A Review Of The 2014 Toyota Highlander
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A Review Of The 2014 Toyota Highlander

2014 Toyota Highlander: A Quiet and Powerful Family SUV

by Alicia in Car Reviews

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MSRP: Starting at $27,650
ESTIMATED MPG: 19 City / 25 HWY

Family Car Review - Test Drive

You’ve probably seen the commercials for the new 2014 Toyota Highlander.  The one where the Muppets burst into a house of bored family members one of which is looking up Old Faithful on his tablet.  “If you wanna see Old Faithful don’t be such a couch potato” the Muppets say.  “Yea just go check out the thing for yourself. We ain’t got no room for boring.”, sing the Muppets.  The family and the Muppets visit Old Faithful. That’s the way to do it; why just look amazing places up on your tablet when you hop in the car and drive there?

The 2014 Toyota Highlander is the 3rd generation of Highlander and it has been redesigned with bold new exterior styling, family friendly features and the latest in advanced safety and audio technology.  All of this while still maintaining it’s Toyota DNA of quality, durability and reliability.  The Highlander is available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations, with a choice of six trim levels: LE (FWD only), LE V6, LE Plus V6, XLE V6, Limited V6 and Limited Platinum V6. The LE is powered by a 185-hp 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, while all other trims get the 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine.  The Highlander ranges in price from $29,000 to about $47,000.

2014 Toyota Highlander Review

Before I go into detail about the 2014 Toyota Highlander, let me tell you about some of the features I look for in a vehicle and why.

  • I am a mother of two.  I have a 14 year old son and a 7 year old daughter.
  • My son plays Lacrosse which requires transporting his very large Lacrosse stick and other (smelly) equipment to and from practices and games therefore I need ample trunk/cargo storage space.
  • My 7-year-old likes to have playdates and I want to have enough seating for everyone to sit comfortably and safely in my vehicle so I look for ample (4+ seats) and easy access seating.
  • My kids and I drink a ton of water so I need at least one cup holder per passenger if not more.  During road trips I switch between water and Diet Coke.  You know how that is.   
  • I like to be cold but my kids and husband would be happy to stay in the desert for a few days so I appreciate dual and/or 3 zone climate control.
  • I have back issues from a car accident and use my heated seat 90% of the time I’m in the car, even in the summer so having heated seats is very important to me.
  • I drive a lot of short distances (to and from sports, etc) and don’t want to fill up my tank every few days which is where good city driving mileage comes in.
  • Back to having two kids…before I had a vehicle with a backup camera, it took about 10 minutes for me to back out of my driveway.  Not exactly 10 minutes but longer than now.  I  couldn’t help but wonder if one of the kids had run out to tell me goodbye again.  A backup camera is a must!
  • I am short; 5’1″ to be exact.  Being short makes it difficult for me to see further than the hood of some vehicles like my husband’s Ford Mustang (hello phonebook seating).   I look for highly adjustable seats and when the seats are programmable that is even better.
  • Last but not least, my kids are kids.  They enjoy watching a movie during road trips and I enjoy the peace and quiet I get when they watch a movie with their wireless headphones.  A DVD entertainment system is very nice and helpful to have.

Now that you know the story of my life and what I look for in a vehicle, let’s move on to my experience with the 2014 Toyota Highlander.

For purposes of this review I am going to focus on my favorite Highlander model, the Limited.  The Limited is just above the mid-range model, the XLE, priced at $36,040. For purposes of this review, I test-drove the Highlander Limited for one week which starts at $39,640 and is the only model below in cost to the Hybrid model.

2014 Toyota Highlander

If you have young children, they probably spend quite a bit of time in the car. Between appointments, playdates, daycare or school, and family outings, it may even seem like your family lives in the car sometimes. To make that time enjoyable, safe, and affordable, consider getting a vehicle like the 2014 Toyota Highlander.

Highlander Safety

There are a myriad of safety features on the Highlander, like the Star Safety System that has six different ways to keep you from crashing, ventilated disk brakes, backup camera, blind spot monitor, advanced airbag system, child safety seat restraints, and automatic tire pressure monitor. You’re less likely to crash driving a Highlander, but if you do crash, you’re more likely to remain uninjured.

Highlander Comfort

As far as seating goes, it’s always better to go with too many seats than too few. You never know when friends or extended family will want to take a road trip. This vehicle can seat up to eight people, and to add to the spacious comfort, the back seats recline for napping.  The Limited model seats 7, with the middle row being two captain chairs.

Highlander Engine and MPG

For an eight-passenger vehicle, it also gets good gas mileage. At 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway, it’s an affordable way to transport your kids or a whole group. It also has a pretty big engine – it can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Highlander Entertainment

One of the best things about the Highlander is that both kids and adults will be entertained. With the touch screen in the front, you can listen to music, buy movie tickets, and look at different dining options. There’s also an option to put a DVD system in for the kids.

Highlander Price

The 2014 Toyota Highlander is a top-notch vehicle and may seem expensive at first glance, but if you can swing it, it’s worth every penny.  If you add on many features, it could cost you over $40,000, but starting at just under $30,000, it can actually cost around the average price of a new vehicle.

2014 Toyota Highlander Interior

My favorite features of the 2014 Toyota Highlander include:

  • Seating for 7 to 8 passengers
  • In-dash shelf built into the dashboard – great for keys, phones, wallet
  • Oversized center console that is big enough to fit a purse or diaper bag
  • Backup camera (I can’t do without one of these since having one)
  • Second and third row air vents
  • Panoramic Moonroof
  • SiriusXM w/NavTraffic satellite radio
  • Entune Audio Systems which include hands-free Bluetooth streaming technology and advanced voice recognition
  • Lane Departure Alert (love this added safety feature!)
  • 6.1 inch standard touchscreen
  • Three zone climate control
  • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel – great for shorties like me!
  • Universal remote transmitter (for garage doors)
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • 8 inch ground clearance; great for people like me who like to feel higher up than I do in a sedan which has an average ground clearance of 5-6 inches. The ground clearance on the Highlander is about an higher than the average minivan.

I took the Highlander for a drive on some twisty and bumpy roads to see how it would perform and was impressed with the smooth handling and stable steering during those drives.  The 248 lbs.-feet of torque and 270 horsepower surely contributed to the Highlander’s speedy 0-60 acceleration of just under 8 seconds.  Just as impressive was the quiet cabin during any type of ride whether on the highway, bumpy roads or to soccer  practice on local roads.   This is something I appreciate as a parent. I appreciate being able to hear what my child sitting in the 3rd row is saying to me without having to use a walkie-talkie.

Choosing a vehicle is a big decision, perhaps only second to buying a house. This means you will want to thoroughly research any vehicle before making a decision. By choosing the 2014 Toyota Highlander, you can rest assure that you are driving your family in a vehicle that is safe, comfortable, and gets good gas mileage.

Find a Toyota dealership near you and take the Highlander for a spin with your family.  It just might be the perfect SUV for your family!

What do you think about the Toyota Highlander?

I was provided with a 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited for one week to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a commission when you buy something. If you'd like to know more about the links featured in my posts, how I do and choose reviews, or choose advertisers, check out The Mommy Insider editorial policy.

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