2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash

Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and Highlander Hybrid have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Highlander Hybrid’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Toyota doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Highlander Hybrid. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Highlander Hybrid’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Compared to metal, the XC90’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a metal gas tank.

Both the XC90 and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

 

XC90

Highlander Hybrid

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

 

XC90

Highlander Hybrid

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

54

Hip Force

255 lbs.

348 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

111

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

41 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

16 inches

HIC

209

372

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

829 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The XC90 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Highlander Hybrid’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 1 year and 11000 miles longer than Toyota pays for maintenance for the Highlander Hybrid (3/36,000 vs. 2/25000).

Engine

The XC90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (316 vs. 306) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid. The XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 94 more horsepower (400 vs. 306) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Highlander Hybrid (59 city/56 hwy MPGe vs. 30 city/28 hwy).

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 17 miles. The Highlander Hybrid must run its internal combustion engine to move.

The XC90 Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (18.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The XC90’s standard fuel tank has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (18.8 vs. 17.2 gallons).

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the XC90’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander Hybrid:

 

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 T8

Highlander Hybrid

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

12.2 inches

The XC90’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander Hybrid are solid, not vented.

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Highlander Hybrid:

 

XC90

Highlander Hybrid

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

126 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander Hybrid (275/45R20 vs. 245/55R19).

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Highlander Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The XC90 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 7.7 inches longer than on the Highlander Hybrid (117.5 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the XC90 is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Highlander Hybrid.

The XC90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the Highlander Hybrid’s (46.6% to 53.4%). This gives the XC90 more stable handling and braking.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the Highlander Hybrid Limited pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.4 seconds quicker than the Highlander Hybrid Limited (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.2 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 1.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander Hybrid (9.4 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 2.5 inches higher than on the Highlander Hybrid (10.5 vs. 8 inches).

Chassis

The design of the Volvo XC90 amounts to more than styling. The XC90 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is lower than the Highlander Hybrid (.33 to .34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The XC90 has .4 inches more third row headroom and 5.2 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander Hybrid.

The front step up height for the XC90 is 3.5 inches lower than the Highlander Hybrid (15.8” vs. 19.3”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 3.5 inches lower than the Highlander Hybrid’s (16” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander Hybrid.

 

XC90

Highlander Hybrid

Behind Third Seat

15.9 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

85.7 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander Hybrid’s in almost every dimension:

 

XC90

Highlander Hybrid

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

17.5”/43”/80”

Max Width

54.7”

56”

Min Width

44.5”

45.6”

Height

35”

32.6”

The XC90 has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the XC90’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC90’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The XC90’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander Hybrid’s (4000 vs. 3500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The XC90 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander Hybrid uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The XC90 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum, the XC90 R-Design/Inscription/Excellence has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The XC90’s standard Easy Ingress and Egress Seat glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the XC90 and the Highlander Hybrid have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC90 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander Hybrid prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

If the windows are left open on the XC90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The XC90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC90 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the XC90 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander Hybrid’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The XC90 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The XC90 Inscription/Excellence has standard front air conditioned seats and the XC90 Excellence also has them in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The XC90 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Highlander Hybrid has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Highlander Hybrid has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Highlander Hybrid has never been chosen.

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

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos