2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Review – Impressive SUV
Toyota has redone the Highlander and it is quite the improvement. This SUV is one of the best vehicles I have driven in a while. Here is my review.
When I first got the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited, I really didn’t think much of it. The exterior styling is nice and it is a definite upgrade over the previous generation, but beyond that I was not impressed. The more I drove it though, the more I really enjoyed it. From the roomy interior with lots of great features to a very comfortable ride, it is surprising how much I came to appreciate it. Loading my family of 4 into the SUV, I also quickly realized how nice this vehicle would be for a long road trip. Forget the mini-van, this SUV has plenty of room, get up and go and comfort for the long haul.
My press loan was a 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited with a 3.5L V-6 mated to a 6-speed transmission with dynamic torque-control AWD. It had the bucket seats in the middle row, however, with a bench, total seating grows to 8.
The exterior has lots of appeal with its sleek lines and stylish front grille. Toyota has done a great job of blending the front with the rear and it is one solid looking vehicle.
It also has some great features. For example, the rear glass opens separate from the hatch. Need to leash your dog before opening the hatch? There you go. Want to grab a few things while traveling without spilling the entire load? You can do that. This is a smart idea that Toyota could have simply skimped on. I’m glad they didn’t.
Also, the width and height of the vehicle make it really easy to park and maneuver. Maybe because I drive a full-size truck, I notice these things. But, this SUV is really easy to park and I can easily reach all areas of it (handy for washing it). Overall, it feels really stylish and well designed.
As I said earlier, this is one of the best SUVs I have driven in quite a while. The V6 engine powers this SUV very well and the shifting was really smooth. In fact, I never noticed the car shifting or felt like the engine was straining. It seems like a perfect marriage of powertrain to size.
In the corners, it doesn’t have as much push as I expect and while I wouldn’t say it corners like a sports car, it does corner better than say a 4Runner. Braking, acceleration and handling were all great and I found myself really relaxed behind the wheel.
For the driving position, I found it really easy to maneuver the seat and steering wheel right where I like it. I never felt like I had to stretch for anything and the dials were really easy to read. Also, the visibility is pretty good and this SUV just seems suited to me.
Lastly, the dynamic torque-control AWD is something to mention. This system is basically on-demand AWD. For most of the driving AWD is disengaged giving you better fuel economy. When the vehicle’s computer senses wheel slipping, it sends power from the front to the rear to stabilize the vehicle. It also works in conjunction with the vehicle stability control and electric power steering to improve the handling. All in all, I thought it was a great solution to having a vehicle with AWD and fuel economy.
Interior Features and Styling
On the inside, I was really impressed with the quality of the materials and the fit and finish. It really felt more like an early model of the Lexus RX 350 with its quality and materials. In fact, I would honestly tell people when looking for an SUV to compare the Highlander with the current generation Lexus. In some ways, I think the Highlander is better.
Back to the interior, one of the great features my Highlander test model had was a panoramic moonroof. This thing is massive and extends all the way through the second row. My young boys loved having the powered, sliding shade retracted to watch the clouds as we drove. It also operated as a basic sun roof above the driver with the ability to open and close. I did drive a bit with the front open and the moonroof open. No vibration issues at all. Lastly, you can only retract above the driver and keep the middle row covered if you like (good for sleeping kiddos). Just lots of good functionality.
Speaking of kids, the middle row bucket seats were just the right width to install the car seats. Plus, my young boys found the cabin height to be low enough that it was easy to enter the Highlander while the seats were low enough for them to hop right in. Also, the third row was big enough for them (without a car seats). This SUV can seat up to 7, yet don’t be fooled into thinking that is seven adults. It is more of the four adults, three kids/teenagers type of SUV.
The Highlander also had the second-row passenger friendly retractable sun shades which make it a much more pleasant experience for them. These shades are perfectly matched to the window and easy to use.
With most press loans, I immediately transfer car seats and prepare the vehicle for a week of driving the family around. This SUV was no exception, although, it was different. I haven’t had a vehicle yet that was so family focused and I really wished I had it for a long road trip. The ease of driving, loading kids and all the small features added up to one family-friendly SUV. Secretly, I thought about buying my wife one just so I could drive it more.
- 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited
- 3.5L V6
- 6-speed transmission
- Platinum Package
- 18/24/20 City/Highway/Combined
- Price: $44,675.00
Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com