hybrid."We drove the standard Highlander over more than 2,000 of roads, primarily highway on long trips. The Hybrid, on the other hand, we used for around-town driving, where the economy of the hybrid technology is supposed to shine.
We averaged 23.8 mpg in the conventional Highlander; 21.6 in the hybrid."On the other end of the spectrum is the new 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which shares the Prius’ SULEV rating but, with our staff driving, yielded only 19.8 mpg.
Assuming you drive 15,000 miles a year and 45% of it is on the highway — what the government considers typical, it will take about seven years to repay the higher cost of a Highlander hybrid if gas is $2.50 a gallon, eight if it's $2. <- Thanks USA Today for doing the math. Seven years??? Thats worse then the Accords pay off rate, AND those numbers are assuming you are actually getting the EPA estimated 31/27.
Value vs Vogue? My conclusion...Its all vogue my friend.
...just another GM Fanatics rant.