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New Toyota Highlander model carries on legacy

The latest Toyota Highlander comes with a sleek look, added safety features and larger cargo space.
March 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
It seems as though every car maker now has a mid-size SUV riding on a car-like platform, but Toyota's Highlander was one of the first, introduced back in 2000.

Now, there's a new third-generation Highlander for 2014, with improvements throughout, especially in the looks department.

"We did a complete exterior refresh. Wrap-around front headlights, wrap-around tail lights. The lines are really sculpted," said Toyota spokeswoman Rachel Deurloo.

While getting an appearance makeover, the Highlander also gained three inches in length, which translates into more room inside.

"For people with growing families, they have more space for extra passengers, we've also increased the cargo capacity," Deurloo said.

The Highlander also boasts a range of other features. Notable on the Highlander is a huge storage bin in the center console that's able to hold a handbag and a clever shelf for small items. There's also a spot for a power or USB cord.

Toyota has also made it easier for those with families to keep an eye on their kids in the backseat. It's called 'Easy Speak,' and it uses the hands-free microphone to send audio to the speakers in the rear.

And technology under the hood continues with a hybrid version, which each of the two previous generations of the Highlander have had.

For this newest gas-electric Toyota SUV, the hybrid system offers combined horsepower of 280, and a combined fuel economy of 28.

"It actually is the best combined MPG of any mid-size suv. So we're really proud of that, and we do offer the hybrid for those people who kind of like that eco-conscious driver," Deurloo said.

The bad news? The hybrid only comes in a top-of-the-line limited trim. At $47,000, it's not cheap.

But if you can live without the hybrid system, the regular Highlander offers all kinds of features for prices starting well below $40,000. And, it carries on the Highlander name, more than a decade after it first appeared.

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