// Disappointing MPG on 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
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  1. #1

    Disappointing MPG on 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

    I purchased a 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid on February 14th, 2008. The advertised EPA MPG rating for this car is 27 city, 25 highway. When I bought the car, it had 139 miles, and showed an average of 14 MPG. The salesman told me this low MPG was because the car had sat idle a lot while prospective buyers saw the car, options, etc. Unfortunately, 600 miles later, the best MPG I have gotten is 18. I drive “by the book” – I never drive above 60 miles per hour, and avoid sudden breaking and acceleration. I took the car back to the dealer and the service department said “it was working fine” and there is nothing they could do. They said that the MPG ‘may” get better after the break-in period of the car. I got the same story as you report as to why the car is getting such a low MPG (this is winter, fuel type, MPG is not expected to be as good as EPA rating, etc). I am following up with Toyota. As I see it, my hybrid is either a defective car, or, if that is the expected standard of performance, we have a clear case of "bait and switch". I purchased a hybrid because of its advertised fuel efficiency, paying a hybrid price, amounting to over $6,000 more than a "regular" Highlander. As of now, I am not getting better performance than got with my 7 year old Mercedes SUV! I expect Toyota to act swiftly to resolve this issue. I would hate to see hybrids get discredited, which is what will happen if Toyota is not proactive at dealing with underperforming cars.
    Has anyone had similar experiences? If not, what is your MPG? Many thanks.

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  3. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Well im still young to own

    Well im still young to own one, but i agree with the low milage. WE had recently test drove one to see how it was. Since we already own a TCH (toyota camry hybrid) we knew what to expect. IN our short test drive we had improved the average from 18mpg to 22.6. WE had tried to coast as much as possible, avoid quick acceleration, stayed below 43mph, and braked gradually. Im not sure what else can help, other then to switch it to 2wd ( if possible).
    ps what is the EV button by the gearshift do?

  4. #3

    There is a learning curve

    There is a learning curve with it you need to learn to feather the gas peddle and engage the battery at every opportunity. My wife can get an average 30 MPG out of it combined driving when she tries. In colder weather that drops to about 27.5 MPG. If she doesn't try then she gets 24 mpg in winter and 26-27 mpg in summer. Towing a 3000 lb trailer I can get 21 mpg out of it, but with the trailer and kayaks I get 18 mpg. All still way over what we got with our old Explorer.

  5. #4

    I have an '06 HH, and I

    I have an '06 HH, and I think it is great. It has 60+ thousand miles on it, and I have had no problems at all. I get 34 city and anywhere between 24 up to 31 highway. Highway works best at 55-60mph.
    I think there is a little validity to the break-in response, but I never logged anything worse than 24+ mpg even when it was brand new. Having the heater temp control set to a warmer setting triggers the combustion engine to keep the coolant warm enough to warm the cabin, so if you don't need it, set it to coldest.
    One thing I think is true with mine is that it needs to be driven at full throttle periodically...after which the EV functions seem to be more frequent. (maybe my imagination?)
    I am curious why the '08 is only rated at 25hwy, 27city. I guess they increased horsepower, but I don't think any improvement in that department was necessary.

  6. #5

    If you think you got

    If you think you got screwed, how about those of us who were told we would get 31MPG (on the freaking window sticker) in the city and got similar mileage to yours? As far as Toyota doing anything about it...FORGET IT. The way it is written, we don't have a leg to stand on legally. Now, on to some useful advice. These Hybrids have a programmable ECU that DOES need to be reset CORRECTLY in order to get reasonable MPG's out of them. Search for my name, ndabunka on other Hybrid forums and you should be able to discover the methods for resetting your ECU. Heck, even the dealership didn't know what I was talking about until I showed them the procedure. It helped our fuel economy go from low 20's to 27MPG.

  7. #6

    You know it's been said over

    You know it's been said over and over and over on this and many other boards that Toyota has absolutely nothing to do with the mileage rating, it is tested by the EPA and posted on every vehicle by federal law. So of course they are not going to do anything about it, they ae not making any claims, As far as 2008 mileage ratings the EPA changed it's testing methods and every 2008 car tests lower. If you go to this web site http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ you can see how the new testing affects a 2006 car.

  8. #7

    Driving a Hybrid takes

    Driving a Hybrid takes practice. Are you in ECON mode?? Did you push that button? Are you certain you are not in the B position on the shift selector? Are you setting the heater very high to keep yourself toasty? I had a 2004 Prius for 4 years and then bought a 2008 Highlander hybrid. I routinely get 25 to 31 MPG with the Highlander and got 47 to 51 with the Prius. You have to learn to drive all over again. Slow down - lift off way before you have to come to a stop. If you're hitting the brakes hard, you're wasting energy - you should coast, etc. Pay attention to your gauges and drive in the econ mode. I communte to work at 70mph and get the mileage above, but I get very few of the little green cars (braking recharge) so there is much less wasted energy. If you are getting 18mpg - then you are doing something, perhaps many, things wrong. Read the forums and begin to drive a hybrid, not your regular car!

  9. #8

    I've searched for 'ndabunka'

    I've searched for 'ndabunka' to no avail. I'm curious about Jay's comments relating to the ECU and a reset. Anyone learn anything more?

    Our '08 was one of the first off the boat last fall (in Canada anyway) and I've been disappointed with the economy. It stays in ECON mode and we take it easy. I tend to squeak out good mileage from all my vehicles, so figured with some experimentation I could do well with this one. Not so far. We live in mountainous terrain and the city we live in has plenty of hills. City driving averages about 12 litres per 100 km... nowhere near the ratings.

    My sense of things is that the motor is used too sparingly. Starting from a light, even with *very* gentle acceleration, the engine starts after a second (or less) of electric propulsion. The engine is fully warm in these circumstances.

    The battery is rarely showing full charge bars. Recently, we've seen the battery go to full charge and the vehicle seemed to want to use more electric for a while after that... but on the next drive it was back to 'normal'.

    I frankly don't think the dealer has a clue about the software/firmware in this thing... the ECU reset mentioned above is therefore interesting!

  10. #9

    I purchased a 2008 Toyota

    I purchased a 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid in April. I had a Ford Escape Hybrid prior to the Toyota so I had a couple of years of green driving. I normally get between 30 to 34 mpg between refills. For one tank, I averaged 35.5 mpg. Typically I get 31.something. My friend purchased the same model about a week before I did. He seems to average in the very low 20s. Same car, same part of the world, just different driving habits.

    The window sticker on the 2008s state the average is from 23 mpg to 27 mpg. Your 14 mpg is really far out of the average window. There are two buttons, on the console. Make sure the one on the right is pushed in. It sets the car to ECON. That might help.

    Good luck.

  11. #10

    We have about 9k miles on

    We have about 9k miles on our 2008 Toyota HH. We bought it during the cold winter months and got very iffy mileage for a couple of tanks. It started improving but a mishap caused our battery to be replaced and the computer had to "relearn" our driving habits. Anyway, once it got above 20 or 30 degrees and we got a few tanks under our belt, mpg went up to about 23-26. That is where we are now.

    I wish the mileage was a little better, but I know that I would be getting about 16 mpg if I owned a non-hybrid Highlander, Flex, Odyssey, etc. So, I wish I could get it up to 27-30 mpg, but it is still much better than the alternative.

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