2014 2014 Toyota Highlander: Thoughts On Six-Passenger Comfort
April 14, 2015
We've posted a few updates about the rear seating in our 2014 Toyota Highlander, including our views on third-row seat access and comfort or how we like it during long-distance drives. After driving around my family of four plus two grandparents recently, I discovered a few new angles on our Highlander's rear seating.
Dan Edmunds mentioned the second-row seats in his Oregon road trip update, but I feel they're worth bringing up again. The captain chairs are very comfortable. They're raised enough to have a respectable amount of thigh support for adults, offer adult-friendly headroom, slide and recline, and have adjustable inner armrests plus the second-row cupholder tray.
In his Apple Cider Run road trip update, Cameron Rogers had four adults in the Highlander and noted that for the adult seated in the way back "getting in and out of the third row quickly became a chore."
This is worth highlighting again. The Highlander's second row just doesn't allow for very easy access to the third-row. It's okay for kids (assuming they are tall enough to step up) or average-sized adults with decent or better dexterity, but not so good for everybody else. This isn't to say I expect great things from the Highlander, but some large crossovers and certainly minivans are more accommodating for third-row access.
Our Highlander does come with automatic rear climate controls (plus heated second-row seats) with rear air vents mounted in the headliner for both the second and third rows. They don't look all that big but if you crank up the fan speed they do put out a strong breeze of chilled air with the air-conditioning on. It was enough to keep my passengers happy, but I'm compelled to note that it was only about 80 degrees outside. I'd really need a warmer day to fully comment on the rear air-conditioning's strength. (Or, conversely, a Polar Vortex day to test out the rear heating.)
I do like the second-row window shades. I don't know if many people consider it a "must-have" feature, but on long trips, they come in really handy for reducing sun glare on my kids in back. They work a lot better than aftermarket shades (or the always-classy "towel pinched in the window jamb" option).
Overall, our Highlander doesn't strike me as a six-passenger, long-distance hauling champion. But for more common, real-world use, where drivers will just want a vehicle suited for occasional or moderate third-row use, a Highlander will work out quite well.Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,344 miles