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 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 1

2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

It’s An SUV On A Track, Deal With It

Episode 4325
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When we started testing cars 43-years ago, hot rod SUVs like this Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT were not on our radar. Back in those days, utility vehicles were trucks and Porsches were cars. But times have changed, and the only place to make sense of it all is at a racetrack, so hop in and join us for some high-performance haulin’.

Now, most would say the high-performance SUV is a relatively new phenomenon, but we’ve been testing them for over 30-years now, going back to the GMC Typhoon. If you don’t remember that one, we’d suggest Googling it, purely for the nostalgia of it, as this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is on a totally different level.

This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car… ah la the 911.

Starting with the Coupe version of Porsche’s largest SUV, which benefits from a mid-cycle styling refresh for ’24, the Turbo GT adds a carbon-fiber roof, big wing with side planes, rear diffuser, and a sport exhaust system with titanium tailpipes.

2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dead Front
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 1/4 Front
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Profile
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 3/4 Rear
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dead Rear
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Exhaust
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Carbon Fiber Roof
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Engine
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Badge
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Badge 2
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dead Front2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 1/4 Front2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Profile2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 3/4 Rear2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dead Rear2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Exhaust2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Carbon Fiber Roof2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Engine2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Badge2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Badge 2

Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is also included, making body-roll almost non-existent; and with the help of a new two-valve air suspension setup it was all traction all the time through the high-speed turns of Savannah’s Roebling Road Raceway. Though unlike last gen, if you’re aggressive enough with the throttle, you can get the rear to step out on you a little. Rear-axle steering is also included and the best praise we could heap on steering feel and feedback through corners is that it feels like a Porsche.

Tires are also wider than before: 315/35 Pirelli P Zeros in back, mounted on 22-inch GT Design wheels. The brakes behind are comprised of enormous carbon-ceramic composite discs with monster yellow calipers…

…and they truly were impressive on track, hauling this 5,000-pound, luxury-minded performance utility down from triple-digit speeds lap after lap without wavering.

This SUV is an SUV in shape only, as a lot of its hardware as well as the driving experience are much more akin to a pure sports car... ah la the 911.

Equally impressive is the powerplant that initiates those high speeds, Porsche’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which cranks out 19 horsepower over last year for a total of 650; torque output remains the same, at 626 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an 8-speed automatic trans, which helps the Turbo GT get up to speed in a hurry; 3.1-seconds to 60, to be exact. That’s a couple of tenths slower than the first-gen Turbo GT we tested 2 years ago, but we’ll chalk that up to testing that one on a well-prepped drag strip versus this trip down Roebling Road’s slippery front straightaway on a 40-degree day. And it gained time back quickly, as our 11.3-second quarter-mile time was only a tenth slower, finishing at 124 mph.

Other notable changes for ’24 include a new dash and control layout for the interior. The highlight is a new 12.6-inch curved digital gauge display; it’s joined by a central touchscreen that sits higher up and is nestled into the dash more than before.

2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dash
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Front Seat
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Cluster
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Climate Controls
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Center Display
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Rear Seat
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Trunk
2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Dash2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Front Seat2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Cluster2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Climate Controls2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Center Display2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Rear Seat2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Trunk

No more actual shifter in the console, as it’s been replaced with Porsche’s toggle switch gear sector which resides on the dash to the left of the touchscreen. That means a new console layout with additional storage space and new controls. While none of that helps lower lap times, it all provides a much more useful and better overall environment than before, for that time spent behind the wheel commuting or just sitting in traffic.

Front and rear seats are comfortable yet sporty feeling; and while it does do a lot of SUV-like things pretty well, the coupe body shape does limit rear cargo capacity to 20.3 cubic feet, expanding to 52.4 with rear seatbacks folded; and the central-mounted exhaust does negate adding a tow hitch.

No matter how you look at it, the Cayenne Turbo GT is an insane vehicle, but it also comes with an insane price tag, starting at $197,950. So essentially, that’s six-figures worth of high-performance hardware jammed into an already impressively capable standard Cayenne… an SUV made much better with comprehensive updates front to back for all ’24 Porsche Cayennes.

It easily remains the standard bearer for luxury-minded utility vehicles, evidenced by recently earning our Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Luxury Utility. But it’s this 2024 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT that really impresses the most as the ultimate track-focused SUV money can buy. You may not need it, but you know you want it!

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
  • Horsepower: 650
  • 0-60 mph: 3.1-seconds
  • Starting Price: $197,950
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Torque: 625 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 11.3-seconds at 124 mph