2014-2015 Toyota Highlander XLE 7 Seat Crossover Review

2014-2015 Toyota Highlander XLE 7 Seat Crossover Review

2014 three row highlander crossover and it’s now available in a eight passenger configuration very unfortunately tota was not able to get us an eight passenger example so we’re taking a look at the seven passenger xle trim here this is apparently going to be the vast majority of Highlanders sold in America configured right like the one we’re testing according to Toyota people found the old Highlander just a little bit boring and a little bit bland and not very aggressive so they’ve changed that for the 2014 model year with this much much larger grille opening you’ll also notice that

there’s no real defined front bumper in this vehicle in fact this total logo sticks out just about as far as this front bumper overall it is very aggressive but I’m not sure if I would call it attractive it has been warming up to me a little bit since I first saw it but I still find something just a little bit off about the front end styling however styling is very subjective and I always say that in my videos because there are people out there that find things that I find attractive quite ugly so let me know how you feel about the 2014 Highlander in the comments section down below one thing’s for sure is I have warmed up just a little bit to these headlamps and the overall bulging proportions on the Highlander I find them acceptable but not quite attractive here is another look at this massive

front and one thing I can say for sure is that this is definitely more aggressive and more dynamic than the outgoing Highlander in fact parked right next to the outgoing Highlander it really made me realize how bland the old Highlander was and there’s definitely not a whole lot bland about this 2014 model from the side profile you can notice a few things first off the Highlander has grown for the 2014 model year most of that goes to the rear seats it also has a decent amount of Jeep Grand Cherokee going on back here which I find very attractive and up front you can really see how

blunt that front end is one other thing about this back end before we move over to the back end is you can also see from this angle how relatively upright this rear hatchback is and that’s very good for cargo capacity because an awful lot of SUV is out there have drastically sloping profiles very much like the Lexus RX series that really hampers rear cargo area as well as rear seat legroom but while I’m talking about that you will notice that the Highlander does taper towards the rear and that have an impact on third row Headroom the Highlanders rear end reminded some people

during this week of a tow to Siena and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad overall I think it is fairly attractive these rear tail lamps do bulge out quite a bit from the body so that’s another thing that I’d like to get your input on so let me know in the comments section below how you feel about that we have a hidden exhaust tip right over here in our xle trim we also have a power tailgate hatch

with a backup camera no backup sensors in the xle model just the backup camera and one feature that I really do like is that there is still an available opening glass in the rear you won’t find this in the base model but the vast majority of your Highlanders on the dealer lot will have this separately opening glass window very handy in my mind they’re three different engine options in the Highlander first off we have a 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine it’s really available only in the base model of Highlander and it’s only with front-wheel drive produces 185 horsepower and 184 pound-

feet of torque you get 20 miles per gallon city and 25 on the highway with that 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine however in my driving short time with that engine we did get relatively good fuel economy better than the EPA estimates personally I think it’s a little bit of a pity that toad is not offering that engine in higher level trims or with all-wheel-drive these days that 2.7 liter engine now gets a six-speed automatic transmission which it didn’t get last year we also have a 3.5 liter v6 engine with that engine fuel economy drops in the front wheel drive trim down to 1925 the all-

wheel drive version goes down to 1824 and an arm mix driving here have been averaging about 20 miles per gallon at the top end of the Highlander there’s also a 3.5 liter v6 hybrid system it produces 280 horsepower and approximately 280 pound-feet of torque although Toyota hasn’t really said that’s basically the same engine that you’ll find in the Lexus gs450h hybrid however the

rest of the system is quite different the Highlander Hybrid is all-wheel-drive but it’s not a mechanical all-wheel-drive system so it’s really just a front-wheel drive transaxle style system like you’ll find in the Lexus es350 hybrid or the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Avalon hybrid and then they also add some additional motors in the rear nor the power the rear end of the vehicle that means that while the all-wheel drive 3.5 liter v6 version that’s not the hybrid of the Highlander can send half of its power to the rear axle the hybrid version can’t so is just a little bit less capable in the

snow or in mild off-roading situations Francie covered is slightly above average for the Highlander although it’s not quite as good as the current generation Honda Pilot or top-end trims of the Dodge Durango which I do find a bit more comfortable we have a two-way adjustable lumbar support here I wish we had a four-way adjustable lumbar support because it hits me kind of low in the

back we also have a power adjustable five cushion that extends the front of the seat cushion in or out for longer leg drivers we do have a tilt telescoping steering column with a decent range of motion as well the Highlander is available in an eight or a seven passenger configuration that eight passenger configuration is standard in most models including this xle that we’re in right now and the seven passenger option is a $225 option in the trim levels that it’s offered in limited in hybrid models etc our seven passenger only the rear accommodations in the Highlander are

obviously geared towards children as well as this second row because the second row has a decent amount more legroom than you’ll find in most middle of the pack three row crossovers it’s towards the larger end of the segment when you take a look at 3-row crossover us in general but the seat bottom cushion is a little bit close to the floor for my taste as you can see if I sit in a more upright position my legs are quite a bit off these seats that’s going to be a little bit less comfortable for adults but an awful lot more comfortable for children these seats do move forward and backward in their tracks to allow you to adjust how much legroom you get in the middle and how much legroom you get in the back and this middle seat also reclines a decent amount will slide this

forward so you can see how reclined the seat guess it’s the most reclined and then this is the most upright position moving over to the other side of the vehicle you can obviously see how much legroom is going on here this front seats all the way back in its track and I still have about three inches of legroom left behind there even with the highlander slightly sloping profile I still have several inches of headroom here and we are in the sunroof equipped model before we hop into the third row let’s talk about how the second row moves I already talked about its recline as well as

its slide forward function pulling this lever causes the rear seat back to fold forward and then you can slide the whole seat forward to get in the rear you can also pull this other lever which is marked with the number two and then the rear seat back folds forward so that you can get a flat load floor but you can also move that forward if you’d prefer to try and clamber Oh for the seat that way hopping back here in the third row of the Highlander it’s obvious that the Highlander is a very middle-of-the-pack SUV and by that I mean it’s not on the large end of the mid-sized SUV

segment that’s not on the small end either so you won’t find as much room as you’d find in the very bread van looking forward flex or even the Explorer or something like that Honda Pilot but you will find more room back here than in the smaller entries in the segment like a Dodge Journey or a Kia Sorento on the right side you can see that the seat bottom cushion is very low to the floor so

my knees are definitely in a very upright position here my head is also touching the ceiling it’s not my hair that’s brushing the ceiling it’s actually my head if I sit upright in the seat and the rear headrest is kind of hitting me in the small of the back it’s really because these seats are designed for children or your mother-in-law we do have three across seating which is what has allowed the eight passenger seating in the Highlander this year and toda has made that change because of some new suspension designs which have pushed the wheels further outboard in the car it’s definitely wider than in the last generation of Highlander the middle seat in the third row is a little bit more comfortable because I can stretch out my legs right down there between the two captains chairs in

the Highlander but if I were to move over to this right seat then there is a lot less legroom going on right here in the Highlander the front seat is adjusted for me at six feet tall the second row is adjusted for me at six feet tall and this third row my knees are really digging into the seat back I couldn’t really do this for an extended period of time still as far as emergency back seats go this one isn’t half bad I’m six feet tall and I could do this for a while if I had to I could probably accommodate two other adults in this rear bench seat as long as we knew each other and no one got too

handsy back here let’s take a look around the interior up front we have height adjustable seatbelts for the driver and the front passenger we’re in the xle trim with leather so we have this contrasting stitching that is keyed with this contrasting trim right there on the doors the doors have a majority of soft touch plastic so there are a few hard touch points which you would expect in

this price category we have an injection molded and then after stitched dashboard so that’s what’s going on right here if you take a closer look this is an injection molded dashboard and then they just run along it with a sewing machine to give it the stitched effect it is a soft touch dashboard and it is quite attractive that stitching continues all the way across the dashboard over to the driver’s side this trim is a metallic effect trim it’s not actually metal and then right down here we have a soft touch cubby it’s divided right there so there’s a portion over there under the passenger airbag

and then one right over here under the climate controls where you can store your goodies like your cell phone or your cell phone cables wallet etc it’s padded to help keep things from jingling and there is a little pass-through right here that you can barely see so that way you can put your cables through to the USB ports that are lower in the dashboard very prominent in the highlighter is the infotainment system we have a standard 6.1 inch color touchscreen that’s not this touchscreen but you will find it in the base model of the highlander in xle and above you get this 8 inch color

touch screen with navigation built-in as well if you want to know more about the infotainment system then go ahead and click that link at the bottom of your screen down here we have our tri-zone climate control in our xle model that’s driver passenger and the rear compartment right there working our way down is where we’ll find our traction control off snow button hill descent control as

well as the lock feature for the all-wheel-drive system this is quite unique in this segment because it allows you to lock that clutch pack in the all wheel drive system for better winter traction moving further back we have two large cupholders easily capable accepting large drinks heated seats right over here in our xle model we have something novel in this center console it’s a dual sliding arrangement so these are very much like those roller tops that you’ll find in other cars except instead of having plastic ribs across the top which is not very comfy for the arm toyota puts this

soft touch plastic on top which is very comfortable it opens to reveal a very large center console right here we were able to put to gallows of milk in the center console so it is very very large it also has a power port right there and has a divider that you can install in an upright position although I do find this more attractive and more comfortable than a true roller top it’s not quite as handy as a top that actually opened over here if you have the top that was hinged on the back and then opened from a lever on the front you would have a problem of where to put this enormous cover but

this portion is not as soft as this portion so it did offend my elbow just a little bit while driving all highlander models get this very typical four dial instrument cluster arrangement with an LCD in the middle that LCD would be color only in the upper level trims of the highlander it’s not going to be color in the base model this does give you a little bit of information trip can information all-wheel-drive information etc it’s not quite as fully featured as these systems in certain other models navigation tab will give you a compass or turn-by-turn directions depending on what you’re

doing we have an information tab over there for music and then we have warning messages from the vehicle to you moving out to the steering wheel we have this injection molded airbag cover this is a little bit different than the dashboard because these stitch marks are injected into this plastic they’re not stitched afterwards with a soft leather wrap steering wheel in our xle trim these

buttons right over here control the radio we have our phone buttons right there and our voice command button then over here these buttons control that multi-information LCD between the

tachometer and the speedometer and you’ll find your cruise controls on a stock right there over to the left of the steering wheel we have a decent number of blanks in our xle model and that’s because we did not have all the options in this vehicle that are available indeed most vehicles out there on the dealer lot will have a decent number of blanks that just seems to remind me that I

didn’t pay for every option available with the power tailgate hatch right there and then we have a windshield wiper defroster here this is of handy feature it’s not like what you’ll find in the Jaguar or Land Rover product line where they actually install a heating grid in the entire windscreen this really is just a defroster grid that’s below the windshield below the visible portion of the windshield right where the windshield wiper sparks that way when the windshield wipers are parked they’ll sit there and defrost rather than just collecting ice the second row in the highlander

looks very much like the front we don’t have the height adjustable seat belts there our model has the optional captains chairs each captain’s chair gets its own adjustable armrests we have the three zone climate controls right there in the rear along with video inputs and a 110 volt power inverter the video inputs are for this optional rear seat entertainment system that’s integrated right into the ceiling there because we are in the 7 passenger version of the Highlander we get this folding tray and dual cup holder arrangement in the rear I don’t find this quite as handy as the center

console that you’ll find in most seven-passenger crossover the other thing that I’d like to point out is right here because this is the rear seat mat for the third row seats right back there as you can see it does not extend to this area between the two captains chairs or this mat right up here and this isn’t exactly your standard carpet arrangement either it’s somewhere between a regular vehicle

carpet and a trunk liner and this kind of material gets pilly easily so if kids walk on this from the third row into the second row across the middle here that’s going to tend to we’re a little bit more than you’ll find in some of the competition the Highlander continues to be a midsize crossover as well as very middle of the pack in terms of overall dimensions that means the rear cargo area is going to be smaller than something like a Honda Pilot or a traverse order an go something on the larger end of this segment but it’s going to be larger than something like a Kia Sorento which is on

the very small end of this 3-row crossover segment this is a roller bag this is the largest bag you can carry on a domestic flight as you can see you can fit it very easily there behind this third row seat if it’s upright this third row seat is in its most reclined position for comparison it still squeezed one right in there barely and close the rear hatch there is additional storage space below the load floor under this hatch which is easily removable completely from the vehicle if you so desire this is where you’ll find your jack as well as additional tools for the vehicle there is a spare tire available

as well it’s underneath the vehicle and it’s accessible via a little knob right there and that’s how you lower it so that you can actually change your tire if you need to overall a Highlander score is seven out of ten points in our exclusive truck come for index this isn’t quite as large as some of the other entries but it does have a nice middle-of-the-road feel we also have a very nice handle right here on the hatch to help you close this hatch or the powered hatch option out on the road the first thing you’ll notice is the improved rear suspension that rear suspension wasn’t improved just for

dynamic reasons but it was also improved for rear seat accommodations because we now have three across the seat in the back of the Highlander they needed to make that suspension more compact in addition to making the vehicle wider in order to do that they move to a double wishbone rear suspension which as we know is used in a lot of luxury vehicles that rear suspension really makes the highlander one of the better handling and better feeling vehicles out on the road which is a little bit of a change because that wasn’t said of the 2013 highlander and that means that this

new 2014 highlander can really be compared more directly to something like a mazda cx9 or even a Acura MDX in terms of feel out on the road and kind of an interesting and unexpected twist – edited more than just replaced that rear suspension with a double wishbone setup they also went around and firmed up the springs on all four corners of the highlander meaning this has a more

em ride then the 2013 model is also firmer than you’ll find in something like a Honda Pilot or even base versions of the dodge durango now the tires still aren’t as performance oriented as you’ll find on certain versions of the dodge durango or the acura mdx so road-holding isn’t in terms of absolute numbers as good as some of those sporty or competitors most notably things like again the Dodge Durango or the Ford Explorer Sport but definitely holds it own and it definitely raises the highlander from a solid middle-of-the-pack entry to an upper-middle of the packed entry other

things that raised this from a middle-of-the-pack entry to the top end of the segment are sound noise because we scored 68 decibels in our cabin noise test at 50 miles an hour which is among the quieter entries in this segment and is actually very competitive with something like again an acura mdx performance improves across the board for 2014 with the four-cylinder model improving 0 to 60 by about 1/2 second and about 1/10 of a second in this v6 model 0 to 60 and 7.35 seconds according to our tests why exactly performance improved in the v6 model we can’t be sure because

not a whole lot changed in the drivetrain but the forest cylinder models improvements are all down to that new 6-speed automatic transmission last year it used a 5-speed automatic my takeaway from this is that even though tota has decided to relegate that four-cylinder engine to the base model Highlander only it is still a reasonable model performance is definitely acceptable out on the

road even with the Highlander stuffed with a bunch of journalists we never really had a problem with the 0 to 60 time in that four-cylinder model I really wish that tota would introduce that four-cylinder model into some of the higher level trim so you can get the economy with the feature set tota does say that fuel economy doesn’t change that much between the 4 cylinder and the v6 but in our tests that 4 cylinder model was getting about 20% better fuel economy than this v6 when averaging about 20 point 5 miles per gallon in mix driving with this 2014 v6 Highlander keep in mind

that we do have the all-wheel drive here Toyota has rated the Highlander for 5,000 pounds of towing when properly equipped we haven’t had a chance to verify that because our Highlander is not properly equipped that’s about the same as pretty much every other entry in the front wheel drive crossover segment however the Dodge Durango which is a rear-wheel drive crossover and in this same three row will tow up to 7500 pounds when properly equipped the Dodge Durango Hauer is kind of a different beast because it’s a very different kind of crossover vehicle it’s it’s a crossover

with a v8 engine or a v6 engine rear-wheel drive with a standard truck transmission jammed up front rear-wheel drive by default all-wheel drive optionally whereas every other entry in this segment is front-wheel drive by default and all-wheel drive by option and of course it’s also the only v8 option in this segment as you can’t get a v8 engine in any other front-wheel drive crossover out there Volvo has dropped theirs in the xc90 so everything else is a 4 cylinder or a v6 I might also add that we’re starting to see more four-cylinder focus in this 3-row crossover segment because

Ford is really pushing their turbo 4 cylinders very heavily we’re now seeing a new hybrid from Nissan in the Pathfinder speaking of the Pathfinder the Pathfinder is not really as good for towing as any of these other entries in the crossover segment because of its CVT that CVT just doesn’t have a very low ratio so toeing in that Pathfinder is a little bit unusual compared to the rest of the

entries in this segment in terms of driving dynamics the Highlander now scores in the upper end of the segment thinks that revised rear suspension is just a hint of steering feedback the Dodge

Durango is still far and away the best entering this segment with a perfect 50/50 weight balance even when equipped with that v8 rear wheel drive bias etc however again it’s not quite the same kind of vehicle as the Highlander so when you compare the Highlander to more direct competition like a Mazda cx-9 the Highlander truly holds its own now when it didn’t in 2013 cx-9 has a number of compromises however it’s a decent amount smaller in the back thanks to that sloping rear roofline so rear people in the third row as well as cargo it’s just more limiting in that cx-9 than

this highlander versus the pilot the Highlander is much more dynamic out on the road but the pilot is bigger so there’s more room in the back for passengers as well as cargo in that Honda it’s just not going to be as nice to drive well I might not have directly compared General Motors lammed a series of SUVs and that would be the Traverse the Acadia and the Enclave to the Highlander in

2013 now that we have an eighth row option in the Highlander they’re definitely valid comparisons General Motors lambda triplets are pretty heavy they’re about 5,000 pounds or so with all-

wheel-drive in the v6 and they feel much heavier out on the road Highlander feels an awful lot more nimble pressing for the Highlander is a little bit of a mixed bag the vast majority of

Highlanders are going to compete directly with those other mid-sized mass-market crossover vehicles but the hybrid version of the Highlander is quite a different beast it’s going to compete more at the premium entries in this segment like the Jeep Grand Cherokee etc as such the base model of the Highlander starts out of the very reasonable twenty nine thousand two hundred fifteen dollars that’s an eight passenger version with the four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive our xle model which is expected to cover the large portion of the highlander sales in america is between

thirty eight thousand seven hundred fifty five dollars and about forty thousand dollars for this version right here that’s because we have the rear seat entertainment system as well as all-wheel drive in our model almost all the comparison questions i received on the 2014 highlander first video were related to the honda pilot and that’s probably very natural since there’s now an eight

passenger version of the highlander in that comparison this is between one and two thousand dollars more expensive than a comparable honda pilot however there are features on the highlander

that you won’t find on a pilot so when you adjust for that feature content the difference drops between around $1,800 depending on exactly how you configure it if you’d like more detailed pricing information as well as detailed pricing comparisons it’s probably best that you hop on over to our friends at true delta calm rather than taking up too much time in these videos talking about direct

competitors needless to say the highlander is very middle-of-the-road in most aspects including pricing so this is going to be cheaper than some of those more expensive more premium options like the jeep grand cherokee or like high-end trims of the dodge durango but it is going to be a little bit more expensive than certain value entries like a kia sorento the 2014 highlander is without a doubt the best highlander tota has ever made one thing to keep in mind about Toto’s models they tend to be very mainstream models that’s very true about this toyota highlander so there’s nothing

about this highlander that is class excelling in terms of dimensions or in terms of fuel economy or in terms of power output etc what it does instead is it handles that middle-of-the-road that average shopper very very well it of course delivers impeccable reliability as you’d expect from toda but it also delivers all the basic features and comforts that the average shopper would be

interested in if you’re not the average shopper and you are after the pinnacle and fuel economy or the best in power output or the most advanced all-wheel drive system then that’s going to live somewhere else but it’s also going to lie somewhere else at an additional cost versus this Toyota Highlander the 8-passenger Highlanders competition is truly limited to just the Honda Pilot or General Motors lambda series of SUVs in that comparison the Highlander definitely doesn’t have as

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