A reader named Jim recently contacted me with a question about leaving accessory power on when you shut your Highlander off. He asked:
“We enjoy most things on the new Highlander. My only gripe is that you lose the radio and Bluetooth phone connection when you shut off the vehicle. My other cars always kept those functions alive until you opened the door. Do you know any tricks to keep those things powered on when you shut off the vehicle?”
You’re not alone, Jim. This was quite frustrating to me, too, when we first got our Highlander. But then I discovered the solution…
If you have an XLE or Limited, then your Highlander is outfitted with the “Smart Key” system and “Push Button Start.” This is quite convenient, but it did require a bit of getting used for a guy like me, who has always owned vehicles with an old school key.
The main problem that I ran into was exactly what Jim described, above. What if I arrive at my destination and want to keep listening to the radio (or otherwise want to keep the power on)? Do I have to keep the engine running? As it turns out, the answer is “no.”
Note: I actually covered this as tip #7 in the free “Quick Start” guide that I send out to all new e-mail subscribers. If you’d like to receive that, sign up using the form to the right or at the end of this post.
You can actually shut the engine off without shutting down the power to the accessories. To do so, just put the transmission in neutral (instead of park) and hit the Start/Stop button. The engine will turn off, but the radio (and other electronics) should stay one.
At that point, you can put the transmission in park. Then, when you’re ready to walk away, simply hit the Start/Stop button again to shut everything down. Or press the brake while hitting the button to re-start the engine.
Oh, and if you do happen to shut off the car (and power) in the midst of a Bluetooth call, no worries. The call will automatically transfer back to the handset. Just pick up your phone and keep talking. Or at least that’s how it work on my iPhone. I’m not sure if it’s the same on other phones.