2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid vs. 2019 Tesla Model X

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Highlander Hybrid has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Model X doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Highlander Hybrid AWD’s standard Downhill Assist Control allows you to creep down safely. The Model X doesn’t offer Downhill Assist Control.

The Highlander Hybrid Platinum has a standard Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Model X only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the Highlander Hybrid XLE/Limited/Platinum’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Model X doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Highlander Hybrid’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Model X doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Highlander Hybrid Platinum has standard Safety Connect™, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Model X doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Highlander Hybrid and the Model X have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Highlander Hybrid the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Model X has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Highlander Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Model X’s (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander Hybrid for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Tesla doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Model X.

There are almost 20 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander Hybrid’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Highlander Hybrid’s reliability 68 points higher than the Model X.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Tesla vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Tesla is ranked 27th.

Fuel Economy and Range

The Highlander Hybrid’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 516 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Model X’s range is only 230 to 295 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 54% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 82 hours and 53 minutes.

Brakes and Stopping

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Highlander Hybrid has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model X doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

Tires and Wheels

The Highlander Hybrid has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Model X; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Highlander Hybrid’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Model X’s (38.7 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Highlander Hybrid has a 1.8 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Model X (8 vs. 6.2 inches), allowing the Highlander Hybrid to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 450 pounds less than the Tesla Model X.

The Highlander Hybrid is 5.8 inches shorter than the Model X, making the Highlander Hybrid easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Highlander Hybrid is 5.7 inches narrower than the Model X, making the Highlander Hybrid easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.

Passenger Space

The Highlander Hybrid has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Model X can only carry up to 7.

The Highlander Hybrid has 3 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room, 2.2 inches more rear shoulder room, 7.1 inches more third row hip room and 15 inches more third row shoulder room than the Model X.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Highlander Hybrid’s middle and third row seats recline. The Model X’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Highlander Hybrid’s available rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Model X 6-Passenger doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

The Highlander Hybrid’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Model X’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Highlander Hybrid to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, air filter replacement, tire rotation, radiator flush, brake pad replacement and transmission fluid replacement based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Tesla doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Model X.

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Highlander Hybrid has a standard rear wiper. The Model X doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The Highlander Hybrid’s standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model X doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Highlander Hybrid has standard extendable sun visors. The Model X doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Model X doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Highlander Hybrid offers an optional center folding armrest for the middle row passengers. A center armrest helps make middle row passengers more comfortable. The Model X doesn’t offer a middle row seat center armrest.

The Highlander Hybrid XLE/Limited/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Model X doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Toyota Highlander outsold the Tesla Model X by almost 12 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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