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2014 Toyota Highlander Review

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2014 Toyota Highlander Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.3

Born to haul families and all of their cargo, the Toyota Highlander continues to uphold that reputation but brings a more refined feel than those before it. Competition is stiff with the likes of the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot circling close by but the Highlander is no slouch. Toyota estimates that 90 percent of all 2014 Highlander models sold will leave the lot with a V6 engine and 60 percent of those will come equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). We're inclined to go with that combination, too.

You'll Like This Car If...

A slew of trim levels and drivetrain options, combined with high customer-satisfaction numbers, make a strong case for the Highlander.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Do you off-road or tow more than 5,000 pounds constantly? Then perhaps you should look at some other alternatives like the Dodge Durango or the refreshed Toyota 4Runner.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.3
  • 8.1
  • 8.5
  • 8.1
  • 8.1
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#40

out of 64

Fuel Economy

#39

out of 62

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

9.0 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 Toyota Highlander Low/wide front photo What's New for 2014

All-new for 2014, the Toyota Highlander boasts new features like Driver Easy Speak and a wonderful in-dash shelf. The base hybrid model goes away for the 2014 model year with the Hybrid Limited remaining as the only option. Exterior and interior restyling and optional seating for eight join the Highlander lineup.

Driving the Highlander
2014 Toyota Highlander Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions Equipped with available all-wheel drive, the new Toyota Highlander holds its own on a variety of road surfaces. The 3.5-liter V6 engine and its 270 horsepower smoothly spring into action...

... when called upon and provide adequate power when getting up to highway speed. The front-wheel drive V6 model has been rated by the EPA to return 19 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway, while the all-wheel-drive variant drags those numbers down only slightly. The 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine trades some operational smoothness for a more fuel efficient ride. If you wish to stretch those mpgs even further, opt for the Highlander Hybrid, which turns in 27 city/28 highway fuel economy. No matter which powertrain you decide on, the latest Highlander delivers a quality on-road experience, allowing some engine and road noise into the cabin, though certainly less than the previous model.

IN-DASH SHELF WITH EASY CABLE MANAGEMENT
A shelf deep enough to hold even the biggest smartphone stretches from the front passenger's door to the driver's right knee. As advertised, the "easy cable management" keeps your smartphone's charging and audio cables organized and out of the way.

FLIP-UP REAR HATCH WINDOW AND ADJUSTABLE POWER LIFTGATE
New for 2014, the optional rear hatch window can now open while leaving the lower gate door closed. The optional power liftgate can adjust to different heights, too.

2014 Toyota Highlander Details
2014 Toyota Highlander Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The all-new Toyota Highlander SUV boasts a clean interior that was redesigned for the latest model year. Horizontal lines on the dashboard escort your eyes from one end, stopping at the centralized multimedia screen, and spans all the way to the front passenger's side door. A few big round knobs made the cut for the 2014 model year, but three flat buttons now flank the standard 6.1-inch touch screen on each side. Storage space is abundant throughout the cabin and a cavernous center console can swallow at least 58 standard size juice boxes. A sliding 2nd-row seat gives way to an optional third row which now offers seating for eight.

Exterior
2014 Toyota Highlander photo

Representing the first run of the third generation, the Highlander now sports a bolder, more chiseled look. This redesigned exterior styling is still aimed at family-centric customers with hopes of more male buyers using the Highlander as their daily driver. More defined side panels play into the aerodynamic look Toyota was going for when it first sketched this latest Highlander. Not as round as the one it replaces, the new Highlander still goes after Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot sales.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Opting for the base front-wheel drive Toyota Highlander will land you 18-inch split 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, halogen headlights, Entune Audio with AM/FM/CD and a MP3/WMA-capable 6-speaker stereo, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, day/night rearview mirror, and three 12-volt auxiliary power outlets (two up front and one in the second row). Standard safety features include eight airbags, Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children (LATCH) points, stability and traction control, and antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution.

Optional Equipment

The vast majority of options and packages can be found on the Limited and Hybrid Limited trim levels. These packages feature an abundance of cutting-edge safety features including lane-departure, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams as well as heated 2nd-row captain's chairs, a panoramic moonroof, a heated steering wheel, and a rear-seat Blu-Ray and DVD entertainment system.

Under the Hood
2014 Toyota Highlander Engine photo

The base 2014 Toyota Highlander crossover SUV relies on a 2.7-liter inline-4 cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and a 6-speed automatic transmission for motivation. This model is only available in a front-wheel-drive configuration. The automaker asserts, however, that 90 percent of all transactions will include the 3.5-liter V6 variant. The V6 engine is available in either front-drive or all-wheel drive on everything except for the top-tier Hybrid Limited trim, where only a V6 AWD setup is offered. The V6 engine is paired up with an electronically controlled automatic transmission. The hybrid drivetrain consists of the same 3.5-liter V6 gas engine but is assisted by two electric motors to produce 280 horsepower. During EPA testing, the Highlander Hybrid turned in 28 mpg on the highway.

2.7-liter inline-4
185 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
184 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 mpg

3.5-liter V6
270 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (front-wheel drive), 18/24 (AWD)

3.5-liter V6 + AC 650-volt permanent-magnet motors
280 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
215 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/28 mpg

The 2014 Toyota Highlander SUV starts at just under $30,000 and that will bring you the LE trim level with a 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. The Highlander LE with a V6 engine will set you back a cool $31,380. The top-trim Limited starts at $40,500 for front-wheel drive and $41,960 for all-wheel drive. The Hybrid Limited commands a $48,160 price tag. We expect our Fair Purchase Price values to mirror real-world transaction prices right around sticker price. Then there's the Highlander's resale value, which is known to be one of the strongest in its segment. Some other similar models to the Highlander include the Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot.

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2014 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 37 Ratings for the 2014 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    9.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.8/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Boring styling & great mileage

By on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,600

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Fuel economy"

Cons: "Toyota has "dumbed-down" this car in a big way."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"Traded in a 2012 Ford Expedition Limited 4wd. Other than the less than acceptable fuel mileage of the Expedition, I'd rather have the Expedition. Here's why. Expedition performed better in these areas: cornering, steering effort, braking, interior(other than instrument panel) appointments, wheels, suspension, third rower power seats, seating was more comfortable, engine power, towing ability, Navigation and entertainment systems are superior. The Highlander performed better in fuel mileage, 26 hiway vs. 19. Slightly better ride quality, But that's about it. When I can't stand to drive my Highlander any more(which may be soon), I'm getting an Expedition. I have had no less than 15 Toyota products since 1984. With the exception of an LS460 Lexus, I'll not have another Toyota for many of the above reasons."

6 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Boring; expense of hybrid not offset by fuel econ.

By on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Decent fuel economy; quiet ride."

Cons: "Cheap finishes; boring to drive; pricey add-ons."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"I leased a Highlander Hybrid ("HH") because I wanted a 7-seater SUV to cart around my growing family (and our stuff), without having to refill the gas tank every few days. But I also wanted a performance vehicle with some creature comforts, which would be fun to drive. While the HH delivered on fuel economy (23-26 mpg overall in "ECON" mode), it fell short in all other respects. First off, the premium that Toyota adds to the price of the Highlander for the hybrid model is not offset by the gas savings due to the HH's slightly better fuel economy. The HH is $10,000-$20,000 more expensive than the non-hybrid Highlander (depending on trim), but I can say from experience that I will not save that much in fuel costs by the end of my 3-year lease. If you're looking to save money, you're better off buying a regular Highlander, which delivers only about 3-7 mpg less overall than the hybrid model. When it comes to creature comforts, the HH also failed to deliver. I didn't expect the HH to come with all of the luxury features standard like the BMW and Lexus that I'd previously owned, but Toyota took the nickel-and-diming to the extreme with the HH, even for a non-luxury vehicle brand. The only amenity that came standard on the HH was the power windows and door locks. I had to pay a ton extra for an add-on "package" in order to have a back-up camera (which comes standard in many luxury SUVs), and power front seats. I also purchased the navigation system package, which, sadly, did NOT include an upgraded audio system. Furthermore, the expensive package I purchased did not include a power lift-gate for the rear trunk door, a SmartKey, or automatic climate control, all of which had come standard with my previous cars. In order to get these features, I would've had to add on one or two more expensive packages, and the price for my HH was already close to $50,000 even without these extras. So I declined to purchase these additional packages and ended up regretting it. As a busy mom whose hands are always full, I underestimated how much I would miss having a power lift-gate and SmartKey features. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the HH is a really dud to drive. Its performance is uninspired and sluggish, even when it's not being driven in ECON mode. I wasn't expecting sports sedan performance from a 7-seater SUV, but the HH is a snooze to drive, even for a vehicle of its size. It would be one thing if the HH delivered luxury and cushiness in exchange for the loss in performance (as the Lexus RX hybrid SUV does), but unfortunately, Toyota failed to deliver here as well. About the only plus of the HH is that it's a relatively quiet ride due to the hybrid electric engine. Other than that, it feels like just another cheap, mass-produced Toyota car, which is about as exciting as the plain-vanilla Camry. If you're looking for a decent 7-seater SUV that won't break the bank, stick with the regular Highlander. Otherwise, if you can stretch your budget a bit, I'd recommend going for one of the Lexus, Audi, Infiniti or Acura SUV's, which deliver much more bang for your buck in terms of luxury features and/or performance. I can't wait for my lease to be up so I can be rid of my boring Highlander Hybrid! Grade: A solid "C"."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Understand the optios before you buy

By on Tuesday, August 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,350

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "re-sale, size"

Cons: "difficult to get in and out, (both 75)"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"We are seniors and have trouble entrance and exit, bought the XLE and thought because it added several thousand dollars that it had every thing we wanted and were used to. The xle has nav, electric rear door, and moon roof. We found out too late that it did not include memory seats for the driver or electric seats for the passenger not a heated steering wheel. we are now finding visibility issues (blind spots) also. A fine SUV that does not suit our needs, and we find we don't use it for that reason...1350 miles in 3 months."

12 people out of 12 found this review helpful

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