Road Tripping in a Highlander Hybrid


Good editor Carolyn Enting goes adventuring behind the wheel of the new-generation 2021 Toyota Highlander.

I love a good road trip, so when Toyota offered me the opportunity to take the new Toyota Highlander Limited ZR2.5L hybrid AW for a test drive to Northland, I jumped at the chance.

Pitched as the SUV for now, it certainly lives up to the hype and driving it you can be assured that you’re doing your bit to help reduce emissions as New Zealand works towards carbon neutrality by 2050.

Plus, you’ll save on fuel costs.

Aside from its eco-credentials there is a lot to recommend it.

This seven-seater SUV is big on space, comfort and drivability making it an easy choice for road-tripping or school pick-up.

It glides along the open road with grace, easily ascends hills without missing a beat and comes with the reassurance of Toyota Safety Sense.

Good editor, Carolyn Enting

This means if you take a corner faster than planned, the car will help you out thanks to the all-speed dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed reduction.

It also has a pre-collision system with AEB, Intersection Turn and emergency steering assist, front and rear clearance sensors and seven airbags.

What I also liked about it is that it has vehicle stability control, so I felt firmly on the road on my way up to Paihia, Bay of Islands and on to Hokianga and through the Waipoua Forest with an obligatory stop to visit Tāne Mahuta.

 Its 2-tonne towing capacity and trailer sway control is worth mentioning if you own a caravan or a boat.

This full-size SUV can tow a small elephant and on half the gas.

The Toyota Highlander Limited ZR 2.5L hybrid AWD  is the top-of-the-line hybrid, which also includes the Limited and GXL models at lower price points.

They are key players in Toyota’s Beyond Zero commitment to carbon neutrality through offering a range of low-emission powertrain vehicles.

Hybrid registrations – 8134 in 2020 – made it a record year for Toyota, making up 38 per cent of its sales mix.

In 2020, Toyota’s hybrid sales alone would have comfortably claimed it a spot in the top five brands in New Zealand.

The Toyota RAV4 spearheaded the 2020 hybrid movement claiming both spots as New Zealand’s number-one hybrid and passenger vehicle for the year.

However, Toyota started its electrification journey almost two decades ago when it introduced the Prius to the New Zealand market in 2003.

At that time the market was predominantly made up of petrol cars.

Toyota has continued to expand its range of products to cater for all Kiwis including those who can’t afford to buy new.

Toyota New Zealand CEO Neeraj Lala’s message to the government is that we need to be on a journey as to how we bring the full carpark into low emissions, not just the top three per cent.

From 1997 to 2020, Toyota sold 17 million electrified vehicles globally and reduced CO2 emissions by 140 million tonnes, which is equivalent to 14 thousand Eiffel Towers (the Eiffel Tower in Paris weighs about 10 thousand tonnes).

Toyota is preparing to stay ahead of the trend to carbon neutrality by introducing 16 new electrified vehicles in New Zealand over the next few years, including at least six zero-emission products.

And for Kiwis who love their SUVs, the new-generation Highlander hybrids are hard to beat.

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