Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toyota's New Highlander Has Plenty of Room

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Toyota's New Highlander Has Plenty of Room

Article excerpt

Three rows and the truth: 2014 Toyota Highlander vs. 2014 Nissan Rogue vs. 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe.

This week: Toyota Highlander XLE V6 AWD

Price: $38,703 (including some small options, like floor mats, cargo net and bumper applique)

Marketer's pitch: "For boring, we ain't got no room." Or for grammar. Or syntax.

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "refined interior appointments; quiet, compliant ride; stellar V6 with new six-speed transmission; seating for eight; fresh technology offerings" but not the "lackluster four-cylinder engine; feels bigger on the road than previous Highlanders."

Reality: Enough space for a load of Muppets. But how about Big Bird?

Even higher: The Highlander comes to the year 2014 with a new look after a redesign. It's more Toyota-like, a fat thing with angles and a big rear.

Up to speed: If you're in a hurry, the Highlander accelerates quickly for its category. The 3.5-liter V6 creates 270 horsepower and gets the vehicle up to highway speeds in what feels like no time.

On the road: Handling is just OK, like most crossovers. Unlike Edmunds' editors, I found the ride fairly bouncy.

Slick situation: Rain handling was actually a challenge. The Highlander wanted to hydroplane in normal drive mode during a moderate rainstorm; I actually switched it into snow mode to get better traction. I wondered how it would respond to the monsoons we can get.

Nice ride - for the driver, at least: The seats are inordinately comfortable. The driving position is nice and high, but only because I had the power seat that goes up and down. Like many crossovers and SUVs I've tested, the front-seat passenger will definitely not be afforded the same commanding view, as the nonpower seat is not quite as adjustable up and down.

Play some tunes: The stereo controls appear to be straight out of the Sienna, which is not a bad choice to copy from. Two knobs outside the LCD screen stand in the usual spots for volume and tuning.

But changing the source requires getting into the touch screen, and hitting the button twice if you're in map mode. External buttons also switch between navigation and audio, as well as other functions. …

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