New for 2014
The Toyota Highlander has been completely refreshed for the 2014 model year, featuring new exterior styling, a refined interior, a new six-speed automatic, more standard features, and a hybrid model that boosts mileage to 28 mpg on the highway.
The Toyota Highlander is an SUV that seats up to eight, and fits above the 4Runner and Venza, but below the Land Cruiser in the automaker’s lineup. The Highlander’s purpose is to haul families and it has features that help it to deliver on that mission.
For 2014 the Toyota Highlander comes in I-4, V-6, and hybrid flavors, and all are good for moving people. The volume 2.7-liter I-4 makes 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, puts its power down to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic, and is good for an EPA-estimated 20/25 mpg city/highway. Buyers who want the option of all-wheel drive must opt for the 270-hp 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 248 lb-ft of torque, gets the same six-speed automatic, and is good for 18-19/24-25 mpg, with a penalty for AWD. The most economy conscious buyers can get a 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to a trio of electric motors for a net 280 hp, which boasts an EPA rating of 27/28 mpg, best in class for a three-row SUV. All hybrid model feature AWD, with one electric motor for each set of drive wheels, as well as one for starting and stopping the gasoline engine.
Toyota simplified the buying experience for Highlander models by making most options standard equipment. Notable family-friendly features for several trim levels include: a large in-dash storage shelf, a roll top center console storage compartment, height-adjustable power rear liftgate, and three-zone climate control.
The 2014 Toyota Highlander received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and is considered a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS.
What We Think
In a Driven review of the refreshed 2014 Toyota Highlander lineup we praised the SUV, noting that it improved on an already strong platform. Back-to-back, all three powertrain options were more than adequate to propel the SUV, even in the hills. “The interior has been transformed, with padded surfaces and a stitched dash cover, and seatbelts for three in the third row. A padded, nearly full-width shelf under the dash is perfect for stashing cell phones and sunglasses and glows blue at night, the best use of ambient lighting we’ve seen yet,” we said in an Around the Block review of a 2014 Highlander Limited.
“The only negative in this well thought-out interior is that, in Limited models, the roomy middle row comes only with two captain’s chairs, which eliminates the center seating position. You have to drop down a trim level to get the more versatile, three-passenger split-bench seat.” Though base prices went up for 2014, we summed up the crossover by saying, “You pay more, but you get more.”
- Seating for up to eight
- Class-leading fuel economy
- Refreshed styling
You Won’t Like
- Fitting adults in the third-row
- Can get pricey
- No option for second-row bench on Limited models
- Ford Explorer
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Honda Pilot
- Mazda CX-9
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Hyundai Santa Fe