2014 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
We have a Volvo XC70, Honda Accord, Mustang. Added Highlander to get 7 seats. It's good, but suffers in comparison to the others.
Nice inside, but nothing like the Volvo. Drives fine, but not *fun* like the Accord, Mustang. It's an SUV, so it's doomed to be a lummox.
Front of car looks nice. Rear: odd!
JBL stereo: Sound was muddy, bad. Dealership clueless. I finally discovered, in an Entune menu that was *not* Audio, a setting for "surround sound." Changed it to "stereo." Was like a veil was lifted. Still, the sound seems all up in the dashboard -- you must slide the fader nearly all the way back to get sound from all around.
Overall: Competent, quiet, boring. That's Toyota!
Interior is nice at first glance. Nicer than Toyotas have been in recent years -- I've been in friends' Toyotas that have seemed chintzy. Rented a Camry last week that seemed super cheapo. (Some materials are cheap, tho. See my next field. CR's new review also notes this.)
Seats are comfortable, though not Volvo comfy. (That's a high bar. Volvo seats are the best in the car biz.)
Great storage space, especially center console.
Good highway mileage. (But city mileage is a disappointment, and I baby it.)
Some of the info is good -- weather, traffic, stuff in the dashboard driver display ...
Cooled seats might be nice come summer.
The backup camera is a must with a rig like this.
Add stop-start technology. Why doesn't it have this? (Because Toyota wants us to buy the hybrid, I'm sure.)
Ditch proprietary roof rails. I shrugged when I bought the car, but now I'm mad: Can't use my Yakimas, must buy $300 crossbars.
Entune could be better in many ways. As stated above, a key stereo setting was not under "Audio." Also, if using nav, I want the nav window full-screen. System pops back to home-screen panels after 20 seconds. Grr.
Some cabin materials remain cheap: Fuzzy stuff on second-row seatbacks. Carpets. Plastic in cargo area. Stands out from what got spiffed up.
Alarm went off at airport, ran battery down. 12 am jumpstart! Should cut off after 10 mins.
Original author here, with a few updates:
Toyota Cares service has been unable to help solve the balance problems with the stereo. Sent them an image of how the fader is set, and they agreed that seems out of whack. They suggested I keep checking with the dealer, and perhaps a software update will eventually get pushed out that will fix it.
Drove the car on a two-week vacation. The seats, which are quite cushy around town, were not particularly comfortable on a long trip. Volvo seats are wonderful on long hauls, and even my Mustang was pretty darned good on a 750-mile day I drove last year. The Highlander seats aren't terrible, but it's not the lap of luxury.
That said, my kid loves the second-row captain's chairs. And the legroom there is awesome.
The cheap parts of the interior have started to grate on me. The carpet is quite thin and cheap-seeming, and it was hard to get vacation beach sand vacuumed out. (Though I do think in general it's a good interior for vacuuming under seats and such.) And the material on the footwells behind/beneath the front seats, and on seatbacks elsewhere, is starting to get fuzzy and to pill. As one other reviewer noted, the interior has nicer materials from the waist up, but it gets cheap toward the floor. I can tell the interior is going to look ratty in no time.
Deactivating the parking brake leads to an annoyance. My wife and I often forget that you release it with your foot. If you reach down for a hand release (out of habit from other cars), you wind up popping the hood. The hood release should be in a place other than where a parking brake release should be.
As others have stated, the fixed roof racks are unimpressive.
The car continues to run well, and it got good all-around mileage on the vacation -- 22 mpg, mostly highway with a Yakima pod on the roof. It was not especially pleasant to drive on mountain roads because the steering is sort of numb, without an obvious natural weighted center. That's one more way in which it's never going to be confused with a performance car -- nor even a car that was meant to please a driver.
But it completes its primary mission: It hauls a lot of children.