Cruising Santa Barbara in the 2014 Toyota Highlander

This post was written by Renee of What Mommies Need.  Travel was provided.

Recently, I was invited to attend the Media Preview for the new 2014 Toyota Highlander.  While I was unable to attend, one of my best blogging friends, Renee from What Mommies Need, attended in my absence.  Below you will find her account of the trip.

I was lucky enough to escape the unseasonable frigid temperatures of New Orleans and head West to Santa Barbara to check out Toyota’s newly redesigned 2014 Highlander. Now I will admit up front that I don’t know a lot about engines and such, but what I look for in a vehicle is comfort, safety and style.  What I found is the new Highlander has plenty of all three!

Highlander collage

This new redesign was done with the active family in mind and it shows! Some of the new features include:

  • Increased cargo capacity, and smart storage solutions throughout the interior cabin.
  • In-dash shelf with a pass thru to USB/12V plug-ins for easy cable management
  • 24.5L center console that can hold oversized items like a large purse/bag (or 60 juice boxes with room to spare)
  • Available Rear Seat Blu-ray® DVD Entertainment system
  • Second and third row air vents with available three-zone automatic climate control
  • 2nd row sunshades (XLE & Limited grades)
  • 6.1-inch high resolution touch-screen display standard on LE and LE Plus, with an 8-inch high resolution touch-screen display standard on XLE and Limited grades
  • Heated and ventilated front seats on the Limited grade with an available heated steering wheel and heated second row seats
  • Available panoramic moonroof
  • Standard backup camera and our next generation of Entune® Audio
  • Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Rear Parking Assist Sonar
  • An available Driver Technology Package that includes a Pre- Collision system with Dynamic Radar
  • Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Automatic High Beam Headlights, and Safety ConnectTM

The first thing I noticed about this vehicle is the stylish design. Let’s face it, I am a mom, but I have not crossed over to the mini-van and still wish to drive something fun. While the new Highlander is an eight-passenger vehicle, I feel like it looks cool and even sporty. I was even able to park this vehicle in a compact spot with room to spare.

My next big thing is safety and this SUV has it all and then some. As you can tell from the list above, Toyota has kept their high level of safety with this vehicle and I think they even kicked it up a few notches. I love the Pre-Collision system and Blind Spot Monitors!

Now, I want to talk about the interior. My husband is 6’4″ and I have two growing boys, so we need leg room. I was so happy to see that even with the passenger seat pushed all the way back, there was plenty of leg room in the second row. Not as much in the third, but that is not a priority for my family. The rest of the interior was beautiful and as a mom, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the in dash shelf, which is the perfect place for cell phones, and all the other junk we are handed while driving around the kiddos.

So, I have told you all about how it looks, what makes it safe, and what makes me happy as a mom, but now I am going to talk about how it drives. I was lucky enough to drive this beauty around Santa Barbara and even though I had only a navigation system to guide me, I was completely comfortable. This SUV drives quietly and so smooth. It was almost like I was driving a sedan, but with so much more space. Honestly, I wanted to drive it all the way back to NOLA. I am definitely keeping this vehicle on our short list when we have to go car shopping!

Pricing for the 2014 Highlander starts at $29,215 and is available in a Hybrid version. For more information about this vehicle, visit


  1. I’m curious to see the Highlander now. I have been driving a minivan for years but with my boys getting older, this is definitely more our style. Love the features and the look!

  2. Looks like a fun trip especially in the highlander! I love that there is a hybrid version and rear parking assist. Believe me, I NEED that!

  3. we just test drove a Highlander and I loved it. The rear camera was my favorite feature.

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