2014 Toyota Highlander Test Drive

?Toyota Highlander Boldly Restyled for 2014?

Third generation adds refinement and technology

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The Toyota Highlander Mid-size SUV enters its third generation with the 2014 model lineup which will consist of a new grade strategy with four well equipped trim levels: LE, LE Plus, XLE and Limited. LE is FWD only, while all other grades offer both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, and the AWD gas versions will include Dynamic Torque Control as standard fare. Each grade level provides progressively more feature content. A special Platinum Package is available for Limited and Hybrid models (the Hybrid is only available in Limited trim.

All Toyota Highlander grades feature a 3.5-liter V6 engine and new six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that offers selectable manual sequential shifting. The LE grade is also available in a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and the Limited grade is available with a hybrid powertrain.

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The 2.7-liter engine is a DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder with dual VVT-I that makes 185 horsepower along with 184 pound feet of torque. The 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with dual VVT-I delivers 270 horsepower and 248 pound feet of torque. All engines are coupled to a new, electronically controlled 6-speed automatic with intelligence in three variants depending on the engine and drive configuration. V6 models feature a sequential shift function. Net Hybrid horsepower adds up to an impressive 280 with an EPA fuel rating of 27 mpg city/28mpg highway/28 mpg combined, best in class for a three row mid-size SUV. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds for LE 4-cylinder models, 2,000 pounds for LE and LE Plus models, and 5,000 pounds for XLE and Limited grades.

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Visually, this latest iteration Highlander presents a bolder and more dynamic exterior persona, with a lower, sleeker roofline and narrowed ?A? pillar. It has grown in length by approximately three inches while the width has increased one-half inch. Up front, the hood merges with a redesigned trapezoidal grille,?wraparound headlamps and deeply chiseled and pronounced fenders, delivering a more athletic appearance. The length of the profile, from the front fenders to the rear quarter panels, boldly stands out with sculptured wheel wells at the corners, allowing for prominently protruding wheels. The cabin glass area has been lengthened with blacked out ?B? and ?C? pillars and a bright surround that adds to the Highlander?s aero-dynamicism. The rear end finishes with a newly designed height-adjustable rear lift-gate with an available one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings, and taillights and a bumper that display both style and strength. An integrated rear roof spoiler lip?hints at performance. Acoustic-type glass is utilized for the windshield, helping to reduce noise entering the cabin. Even the panoramic moonroof design works to help reduce wind noise, even when open.

The new Toyota Highlander also benefits from a more premium interior design with advanced technological features. The 2014 model offers increased ?spaciousness for up to eight people, with a vast array of standard comfort, convenience and technology features and equipment. premium materials?are utilized providing an upscale ambience, with most models featuring standard contrast seat stitching. All Highlanders come equipped with a soft-touch instrument panel; and silver-painted, satin, and chrome-plated accents thoughtfully placed throughout the interior.

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Premium fabrics, available smooth and perforated leather trim seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add to Highlander?s upscale interior. The adoption of a high quality knit roof lining and available second-row sunshades also contribute to Highlander?s refinement and comfort.

A new roll-top center console provides a comfortable armrest, or when?fully opened is large enough to hold a large handbag. All Highlanders will feature a newly designed LCD in-meter-cluster Multi-Information Display available in 3.5-inchblack & white or 4.2-inch color display. Available ambient lighting around the front dash makes for a relaxing environment.

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The second row offers bench seating for three passengers or two captain?s seats that feature a collapsible side tray with cup holders for added convenience. Entry into the third-row is made easier with the addition of a one-step second-row sliding seat function on both driver and passenger sides that provides nearly three more inches of space for easier third-row ingress and egress. An overall interior width increase of 3.7 inches in the third-row and a standard recline function enhance comfort for up to three passengers. Like the second-row bench, the third-row will be 60/40 split for added passenger and storage flexibility and convenience. Rear cargo space behind the third-row has been increased by 34 percent for added storage capability.

During the recent Press Preview of the 2014 Toyota Highlander, I was able to experience driving and riding in prototype or preproduction versions of: the LE 4-cylinder FWD; a Limited AWD and the Limited Hybrid, with base pricing ranging from $29,215 to $49,790.

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SUMMARY: The 2014 Toyota Highlander is vastly improved over its predecessors, especially in the looks department. It benefits from sleeker, yet bolder styling, along with enhanced interior appointments. Basically, everything about it is improved from comfort levels to performance and operating efficiency.

It is truly accommodating for the entire family with seating capability for up to eight, with gear. Rear seat entertainment is available to keep kids and grandkids busy during travel, and an in-dash shelf with a pass through to USB and 12V plug-ins allows for easy cable management. The center console is 24.5 liters ad will hold a large woman?s purse or 58 juice boxes. Second and third row air vents are provided with available three-zone climate control. Limited models come with heated and ventilated front seats, with an available heated steering wheel and heated second row seats. A panoramic moonroof is also available.

The new Highlander comes with a Backup Camera and Toyota?s next gen Entune audio systems. Limited models offer advanced safety technologies such as Blind Spot Monitoring with Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Parking Assist Sonar, and an available Driver Technology Package includes a Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Automatic High Beam Headlights and Safety Connect.

 

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Most of all, this latest iteration Highlander handles spirited driving maneuvers with aplomb. Okay, it?s not a sports car, but it is stable on the road, handles with an agile, on-center steering feel, and it delivers a most comfortable ride quality. In terms of its performance capability, the 2.7-liter four-banger is surprisingly responsive without excessive noise. With a full complement of 8 occupants, on a steep uphill grade, the 3.5-liter V6 is obviously the better choice.

Considering the wide grade range in terms of equipment and feature content, the 2014 Toyota Highlander presents itself as an ideal mid-size, three-row SUV. providing several choices for a variety of consumers. It comes with a choice of 9 attractive exterior colors and a ?basic limited warranty coverage: a 3-year/36,000-mile? Comprehensive, a 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain, a 5-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation, and an 8-year/100,000-mile Hybrid-related Component Coverage.

The 2014 model year marks the first year that all Highlanders will be assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana and exported to 12 other nations.
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[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Toyota Highlander [/wptabtitle]
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Base Price: $29,215. 4-cyl FWD LE*
Price as Tested: $47,300. Hybrid* *Pricing does not include the Delivery, Processing and Handling Fee.
Engine Type and Size: 2.7-liter DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder with dual VVT-i / 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V-6 with dual VVT-i
Horsepower (bhp): 185 @ 5,800 rpm / 270 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 184 @ 4,200 rpm / 248 @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled 6-speed automatic with intelligence in three variants – 4-cyl FWD, V6 FWD and AWD.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD-LE only or all-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson Strut retuned coil springs and low-friction material in shock absorbers.
Rear – Double-Wishbone with front and rear stabilizer bars and relocated coil springs and shock absorbers.
Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS.
Tires: Bridgestone/Michelin or Toyo 245/60 R18 all-season on LE, LE Plus and XLE / 245/55 R19 on Limited and Hybrid. Mounted on 5 “V”-spoke (18”) or 5-spoke Chrometec (19”) alloy wheels. 18” temporary spare all models. There’s also a split 5-spokemachined-face 18” wheel.
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length Overall: 191.1 inches
Width: 75.8 inches
Height: 68.1 inches w/o shark fin antenna / 70.1 with.
Curb Weight: 4,131 lbs. (LE-FWD) to 4,508 lbs. (Limited-AWD)
Fuel Capacity: 19.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 25 mpg highway 4-cyl FWD / V6 FWD=19 city / 25 hwy / AWD=18 city / 24 hwy.
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.

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