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Tim - The raod noise in the Highlander is NOTHING like the noise in a Civic but it's not the "silence" of a Lexus either. It's probably only a decible or 3 louder than the comprable RX400h. You really should test drive one just to get a sense of the car. If you do decide to buy one remember that there are dealer's out there giving significant discounts. With the 2008 model on it's way, I foresee even greater discounts on their way.
I was one of the first owners of the 2006 400h back in April of 2005 when it was released and have owned it since. My lease will soon be up and I am planing on purchasing the vehicle. It has performed above my expectations except in the category of MPG. In my opinion, the additional monies being paid for the hybrid version vs the rx350, do not equate to savings. If your fully committed to a greener environment then, by all means, purchase the car. The rx 350 will average 19 to 20mpg vs 25 to 29mpg on the rx400h. If your paying an extra 10 to 12 thousand dollars on the hybrid version, common sense tells you that you will not save that amount with gas purchases. Then again, if gas prices were doubled to what they are today, that would spell a different story.
It is a proud vehicle to own. I am more than happy to explain how the car works to all that inquire and that has been a perk to owning the car. If they can improve the mpg to an additional 15 to 20%, it would really be great. I believe they can do that with the addition of the plug-in technology. I will probably keep this car until they release the next generation hybrid technology RX.
I looked and debated over and over, in the end I went with the Highlander Hybrid Limited for about $11k less then the Lexus RX Hybrid. I loved the Lexus RX's looks but I could not justify the additional $11K for what little I would have gained, so I bought the Highlander. Now the new 08 Highlander Limited's would make that an easy choice as they are better then the new 08 Lexus RX's in my book and more usable space. The only thing I was disappointed in the RAV on steriods look of the Highlander, I was really hoping for a more radical looking design.
2010 Prius IV - Silver, Gray Interior, Option Package IV
Once I saw an '08 Highlander in person, it didn't have that RAV on steroids look that it seems to have in the early pictures. I've had my HiHy Limited for 7 weeks, and like it a lot. It's a big improvemnt over the first gen Highlander, and a nice step up from the Camry Hybrid that I traded in.
"When you get to the fork in the road, take it." --Yogi Berra