Make us your home page

The Daily Drivers: 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

When Toyota introduced the Highlander in 2001, it was one of the first true "crossovers," and the midsize SUV has had a long and successful run. For 2014, the Highlander has been redesigned with a bolder look and higher-quality cabin. Our tester was the hybrid version, which gave us a case of sticker shock for a nonluxury family hauler.

Appearance: The new look is sleeker and more athletic. The Highlander gains a more macho black-slatted trapezoidal grille similar to the Tundra pickup's. The grille is trimmed with chrome, and a horizontal bar extends out on each side of the Toyota badge into the slender upswept headlights. Character lines sweep back along the body, which is accented by high wheel wells. Our tester's paint — Ooh La La Rouge Mica — is a rich burgundy color that really pops in the sunlight, along with the 19-inch Chromtec alloy wheels.

Performance: The Highlander has Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive System, which pairs a 3.5-liter V-6 with electric motors for a combined 280 horsepower. There is good low-end torque thanks to the electric system, so acceleration from a stop is outstanding for a vehicle of this size and weight. The hybrid model comes with standard all-wheel drive and a CVT gearbox. The Highlander hybrid mostly operates as a front-wheel driver, but the standard AWD kicks in if more traction is needed. We found that the CVT seems to hesitate under acceleration and the regenerative brakes can be a bit grabby. Otherwise, the driving experience is composed and comfortable. The Highlander Hybrid gets an estimated 28 mpg combined (27 city/28 highway), which is good for a heavy crossover.

Interior: Toyota has ditched some of the plastic found in previous Highlanders, and the cabin now has mostly soft-touch or textured materials, along with attractive wood-grain and silver-tone trim. The comfortable leather seats have nice contrast stitching. We love the cabin's family-friendly storage, including an armrest console large enough to store a purse, camera or tablet, and an in-dash gadget shelf with a pass-through for the power cord. The only nit here: Cup holders are on the passenger side of the shifter, which sometimes makes it difficult for the driver to grab the drink. Our tester's second row had captain's chairs with a pass-through lane in between for easy access to the third row. A tray table can be folded up when the lane is in use. Especially handy: The second row slides front and back, and the seat backs lean backward. The third row, as you might expect in a midsize SUV, is for kid-sized passengers. Both rows fold flat with a 60-40 configuration, but with all the seats up, there's barely enough room for a small grocery run. The Entune infotainment system has onscreen apps icons that are large and easy to use. The buttons flanking the 8-inch display also are large and intuitive, but we would have liked a nav/map button.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Trim: Chrome around the windows and roofline gives it a premium feel.

Moonroof: Huge and panoramic. Also, side window shades.

Color: Ooh La La Rouge Mica — silly name and sophisticated color.

Lyra Solochek

Cross-traffic alert: Good to have when you're backing out of a parking space.

Confident ride: Good low-end torque thanks to the hybrid system.

Storage space: Center console bin for bags and valuables, in-dash shelf for little things.

The bottom line: The Highlander has desirable features for families in an attractive package and should be among the top choices for a people mover. But, even with its good MPG, the hybrid will take more green to go green.

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD

Price: $47,300 base hybrid start, $50,880 as tested ($29,215 start for gasoline-engine model)

Powertrain: Hybrid Synergy Drive System with 3.5-liter V-6 DOHC 24-Valve with Variable Valve Timing with intelligence, CVT automatic transmission with sequential shift, Electronic On-Demand AWD system with intelligence

Horsepower: 280 net horsepower

Curb weight: 4,861 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 109.8

Length, 191.1

Width, 75.8

Height, 68.1

Seats: 7

Fuel economy:

27 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway

Safety features: ABS, EBD, BA, stability and traction control, airbags, blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, lane-departure alert, precollision system



The Daily Drivers: 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD 07/24/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2014 7:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]