We are a family of four that loves to go places with our dog.
We are also a family that are not fans of big SUVs.
This means that our options for what automobile we own is severely limited. Currently, we own a 2010 Ford Flex and we love everything about it except for how often it breaks and has to be repaired.
When I was asked if I wanted a 2014 Toyota Highlander to test drive for a week, I said yes.
They gave it to me for free and all they asked was if I posted anything about it that I use their #ToyotaHighlander hashtag. They also gave me a summer stadium chair and a movie gift card as a thank you. It was a nice touch and as I write this I realize I have to find the gift card because I definitely should use that.
The first test we put any car through is the Roxie test. As you can see, she fit fine and there was plenty of free space for our weekend bags or hiking gear.
I did miss having any sort of drop down space in the back when going to the grocery store. Having that sort of space in the back makes it so things don't get tossed around as much on the winding roads that lead to our house.
We were also pleasantly surprised by how much leg room the second row has. With two teenagers in our house, this is definitely something we pay attention to. But, even with my front seat almost all the way back, there was plenty of room for my fifteen year old's legs.
Even better was that there was enough room so that the second row could slide forward and give the third row more space than usual. The third row is something we've realized is needed when picking up extra kids from lacrosse practice or bringing them to dance. We might not need it all the time, but we miss it when we don't have it.
My personal favorite feature, was the massive moon roof.
It extends all the way over the second row and lets in tons of natural light. I did realize that while waiting in a parking lot on a sunny summer day, you will need to close it as the car gets extremely warm.
The sun roof was open almost the entire week we had it. I've always loved being able to let in fresh air that way and even at highway speeds it sounded great and kept us cool.
Along with a sunroof, you need a great stereo system and it delivered. For some reason it always felt like it was louder in front and even tweaking the settings we could never get it quite right. My ears pick up on things like that so if you are an audio geek, be sure to pay attention on this.
As with many new cars, the Highlander is technology friendly. There is a shelf with a cable pass through for easily connecting your phone, the Entune app to enable you to use streaming music services and other goodies while driving and plenty of outlets for your power starved gadgets.
One issue we had with the dashboard is the information screen is extremely hard to read during the day. It needs to be recessed just a bit so that it is shaded from the sun. This became a pain when trying to use the navigation system anytime that the sun was out.
During our test drive, we used it for everything we did including a 2 1/2 hour drive up to Vermont to visit my cousin's farm (which made for a great photo shoot location). It performed well no matter what we did with it. It even passed my daughter's "comfy to nap in" test with flying colors.
All in all, we were extremely impressed. It is the first car in a long time that we've been given for an extended test drive and are actively considering buying one.
If you've owned a Highlander for more than a year, I'd love to hear what you think about it and any issues you've had.