With little new under the hood of the 2014 Highlander, Toyota is hoping you won’t notice with a bold, muscular redesign.
Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, there’s a big new grille that flows into some pointy headlights with slab sides and large, blocky flared fenders. A set of 18-inch wheels are standard while 19s can be had as an option.
As for the engines, as mentioned, what’s old is new. A base 2.7-liter 4-cylinder is standard while the 3.5-liter V6 remains as an upgrade. That engine now also gains a six-speed automatic transmission, a much-needed upgrade from the old 5-speed unit. No fuel economy numbers have been provided, though the extra gear should help improve at least a mile per gallon or two on the highway.
Also aiding in the fuel economy war is a new Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive system. Previous Highlanders were available only as either front-drive of full-time 4WD. This new option does offer an all-wheel drive lock function at the push of a button, and can transfer power up to 50/50 front-to-rear. When not required, it will revert to 100 percent front-drive for maximum efficiency.
Toyota also promises this system, along with an improved suspension and steering settings, will deliver improved driving dynamics.
For those who demand the most out of every tank of gas there’s also the Highlander Hybrid, which returns for 2014.
Looking larger than before, the eyes do not deceive with an extra three inches end-to-end, while the 2014 Highlander’s waistline grows by half an inch. Thanks to the space, cargo room in the rear is now up 34 percent while the third row is 4.3-inches wider, making it a more livable space. Access to that rear bench seat has also been made easier with a one step sliding and folding second row seat allowing for three extra inches of ingress and egress space.
Standard equipment on all new Highlanders is a back-up camera and Hill-start Assist Control as well as the Toyota Entune system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth. An extra long list of add-ons includes everything from second-row sunshades to an eight-inch touchscreen, not to mention a heated steering wheel, heated and vented front seats, heated second row captain’s chairs, a one-touch power liftgate, automatic cruise control and driver’s seat memory settings. The list of safety add-ons also grows to include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and a pre-collision system.
Package all that together with improved sound deadening, a more premium interior and stylish shell and Toyota looks to carry on its success in the large crossover segment.
Look for the all-new Highlander to go on sale in early 2014.
GALLERY: 2014 Toyota Highlander live photos
GALLERY: 2014 Toyota Highlander
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