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2014 Toyota Highlander Adds Exterior Size and Interior Space

3/28/2013
A redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander crossover SUV debuted at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, larger inside and out and more technologically advanced than the model it replaces. Toyota plans to offer the new 2014 Highlander in LE, XLE and Limited trim levels, mirroring its approach with the latest RAV4.

Starting with the exterior design, Toyota says the 2014 Highlander is more aerodynamic than the current model, 3 inches longer in length and half an inch wider in width. A new trapezoidal grille is flanked by wrap-around headlights, which are optionally available with an automatic high-beam system. Toyota characterizes the fenders on the new 2014 Highlander model as "deeply sculptured" and the standard 18-inch aluminum wheels as "prominently protruding." The 2014 Highlander Limited is equipped with standard 19-inch wheels.

Toyota promises a new interior "that will raise the bar in the midsize SUV segment." The automaker points to a soft-touch dashboard, simulated wood trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, knit cloth headliner, and a mix of silver, satin, and chrome accents as examples of how the Highlander's cabin sets a trend. Premium cloth seats are standard, with leather optional. In addition to employing premium materials for the new Highlander's interior, Toyota says it has improved noise, vibration and harshness levels.

The 2014 Highlander seats up to 8 passengers in three rows of seats. To accommodate 8 people, the third-row seat is 4.3 inches wider than the outgoing model, and a new one-step second-row sliding seat mechanism eases entry and exit to the third-row seat, thanks to 3 extra inches of clearance. Both rear rows offer a 60/40-split seatback design and the ability to recline the seat for added comfort. Additionally, Toyota says cargo room behind the third-row seat has increased by 34% with the new design. A new power liftgate with adjustable height settings is also added for the 2014 Highlander.

The new Highlander is equipped with a rolltop center console storage bin design that Toyota claims will hold a large purse. A 6.1-inch Display Audio touch-screen infotainment system is also standard, equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, voice-recognition technology, and a reversing camera. Toyota's Entune multimedia service is also standard for the Highlander.

Options, mainly available by selecting the XLE or the Limited trim level, include a larger 8-inch touch screen with Entune App Suite and JBL speakers, rear-seat entertainment system with RCA jacks to attach video game consoles, and a panoramic glass sunroof. Additionally, the 2014 Highlander offers second-row captain's chairs separated by a collapsing center tray with cupholders, second-row sunshades, ambient cabin lighting, Smart Key passive entry system with push-button starting, and automatic cruise control. Heated and ventilated front seats, memory settings for the driver seat, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel are also available for the new Highlander.

Toyota offers few details about the 2014 Highlander's powertrain lineup, but it appears to carry over from the existing model. A 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter V-6 is available, equipped with a 6-speed automatic and offered with front- or all-wheel drive. The Highlander Hybrid returns, too, pairing the V-6 with electric assist motors and a continuously variable transmission to effectively create an all-wheel-drive system. Toyota did not divulge whether the Highlander Hybrid will swap the existing nickel-metal hydride battery pack for a Lithium-ion battery.

According to Toyota, the 2014 Highlander will also have optimized electric steering, an enhanced MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension, and 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with brake assist. The optional Dynamic Torque Control AWD system shifts up to half of the V-6 engine's power to the rear wheels as is necessary, based on input from sensors measuring vehicle speed, steering angle and speed, throttle angle, and yaw rate. An AWD Lock setting evenly splits the power at lower speeds.

Standard safety equipment includes 8 air bags, traction and stability control, 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with brake assist, and Smart Stop technology designed to make it impossible for the Highlander to accelerate with the brake pedal pressed. Hill-start assist control is also standard for this model, as well as a reversing camera system. Safety-related options include rear park-assist sensors, blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and a pre-collision system.

The 2014 Toyota Highlander will be built in Indiana and goes on sale in early 2014.

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