2014 Toyota Highlander: Performance Testing
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?
|Highlander Limited||Highlander XLE AWD|
|Curbweight as tested:||4,511||4,487|
|0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):||7.3||7.1|
|1/4-mile (sec @ mph):||15.6 @ 90.7||15.4 @ 91.0|
|Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g):||0.80||0.79|
Vehicle: 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited
Odometer: 4,129 Date: 4/22/2014
Driver: Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Front engine, Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,456/211
Redline (rpm): 6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 270 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 248 @ 4,700
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc
Brake Type (rear): Disc
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Double Wishbone
Tire Size (front): 245/55R19 103T M+S
Tire Size (rear): 245/55R19 103T M+S
Tire Brand: Bridgestone Tire Model: Dueler H/L 422 Eco P1A
Tire Type: Low Rolling Resistance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,397
0-30 (sec): 3.0 (3.0 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 5.0 (5.1 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 7.6 (7.8w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.3 (7.4 w/TC)
0-75 (sec): 11.0 (5.3 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.6 @ 90.7 (15.7 @ 89.4 w/TC on)
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 122
Slalom (mph): 61.1 (60.6 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.76 (0.80 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Acceleration comments: This V6 is sweet and smooth with decent power seemingly everywhere on the tach. Upshifts are supple but not overly quick. This front-drive model was considerably harder to launch than the AWD example we tested previously. The Highlander has more than enough power to spin the front tires, and it took careful application to get just the right amount of wheelspin. Quite often it would spin the front tires so much that it would upshift early, and then promptly bog in second gear, ruining any shot at a good time. Going straight from brake to full throttle, or power braking (overlapping throttle and brake prior to launch) to full throttle, would just light up the front tires. The quickest time was achieved by feeding in slightly less than full throttle when launching the Highlander down the drag strip. Manual shifting is via the center console lever (pull back for downshifts), but it still upshifts for itself at 6,000 rpm just like it does in Drive. It does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts.
Braking comments: Moderate to spongy pedal feel. There's a decent amount of nosedive here which causes some rear lockup and slight side-to-side squirming. Oddly, this Highlander didn't stop as short as the AWD model we tested previously. The first stop was 126 feet. The second stop was the shortest at 122 feet and the fifth and final stop was the longest at 129 feet. Lots of brake odor by the time we were done.
SLALOM: Steering is on the slow side but intuitive. The suspension is soft with plenty of body roll but the Highlander stayed composed, with the occasional stability control slam-on-the-brakes freak out if I pushed too hard.
SKIDPAD: Here's another case of the machine working better than the man (darn it!). We got a considerably better lateral g number with stability control fully on than with it off. With the traction control turned off, and without a limited-slip front differential, and also because of considerable body roll, the outside front tire wanted to spin up anytime you dialed a bit more power in as you drove around the circle.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor