All About Toyota Highlander ECO Mode

The Toyota Highlander’s ECO mode reduces engine power and adjusts climate controls so that you can save on gas money.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
Toyota Highlander’s ECO mode slows throttle response, reduces engine power, and adjusts climate controls to alleviate the engine workload and increase fuel efficiency.
All Toyota Highlander vehicles, including the hybrids, come with ECO mode—a driving mode that aims to reduce gas consumption. With ECO mode activated, the Toyota Highlander becomes more subdued to save on gas consumption, reduce emissions, and minimize wear and tear on the engine. 
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What is Toyota Highlander ECO mode?

Toyota Highlander’s ECO mode is a standard driving mode on all trim levels. This environmentally-friendly mode helps drivers to improve fuel efficiency and curb aggressive driving habits. 
The ECO mode achieves these two goals by: 
  • Reducing the engine power so the engine doesn’t have to work as hard 
  • Altering the vehicle’s throttle response to prevent harsh acceleration, and
  • Regulating the climate control system, heated seats, and other instruments
All three modifications contribute to better fuel efficiency as they help alleviate the pressure on the engine. Aside from conserving energy and reducing fuel consumption, the ECO mode indirectly restricts aggressive driving and reduces the chance of an accident
Without the harsh acceleration and braking, you are also extending the lifespan of your Highlander and keeping your
maintenance costs
The ECO indicator light is different from ECO mode. The light is a great prompt for going easy on the gas pedal and turns on when you are driving efficiently. It will turn off if it senses harsh acceleration.
Key Takeaway ECO mode will adjust your Toyota Highlander’s settings to increase its fuel efficiency and reduce the strain on your vehicle. 

Does Toyota Highlander ECO mode save fuel?

Toyota Highlander ECO mode can help you save fuel by reducing fuel consumption. However, your actual savings will depend on how you use the ECO mode—and how often you use it. You won’t be saving much if you only use ECO mode once in a blue moon and spend most of your driving time in the performance-focused Sport mode.
Want to keep track of how much fuel you’re saving compared to the other driving modes? You can see how the fuel efficiency changes on the instrument cluster. 

Does Toyota Highlander ECO mode charge the battery?

No, the Toyota Highlander ECO mode may actively reduce the throttle response and engine power, but it does not charge the battery.

What’s the difference between Toyota Highlander Normal and ECO mode?

Toyota Highlander’s default driving mode is Normal mode and is great for everyday driving. The performance, efficiency, and comfort are balanced to create optimal conditions for everyday driving. While you won’t be saving as much fuel, it will let you experience better throttle response and have a better driving experience.
Those looking to max out on performance will want to use Sport mode, which will prioritize the engine’s throttle response and increase the accelerator pedal sensitivity.
MORE: Recommended maintenance schedule for a Toyota

How to turn Toyota Highlander ECO mode on and off

Turning ECO mode on and off is easy. Just follow the steps below:
  • Locate the driving mode toggle switch on the center console, below the gear shifter
  • Use the toggle switch to select the driving mode you want to use
Your current driving mode will be displayed on the instrument cluster and/or the infotainment screen. This will allow you to switch between driving modes easily. ECO mode is turned off when you select Normal or Sport mode.

Is Toyota Highlander ECO mode worth it?

This depends. To determine if the Toyota Highlander’s ECO mode is worth it, you’ll need to assess your priorities.
If your goal is to optimize fuel efficiency, ECO mode is worth it—especially when coupled with the hybrid engine. The hybrid model already has an impressive EPA rating of 36 mpg combined, but turning on the ECO mode will drive the rating even higher. This driving mode will also help you mitigate the loss of fuel efficiency if you opted for all-wheel drive.
Of course, there will also be a downside to maximizing your fuel savings—you lose out on the Highlander’s optimal performance. With reduced engine power and less throttle response, it’s harder to accelerate quickly when you need the speed on highways. ECO mode will likely suck the joy out of driving and passing cars will be more difficult.
That being said, ECO mode may be more worth it for those who drive in the city with a lot of start-and-stop traffic rather than those who frequent the highway. 

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