2014 Toyota Highlander: Gigantic Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits With Room to Spare
February 9, 2015
You'd expect pretty much any car seat to fit into a large, family-first vehicle like our long-term 2014 Toyota Highlander. For a personal Highlander, I'd probably go with one of the lower-line models (below our Limited Platinum) so I could get a center seat in the second row. But the captain's chairs in our long-term Highlander are still very car seat-friendly, particularly with their nice, flat seat-bottom cushions and multiple seat-back recline positions.
My child's very large rear-facing convertible car seat fit easily. And I was blown away by how much legroom still remained for the front passenger.
It's a little hard to see given the harsh light (and my shabby weekend clothes) in these photos, but at 5-feet-10-inches tall, I'm able to set the front-passenger seat just about exactly where I'd have it if there was no car seat behind me.
And my knees are a long way from touching the glove box door. This would be a very comfortable arrangement for a long road trip.
For whatever reason, I had difficulty getting my seat (a First Years True Fit C680 SI) tight enough with a LATCH installation when using my customary pool noodle to achieve the proper car-seat recline angle for a rear-facing installation. I got it tighter without the noodle, but the seat was too upright according to the level indicator.
With no noodle or towel underneath it, this car seat is too upright, according to the level indicator on the seat. And it wouldn't be comfortable for my kid on a longer drive.
A rolled-up towel provided a good compromise: I got the seat snugged down to my satisfaction and the car seat's recline angle was spot-on.
Apart from this caveat, this was an easy installation. The lower anchor points are easy to access in the 2014 Highlander. I also like the little storage well for the seatbelt receiver: This is a nod in the direction of parents doing a LATCH car seat install. You can't use the seatbelt in combination with the LATCH connectors, so you want it well out of the way so that it doesn't interfere with getting the seat tight. This storage well pretty much ensures that will never be a problem.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 15,560 miles