After driving a 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited for a week, I had a hard time giving it back. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I loved it. After all, I happily drive a compact car. But I drove it through the crazy streets of Boston, the crazy streets of New York City, the quiet streets of Amish Country, and I loved every minute. I even parallel parked like a pro thanks to its backup camera.
While I’d take this car in a second, there are plenty of people who need it a lot more than I do.
1. The Parent Who Needs to Have an Awkward Talk With Their Teenager
Without fail, when I tell people with kids about this feature of the 2014 Highlander, their eyes light up and they get really excited. The possibilities! The difference it could make in your everyday life! What is this fantastic feature? It’s called the “Driver Easy Speak” and it’s really just a microphone and speakers. A microphone that only picks up the front seat. A speaker that only plays in the back. The people who designed the Highlander probably just meant for this feature to make it easier for someone driving to talk to someone in the back without having to yell or turn around. But the key to the Driver Easy Speak is that this is not a two-way system. It’s a one-way system. As in You Talk, They Listen.
Need to chat about the birds and the bees? Need to talk to your child about why they can’t drink alcohol even though you can? Awkward conversations now no longer require you to look your kid in the eye. You have their full attention and neither of you has to look at each other. Also? They can’t stop you. You’ve got the microphone, you can turn the volume up and say what you need to say.
I told you. It’s brilliant.
2. The Parent Who Is Still Too Cool For a Minivan
With seating for 8, the Highlander gives you the ability to take a bunch of kids to carpool without surrendering to the minivan. Sleek and stylish and definitely an SUV, this is an excellent choice for the person who technically should be in a minivan but can’t get over that mental block that this will really mean that they’re not cool anymore.
3. The Parent Whose Trunk Is Chronically Full of Sports Equipment
Whether you drive an SUV or a sedan, having crap constantly filling up your trunk is no good. Especially when it’s crap for your kids and it means you never have anywhere to put your groceries. The third row in the Highlander can be all the way up, all the way down, or a mix of up and down. But whether you keep the seats up or down, that third row can be the new resting place for that stuff taking up all your trunk space. Won’t it be nice to get that back?
4. The Parent Who Insists on Roadtrips Because It Was Good Enough For Them When They Were A Kid And It’s Important For Family Togetherness And No We’re Not There Yet Now Shut Up.
We took a week-long road trip to Pennsylvania in the Highlander, from Boston, to north of Philly, over to Hershey, then back to Boston. We got comfortable.
With all the room, we had plenty of space to stretch out, plenty of room to stash treats, and plenty of places to keep activities for the littles.
But as the driver I got the best deal. The Highlander has its own navigation system so I didn’t need to rely on a passenger or use up all the battery on my phone.
It has Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which means when you’ve got cruise control on and the car in front of you slows down, the Highlander slows down, too.
It has satellite radio, so on our drive I didn’t have to resort to podcasts or audiobooks. Instead, it was the Broadway Station all the way, baby!
5. The Parent Whose Giant Purse Takes Up The Passenger’s Entire Foot Space
The center console of any car is usually space that doesn’t get put to much use. Maybe you can put some things down there, but not a lot.
The new Highlander? Has the BIGGEST center console I have ever seen. Its capacity is nearly 25 liters. Even if you have a gigantic purse, you can set it right in there, still close the top, and your passengers will no longer have to try and wedge their feet into the teeny space remaining in a part of the car that should have been theirs alone
It doesn’t feel obtrusive, just like an arm rest. There aren’t a bunch of tiny little nooks and crannies you can’t really use.
Oh, and there’s also a nice little shelf along the bottom of the front dash board that has a nice grippy surface so if you set your phone in there, it won’t go skidding across the car when you make a turn. Everything’s just so stinking convenient!
I still miss that Highlander. Sigh.
Thanks to Toyota for bringing me in for their Highlander Press Preview and giving me the use of a Highlander for a week. I was not required to write about it. I just wanted to.