If you’ve driven your new Toyota Highlander for any length of time, you’ve likely noticed a little “ECO” light on the front instrument panel. Have you ever wondered what (exactly) this means? Me too. Here’s the scoop…
In short, the ECO light indicates that you’re driving in an economic (or eco-friendly) manner. According to an older press release, the system considers factors such as accelerator use, engine & transmission efficiency, speed, and rate of acceleration when making this determination.
Keeping the ECO light on
So if you accelerate gradually and don’t stomp on the gas pedal, the light will (mostly) stay on. Press the gas harder and the light turns off. The goal here is behavioral modification, and Toyota claims the ECO light can help to improve your mileage by as much as 4% due to increased awareness.
If you have an XLE or Limited and you want to fine-tune your driving habits, you can view the “Zone of Eco” from your multi-information display (MID), which is located between the tachometer and the speedometer. Sorry, but I’m not sure if this is possible with the LE or LE Plus.
To do this, use the d-pad (arrow keys) on the steering wheel to select the “i” (info) tab. Then scroll down to the Eco Indicator. This shows an eco-friendly range along with your current eco-ratio. Keep your ratio within the range and the ECO light stays on. Get outside the range and it goes off.
Switching the light off
Note that you can turn off the ECO light if you really want to. To access this setting, touch either the “CAR” or “APPS” button (depends on trim level) on your audio system, then press “SETUP,” and finally press “VEHICLE.”
As for me, I’m leaving the ECO light enabled. It can’t hurt, and it does help me to drive a bit more efficiently. The same goes for the real-time mpg indicator, which brings out the competitive side in me as I try to keep the real-time reading above my longer-term average.
No, I’m still not getting the EPA-rated mileage, but I’m doing pretty well. This is especially true when it comes to highway mileage.