What do you get when you have three rows of seats, cargo carrying ability, 28 mpg city/combined and all-wheel-drive? It’s the newly redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander with the fuel-efficient Hybrid powertrain. Highlander is completely redesigned for the 2014 model year and this week were testing the range-topping Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 with all-wheel-drive.
This 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 AWD ($49,790) comes equipped with the Platinum package (included) that features the Driver Technology package that includes Safety Connect with emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, pre-collision system with dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert and automatic high beam headlights. It also comes with a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, and heated second-row captains chairs.
What’s new for 2014?
The 2014 Highlander Hybrid enters a new generation and has been completely redesigned. Highlights include a larger, more upscale cabin, 28 mpg EPA combined fuel economy rating and a height-adjustable power liftgate with flip-up rear window.
Inside the Hybrid Limited Platinum model
This Limited Platinum comes loaded with all the creature comforts to keep mom and the kids happy. This tester comes with perforated leather front-and second-row upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, woodgrain trim, auto up/down rear windows, LED ambient cabin lighting, driver memory seat, puddle lamp mirrors, and a JBL 12-speaker sound system driven by the Entune Premium system.
The cabin is larger in the new Highlander and the front seats are comfortable and easy to get in and out of. They are powered on this model and can accommodate any size driver. Visibility is good for a vehicle this size and we found the standard backup camera a plus in the grocery store parking lot. All the warnings and sensors will keep the driver focused on the road even if the kids are causing distractions.
Families will like the second row sliding and reclining captains chairs that keep the kids far enough apart so they don’t squabble over sitting too close. There’s also a side table with two cupholders and depression for a smartphone. The third row is a big plus for larger families who need more seating for the kids. There are vents, cupholders and lights back there to make longer trips a breeze.
Powertrain and fuel mileage specs
Highlander Hybrid Limited is powered by a 231-hp gasoline 3.5-liter V6 engine and comes coupled to three electric motors for a total 280 horsepower. It comes mated to continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive for all-weather capability. The Hybrid model gets an EPA estimated 27/28/28 city/highway/combined fuel mileage. If you are worried about this technology, you don’t need to be. Toyota has perfected the hybrid powertrain and it’s very reliable.
On the road with the Hybrid Limited
If you will be driving this SUV in the city, it will make sense to look at the hybrid model with its 28 mpg city rating. If you will be primarily driving on the highway, you should look at the gas-only model that is thousands cheaper. In parking lots and in stop and go traffic, the hybrid will stay in EV mode close to 25 mph which is where the fuel savings comes from.
Where the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s shines is in its ability to transport the kids around to basketball practice in comfort. The cabin is quiet at highway speeds and the 280 hp is plenty powerful for city and highway driving. The suspension is compliant, and bumps and ruts in the road are absorbed with minimal notice on the inside. It’s a comfortable place for mom to spend time being the family chauffeur.
If you are looking for a capable family SUV with third row seating that gets good fuel mileage in the city, the redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a comfortable choice for families. The Limited Platinum model comes loaded with comforts to make life easier for mom and the kids. If you need all-weather capability, the AWD system will get you there safely. As a complete package, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a good choice for growing families.