Driving the 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV makes for a more comfortable Indiana Road Trip.
I was more than a little excited when I found out we would be driving a Toyota Highlander Hybrid on our Indiana road trip. I’ve always been more of an SUV girl than anything else. Our last Indiana adventure involved a snazzy car which was fun, but the Toyota Highlander is definitely more of a “me” vehicle.
My dad drove a first generation Ford Explorer when I was a teen and that influenced my own first car choice, a Jimmy S-15. I love being higher up when I’m driving and SUVs just feel safer than a car low to the ground. The stylishness and reliability of Toyota, combined with the name Highlander (which appeals to my geeky sci-fi side), makes the Toyota Highlander the right choice for a road trip, at least in my mind. The 7 row seating, captains chairs my boys loved, a moonroof that made it easy to watch the sky and lots and lots of cargo space made our 2017 road trip easy and comfortable.
An Indiana Road Trip in style and comfort
Our biennial trip to Indiana is primarily to attend a family reunion but we always include some additional fun adventures. Indiana has become one of my boys’ favorite places to visit and they count down the days (2 years worth) until our next planned trip. The purpose of the trip is to connect with my maternal grandmother’s family, mingle with about 100 of them at a family reunion they hold at the Potawatomi Inn on Lake James every July.
Indiana Road Trip for Animal Lovers
The best flight options coming from Arizona are usually flights to Chicago, so our Indiana adventure is always a road trip, too. We spent a week trekking around Northern Indiana for a family reunion with some additional stops for my little animal lovers.
Fair Oaks Farm
Fair Oaks Farm is the biggest agri-tourism destination we have ever visited. The dairy adventure includes interactive exhibits, a birthing barn, kids’ play area and guided bus tour of the dairy farm. There is also a pig adventure that includes an education center, ropes course and tour of their gestation and farrowing barns. It’s definitely an all day adventure with a variety of activities to suit everyone in your party.
Pokagon Nature Center
The Pokagon Nature Center is located in Pokagon State Park. We always stop by at least once while attending our family reunion. It’s about a mile from the Potawatomi Inn along a nature hike through the woods. The walk itself is pretty amazing for us desert dwellers. So. Much. Greenery. The nature center features animals native to the area, including turtles and snakes, plus a large viewing window where you can watch birds and squirrels eat.
Dutch Creek Animal Farm
Dutch Creek Animal Farm is our favorite animal experience anywhere. It features a pretty comprehensive petting zoo along with a wagon ride through the fields to feed a wide variety of large animals, including zebras, bison, camels, and ostriches.
Why We Loved the Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV
The roomy 7 passenger interior of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid caught my eye immediately. The second row features captain chairs, which my boys loved. They also had a lot of leg room, way more than we typically see in a second row. Even if they gave up half their space for the third row, they would still have plenty of leg room. Plus, with rear ventilation controls, cup holders and charging ports, they were begging me to buy this vehicle when we got home.
While the boys may have appreciated the extra legroom, their favorite feature of the Toyota Highlander was the expansive moonroof. We drove through quite a few rainstorms during our Indiana road trip and they loved watching the rain hit the car roof. I also loved how much light came in through the moon roof on those rainy days. Instead of the car feeling dark and gloomy, the extra light from the roof kept the inside of the vehicle much brighter than you’d expect on a rainy day. I’d imagine we’d have to keep it closed during the summer in Arizona, though.
At home we drive a Ford Escape; we downgraded from a Ford Explorer to save money on gas. Generally smaller vehicles tend to have better fuel economy. However, in this case, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with a really great fuel economy. It gets 27 MPG on the highway and 29 MPG in the city. And it’s spacious too. I can’t say that about my Escape.
And of course, we had cargo space for days in this car. Three suitcases, four carry-on bags, a week’s worth of groceries and we still had so much extra space. I’d love to upgrade my current vehicle for a Toyota Highlander; I just need to work out my budget!
What We Loved
- Roomy Interior
- Second Row Captain Chairs
- Lots of Console Storage
- Rear Ventilation
- Lots of Cargo Space
- Panoramic Moonroof
- Navigation System
- Toyota Safety Sense
- Lower Carbon Footprint
What You Need To Know
- Seating for 7
- The Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at $45,720, the Platinum edition we drove was priced at $49,254.
Disclosure: Toyota provided the Highlander Hybrid SUV for review; opinions expressed here are all my own.