The redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander bows in New York. The Japanese brand’s 3-row crossover gets a major styling overhaul, a new interior, and new features.
Company officials say the revamped highlander has 30 percent more sound-deadening material, making the cabin quieter and less prone to vibration and harshness.
Highlander will seat up to 8 passengers, making it one of only three midsize crossovers to do so (the others are twins Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia and the Honda Pilot). Buyers will have the option of selecting a bench seat for the 2nd row or two-place captain’s chairs with a collapsible center storage tray. The cabin is 4.3 inches wider, allowing for more shoulder space and easier access to the 3rd row.
Available drivetrains don’t change much. Entry-level models with front-wheel drive will offer a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The volume 3.5-liter V6 returns, but for 2014 it teams with a 6-speed automatic (replacing the previous 5-speed). This engine is available on models with front- or all-wheel drive. Toyota will continue to offer a gas/electric hybrid model with standard all-wheel drive as well. It pairs a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor and is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic.
Among the available luxury, convenience, and safety features are heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row captain’s chairs, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, rear-obstacle detection, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and pre-collision braking.
The 2014 Toyota Highlander goes on sale in early-calendar 2014.
CG Say: The Highlander was in pretty desperate need of an update in order to bring its convenience and safety features more in line with other 3-row, 7- and 8-passenger crossovers. It hits the mark in these areas, and the revamped interior looks great, much more like Toyotas of days gone by. Unfortunately, the exterior styling, while bold for the company, looks a bit too much like the Subaru Tribeca, a vehicle few would consider attractive. Hopefully, there will be some additional refinement before full production commences.