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Step inside. Stat! The new Highlander Hybrid is ready to administer a jolt to the dying heart of the SUV genre. OK, the gas-battery Toyota is not what you d call a proper SUV; you can t drive it off-road, tow anything larger than a skiff or burble around town like a construction worker hunting for supplies. But the Highlander Hybrid rescues the SUV from its teens — as in 14mpg — and deposits it smack dab into twenty-something fuel efficiency.

Luckily, you don t have to sacrifice your adrenal glands to shoulder your environmental responsibilities. Feed Toyota s hybrid 4X4 max gas and volts, and she'll sprint to sixty in an entirely respectable 7.3 seconds. While tree huggers cum hooligans would be better served by a sharper-handling hybrid Accord, the Highlander s raised driving position and generous accommodations make it the ideal choice for morally superior soccer Moms (who can t afford a Lexus RX 400h).

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In fact, the Highlander Hybrid is as PC as an SUV can be. In addition to its reassuringly reasonable mileage, the dual-power soft-roader is a Super-Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV). The Japanese even fitted it with a vapor locking device— to keep your children from snorting fumes at refueling time. We're not quite sure if the Highlander Hybrid isn't a bit too worthy for its own good; in the sense of being on the sensible shoe side of design and handling. We'll break it down for you tomorrow. [by Robert Farago]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Jalopnik Reviews: Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Part 2, Part 3 [internal]