March 23, 2015
You know that moment, when brakes suddenly light up in front of you and the freeway traffic comes to near-crashing halt.
This morning as I stood on our 2014 Toyota Highlander's brake pedal, I glanced in the rearview mirror, praying the guy behind me was paying attention.
March 17, 2015
Last fall, a friend I've known more than half my life announced his plans to marry. I and many of his friends raised a hallelujah. I'd only met his lady a few times, but it was enough to see that she was smart, pretty and ambitious, and that our boy was fortunate to be even a waterboy in this girl's league.
She'd grown up spending winter vacations in Park City, Utah, when her parents would load the kids in a wagon and Dad would put the hammer down and cover the distance from their Chicago home in a day. So they decided to marry in Park City since it was a fairly equidistant point to gather both sides of friends and family. A wedding in a ski town is not an opportunity to waste.
I asked fleet whisperer Mike Schmidt if he could spare a four-wheel-drive for the occasion. Another friend would join me for the drive and the Ram 1500 was an obvious choice. But it had plenty of miles already and this was before its recent meltdown. The F-150 and Chevy Colorado were other options, but Mike asked if I'd consider our 2014 Toyota Highlander.
December 3, 2014
I like the 2014 Toyota Highlander the more I drive it. It's a car in my wheelhouse: big, roomy and versatile without consuming a massive footprint. Although I know it's a crossover, I can almost persuade myself that it's a direct descendent of the Land Cruiser and 4Runner with all of Toyota's off-road legend and tradition baked into its bones. As such, I believe all I need is a map, some sunglasses and a smattering of Spanish to drive it from L.A. to Buenos Aires. Maybe I will try this. It would make for great writing, especially the leg through Honduras.
July 29, 2014
One of the highlights of our very nice 2014 Toyota Highlander it its 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. Without really trying, it's almost too easy to bang the go-pedal, have the automatic kick down a few gears and spin a few dozen miles worth of rubber off of the front wheels.
But what happens when you take a more grownup approach to see what the limits on this Highlander actually are? And how does it stack up against a 2014 Toyota Highlander XLE with all-wheel drive we tested previously?
July 21, 2014
Our 2014 Toyota Highlander is equipped with the Driver Technology package. It's a $1,400 option that includes lane departure warning, pre-collision braking assistance, automatic high-beams, subscription-based emergency services and radar-guided cruise control. I've driven numerous examples of adaptive cruise from various manufacturers, and I have to say, the Highlander does it well.
May 6, 2014
May 1, 2014
Remember Ethanol? It was the hot alternative fuel there for a while not too long ago. GM even put yellow gas caps on all E85 capable vehicles to encourage people to uh..."go yellow."
Those drums aren't beating very hard anymore for various reasons, but there are still plenty of stations that serve up gasoline mixed with varying levels of ethanol. And there are still plenty of vehicles that are certified to burn both, but our Highlander isn't one of them.
April 30, 2014
Do you really need a V6 for a midsize crossover? Not always, but now that the 2014 Toyota Highlander has grown to truly gigantic proportions, it's worth the extra money.
That's probably why the 270-hp V6 is now standard on every trim level except the base LE. Good thing, too, as it's able to deliver the kind of low-end torque that gets it up to highway speeds even when there's a full load of kids and cargo on board. That's the kind of power you miss with a four-cylinder.
April 24, 2014
It would be inaccurate to call our 2014 Toyota Highlander overpowered. At around 4,350 pounds, the Highlander asks a lot of its 270-horsepower V6. But when you demand power, the 3.5-liter delivers with smooth, rich urgency. It kicks down a gear, a polite suggestion, really. Then it kicks down a second gear, sends a wave of torque steer through the column, and a jolting reminder that a two-ton object in motion tends to stay in motion, even with good brakes.
April 14, 2014
The timing couldn't have been better. My wife and I needed something spacious to take on a Spring Break road trip with our eldest daughter and her friend, and our brand-new 2014 Toyota Highlander long-term test vehicle arrived at the perfect moment. And Toyota's fairly simple break-in procedure, which lasts just 621 miles, was complete just before we were scheduled to load up and head north.
The girls have been accepted to colleges in Oregon. My daughter is about 90-percent sure she'll attend the University of Oregon this fall. Her friend has been accepted at Reed College in Portland but hasn't yet seen the state, let alone the city or the campus. The TV show Portlandia is her only reference point.
A side trip to visit my parents on the Oregon coast will make this a 2,500-mile journey when all is said and done.
For now, we've only just crossed the border on the first leg of our journey. But I can already tell the 2014 Toyota Highlander is much better suited to this trip than our 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe proved to be last fall on the very same roads in almost identical circumstances. The difference is night and day.