Highlander is all-new for the 2014 model year and it gets a complete redesign. This week we are testing the top of the lineup 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited with the Platinum Package, V6 engine and AWD. This unit comes loaded with all the goodies to make it a seven-passenger luxury family hauler.
What’s new for 2014?
Highlander is completely redesigned for the 2014 model year. Outside, it’s longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model. And inside it also gets a new redesign. Most suspension components have been notably updated for the 2014 model year also. Highlander’s updated cabin sees a new “layered” dash, and a larger cargo capacity over the outgoing model.
Inside, the Highlander Limited Platinum is luxurious and comes with seating for seven, heated/cooled leather front seats, second-row captains chairs, wood-grain trim and back-up camera. The upgraded Platinum package includes a full panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel and heated leather middle row captains chairs. Platinum also comes with a tech safety package with a plethora of safety features such as blind-spot warning, rear park assist, lane departure warning and dynamic radar cruise control with collision mitigation braking.
This Highlander Limited Platinum tester also came with LED ambient cabin lighting, smoked chrome headlight trim, driver memory, puddle lamp mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels and a JBL 12-speaker sound system driven by the Entune Premium system.
Luxurious and comfortable inside
Highlander’s cabin is assembled with all the right materials to make it attractive and comfortable. The front seats proved comfortable and easy to get in and out of. This driver’s more spirited driving surpassed the limits of lateral support but overall the seats offer good support. The Highlander’s A-pillars are thinner and more raked and forward visibility is improved. We could see the road well even though this is a big SUV.
Second-row seats in the Limited Platinum come with sliding and reclining captain’s chairs and what is called a “side table”, which is essentially two cupholders and a depression for a smartphone. I took two large guys to lunch and they sat in back to give a good idea of their impression. They had plenty of legroom and said the chairs were comfortable during the long trip up north to the restaurant. I did feel like a chauffeur, but the “boys” enjoyed being driven around.
For families looking for cargo room, thinner seatbacks, a new dash and longer exterior have added six inches to the cargo floor behind the third-row seats. Third-row seats are wider and have three seating positions, but are for kids-only or for small adult use.
Highlander on the road
Out on the road, Highlander is easy to drive, and feels much more like a car than a big SUV. This tester came powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that Toyota uses in many of their cars. Its 270 horsepower was more than enough to power us down the highway loaded with four adults. We maneuvered through traffic without much effort and the ride was smooth and quiet.
Highlander’s steering required a bit more effort, but gives more feedback and has a smooth, go-where-you-point it feel. The updated suspension feels a bit tighter and absorbed the bumps on the dirt road leading up to my house. Highlander is generally nicer to drive and will appeal to those looking for a comfortable car-like ride. Fully loaded with four adults, it was a compliant and smooth ride even through a construction zone with rough pavement.
Highlander badges call this an all-wheel drive, and should be considered a good all-weather vehicle and not something you would use for serious off-road use. It will get you to the trailhead to go hiking or mountain biking, but not for off-road use. With the V6 towing package, a Highlander is rated to tow 5000 pounds. A six-speed automatic transmission is mated to the V6 and helps get decent fuel economy but don’t expect car-like mileage from a two-plus-ton SUV. EPA fuel mileage ratings are 18/24 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive.
The all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander Platinum V6 AWD model is the top model and it is as luxurious as you will find in this segment. The new model offers better fuel economy, more features and more seats than the outgoing model. For the family looking for a bit more luxury out of their SUV, the Platinum model won’t disappoint. And as a family hauler, Highlander has seating for seven and enough cargo room to transport kids and sports equipment in comfort.