Behind the Wheel

Toyota Highlander vs. Highlander Hybrid: Choosing between them comes down to 2 things

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a formidable SUV.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is one of the best three-row unibody SUVs you can buy, if not the best. With few changes in the pipelune, the 2021 is likely to be the same. Toyota has sweetened the Highlander by offering a hybrid variant again in this generation, this time with a price just a smidge over the asking price for the traditional Highlander. Which is better? Several hundred miles behind the wheel of both gave the answer.

You see, there are three big differentiators between the Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, if we set aside the engineering discussions. The first is the weight. Not only is the Highlander Hybrid heavier (thanks, battery), it feels more substantial than the Highlander. Unlike the Lexus LX 570 or a loaded dump truck where the car's weight hinders its performance, the electrified powertrain in the Highlander Hybrid offers enough oomph to overcome its extra load.

2020 Toyota Highlander The 2020 Toyota Highlander is friendlier for modern families than the last version. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Get behind the wheel of the traditional Highlander and its available 3.5-liter V6, and it almost feels lighter than it should, even with all-wheel drive. This isn't to say it seems lightweighted or chintzy. There's just a notable difference. Both stopped adequately and were able to hold their own in inclement weather - for the Highlander, that was a long drive in a blizzard with what amounted to eight inches of freshly fallen snow while the Highlander Hybrid handled a week's worth of rain in 24 hours like a champ.

The power supply for both was more than adequate. The V6 in the Highlander gets 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Toyota has given the Highlander Hybrid a 2.4-liter power plant that pairs with hybrid components to achieve 243 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. With the electrified powertrain, the Highlander Hybrid is more spry but the Highlander doesn't fall far behind.

Here's the big difference - the Highlander (with AWD) gets 23 mpg combined while the Highlander Hybrid (with AWD) achieves 35 mpg combined according to EPA estimates.

They're also similar in the faults department. The Highlander's windscreen quickly fogged up when the snow began to fall, allowing no better than 50 percent visibility in the best of times. Despite a wide variety of trial and error regarding air conditioning, venting, heat, riding with the windows down, only having one passenger in the front, the screen was perpetually foggy whenever the temperature was below 35 degrees. The fog would be enough to drive me away from the Highlander, or, at the very least, expect a trip to the dealership for a fix at some point.

2020 Toyota Highlander The 2020 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are nearly identical inside. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The windscreen of the Highlander Hybrid had issues as well. When tested earlier in the model year, it allowed the whine of passing air to permeate the cabin when accelerating. Sure, two vehicles isn't a pattern that should raise suspicion, it is enough to be noted.

With interiors and exteriors that are nearly identical - yes, that includes cargo space - the dilemma between Highlander and Highlander Hybrid comes down to fuel economy and price.

Toyota prices the 2020 Highlander to start at $31,830 and it goes up to $47,510, plus applicable taxes and fees. The 2020 Highlander Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $37,520 and tops out at $49,180. If you're comfortable spending over $40,000 on your new three-row SUV, you can't go wrong with the Highlander Hybrid. If you're constrained by budgetary concerns, getting a Highlander in a lower trim level won't make you feel like you're missing out too much, but you will pay for fuel fill ups more often.

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This car's auction price is already well past $100,000.

Bring a Trailer

The Toyota Supra is a car whose legend has grown, thanks in part to an appearance in a cult classic movie. Enthusiasts were already obsessed with the cars before 2001's Fast & Furious, but the Supra's leading role as a world-beating Japanese supercar cemented its place at the top of the automotive pyramid. Prices for the cars have been out of this world for years, but this 1995 Supra Turbo up for auction on Bring a Trailer might just take the cake as one of the most expensive ever sold.

The Renaissance Red Supra is absolutely mint, and shows just 7,000 miles on the clock. This fourth-generation Supra is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that was rated at 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque when new. Unlike so many of the unfortunately-optioned cars seen for sale today, this one has a six-speed manual gearbox. The car is rear-wheel drive and features a limited-slip differential.


1995 Toyota Supra The Supra has grown in value significantly in recent years.Bring a Trailer


Inside, this car is every bit as nice as we'd expected a one-owner, 7,000-mile example to be. The ivory leather upholstery looks new, as does the dash and carpeting. The driver-focused center console has a factory CD player – a big deal in 1995 – and a cassette deck.

These cars are great, no doubt about it, but six figures (or likely way more, in this case) is a crazy number for someone to pay. We'll be watching the auction, though, and so should you. There are four days left for the already silly $136,000 bid to grow – substantially.


1995 Toyota Supra The car's ivory leather interior looks brand-new.Bring a Trailer

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New sports car

2022 Subaru BRZ pricing announced

The BRZ is all-new for 2022.

Subaru

Earlier this year, Subaru announced the all-new BRZ sports car, which is coming this fall to replace the previous generation of the car that was discontinued in 2020. It, along with its Toyota cousin, the 86, get more power, updated interiors, and better technology than their predecessors.

The BRZ Premium is the base trim of the car. It starts at $28,955 after destination. Adding an automatic transmission drives the price up by $1,600 to $30,555. The BRZ Limited starts at $31,455 after destination, which shifts to $33,255 with an automatic transmission.


2022 Subaru BRZ The BRZ's compact size and manual transmission make it enthusiast friendly.


The 2022 BRZ gets a new 2.4-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that produces 228 horsepower. Part of the appeal of small, sporty cars like BRZ is that they are infinitely more fun to drive than larger, more computerized vehicles. To that end, the car comes standard with a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission. Buyers can opt to swap in a six-speed automatic transmission, but that almost defeats the point of the car. A Torsen limited-slip differential, vehicle stability control with track mode, and 17-inch wheels round out the car's standard performance features.

Inside, the BRZ comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and dual-zone automatic climate controls. A new gauge cluster display can show amps, coolant temperatures, or the car's lateral g-forces, and when track mode is engaged, the tachometer shifts from a circular to a color linear graph.


2022 Subaru BRZ An updated interior and tech are highlights of the new BRZ,

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