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Because gasoline is at a comparatively low price—averaging in mid-June 2020 around $2.10 a gallon in the U.S.—some people have the notion that things like miles per gallon really don’t matter when it comes to disposing of disposable income, there is something else that certainly comes to mind, especially at this moment, with regard to refueling vehicles:

How many people would prefer to not having to wield the fuel nozzle or tap the input screen in this period of COVID-19?

Consequently, fewer visits to the gas station are undoubtedly better than more.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: capable, comfortable and fuel-efficient. (Images: Toyota)

And so to know that the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD has a combined EPA fuel economy of 35 mpg should accelerate this vehicle up anyone’s consideration list for a midsize crossover (e.g., the combined number for a Honda Pilot AWD is 21 mpg and it is 21.5 mpg for a Kia Telluride).

Of course, people don’t buy a given vehicle just to avoid frequent visits to the gas station.

When you have a vehicle like the Highlander—and know that this is the first model year of the fourth generation of the model, which means that Toyota designers and engineers have transformed the Highlander—you are likely to, at least on occasion, be transporting people in all three rows. And when you are transporting people in a crossover like the Highlander odds are that some, if not many, of them are going to be young people, as in your kids.

Highlander Hybrid interior

Leather, tech and spaciousness.

So safety is a top-of-mind consideration, perhaps much more so than how the hybrid system works. (Here’s all you need to know about that topic: Toyota has been putting hybrids under the hoods of vehicles since 1997. The company has put more than 15-million hybrid systems into its vehicles since then, more than any other OEM—by a long shot. So as for what you need to know: Don’t worry about it. You go to the gas station—less frequently—and pump in the gas. You’re not plugging anything in. You actually do put some electricity into the nickel-metal hydride battery when you do things like brake (a.k.a., “regenerative braking”), but otherwise, you don’t need to worry about a socket and/or extension cord. Again: Toyota knows what it is doing so you don’t have to know anything about the hybrid system (except for the aforementioned fuel efficiency).)

Highlander hybrid engine

This is what you don’t need to think about: the hybrid system (well, the internal combustion engine part, primarily, in this photo).

For safety, Toyota is offering as standard on the Highlander its Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This comprehensive active safety system includes: Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection; Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Automatic High Beam; Lane Tracing Assist; Road Sign Assist.

Of course, you also buy a crossover because of what it offers in terms of details and amenities, and when you’re going to the top-of-the-line Platinum grade, you really want the splash, and the Highlander doesn’t disappoint.

For example, there are LED lights all around. It rides on 20s. The grille mesh is black with a tasteful chrome surround.

When you get inside there is leather for the front and second row. The front seats are heated and ventilated. The steering wheel is heated and leather wrapped. There is a JBL 11-speaker audio system. (Yes, there are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.) There is a panoramic view moonroof.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid tire

Yes, it rolls on 20s.

There is a 12.3-inch multimedia display in the center of the instrument panel; there is a 7-inch LCD information display in the gauge cluster; there is a 10-inch head-up display that provides speed, road sign information, navigation instructions, and information regarding what the hybrid is doing.

A point that must be stressed is that the Platinum Highlander Hybrid is a vehicle that has a hybrid powertrain (for those who are wondering: there is a 2.5-liter four that is mated to three electric motors: two in the front and one in the back. The combined system horsepower is 243) and happens to be as well-appointed as any top-of-the-line midsize crossover: Do not equate “hybrid” with “virtue and frugality” (although they do apply).

Price? An MSRP of $50,200. There were no options. I’m not sure what options would have been necessary.

Oh, one more thing: the maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. That’s important for vehicles in this class, hybrid or otherwise.