2014 Toyota Highlander: Adaptive Cruise Control
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.
Perhaps the best example of adaptive cruise control, in my experience, is in the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It offers multiple distance settings and its application is instant and gradual. The moment a slower vehicle enters its path, the system adjusts speed. It is ever so slight and unobtrusive. Acceleration back to the target speed is also instant, yet gradual. To me, this is the benchmark. And to me, our Highlander is only a couple of steps behind.
Like the Mercedes, our Toyota offers multiple distance settings. If there was a knock against it here, it's that the settings are too extreme. At the closest range you get about 4 car lengths. The next-closest stretches that to 8 car lengths. A setting somewhere in between would be ideal.
As for the adaptive cruise, I like its execution. Activation of the system leans to the conservative side. Unlike the S-Class, there is a slight delay between the time an object enters the radar-zone and the Highlander reacts. This delay is nice because it avoids the touchy, oversensitive characteristic of some lesser systems. When the brakes do engage, they do so smoothly. Similarly, the cruise resumes its programmed speeds slowly once the object leaves its path. This is welcome in low-traffic situations. In some higher traffic scenarios, especially when motorists continually change lanes in front of you, I found it less annoying to just disable the system.
Another notable aspect of the system is the location of the cruise engagement stalk. It might not seem significant. But I like where it's tucked behind the wheel on the lower-right side. Push the button to toggle it on and off and click down to engage. Simple. The location of the cruise distance button is conveniently placed on the wheel near the stalk. On the whole, I think this is one of the better systems out there.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 7,253 miles