Toyota unveiled the latest Highlander at the New York auto show as a 2014 model. It’s a major make over emphasizing passenger-car virtues such as comfort, quiet operation, and a smooth ride. And like the generation-two Highlander, The 2014 Toyota Highlander is redesigned for eight passengers, as three-row seats are now a mid-size-SUV must.
From the front fenders to the rear quarter panels, boldly stands out with sculptured wheel wells at the corners, allowing for prominently protruding wheels. The total package is capped off by a newly designed rear lift-gate with one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings, and taillights and bumper that exude style and strength.
Highlander’s body structure will include high-strength steel in the front pillars for increased rigidity. Visibility has been improved through precise repositioning of the front A-pillars, while the size of the rear quarter glass has been increased to provide a wider view for driver and occupants.
The Highlander’s interior as quieter than ever. Acoustic glass is used for the windshield and (optional) panoramic moonroof, and insulation has been added to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). Toyota also modernized the Highlander’s interior. The hard plastic dashboard has been redesigned with soft-touch materials, a standard 6.1-inch touch screen (an 8-inch touch screen with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is optional), and silver, satin, chrome, or wood trim. The center console has also been redesigned to fit a large handbag with the cover rolled back.
Other interior changes includes an extra 4.3 inches of width in the third row, along with a standard recline function. Combined with the second-row bench seat, it allows the 2014 Highlander to seat eight. The extra width in back also helps boost cargo space behind the third row by up to 34 percent, says Toyota.
The new Highlander will be available in three powertrains. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is equipped with a variable intake manifold and dual Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls phasing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts to optimize torque and fuel efficiency. The 2.7-liter engine is teamed with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
A 3.5-liter V6 is also equipped with dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. Acceleration and fuel efficiency are improved thanks to a new six-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) that offers selectable manual sequential shifting.
2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
As with the current Highlander, the hybrid system works through a continuously variable transmission. The Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system pairs the 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for additional power and fuel efficiency.
All 2014 Highlander’s will have eight standard airbags. Like every Toyota, Highlander will feature the standard Star Safety System™, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. All Highlander’s will also come equipped with a standard backup camera and Hill-start Assist Control. All AWD models will have an AWD LOCK switch.
New available safety and convenience features include rear parking sonar, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Pre-collision System.
2014 Toyota Highlander Price and Release Date
The 2014 Toyota Highlander goes on sale early next year. Pricing has not been announced, but given the competitive nature of this class, don’t expect it to stray far north of its current base price of $28,870.