Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Business

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.









     
                   
Comments
A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

TAMPA — Publix shoppers in South Tampa who hate circling the lot for parking can now toss their keys to a valet.The Publix at Dale Mabry and Neptune started testing a free valet service last week that could expand to more stores. Spokesman Brian West...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

Sign to report employees not speaking English at doughnut shop creates a stir

A sign asking customers at a Dunkin’ Donuts store in Baltimore to report employees who were heard not speaking English has set off a controversy.The sign, according tothe Baltimore Sun, would offer coupons to customers who reported workers at a dough...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida Bankers Association recognizes Bill Klich with award

Florida Bankers Association recognizes Bill Klich with award

Former Tampa Bay banking executive Bill Klich was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Bankers Association last week at an annual meeting in Palm Coast.Klich, 73, has a strong reputation with more than four decades of commercial ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jeff Vinik-backed construction material firm headed to Port Tampa Bay

Jeff Vinik-backed construction material firm headed to Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA — With $3 billion in construction on the boards, Water Street Tampa will need a lot of concrete, so a company whose largest investor is Jeff Vinik is moving to Port Tampa Bay to begin importing fly ash, a component of concrete.Spartan Materials...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Drugs at your doorstep: CVS will deliver prescriptions to your home

Drugs at your doorstep: CVS will deliver prescriptions to your home

CVS Health will make prescription deliveries nationwide to accommodate the heightened expectations of convenience from consumers. The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain says it also will make home deliveries of other items, like allergy medicine...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Tech Data sending a record 700 employees to march in Pride Parade

Among the marching bands and twirlers at Saturday’s St. Pete Pride Parade, one major sponsor, Tech Data, is sending by far a record number of employees — more than 700 at last count — to march in Florida’s largest gay pride parade.The parade, which d...
Updated: 6 hours ago
St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

St. Petersburg residents will see higher water, sanitation bills

ST. PETERSBURG — Residents can expect their water and sanitation bills to increase between $7 and $11 starting in October.That represents an average of a 7-percent increase. Customers who use an average of 4,000 gallons a month, including reclaimed w...
Published: 06/19/18
Spectrum’s new service will eventually increase the cost for TV

Spectrum’s new service will eventually increase the cost for TV

Spectrum’s new all-digital service is set to bring more high definition, faster internet speeds and expanded on-demand offerings — but it also comes with higher costs for some of its TV customers in Tampa Bay. Each TV that receives service from Spect...
Published: 06/19/18
Medical manufacturer to add 116 jobs in Pasco County expansion

Medical manufacturer to add 116 jobs in Pasco County expansion

NEW PORT RICHEY — TouchPoint Medical, an engineering and manufacturer of high-tech hospital equipment, plans to put its global headquarters into a 125,000-square-foot industrial and corporate office building in Pasco County.Tuesday morning, county co...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pasco Business Digest for June 22

Pasco Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITALS RECEIVE AWARD: Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point and Medical Center of Trinity were recipients of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals t...
Updated: 9 hours ago