Fully redesigned for 2014, the Highlander is improved inside and out to be family friendly.
As one of the oldest crossovers in the segment, the 2014 Toyota Highlander is often the benchmark against which others are compared. For 2014, the Highlander sees a huge amount of interior improvement for ergonomics and family friendliness as well as overall versatility.
The Highlander is a three-row crossover that retains a sport utility appearance for the exterior, softened by rounded crossover edges.
At its base level, the 2014 Highlander has 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a rearview camera, 60/40 split-row second and third-row seats and plenty of other amenities. Through its four trim levels, the 2014 Toyota Highlander adds options and technology, including 19-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, and more in the top-fit Limited trim level.
The 2014 Highlander rides well and has several kid-friendly features such as built-in rear window shades, a DVD player option and more.
Parents will appreciate the rear glass opening, which allows you to stow items in the back without opening the hatch. There’s also the easy fold-flat third row and other options. Storage cubbies and smartphone storage and plug-in options are also well-considered.
Two engine options for the 2014 Highlander are available, including a 2.7-liter four-cylinder (185 horsepower) and a 3.5-liter V6 (270 horsepower). Both utilize a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder engine is standard on the front-wheel drive Highlander. Fuel economy is 22 mpg combined in this engine.
The larger V6 is optional on all but the base level trim and standard on all-wheel drive models. The V6 also holds the best value retention for the Highlander at resale, and allows it to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
On the road, the 2014 Highlander is a smooth, easy drive, though maneuverability is cumbersome given the crossover’s size.
The base level Highlander LE has an impressive amount of technology, which includes automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth and a 6.1-inch center touch screen with six-speaker stereo. From there, other trim levels add on.
Satellite radio comes with the LE Plus package while keyless entry and ignition, a bigger driver information display, auto-dimming mirror, 110V outlet, an 8-inch center touchscreen, and smartphone app integration are added with the XLE trim. The Limited trim level adds ambient interior lighting, driver memory functions, blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and a 12-speaker JBL audio system.
The infotainment system in the 2014 Highlander, however, is still encumbered by the Toyota user interface with its clunky controls and somewhat confusing menu system. Satellite radio listeners, for example, will have trouble tuning to specific stations with less than half a dozen button presses.
The Highlander comes standard with many safety features and plenty of active and passive options. The Limited trim level has blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and an optional package adds forward collision warning and mitigation.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2014 Highlander a Good rating on its frontal-offset, side-impact, and roof-strength tests and an Acceptable rating on its small-overlap frontal-offset test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2014 Highlander its top overall score of five stars.
The Highlander is often pricier than rivals in its segment, but offsets this with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and higher value retention over time. Used car values for the Highlander are highest in its class, for example. Fuel economy is better than average with the larger V6 engine option. Some rivals, notably the Hyundai Santa Fe, are a bit more cost-conscious, however, and may be a better value for the buyer concerned primarily with dollars and cents.
Few will find fault with the 2014 Highlander, however, and it is a good buy for the majority of shoppers in need of a midsize crossover with people and cargo hauling capability.
The 2014 Toyota Highlander is a third-generation redesign of the crossover that began the midsize crossover market. It’s a top seller and top pick in the class and has many features that will appeal to buyers on many levels. In our opinion, the Highlander is one of the best on the ever-growing list of three-row crossovers.