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SW03ES 03-16-2014 01:10 PM

Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
We're going to be replacing the Jeep in the next 6 months, and as always I'm starting early driving a lot of stuff to figure out what we want to get. May wind up with another Jeep, but we'd like three rows, and we'd like a return to Toyota-like reliability.

Drove the new 2014 Highlander today, was a fairly loaded Limited AWD model with the second row captains chairs, dark grey exterior, light grey interior.

My first impression of the new Highlander up close is that it feels significantly larger than the previous one. Sitting next to each other, the new Highlander is much more substantial looking. I like the looks of it from every angle but the front, and that is better in person and is growing on me. The Limited model I drove and that we would be interested in had the LED DRLs, and the polished look wheels (which really are a plastic cap over an aluminum wheel). Very attractive. A lot of WK2 styling cues in the Highlander, especially in the side, greenhouse, and the rear. Certainly not as good looking as the Jeep, but better looking than something like a Pilot, or the old Highlander.

Inside the new Highlander is a big step up from the old one, as we've read in reviews. Materials are on the whole much better, they were very poor in the previous Highlander IMHO. This Highlander feels every bit a $40k SUV.

With that said, there are still cheap materials here, most notably as you would expect lower on the dash and door panels. The Jeep has these materials present in the same area, but they are disguised better. On the Highlander they have sharp edges and mold lines where they don't on the Jeep. For instance the start/stop button on the Highlander is surrounded by cheap grey plastic, while Jeep was smart and put it in the trim which hides the fact that the plastic beneath that trim is pretty cheap.

Techwise the Highlander offers a suite of infotainment options that are familiar to Toyota/Lexus owners...nav is similar to whats in my GS. Better than my 2011 WK2 by far, but not nearly as high tech an infotainment package as is seen in the 2014. Big advantage to Jeep here.

Out on the road I was very impressed. It rides smooth and refined, the power delivery is buttery smooth and linear as I would expect from that power train having had it in a previous Lexus. Space is great, seats are very comfortable, view is high and commanding. Ergonomics are excellent as one would expect. Very quiet, Lexuslike. Room in the first and second rows is excellent, third is okay for a 6' adult if you push the second row up moderately. Sizewise its not as adaptable as a Pathfinder/QX60, but better than an MDX or Explorer.

All in all, I liked it a great deal...but it doesn't "speak to me" the way the Jeep does. Its a very competent family 3 row hauler, and would be a very smart buy for us at this stage. BUT, I don't have the same connection to it I still do with the Jeep, despite the problems we've had. It certainly would be more practical than a 2 row 2014 Grand Cherokee Overland, but the Overland overall feels more upscale, and has the feel that it was designed for more than just comfortable people transport which appeals to me. My wife would take the Highlander in a second...I'm probably going to prefer a new Jeep.

Costwise, at $42k vs $47k for a similar Overland, its cheaper, but when you factor in the fact that they will take $7-8k off an Overland, the Jeep is actually probably cheaper...and the Highlander compares more to a Grand Cherokee Limited than an Overland, and thats going to be buyable under $35k similarly equipped. No third row though.

Overall I think it continues to show that the Jeep continues to feel a solid one rung up from its competitors for the price. For a family the Highlander will be better because of space, low step in height, extra seating...but if you don't need/want that...I don't see a compelling reason to buy it.

Discussion is welcomed...

bill_de 03-16-2014 01:19 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
I like the way you presented the comparison. I never looked at Toyota's for myself, but friends had a Highlander that was really nice.



Looking forward to more reviews as you continue to shop.


---

mswlogo 03-16-2014 01:27 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
I've always had my eye on them because of reliability. But could never get past how ugly they were inside and out. The interiors of all Toyota's were just so bad. Jeep WK's were bad inside and out too, which is why I skipped a generation.

Sounds like they made some serious progress. I have not looked at the newest model.

Nice objective review, thanks.

SW03ES 03-16-2014 01:30 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bill_de (Post 992526)
Looking forward to more reviews as you continue to shop.
---

I shall post them!

Quote:

Originally Posted by mswlogo (Post 992531)
I've always had my eye on them because of reliability. But could never get past how ugly they were inside and out. The interiors of all Toyota's were just so bad. Jeep WK's were bad inside and out too, which is why I skipped a generation.

Sounds like they made some serious progress. I have not looked at the newest model.

The interiors had become a huge sore spot for me too from about 2000-now. It had gotten to the point wheeee I honestly believed they made the worst interior in the business. Bit they have made good progress...

RFF111 03-16-2014 01:41 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SW03ES (Post 992524)
We're going to be replacing the Jeep in the next 6 months, and as always I'm starting early driving a lot of stuff to figure out what we want to get. May wind up with another Jeep, but we'd like three rows, and we'd like a return to Toyota-like reliability.

Drove the new 2014 Highlander today, was a fairly loaded Limited AWD model with the second row captains chairs, dark grey exterior, light grey interior.

My first impression of the new Highlander up close is that it feels significantly larger than the previous one. Sitting next to each other, the new Highlander is much more substantial looking. I like the looks of it from every angle but the front, and that is better in person and is growing on me. The Limited model I drove and that we would be interested in had the LED DRLs, and the polished look wheels (which really are a plastic cap over an aluminum wheel). Very attractive. A lot of WK2 styling cues in the Highlander, especially in the side, greenhouse, and the rear. Certainly not as good looking as the Jeep, but better looking than something like a Pilot, or the old Highlander.

Inside the new Highlander is a big step up from the old one, as we've read in reviews. Materials are on the whole much better, they were very poor in the previous Highlander IMHO. This Highlander feels every bit a $40k SUV.

With that said, there are still cheap materials here, most notably as you would expect lower on the dash and door panels. The Jeep has these materials present in the same area, but they are disguised better. On the Highlander they have sharp edges and mold lines where they don't on the Jeep. For instance the start/stop button on the Highlander is surrounded by cheap grey plastic, while Jeep was smart and put it in the trim which hides the fact that the plastic beneath that trim is pretty cheap.

Techwise the Highlander offers a suite of infotainment options that are familiar to Toyota/Lexus owners...nav is similar to whats in my GS. Better than my 2011 WK2 by far, but not nearly as high tech an infotainment package as is seen in the 2014. Big advantage to Jeep here.

Out on the road I was very impressed. It rides smooth and refined, the power delivery is buttery smooth and linear as I would expect from that power train having had it in a previous Lexus. Space is great, seats are very comfortable, view is high and commanding. Ergonomics are excellent as one would expect. Very quiet, Lexuslike. Room in the first and second rows is excellent, third is okay for a 6' adult if you push the second row up moderately. Sizewise its not as adaptable as a Pathfinder/QX60, but better than an MDX or Explorer.

All in all, I liked it a great deal...but it doesn't "speak to me" the way the Jeep does. Its a very competent family 3 row hauler, and would be a very smart buy for us at this stage. BUT, I don't have the same connection to it I still do with the Jeep, despite the problems we've had. It certainly would be more practical than a 2 row 2014 Grand Cherokee Overland, but the Overland overall feels more upscale, and has the feel that it was designed for more than just comfortable people transport which appeals to me. My wife would take the Highlander in a second...I'm probably going to prefer a new Jeep.

Costwise, at $42k vs $47k for a similar Overland, its cheaper, but when you factor in the fact that they will take $7-8k off an Overland, the Jeep is actually probably cheaper...and the Highlander compares more to a Grand Cherokee Limited than an Overland, and thats going to be buyable under $35k similarly equipped. No third row though.

Overall I think it continues to show that the Jeep continues to feel a solid one rung up from its competitors for the price. For a family the Highlander will be better because of space, low step in height, extra seating...but if you don't need/want that...I don't see a compelling reason to buy it.

Discussion is welcomed...

Great review of the highlander. It is definitely an upgrade from the previous generation. Looks-wise, they did a fine job. I am sure the interior materials have been upgraded as well. I had a 2011 4Runner Limited, which I liked, but I never really became "emotionally" attached, so to speak. The 4Runner is a solid SUV, very easy to like, but very hard to love, if you get my drift. So I ditched the 4Runner. After a brief but disastrous experience with a new LR4, I moved into Sequoia Platinum (prior to getting my 2014 Overland). I REALLY liked that truck. Loved the interior space (the seats were like really large and comfortable), and the height of it, and the monster engine. BUT, it felt very "floaty" at highway speeds, to the point where I would actually get lightheaded. My girlfriend felt the same thing, and it didn't matter what driving mode I set (comfort, normal or sport). Also, the steering was so light that it felt like I was driving a Prius and not a 6000 lb. body-on-frame truck. When I first test drove the Sequoia, I noticed the light steering, but I was busy concentrating on all of the other things going on so it really wasn't a deal breaker. But over time, it got to the point where it really bothered me. A truck that rugged and large should not have the steering feel of a 18K econo-box. It just didn't make any sense. I understand that Toyota is perhaps trying to accommodate female drivers with lighter steering, but I don't see many females wanted to drive a truck that big anyway. So, between the floaty road feel and the too-light steering, I moved into the Overland.

I have had some issues with my GC since purchasing it in March of 2013 (so it's an early build). But everything has been resolved. All of the updates have been performed. It is driving flawlessly right now (knock on wood). The transmission flash (Hemi) has actually improved my gas mileage. So this much I will say. This GC is BY FAR the smoothest and most refined vehicle I have EVER driven - EVER - and I have literally driven almost everything out there. I can't even rationalize how smooth this thing drives because it is a heavy truck with true off-road credentials. The ONLY flaw for me right now is its size. If it was a bit bigger, it would be the perfect SUV in my mind, as I love larger SUV's. But I can't think of anything on the market that rides like this, AND gives you the ability to literally drive in any conditions or terrain, other than the LR4. BUT from a styling perspective, the GC is light years above the LR4 (at least IMO) - and the price point isn't even close. Which is why I can understand why it would be so difficult for anyone who is driving one of these things to get into something else, even after experience any issues. Nothing currently on the market compares to the GC. It's that simple, and I am not saying that because I drive one.

Setoutguy 03-16-2014 01:42 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
GC gas tanks holds approx 4 more gallons of gas. Highlander has nor real offroad capability. My neighbor has a new 4 runner Limited. Not bad looking but from some angles way over styled but I guess that is for the home market and other Asian markets. It will be interesting as vehicles become more and more software dependent to see which manufacturers stay ahead of the curve on the reliability and dependability front. I would lean towards the 4 Runner since I need the offroad capability but if you dont the Highlander is a good choice. Check out the USA Today review. My first priority is a flat floor for dog crates, space to hold at least the two crates i have and then offroad capability.

Always test drive any vehicle in those situations that make you most uncomfortable if possible. BTW Toyota just upgraded the 2014 Highlander to 6spd. Might be 2020 before Toyota goes to 8 or 9spds.

SW03ES 03-16-2014 01:56 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
True, it doesn't have off-road ability compared to the Jeep, but we don't really need that. Believe it or not, the Highlander I drove actually did have a locking center differential. The only reason we would choose the Highlander is space. What we need 4WD for is basically snow.

Personally I'd never choose the 4 Runner over the Jeep. I think for a 2 row vehicle, the WK2 is a better all around vehicle. Reliability would be better, but I agree the 4Runner is a little over styled, especially the refresh in less than Limited trim.

Toyota has 8 speed gearboxes, just right now they're in the Lexus lineup. The LS has had an 8 speed since 2007, the GS and IS got it this year. Personally I'm okay with the 6 as long as the shift logic makes sense.

The 8 sipped was a huge upgrade from the 5 in the WK2, but the 6 in the highlander seemed sufficient.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RFF111 (Post 992536)
So this much I will say. This GC is BY FAR the smoothest and most refined vehicle I have EVER driven - EVER - and I have literally driven almost everything out there. I can't even rationalize how smooth this thing drives because it is a heavy truck with true off-road credentials. The ONLY flaw for me right now is its size. If it was a bit bigger, it would be the perfect SUV in my mindone.

Aside from the Lexus LS, I would say the WK2 is probably the best highway car I've had. It really does ride great, smooth and refined. If they had a 3 row one and fixed the little reliability issues, it'd be perfect I agree.

Jim_in_PA 03-16-2014 01:58 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
My '06 Highlander Hybrid Limited was an outstanding vehicle. It was comfortable, well made and very safe...that last part proven during a major "squeeze box" collision with $26K of damage and no injuries outside of a minor abrasion from an air bag. I would have bought another Highlander after it, no question, but needed the towing capability that the JGC brought to the table.

That said, I agree that the JGC "feels" much more substantial and more luxurious...it's clearly a step above.

OutsiderWV 03-16-2014 02:06 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
Prior to ordering my 2014 JGC this past weekend I was test driving several vehicles as well including the 2014 Highlander. My impression was very similar in that the exterior was nice but not as good looking as the JGC. It also felt a little on the large side of which I didn't care to much for, I don't need 7 seats. The interior was pretty nice and both my wife and I really liked the dash; however as you stated, it just didn't feel as nice (especially the technology side) as the JGC. On a test drive it felt pretty good and power delivery was sufficient. The only thing we didn't care for was what sounded to be like a good bit of noise (wind) from the sunroof. The JGC definitely had a more quiet interior during highway driving.

As stated, the Highlander was nice but didn't really "speak" to me like the JGC. If the JGC didn't exist, this would probably be my next pick (maybe, have to drive some more cars) given the price point.

RFF111 03-16-2014 02:10 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
It is really stunning to me how smooth the GC is at highway speeds. The air suspension is amazing. The LR4 was smooth as well (it also has air suspension at all 4 corners), but nowhere near as agile as the GC. I whip my Overland around curves and it feels planted at almost any speed. Cannot say the same about the LR4. The GC is just an amazing highway cruiser. I also test drove the SRT, and other than mind-blowing straight-line acceleration, the Overland just crushes the SRT at highway speed in terms of comfort and refinement. As for those cross-shopping the Explorer, my sister has an Explorer Sport and there is NO comparison. It isn't even close to the GC. If anyone can think of another SUV that matches the driving feel and overall versatility of the GC, I would like to hear it.

Northland 03-16-2014 02:18 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
To those wishing for a 3-row Jeep, if you can hold on for maybe a year the new Grand Wagoneer will be introduced: http://www.jeepgarage.org/f210/could...ear-72777.html

Wxchaser 03-16-2014 02:55 PM

Re: Drove a 2014 Toyota Highlander today, my thoughts vs the WK2
 
In 2007, purchased a Highlander Limited 4x4. I wanted the RX-350 but my wife forced me to get the Highlander instead. It was a capable vehicle, never any problems or service issues - but to me, it was a soccer mom vehicle, and I always hated it (being brutally frank!). The interior was so plasticky and when I was at speed or on a highway the road noise was much higher than either of my Jeeps have been.

The acceleration was not astounding, but mechanically it was a sound vehicle with decent mileage. After buying the Highlander and owning it about 5 years - we got rid of it when purchasing for the wife. I was ecstatic to get rid of it. Nothing against Toyota's - I've owned several - but my own personal thoughts was that the import manufacturer's quality was going downhill. So other than buying a Volvo S60 last year for the wife, my last 2 purchases have been JGC's. For me personally I appreciate the quality of the Jeep interiors, the reliability of the engines, the upgraded transmissions, and definitely the safety equipment and options available to the consumer.

Do I think the Highlander is capable? Definitely. The redesign a few years ago was welcomed and I think it's better than what I owned. Just not in a hurry to ever have another! Probably won't happen.

Good luck in your decision.


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