The midsize crossover market is a hotly contested market segment, and one that is getting more interesting, with truly all-new entries from Nissan, Hyundai, and others, and more to come. Toyota has always had a credible player in the niche with the Highlander, and the changes on the 2014 model will likely continue to keep it a popular option in the segment.
The 2014 Highlander's styling is noticeably different from its predecessor, which received an update in 2011. The A-pillars have been repositioned for improved visibility, and employ high-strength steel for added rigidity. The rear-quarter glass area has also been increased for improved visibility.
Overall length on the new model is up 3 inches, width increases by a half-inch, but the wheelbase remains 109.8 inches. However, strategic packaging changes give the Highlander more useable space and practicality, the most noteworthy being a significant 4.3-inch increase in width for the third row.
The most attention was put into greater refinement from a noise, vibration, and harshness standpoint, as well as improving quality of materials. The 2014 Highlander features an acoustic glass windshield, a 30-percent increase in quantity of sound-insulating materials in the floor area, an expanded dash silencer, body sealing enhancements, and changes to the engine mounts and exhaust system design.
On the inside, all 2014 Highlanders get soft-touch dash material, silver, satin and chrome-plated accent pieces, and woodgrain trim for an upscale appearance. A new knit roof lining and optional rear sunshades add to the upmarket ambience. A new roll-top center console box with a dampened sliding door doubles as an armrest and, when opened, has enough room to hold a large handbag.
All 2014 Highlanders also get a new multi-information display within the gauge cluster. Higher-trim models get an automatic high-beam system, auto cruise control, driver's seat memory, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain's chairs, and a heated steering wheel. Models equipped with the captain's chairs option have a seven-passenger capacity, while models with a second row split-bench have an eight-passenger capacity.
Powertrains are largely carryover from the 2013 model, with the exception of the V-6 model finally getting a six-speed automatic. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder continues to serve as the base engine, and the hybrid continues as the fuel economy leader.
The 2014 Highlander will start rolling out of Toyota's Princeton, Indiana, plant and into showrooms in early calendar 2014.
|2014 Toyota Highlander |
|BASE PRICE|| $30,000-$47,000 (est) |
|VEHICLE LAYOUT|| Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 7-8-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE ||2.7L, 187-hp/186-lb-ft, 16-valve DOHC I-4 3.5L, 270-hp/248-lb-ft, 24-valve DOHC V-6 3.5L, 280 net hp hybrid 24-valve DOHC V-6|
|TRANSMISSION|| 6-speed automatic, CVT (hybrid)|
|CURB WEIGHT (est)|| 3900-4700 lb|
|WHEELBASE|| 109.8 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT|| 191.1 x 75.8 x 68.1 in|
|0-60 MPH || 7.5-9.0 sec (est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON (est)|| 17-20/22-25, 28/28 (hybrid)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.|| Early 2014|