2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD SUV Review by Stu Wright

    The week before last I received for testing, a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, a Limited top-of-the-line unit that carried an M.S.R.P. of $50,875.00, including freight.  The Limited hybrid’s base price of $49,790.00 had, as an option, a set of carpeted floor and cargo mats ($225.00).  It was what was called the Platinum Package edition, and that meant inclusion of a technology package, a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, and heated perforated leather second-row captain’s chairs.  The extra technology equipment included radar adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beam headlamps, and pre-collision warning.    

For 2014, Toyota’s Highlander has been updated for the first time since 2008, and  is now in its third generation form.  It is a car-based mid-sized SUV with seven-passenger, three row seating.  Sales of the Highlander (127,572 in 2013) places its sales right in the middle of the Toyota SUV lineup.

Limited model items on my test car included power lift gate with glass hatch, 19” five-spoke polished alloy wheels, anodized roof rails, three zone climate control, JBL/Entune navigation with 8” screen, perforated black leather seats, pushbutton starter, proximity keyless entry, tilt/telescope, heated and air conditioned front bucket seats, backup camera, and nice Optitron instrumentation with hybrid energy monitor display.

Styling, with the 2014 revision, is top notch, and that includes the impressive grill.  Top notch, as well, is the opulent-looking Predawn Mica gray paint, “Limited” badging, “Hybrid” badging, and Chromtec finish on the five spoke wheels.  The tires mounted on the alloys were 245/55R19 Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422  mud and snow radials.

Power for the on-demand, all-wheel drive Highlander Hybrid is supplied by a 3.5 liter hybrid V-6 with 280 hybrid-system net horsepower.  The transmission is a continuously variable automatic with sequential shift mode.  A unitized body is employed and four-wheel independent suspension and disc brakes are, as well.  EPA fuel economy ratings are 28-city and 27-highway, with a combined rating of 28.  Those figures come in about 35% better than the conventional Highlander without hybrid technology that is sold by Toyota.  Weight is 4,861 lbs., towing capacity is 3,500 lbs. and the fuel tank holds 17.2 gallons.  Overall length is 191.1”, 3” longer than a 2013, and cargo volume behind the third-row seat is 13.8 cubic feet, another improvement over the 2013 Highlander.  Folding seats down can result in increased capacity of 42.3 cubic feet (one row down) or 83.2 cubic feet (two rows down).

I enjoyed the styling, interior comfort, visibility, road noise (or lack of), and guidance of the hybrid Highlander.  The ride was satisfactory, and I feel that this year’s Highlander with hybrid technology makes a nice family hauler and/or travel vehicle with satisfactory fuel economy.

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