$19,376 - $28,052

2014 Toyota Highlander Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Toyota Highlander was new.


Performance: 7.7

Critics say the 2014 Toyota Highlander has a smooth ride and stable handling, making it a good companion for drives around town. They think that the standard four-cylinder engine offers adequate power, but say the V6 will provide better acceleration and more refinement.

  • "Though the Highlander has respectable acceleration-which paid off when we had to cut into traffic in town-it's most at home driving in a relaxed manner." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "It's a very pleasant, near-luxury experience. Honestly, if I was blindfolded and told I was behind the wheel of a Lexus crossover, I'd probably believe it." -- Autoblog
  • "A 2013 model was made available for comparison, and in truth, it didn't feel that much different in normal on-road behavior. Not that that's a bad thing. Both the old and new versions ride well and handle competently, which is about par for the course among midsize crossovers." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The base 2014 Toyota Highlander comes with a 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine is optional. The V6-powered Highlander gets up to 19/25 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class and better than what comparably-equipped rivals like the Chevrolet Traverse and Dodge Durango get.

Reviewers say the four-cylinder engine delivers decent acceleration, though some say it feels less refined than the V6. Most prefer the V6-powered Highlander, saying that it offers more hill-climbing and highway-merging power.

  • "Starting at the bottom, the carryover 2.7-liter, 185-hp I-4 is potent enough to move about 4500 pounds' worth of FWD crossover up and down the road." -- Motor Trend
  • "Toyota's 3.5-liter V6 has long been one of our favorite engines, and it only cemented its reputation here. The 4-cylinder engine is somewhat courser and noisier, but it is still fairly refined for a four." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Most Highlander buyers will opt for the V6, says Toyota, and that's the right move. This is a big, heavy vehicle (the V6 AWD can weigh up 4,508 lbs) and that extra power is an asset when it comes to climbing hills and merging onto freeways, even though selecting it means sacrificing some fuel economy." -- Autoblog
  • "Toyota estimates that 90 percent of all 2014 Highlander models sold will leave the lot with a V6 engine and 60 percent of those will come equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). We're inclined to go with that combination, too." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard on the 2014 Highlander, while all-wheel drive is an option on V6-powered models. Test drivers agree that the 2014 Toyota Highlander has a smooth ride and secure handling that inspire confidence during cornering, as well as a nicely weighted and communicative steering system.

  • "New spring rates and shock absorbers combined with the Highlander's MacPherson front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension also result in a very smooth ride." -- Autoblog
  • "The Highlander maintains its composure even during the occasional aggressive turn or maneuver, and it conveys a buttoned-down sense of security at all times." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Steering was weighted properly and felt direct for a bigger SUV." -- AutoWeek

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