2014 Toyota Highlander
Toyota’s Highlander is always in the running for most desirable family hauler honors. And, as it enters its 3rd generation, it bolsters that status even more.
Exterior design sees a thorough next-gen rework, starting with a much bolder front end, with more pronounced body sculpting.
More important to families is the interior where both space and comfort grow. The standard 3rd row seat may still be tight on legroom, but width increases by almost 4 inches, allowing maximum occupancy to go from 7 to 8. Easier entry/exit access for the 3rd row is another plus; and total cargo capacity shoots up by a third. We like the separate opening rear hatch glass, a feature most rivals have dropped.
A roll-top center console adds some 24 ½ liters of hidden storage space, and it’s only one highlight of a more livable interior layout. More soft touch materials are used, although too much hard plastics remains, still Highlander’s overall comfort level now borders on luxurious.
Both gas and hybrid engines are carry-overs. But chassis improvements, including a new double wishbone rear suspension and torque sensing all-wheel drive system, help you get the most out of them.
GREG CARLOSS: I can actually feel all the hard work that Toyota’s put into making it a more enjoyable driving experience. First with the new independent double wishbone suspension: it feels much more refined, much more on par with luxury mid-size SUVs. And the all-wheel drive system was also reworked. You can feel that on tight back roads. But mainly mid corner, when you start feeling the back end rotating around. That’s something you don’t normally feel in a vehicle this size. I’m not saying that I want to put it through its paces on those back roads. But it is definitely an upgrade over last year’s model.
JOHN DAVIS: On sale now, the 2014 Toyota Highlander starts around $30,000.
Price: Starts around $30,000