2014 Toyota Highlander
By Gary Witzenburg
On Sale: Winter 2014
Expected Pricing: $29,000 to $44,000
An all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander was unveiled at the March 2013 New York International Auto Show. When it hits dealer showrooms in early 2014, this third-generation three-row crossover utility vehicle will have more passenger and cargo capacity than the 2013 model and an array of state-of-the-art technologies in a longer, lower, wider restyled body.
The new rear liftgate on the 2014 Highlander opens and closes at the touch of a button with driver selectable memory height settings. Visibility is improved with repositioned A-pillars (between the windshield and front side windows) and larger rear quarter glass. The cabin is expected to be quieter due to extensive noise, vibration and harshness countermeasures including an acoustic windshield, better body sealing, more insulation in the floor and strategic placement of the three hydraulic engine mounts.
The new interior will offer more room for seven or eight passengers, premium materials throughout and more standard comfort, convenience and technology features. All 2014 Highlander models will have a soft-touch instrument panel, a Multi-Information Display in the instrument cluster, silver-painted, satin, and chrome-plated accents and wood-grain trim on the front dash and doors. Available upgrades will include perforated leather-trim seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and ambient lighting.
The second row offers either a three-passenger bench or a pair of captain’s chairs with a collapsible tray and cup holders. The 40/60 second-row bench slides forward to provide nearly three more inches for easier access to the 40/60 split third-row, which now reclines and gets 4.3 inches additional width. Cargo space behind the third-row is also up by 34 percent.
Additional features available for the 2014 Highlander include Auto Cruise Control, Smart Key, automatic high beams, driver’s seat memory, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s seats and a heated steering wheel.
As before, the 2014 Toyota Highlander will offer a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Three powertrains will be available. The standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder will be teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The optional 3.5-liter V6 drives through a new 6-speed automatic that can be shifted manually to enhance driving control and enjoyment. Both engines have dual Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and a variable intake manifold for improved efficiency.
The third available powertrain is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which pairs the 3.5-liter V6 with a high-torque electric motor-generator for additional power and fuel efficiency.
Dynamic capability is enhanced through suspension improvements, electric power steering and available Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD), which automatically transfers up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels when accelerating or when sensors detect wheel slippage. The system uses information from various sensors (speed, steering angle and speed, throttle angle and yaw rate) to govern the amount of torque transfer, while a high-speed interactive management system coordinates its control with the Vehicle Stability Control and Electric Power Steering systems.
All 2014 Highlanders will come with Toyota’s Entune multimedia system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and voice recognition, while an Entune app suite with an eight-inch touchscreen and JBL speakers will be available. A Rear Seat Entertainment system with inputs at the rear of the center console will also be available.
In addition, the 2014 Highlander will come standard with a rearview camera, Hill-start Assist and Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System, Smart Stop Technology and eight airbags. Newly available safety and convenience features include rear parking sonar, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Pre-collision System.
Pricing has not been announced, but we are guessing it will be similar to that of the outgoing model, starting just under $30,000 and topping out in the low $40,000s.