Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited: Home Run for Families

Photo: Toyota
Toyota hit a home run with the new 2014 Highlander. This family-friendly SUV has everything a family on-the-go requires, plus a few extras that we don't need, but we sure do appreciate.  This Highlander is quiet, powerful, and roomy with interior materials that please the hand and the eye.

Toyota obviously listened to consumers when they designed and built the new
Animal! Animal! (That's a lot of cargo space.)
Photo: Patrick Wymore/Toyota
Highlander. I described earlier versions of the Highlander as having interiors that felt and looked cheap. There was too much textured plastic hardscape, and the third row was so uncomfortable I felt mean putting my whiniest kid back there. The exterior design was a bit boring after a few years, so this refresh with the "No Room for Boring" tagline was needed. The 2014 model has a new design outside and is way more comfortable inside. If you don't trust me, then trust The Muppets.

  • LE Plus, XLE & Limited have powerful V6 engines
  • LE has 4-cylinder engine with pep
  • Comfortable third row that splits 60/40
  • Quiet inside the cabin; very little road noise
  • Second row captain's chairs available in Limited
  • Seats 7 or 8 people
  • LATCH for 3 or 4 car seats
  • Panoramic sunroof available
  • Giant concealable storage space between front seats
  • Quick turn signal for lane changes
  • 19 MPG city/25 MPG highway for the V6 engine
  • Standard Ultra Low Emission Vehicle II (ULEVII) (Hybrid not available)
  • AWD on this Limited Platinum (Standard Front Wheel Drive)
  • Price of test vehicle: $45,070

Champagne Wishes and Platinum Dreams  
Photo: Toyota

Well, maybe not quite that fancy, but I did drive the Highlander Limited Platinum edition which has everything except a massage chair. You know, only the best for this mom. (Just kidding. I don't have the best of everything; I haven't bought new shoes for myself in a year.) (My kids, on the other hand, have sweet new Nikes.) Many parents say they "live" in their vehicles after picking the kids up from school and you wouldn't mind living in the Limited Platinum Highlander. This is a great family hauler that has comfort and style.

Panoramic Sunroof
(c) Erika JN Fish

This Limited Platinum Highlander didn't have a DVD player because it had a huge, panoramic sunroof, which could be a bummer for some families. But I think it all works out since most of us have iPads (or equivalent) that our kids use on long car rides anyway. If you're moving from a minivan that has a DVD player with screen for the kiddos and want the same in your Highlander, a Blue-ray Disc (TM) system with 9-inch screen, remote and two wireless headphones is available in the XLE and Limited models. Or you can save some money, get creative, and MacGyver a tablet-holding device with duct tape and bungee cords. This could morph into a cool school project.

The Platinum Package does include the Driver Technology Package that has Safety Connect (R), a Pre-Collision warning system that has Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and automatic High Beam Headlights. Which means if you're distracted by a flying stuffed animal from the back seat and drift into another lane or forget to brake, all sorts of beeps and lights will jolt you back to paying attention. The panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel, and second-row captain's chairs are also part of this fancy-pants package.

Third Row Delivers
I really dislike the third row in my friend's older Highlander, so I crawled to the way-back first thing before my test drive. It was comfy. This third row has reclining seats and more butt cushioning than previously, even if it is a bit tight for anyone over 5'2" tall (meaning everyone but me). The second row seats have plenty of room to travel forward and back, so getting in and out of the third row is easy. The Limited edition has captain's chairs with this little airplane bulkhead-style table with cup holders that flips up and down easily so your kids can use the "aisle."  

Easy Access to 3rd Row  
(c) Erika JN Fish
2nd Row Table
(c) Erika JN Fish

Driver's Rule
2014 Highlander Dash.    Photo: Toyota
The ride was quiet and comfortable.
In fact, I was surprised at how quiet the interior was when the windows were up. Obviously well-insulated and, according to a sales person I asked, the glass is thicker as well. The controls are very driver-oriented and fairly easy to figure out. There is ample storage for the driver including a HUGE section in the center console that will hold a purse, camera bag, iPad, lunch box, secret stash of Swedish Fish, water bottles, etc. (See photos below.)  The USB port is easy to access and there is a nice shelf to hold your phone, iPod, or MP3 player. The designers did a nice job throughout. 

This Highlander is easy and fun to drive. I thought it had nice acceleration, gentle braking, and an all-around solid feel. The turning radius is good for a 3-row SUV, which means it's easy to park in tight lots and easy to make U-turns when you see that perfect parking spot. 

While the new Highlander isn't boring, it also isn't too flashy. It's a solid SUV that deserves a look. Take one out for a drive. Test the LATCH system, have a kid crawl in the way-back. Test the seats: sit on them, fold them, slide and tilt. I'm impressed. I have a nice Audi SUV, but if I was in the market for a new SUV, I would seriously consider the Highlander. More specifically, I would consider the Highlander Limited Platinum edition -- I like panoramic sunroofs and cooled seats.

Command Center
(c) Erika JN Fish
Open Shelf Under Dash
Photo: Toyota

Front USB Port & Shelf
(c) Erika JN Fish
2nd Row Climate Controls
(c) Erika JN Fish
3rd Row with Recline
Photo: Toyota
Cargo Area
Photo: Toyota

"Secret" Compartment
Photo: Toyota
Ta Da!
Photo: Toyota

Thank you to Novato Toyota for giving me the keys and answering all of my questions. 

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment