Highlander Limited provides quiet, power and value


2014 Toyota 
Highlander Limited V6 AWD
• Small* SUV, AWD
• 3.5L DOHC V6 Engine with Dual VVT-i
• 6-speed automatic transmission
• 5,000 pound towing capacity
• 19” Chromtec Wheels
• Adjustable Power Liftgate
• Rear Passenger Window Privacy Screens
• Toyota Star Safety System
• Three-row seating
• 5 Year/100k Powertrain Limited Warranty & Roadside Assistance. 3 Year/36k Bumper to Bumper
• MPG 20 (18/24 city/hwy)
MSRP: Around $42.2k, pictured
As always, check with dealer for details.

*But it’s really not that small.

When I picked the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited up at Western Slope Auto, Brian Onsrud, sales consultant, pointed out how quiet the cabin was going to be.

“They’ve done a lot to improve it, including eliminating the roof-rack, meaning less wind noise,” he said. “Usually, when people are looking at luxury SUVs, they don’t want or need the rack anyways.”

While I’m a fan of the ‘be prepared’ school, I can appreciate the difference.  Climbing inside the Highlander Limited is a cushy experience. Heated and cooled leather seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a JBL sound system, second-row captain’s chair seating: all makes it very comfortable.

But that comfort doesn’t really come at the cost of utility. This Highlander features three-row seating, but that third row can be folded down to be used as a larger cargo area, if the seating isn’t used.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” said Onsrud.

Folding the captain’s chairs forward is easy and intuitive, creating a pickup-sized cargo space with a rugged floor, while protecting the leather seats.

And that quiet? It was still there when, ornery as I can be, I decided to take it down some dirt roads north of town.

It was pretty cool. The ride stayed smooth and quiet, only flinching a bit around some washboards.

Of course, the Highlander is an SUV, but it’s a kinder, gentler SUV built on unibody chassis. This gives it its ride and comfort, and is a great choice for the ‘urban’ SUV driver.

That’s not to say that the AWD system doesn’t help out in mud, snow and other common things in Colorado.

It wouldn’t be ‘an ultimate luxury SUV’ (as Onsrud described it) without a mechanical system to back it up, and the Highlander certainly provides the goods. The 3.5 L V6 engine gives it “some serious oomph,” said Onsrud, and I probably would use the same terms. On the road and on the dirt, the Highlander accelerated with enough power to push me back into my seat.

While the newness of touchscreen climate, information and audio controls is wearing off of me a bit, they’re still versatile and useful components in modern cars. The dash on the Highlander had some interesting elements, including a tray that runs from the center console along the dash to the passenger door. It even has a slot to pass cables through, so you don’t have a tangle that you have to deal with when you want to charge your phone.

Sometimes I look at the sticker first, sometimes I wait to be surprised, and I was surprised by the $42k pricetag, as I was expecting at least $45k —  it packs some value for a luxury SUV.

Attractive, easy to drive (and fun, too) the Highlander may be classed as a small SUV, but small has gotten much bigger over the years. 

You can find out just how big at Western Slope Auto at 2264 US 6. Combining luxury accents with smart design and ergonomic flow, the Highlander is a comfortable SUV.

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