Review: 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

Tuesday October 14th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Solid Power Team, Efficient Use of Space
Gripes: Vague Steering Feel, Ergonomic Cabin Issues

Get more, pay more. Toyota has dimensionally revised the 2014 version of its Highlander, widening it 4.5 inches, and adding 3 inches to its length. Although wheelbase remains as before, at 110 inches, interior space increases to the point that the third row bench seat will now accommodate three people rather than two. The foursome that occupy the first two rows of Captain’s Chairs enjoy indulgent splendor. Front row perforated leather seats are heated and ventilated, with the driver’s chair offering 8 way power adjustment, and the shotgun seat good for 4.

Both second and third row seats recline and fold for cargo use. Though the threesome hitching a ride in the back of this 4,852 pound bus will find their surroundings somewhat less palatial, the wide aisle between the second row Captain’s Chairs offers exceptionally easy access to those third row seats. If you choose the most expensive version of the Highlander – the all -wheel-drive Hybrid Limited that we tested – you will discover that its base price, like its size, has also swelled, from $46,370 in 2013 to $49,790 for the 2014 version.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

Of course, cherry picking the top model also yields dividends not found on lesser Highlanders. For example, Limited status provides a Platinum Package of goodies at no extra charge. This bevy of niceties adds heated, perforated leather second row Captain’s Chairs, plus technology upgrades like dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, and lane departure alert. But the most worthy addition of all is the cabin capping Panoramic Moon roof, with its power tilt and slide front section and fixed rear panel. This feature reinforces your sense of spatial freedom. All seating positions benefit from its extra light and expanded view.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

The Hybrid power train works in consort with a Constantly Variable Transmission to provide terrific thrust whenever you need it. The electric motor will power you through slow city driving, with the 3.5 liter V6 gas engine kicking in as needed. When you pin the accelerator to the floor, the two modes of propulsion combine for seamless acceleration. With 270hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, the Hybrid Highlander will crack the 7 second barrier in the 0-60mph run, and pull a trailer weighing 3,500 pounds. The cherry on top is the exceptional mileage this package records. By posting an overall consumption of 28 MPG, this Hybrid owns Consumer Report’s top SUV mileage figure.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

New for 2014 is a trapezoidal grill, re-contoured headlights, plus redesigned front and rear fascias. However, only Highlander devotees will recognize these mild alterations because this Toyota’s appearance is so understated and mainstream. If you seek a stylistic attention getter, than you’re looking at the wrong vehicle. Which is not to say that the Highlander is lacking in either grace or proportions. Its architecture is, in fact, classic Toyota: utilitarian, aerodynamically clean, and handsomely uncluttered. The Highlander’s elevated hind quarters impart a dynamic forward thrust to the overall rake of its dipping beltline. Massive five spoke “Chrometec” alloy wheels, shod with 245/55R19 Bridgestone Dueler HL tires, reinforce the Hybrid’s imperious Clydesdale stance.

Inside, you enjoy all the benefits of increased space. The wide dashboard contains an innovative parcel shelf that sensibly stores all those loose odds and ends that normally float around the cockpit. The door panel armrests utilize memory foam which is pleasingly compliant to the touch. A centrally located 8 inch color touch screen controls tuning functions for the standard JBL entertainment system. The screen, which also covers interior climate control duties, can be difficult to read in daylight driving. Although the center console features a handy roll top cover, its storage well is so deep that a built in source of illumination inside would be helpful. Also, the dual center mounted cup holders seem to be configured for Big Gulp containers at the expense of smaller cups which are free to slosh about disconcertingly. These minor transgressions are all the more surprising in view of the brilliant design of that center oddments shelf.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

If you are in the $50,000 SUV market, the newly upsized Hybrid Highlander should be on yours required reading list. It makes up for its lack of flash with a list of virtues long enough to outbid such competitors as the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

  • Engine: 3.5 liter DOHC V6 with VVT-I, plus Electric Motor
  • Horsepower: 270hp
  • Torque: 280lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 27 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $50,875
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

Tuesday May 24th, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2011_toyota_highlander_02_med
By contributing editor David Colman

Likes:

  • Spacious and airy
  • Flat storage area
  • 5,000 lb. tow rating

Dislikes:

  • Hit-or-miss remote tailgate release
  • Bug-eye styling
  • 270 hp not enough

The Toyota stylists who freshened the look of the Highlander for 2011 did not do its front fascia any favors. New headlight modules stand nearly 4 inches proud of the fender surface, imparting a frog-like visage to the SUV. The rear makeover is more successful than the front, but the revamped Highlander is never going to win any beauty contests. Inside, the redo is more beneficial. Three rows of seats are now standard in all models. The second and third rows flips flat by releasing seatback-mounted detents. The resultant flat load floor is a boon if you need to stow bulky items. Liftover height at the tailgate threshold is low enough to make insertion of ungainly objects like a bike easy. However, the tailgate key fob release only worked sporadically.

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Toyota |Tags:, , || 1 Comment »


Toyota Halts Sale of 8 Models

Wednesday January 27th, 2010 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: Derek

Toyota logo

Updated Jan. 28

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is telling dealers to suspend sales of eight models, and halting production of those models, after a recall to correct a problem that could cause the accelerator pedal to stick.

The Japanese automaker said the sales suspension includes the following models:

  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2009-2010 RAV4
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2010 Highlander

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Posted in Press and News, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , || 2 Comments »


CarReview's 2009-2010 Hybrid Buyer's Guide

Monday October 26th, 2009 at 7:1010 AM
Posted by: ggaillard

Honda CR-Z

By Greg Gaillard

Hybrids Come of Age

Just 10 years ago Honda released the Insight as the first US mass market hybrid combustion/electric car.  Its two seat aerodynamic teardrop shape, light weight and focused engineering delivered spectacular fuel economy that generated quite a bit of media attention.  In the real world however, the Insight represented significant compromises in terms of utility, performance and perceived safety.  Launched at the height of the SUV boom alongside inexpensive gasoline, sales weren’t significant and to many people the Insight was another Honda engineering experiment; a car that Honda’s Asimo robot might drive, but not something American families would put in their garage.

What a difference a decade makes.  Last week the EPA released its annual Fuel Economy Guide for 2010 and hybrids swept the podium with 9 out of the top 10 MPG scores.  At least in terms of EPA ratings, hybrids are the drivetrain technology of the moment.  Perhaps more important than MPG is how the technology has evolved into a variety of solutions that can be used across a range of body styles without many of the original Insight’s compromises.

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Posted in Chevrolet, Feature Articles, Ford, GMC, Honda, hybrid, Lexus, Mercury, Toyota |Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , || No Comments »




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