Toyota Highlander

The 2014 Highlander is powered by one of three different drivetrains. Base models make due with a 2.7L 4-cylinder engine making 180 hp. In this guise, the Highlander is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway. The mid-level V6 displaces 3.5L and makes 270 hp, while the top of the line hybrid uses an electric motor in conjunction with a V6 to make 280 hp. The hybrid Highlander returns 27 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, extremely impressive numbers for a vehicle equipped with third-row seating. The Highlander comes standard in front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is an option for those who need it.

There are four trim levels offered on the 2014 Toyota Highlander: LE, LE Plus, XLE and Limited, which offers buyers plenty of options.

LE is the most basic trim, and is the only trim to feature the smaller 4-cylinder engine. However, it still comes loaded with 18-inch wheels, an Entune stereo with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a backup camera, Bluetooth streaming, heated mirrors, a couple of USB ports and third-row seating.

Stepping up to LE Plus adds a number of desirable items. Highlights include a height-adjustable power rear liftgate, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, satellite HD radio, 3-zone automatic climate control, fog lamps and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

The XLE trim includes a smart key and push button start, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, roof rails to help secure extra luggage, rear window shades, an 8-inch touch screen, Homelink, a navigation system and a moonroof.

The top spec Limited trim offers buyers 19-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, various parking aids and a blind spot monitor, perforated leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, and a powered passenger seat. The Limited Highlanders are also the only trim that can be equipped with the optional hybrid powertrain.

Options include a Technology package with radar-controlled cruise control, a Lane Departure system and automatically dimming high beams; as well as a Platinum package, which includes everything in the technology package along with a heated steering wheel, heated second row seats and a panoramic moonroof. A Rear Seat Entertainment system is also optional.

Safety is aided by anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control, as well as optional items like a blind-spot monitor. Of course, should an accident occur, the Highlander is equipped with eight airbags in order to minimize any possible damage to its occupants.

Model Year

Editors' First Take

Since its inception at the turn of the century, the Toyota Highlander has tucked several versions of a V6 gas engine under its hood. But change comes for everyone, even a mass-market brand as generally conservative as Toyota. Now, with a downsized engine and a much-needed tech upgrade, the 2023 Highlander is better positioned to remain a segment go-to.

Powertrain: Doing more with less

The Toyota Highlander remains available with an optional hybrid powertrain, but the biggest change this year belongs to the base gas version. The old 3.5-liter V6 has been sent off into the sunset, replaced with a smaller 2.4-liter turbocharged I4. Output is now pegged at 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, and while it's down 30 horsepower, torque is up by 47 pound-feet, and it's that kind of low-down grunt that makes an impact in daily driving more than top-end power ever will.

After a brief drive loop outside Nashville, that is my biggest takeaway. At no point in my drive am I thinking the Highlander's 2.4-liter is coming up short. It provides more than enough motive force when puttering around town, and while the sound profile is a little different than a naturally aspirated V6, it's not buzzy or annoying by any stretch. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and it's nice and inoffensive, firing off shifts without making a fuss about it.

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