New for 2014, the current Highlander is a vast improvement over its immediate predecessor. With Toyota’s powerful 3.5L V-6 under the hood, the Highlander has enough power for most traffic maneuvers, and its braking and handling are good enough for what the vehicle is.
Interior quality is a step up from the previous Highlander, too, although it still lags behind some of the competition. However, the new one’s increased length has carved out more space for cargo and an eighth passenger (unless the Highlander is equipped with the Limited’s standard second-row buckets). Families will surely appreciate its deep center console bin and unique, narrow slot that runs the width of the passenger-side dashboard, ideal for storing wallets and cell phones.
There are very few notable drawbacks to the Highlander. An overall personality-free driving experience is one of them, although for many, a simple, well-mannered appliance is just what they’re seeking out of a car. Additionally, even though it has seatbelts for three, the third row is really only habitable by small children.
Overall, the Highlander is the same competent family vehicle it’s always been—just endowed with a little bit more. It’s not a standout in any one area, but it’s practical, reasonably spacious, and fairly efficient: a good fit for most crossover shoppers.