Tuesday, October 18 2016 00:12

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road - 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

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A great road trip is one of the most exciting activities to enjoy with family, and a getaway during fall is one of the best times to do it. I say that, of course, with the American Midwest in-mind, but any locale that boasts the true seasonality of autumn, complete with falling leaves and a robust color palette will make for a beautiful drive. When it comes to hauling family, there's only been a few occasions where I've actually driven more than our immediate crew, fully complete at four. Sure, I've driven plenty of larger vehicles with third-row seating and plenty of people-moving power, but seldom have I actually had a full load. This trip was an exception, one in which I could use the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited (on-loan from Toyota USA) to it's potential, heading straight out of Illinois and heading north to our relatives' lake house.

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Review

Delivered to Rock Father HQ by the folks at DriveShop, the Highlander was striking in "Predawn Gray Mica," a color that I have trouble describing (along with similar hues from other  automakers). Boasting a 3.5L V6 Hybrid Synergy Drive engine that works in tandem with a trio of electric motors, I was anxious to get rolling in a vehicle that can seat seven (with true third row seating and proper 2nd row Captain's chairs) and actually be great on gas mileage.

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Review

Having spent most of my life piloting vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (as have most drivers), it's still jarring to have such a silence when starting up a Hybrid. The Highlander is quiet until it needs to show it's "voice," seamlessly switching between gas and EV.

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited ReviewMy wife and I drove the girls up to the lake house, the rear seats folded down to haul our stuff. When we got there, I unloaded and put the third row into action, perfect for driving into the neighboring small town for some sightseeing with the family.

During our weekend excursion (with a few detours), the Highlander Hybrid Limited made good on its promise of an average 28mpg (combined city/highway) - impressive seeing as we drive a smaller car, a crossover, on a daily basis and only hit around 21-22.

And hey, The Rock Daughters™ caught their first fish on this trip! (catch & release)

Comfortable, with some cool design features like a dashboard tray that offers a perfect place to store smartphones and other devices with routing for cords to power-up, this ride also boasts a 5-Star Government Safety Rating, making it a great choice for families. And, when winter arrives, the all-wheel-drive (AWD) will be perfect for handling the ice and snow that's sure to hit, likely by mid-November.

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

If we ever found ourselves in the position to need a vehicle that seats 7, is great on gas, and is priced right, the Highlander Hybrid Limited would be a certain contender. It's got a nice balance on all the key points in style and function, is packed with all the latest in technology and convenience options, and feels quite comfortable and versatile, with many configurations to be had for hauling people, stuff or both.

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Review

The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited starts at $47, 870. As driven: $50, 295, which includes the optional (but highly recommended) Driver Technology Package - a $1,525 optional upgrade. Learn more and build yours at Toyota.com

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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