A Comfortable Indiana Road Trip Thanks to Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
An Indiana road trip in a 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Photo: Karen Heffren

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.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Navigation System

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Navigation System. Karen Heffren for AGirlsGuidetoCars

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.

Ropes Course At Fair Oaks Farm In Indiana

More than just animal fun at Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana. Photo: Karen Heffren

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.

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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.

Feeding Animals At Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park On An Indiana Road Trip With A 7 Passenger Toyota Highlander Hybrid Suv.

Feeding animals at Dutch Creek Animal Farm Park. Photo: Karen Heffren

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. 

2Nd Row Seating With Plenty Of Storage In Toyota Highlander Hybrid Suv

Plenty of room in the 2nd row of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Photo: Karen Heffren

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.

Expansive Moonroof In A 7 Passenger Toyota Highlander Hybrid Suv

Expansive Moonroof perfect for watching the rain in a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Photo: Karen Heffren

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.

Compare the Toyota Highlander Road Trip with a 2017 Ford Escape Road Trip!


Lots Of Cargo Space In A 7 Passenger 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Suv

Lots of Cargo space in a 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV. Photo: Karen Heffren

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!

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Was Everything I'D Imagined And More, Perfect For Our Fun Indiana Road Trip Adventure And Beyond.

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
2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid For Our Indiana Road Trip

Stylish 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Photo: Karen Heffren

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.

2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Monroney

Disclosure: Toyota provided the Highlander Hybrid SUV for review; opinions expressed here are all my own.

Karen Heffen is a Tucson native who can't imagine moving but loves traveling outside the desert whenever she can.... More about Karen Heffren