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Looking into Toyota’s First Stop-Start System in North America

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2017 Toyota Highlander NYIAS

The launch of the new 2017 Toyota Highlander marks a new milestone for Toyota: the first implementation of stop-start technology in one of its NA vehicles.

Stop-start isn’t new tech: it’s already used across the industry in a variety of models to help them meet the increasingly difficult fuel economy and emission requirements set by the EPA. Toyota, as you might already know, hasn’t had too much difficulty doing that even without stop-start, primarily due to its excellent hybrid models.

The Highlander, however, is an SUV, and SUVs have a harder time with good mileage. So, four engines will be offered for this 2017 model: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder, a 3.5-liter V6, a 3.5-liter V6 with stop-start, and a 3.5-liter V6 hybrid.

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It’ll be the first North American Toyota product to get stop-start technology and the automaker expects that about 85% of all Highlanders will get it. According to Toyota’s Brian Williams, this is how it works:

After shutting off the engine, the stop-start system is able to provide electric power to the Highlander for up to three minutes at a stop light. Though the system is turned on by default with every ignition cycle, it can be turned off by customers at the push of a button. Williams says that leaving it as the default setting would boost the Highlander’s fuel economy by one mpg and that there are only a few specific conditions in which it wouldn’t activate, such as when the air conditioning is turned all the way up (which drains electrical power) or when you’re on a grade steeper than eight degrees (to avoid a risk of vacuum brake failure).

In the future, expect more Toyota models to get stop-start technology—especially the larger ones.

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