2014 Toyota Highlander

2014 Toyota Highlander

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While there are several paths to take when redesigning an suv or crossover, the tried and true route seems to be make it bigger and more comfortable.  And that’s the approach that Toyota has taken with the 3rd generation of their largest crossover, the very successful highlander. Let’s see if it still rates high on our list.

The Highlander has indeed been a very successful family-sized crossover for Toyota and that will more than likely remain the case for the 2014 edition.

But, not willing to take any chances, Toyota has equipped the new Highlander with a more sophisticated design and added additional features to keep suburban households in their corner. 

While everyone likes to talk practicality and even fuel economy when making everyday vehicle decisions, most buyers still consider the right appearance a strong suit. The Highlander’s slicker sheet metal will help put that situation in its favor. 

Body panels are more sculpted than before and there’s almost 3 additional inches of length to play with that gives it much more presence.

Up front, there’s a larger trapezoidal grille, reminiscent of the one sported by the athletic new Corolla; and redesigned A pillars that along with larger rear quarter windows allow for better all-around visibility. 

Substantial 18-inch alloy wheels come standard with 19’s available. 

Engines are carryover, however, but the all-wheel-drive V6 is more fuel efficient thanks to updates for the 6-speed automatic transmission.  Government Fuel Economy Ratings are now 18-City, 24-Highway, and 20-Combined.

Energy Impact Score comes in average at 16.5-barrels of oil use per year with 7.2 tons of CO2 emitted. 

We spent time in all powertrain options at the press launch in Carmel, California.  And, as you might expect, the V6 with its 270-horsepower and 248 lb-ft. of torque was our preferred option. It’s both strong and more refined than the base 2.7-liter I4.  The V6-based hybrid is also highly desirable with even  more power and efficiency, but it still comes with a substantial sticker price penalty.

Regardless of powertrain, on the road Highlander feel both more comfortable and polished.  And thanks to additional body sealing, added sound deadening materials, and rerouting of the exhaust system, the ride is quieter and smoother, moving Highlander closer to luxury utility ranks. 

Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel-drive defaults to front drive until slip is detected, then up to 50% of power heads rearward. You also get torque shift for added grip under heavy acceleration and handling loads. Indeed, when the turns got extra twisty, we felt it helping us through the corners. 

Inside there are new soft touch materials, primarily on the dash.  But the more time you spend inside the cabin, the more you feel like Toyota could have spread the softness around a little more. 

As before, three row seating is standard, but the third row is now wider allowing for 3 across and for first time 8-passenger capacity. Still, the shorter your legs, the more comfort you’ll be. Third row access is easier with a one touch sliding function for the second row. 

Where there’s adequate room for just about anyone, whether you opt for bench seating for 3 or Captain’s chairs for 2. 

Cargo space behind the 3rd row is up as well, to 13.8 cubic-ft.  But, behind the 2nd row, space remains the same as last year at 42.3 cubic-ft.  And, surprisingly, max. cargo with all rows folded is actually down a bit to 83.7 cubic-ft. 

On the new features front, there’s available Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Pre-Collision, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning. 

The Highlander adds a useful shelf that spans the dash and is a great place for electronics and knick knacks that seem to always find their way into the cup holders. 

Toyota has stepped things up in connectivity too, with the latest version of Entune standard, as is Bluetooth with audio streaming. 

4 trim levels are available starting with the LE at $30,075. Limited models start at $40,500 with LE Plus and XLE in between.  All-wheel-drive is available on all models, but the 4-cylider is only available in LE trim, and hybrid only as a Limited. 

While the 2014 Toyota Highlander has indeed achieved a loftier status thanks to additional features, more passenger space, and increased refinement; in most ways, it’s still the same great family crossover as before. So while the Highlander is indeed new, it is also totally familiar. And that will please the Toyota faithful to a “T”.

Specifications

  • Engine: All-wheel-drive V6
  • Horsepower: 270
  • Torque: 248 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 18 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 7.2 tons/yr
2024 Acura MDX Type S 25

2024 Acura MDX Type S

It’s Another High-Performance SUV, And We’re Totally Onboard

Episode 4343
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Unless you closely follow what’s going on in the auto industry, you might not know that the best-selling three-row luxury SUV of all time is the Acura MDX. That’s right! The MDX has been delivering great comfort, practicality and performance to American families since 2001. For 2025, the MDX story not only continues, but gets more intriguing than ever.

We do love that Acura has been placing more of a priority on performance than ever lately, adding their Type S badge to more and more vehicles. That badge was applied to the MDX for the first time shortly after this fourth-gen MDX arrived for 2022, and as we’re always looking for an exciting summer fling, we couldn’t say no to putting this 2024 Acura MDX Type S to the test.

Far from just a stylish trim package, Type S upgrades tend to be fairly comprehensive, and that is indeed the case here in the MDX. Building on what is already a wide and stable platform, this Type S gets a complete chassis overhaul with a reworking of the double wishbone front suspension, adding sport-tuned active dampers to allow first-time instant adjustment to Acura’s air suspension. The variable-ratio electric power steering system is also updated, and larger Brembo brakes added behind new 21-inch wheels with Continental performance tires. They’ve even moved the battery to the rear of the vehicle to help improve balance. Also helping in that cause, the hood, front fenders and shock towers are made of aluminum.

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There’s a unique powertrain too, as the Type S ditches the standard MDX’s long-running staple 3.5-liter V6 in favor of a 3.0-liter V6 turbo with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. It works through a sport-tuned 10-speed automatic transmission, and the fourth generation of Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive. So, with 65 more horsepower and 87 additional lb-ft of torque over an MDX A-Spec, we couldn’t wait to get to our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.

There was great power at launch, as the Type S hooked up immediately, and placed us firmly in the well-bolstered seats, during the quick 5.4-second trip to 60 mph. That’s a full second quicker than we got in the standard MDX back in ’22. Power delivery stayed very strong down the track, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was pleasing to our ears without being too loud or obnoxious. Shifts in the 10-speed were aggressive, with an additional punch of power as each new gear was engaged. And the MDX kept a slightly “nose-up” posture throughout the quarter-mile, completed in 13.9 seconds at 100 mph.

Power delivery stayed very strong down the track, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was pleasing to our ears without being too loud or obnoxious.

There’s truly a kaleidoscope of performance enhancers here. The air suspension with active dampers; the torque vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive; and the Integrated Dynamics System with exclusive Sport+ mode. And while it’s easy to complain about Acura’s heavy-handed tech-forward approach, it’s hard to argue with the results as it stayed securely planted throughout our handling exercises. It’s true, we’d love to have more steering feel. But this Type S turned in with precision. There was minimal body roll, and only a touch of understeer approaching its limits. The upgraded brakes were up to the task too, stopping us from 60 in 111 feet with good pedal feel and no fade.

Type S treatments for the interior include metal trim, Milano leather seating, contrast stitching, paddle shifters on the Type S-labeled flat-bottom steering wheel, sunroof, wireless phone charging, and Acura’s 12.3-inch Precision Cockpit instrumentation. The available Advance Package adds massaging front seats, a head-up display, and a 1,000-watt 25-speaker ELS Studio 3D audio system with speakers seemingly everywhere in the cabin. The dashtop display is also 12.3-inches; it’s clear and well within line of sight. Inputs are made on the console-mounted touchpad, still not our favorite setup. Climate controls and charge ports for second row passengers, and the Type S retains the MDX’s 3-row flexibility.

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Outside, there’s a unique diamond pentagon grille with additional airflow, a front splitter, and new air intakes down low in the fascia with radiators behind. In back is a rear diffuser-style lower fascia with a quartet of big round exhaust outlets. And just in case you need it, the air suspension allows you to jack it all up 2 inches for clearing obstacles.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined. We averaged a fine 20.3 mpg of Premium. That’s slightly below average for the Energy Impact Score; consuming 15.7-barrels of oil annually, while emitting 7.8-tons of CO2.

Pricing for the Type S is $69,800, with the Advance Package an additional $5,350.

Packing 355 horsepower and some serious handling chops, the 2024 Acura MDX Type S is not only the most powerful and best performing Acura SUV ever, but the benchmark of its price point. In sum, by adding heaps of legit Type S performance into their best-selling SUV, Acura has made an already great effort far more enticing than ever.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.0-liter V6 turbo
  • Transmission : 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 355
  • Torque: 354 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.9 seconds at 100 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 111 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.3 mpg (Premium)