Meet Jojo

Jojo is a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. She’s very nice, but she has a couple of quirks.

First of all, she messes with your mind. After decades of driving gasoline and diesel vehicles of many configurations, having one whose engine runs only when it needs to is disconcerting in the extreme. I mean you put it in gear, start moving, and then the engine starts! I find myself constantly thinking “the engine has stalled” – partly because I have driven many examples of rolling junk for which this would be the case.

She sneaks up on people too. She’s so quiet she can be right behind you and you’ll never know. I can see why some people think these types of vehicles need some sort of audible notification system added. Perhaps a digital recording of a 426 Hemi played back through external loudspeakers? Maybe ice cream van bells? I don’t know.

It shall be interesting to see how much gasoline she consumes. She’s already ahead of the Xterra, in that both left the city with a full tank and by the time they got home an hour later Jojo was still full and the ol’ 4×4 was down 1/4.

That’s a point: Jojo is not replacing the Xterra, but supplementing it. For most driving she will be the wheels of choice, but when it comes to hauling the backroads … well sometimes you need 9.5 inches of ground clearance. I have one, maybe two more loads of wood to haul in and that’s not a nice thing to do to a young SUV.

We’re looking forward to the next necessary big city trip to see how she does there. Haven’t pushed all the buttons or tried all the modes out either (it has an Electric Vehicle mode which sounds interesting).

Am I cheating on my wife or vehicle with a younger mechanical woman? No, because actually this is for her. Nice though Jojo is, she doesn’t suit my driving needs or my personality.

The Whale and Jojo

The only other flaw is the colour: would it kill manufacturers to offer some shade other than black, white, gray, or silver? She’s a bit hard to spot in the parking lot as she looks like so many others. That’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? Maybe if she had a bright red stripe …


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