If you ask a bartender how to sweeten a screwdriver, he’d probably tell you to add more juice. The same rule apparently applies to the Toyota Highlander, which will get a major power upgrade for 2008.
If you saw this model at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, you figured the basic design wouldn’t do much to rev up the public’s imagination. However, the Highlander does more than enough to rev its own 3.5-liter, 270-hp V6 engine with five-speed automatic transmission, a jump of almost 55 horses from earlier editions.
The new Highlander makes safety a priority with seven airbags that cover all three rows. In addition, a few extra inches in length and width along with an extra few hundred pounds give the SUV extra leverage and stability on the road. Expect to get 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Besides the extra girth, Toyota continues to offer a hybrid trim that feeds off a nickel metal hydride battery when the driver flips a switch. Unfortunately, the battery only lasts a mile before it needs re-charging. In any event, amateur conservationists may still appreciate the cursory attempt at lip service to reduced emissions.
So when can we drive the new Highlander? Expect the regular model to hit showrooms in July and the ‘hybrid’ to arrive by September. The increased size and power should make them worth the wait.
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– Posted by Taeho Lim