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I am often asked what my favorite SUV I have driven is. It has been a question that quite honestly has been hard to answer. Sure I have liked some of the vehicles I have driven over others, I have even recommended a few to close friends and family, but to easily put one in my top favorite category has been a hard one.
Recently I had the opportunity to drive the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited for a week, and by the end of the week I knew without a doubt THIS was my favorite SUV I have ever driven! I have never been so sad to see a vehicle leave and never have I talked so much about a vehicle during my press loan and especially after it has left me.
So what puts the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid at the top of my list for family vehicles?
First, let’s be a little superficial because this mid-sized SUV is just stunning to look at. It has an attractive luxurious look to it, especially in the Silver Sky Metallic color.
The Limited model I drove also had a panoramic moonroof, which my kids always enjoy. I mean who wouldn’t when you get to see the rain hit the window on the top of your car?
Or even your family Christmas Tree? Free Entertainment!
Second of all, the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is packed with incredible features that make life as a busy mom so much easier.
The three-way split screen makes being on the road a little easier and a lot more fun. I enjoyed being able to see what song was playing, how many miles per gallon I was getting, and the navigation screen without touching a button.
Its handy in-dash shelf gives you easy access to the power and USB ports and keeps cables neatly stowed away.
Heating & Cooling Features
Not only do you have the option to heat or cool the front seats, you can also warm up the steering wheel. I’ve always wondered why that feature was important to people and now that I have used it I know why. Warm hands makes for a more pleasant drive.
The passengers in the second row can also warm or cool their seats as well as control their own temperature. Where was this when I was a child? One thing that usually bothers me in an SUV is the lack of options to let the back passengers completely control their own air and temperature. With this feature, passengers don’t have to distract the driver, they can just control the air themselves.
Speaking of back seat passengers, you can now keep an eye on them with this incredible little mirror called a Conversation Mirror. It’s placed right above your rear-view mirror so you can easily glance at your children without having to turn your head back. Huge safety feature for parents.
The back seats are also spacious, which is a deal maker for me. The reason we purchase a vehicle with an optional third row is so we can actually use the third row. One of my biggest pet peeves is trying out a third row and not even being able to sit comfortably back there. Not only were the back seats spacious and comfortable, we fit 6 people in 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid easily. Four out of the six being adults, too! The third row, as well as the second recline, making comfort that much better.
I will say this though, I was not able to locate any LATCH anchors in the third row. Take that information how you want to, but for our family it was more than fine. The second row, however, has the LATCH anchors.
Toyota put some serious thought into designing the back passenger area. The Highlander’s roomy interior gives you enough space to seat up to eight people, however, the model we drove (2014 Highlander Hybrid Limited) the second row was equipped with two captain chairs. To make getting to the third row easier, the side table with cup holders in the middle fold down with ease, making the perfect walking area.
The model we drove also had the optional integrated second row slide-window sunshades. For our family this was extremely helpful as my children are constantly telling me the sun is in their eyes and their sunglasses are no where to be found. I also remember when my children were babies and they would be crying when the sun hit their eyes, I wish I had these then.
One of my absolute favorite things about this Toyota Highlander is this! (I apologize for the quality of the video, it was pouring rain so I shot it with my cell phone.)
The captain chairs in the second row slide back and forth, recline, or completely fold down giving you more storage space.
If you are wondering about the cargo area, you definitely do lose space when the third row is up. It still will fit an umbrella stroller and groceries easily though.
Once the third row is down, the cargo area opens up wonderfully! The 60/40 split third-row seat has the ability to fold flat and recline to accommodate your needs.
As you can see all these incredible features mentioned above truly made driving in the Highlander a great experience but what really sold the deal was the fuel economy. Most people stay away from a bigger vehicle like an SUV because the gas mileage isn’t the kindest to the wallet. By the time you spend $60 to fill up, you are back at the gas station ready to drop another $60 on fuel. The thought of that sends me into severe anxiety. I drive way too often for that to ever be justifiable. With the Highlander Hybrid I was averaging around 26 mph! Yes, that is very impressive for a 3 row mid-sized SUV.
I am currently driving a hybrid (my own car) and I have noticed when I drive in the city, I get better mileage per gallon. All the stop and go really helps! While driving to San Francisco and venturing around the city with all the hills, I maxed out at 24.9 MPG (see photo below). Pretty awesome if you ask me!
If you are in the market for a mid-sized SUV that is functional and fuel efficient, then test drive the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid at your local dealership. You can also learn more by visiting their website: www.toyota.com/highlander
The press vehicle I drove has an MSRP of $49,790.00, however other vehicle options are available.
*Huge thanks to Toyota for lending me the Highlander to drive and review. All thoughts are 100% my own.