NEW YORK, NY -The Toyota Highlander has been a stalwart on the Canadian SUV scene since 2001, but sales have suffered recently at the hands of newer competition. It was the third best-seller in the class in 2011 but fell to sixth in 2012 and for the first two months of 2013.
It was due for a change. And that's just what the Highlander gets for the 2014 model year. Arriving at Toyota stores this summer, the third generation Highlander, which made itsw debut here at the New York International Auto Show, gets a thorough makeover.
From the dramatically new front end to a similarly new rear, the American-built Highlander is distinctly new, with almost every surface altered.
The chiseled new grille is imposing to say the least, continuing Toyota’s move away from bland styling.
The refreshed SUV is 76-mm longer and 25-mm wider. And thanks to a new rear suspension, the third row seat and cargo area have an additional 100-mm of width.
The interior benefits from a number of upgrades. including a big new centre console integrated with a shelf that runs across the passenger side.
Most hard plastic surfaces have been covered with soft-touch materials. A 15-cm touch screen is standard and a 20-cm version comes with the audio system upgrade.
A blind spot monitor, pre-collision system, panoramic sunroof and power lift gate are all new additions. Toyota says acoustic glass and other provisions have resulted in a significant reduction in wind and rod noise.
The 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine and 3.5-litre V-6 are carried over and the V-6 gets a six-speed transmission, replacing the five-speed offered previously. The Hybrid will also continue.
Toyota has the mid-size SUV and Crossover segment covered with four entries – FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Venza and Highlander. The refreshed Highlander can be considered either an SUV or a crossover with a combination of capacity, capability and comfort.