Toyota debuted the all-new third generation of its Highlander SUV for model-year 2014. The automaker said the all-new vehicle features a totally new exterior design, a refined interior with advanced technologies, including Toyota’s Entune connected multimedia system, a new six-speed automatic transmission on V-6 models, available all-wheel drive, and new safety features, such as an available blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
You can click any of the photos in this article to view additional images of the all-new Highlander.
The all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander are assembled at Toyota’s plant in Princeton, Ind., and it will go on sale in dealer showrooms in early 2014.
Toyota offers three powertrains for the 2014 Highlander, a 2.7L four-cylinder engine with dual variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i), a 3.5L V-6, also equipped with VVT-I, and the automaker’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is paired with the 3.5L V-6. Toyota hasn’t yet revealed performance specs of projected fuel-economy numbers, but Automotive Fleet will post that information when the automaker releases it.
For an enhanced driving experience, Toyota said the all-new Highlander features the automaker’s Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. This system automatically shifts from front-wheel drive (FWD) to an all-wheel drive mode when the driver accelerates or when sensors in the vehicle detect slippage. The Dynamic Torque Control aspect of the system constantly monitors and adjusts the torque distribution between front and rear of the vehicle, from 100:0 to 50:50, where 100:0 means FWD mode, the standard mode used under normal driving conditions. Other driving enhancement features include Vehicle Stability Control and Electric Power Steering.
The outside of the all-new Highlander features improved aerodynamics, a lowered roofline, and sculptured side-door panels. The redesigned grille is trapezoidal in shape, and wraparound headlamps and chiseled fenders lend the vehicle a more aggressive appearance up front.
In the back, Toyota said it redesigned the rear lift-gate and it features one-touch power open-close and driver selectable height settings that the vehicle remembers.
The automaker said it improved visibility in the vehicle by repositioning the A-pillars and increasing the size of the rear quarter glass.
Inside the Highlander, the all-new vehicle features a premium interior with added room for up to eight people. Most models in the Highlander lineup feature contrasting seat stitching, and all models come with a soft-touch instrument panel and silver-painted, satin, and chrome-plated trim accents. The front dash and door trim feature woodgrain-pattern trim. For the seats, premium fabric is standard and perforated leather is available. The automaker also offers a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a knit roof lining, and available second-row sunshades.
For the second row, seating options include a second-row bench seat or two captain’s chairs that come with a collapsible tray with cup holders. The second row seats feature a one-step sliding seat function that gives passengers extra room to access the third-row seat. The third row features 4.3 inches of extra room, a standard reclining function, and space for up to three passengers. Toyota said it increased rear cargo space behind the third row seat by up to 34%.
For storage, a new roll-top center console box with a sliding door acts as an armrest and is large enough to fit a large handbag.
The instrument panel is a new Multi Information Display, and ambient lighting around the front dash and doors is available.
Interior convenience features available include an automatic high beam system, auto cruise control, a smart key, a memory function for the driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, and a heated steering wheel.
Toyota also said it minimized noise and vibration by expanding the coverage of the dash silencer, enhancing the vehicle’s body sealing, and strategically placing three hydraulic engine mounts.
All Highlander models offer either the Display Audio System, which features a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and voice recognition as standard features, or an available 8-inch touchscreen system and the automaker’s Entune multimedia system with 12 JBL speakers. Another optional feature is a rear-seat entertainment system.
When it comes to safety, the all-new 2014 Highlander features a mix of the automaker’s standard features and advanced available new technologies. The Highlander comes equipped with eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which comes with Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology. A rear-view backup camera is standard on the Highlander, as is Hill-start Assist. All AWD Highlander models come with an AWD LOCK switch.
New advanced safety features available on the Highlander include rear parking sonar, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, a lane departure alert system, and a pre-collision system.