Last week, I had the privilege to take a trip back to my old stomping grounds – beautiful Santa Barbara – to test drive the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander thanks to Toyota. The trip was quick, but the weather was perfect with sunny skies to enjoy the beach, the small town feel, the coffee, and my favorite spot in SB, the Santa Barbara Mission. Oh yes, and I was able to do all this while driving a brand new car with some very fun features!
If you haven’t ever taken a trip to SB, I truly recommend it. This trip was amazing and reminded me how much I love and miss the city. I lived there for 4 years and still feel like it is home in some ways. I’ll be honest and say though that when I knew that I would be driving around a mid-sized SUV in SB, I was a tad nervous. It is a small beach town with some narrow roads and small parking spots, however, I was pleasantly surprised at the Toyota Highlander’s capabilities!
The All New 2014 Toyota Highlander
Check out the picture above – I actually parked in a “compact” spot at the beach with plenty of space. I felt safe and comfortable driving the Highlander along the beach roads, and through the mountains and we took our adventure to San Ynez and Solvang.
So, before I tell you more about about my trip, I want to give you more ideas of why I really enjoyed the new 2014 Toyota Highlander. There is now seating up to 8 with 3 rows. There is an option to have the second row as cabin chairs, something I so wish I had in my current SUV. That would help to keep the kids separated a bit more! As a mom of 3, I truly appreciate the space available in this vehicle. There is increased cargo capacity and some really smart storage solutions.
As tested from our Santa Barbara adventure, that center console between the two front seats holds 60 juice boxes! Not that you would ever want that many in there – but that gives you can idea. I think it would be perfect to hold a big purse or tote as you get everything done during the day. My absolute favorite extra feature was the in-dash shelf with a pass-thru to a USB/12V plug-in. This is perfect for your phone, keys, sunglasses, extra change, parking ticket or anything else you need easy access to while driving around. I will miss that feature the most!
There is also some great technology in the new 2014 Toyota Highlander. Here are some of my favorite features:
- Standard Backup Camera
- Bluetooth streaming technology
- Advanced Voice Recognition
- Rear Parking Assist Sonar (optional)
- Driver Technology Package with radar cruise control and lane departure alert (optional)
- Panoramic Moonroof (optional)
As a family car, this is such a great option, with added space in the cabin for passengers, extra storage solutions, and now with rear cargo space behind the third row that has increased by 34% – the 2014 has proven that is a much better model.
The Highlander was comfortable to ride in – and so much fun to drive. Just check out a few of the Santa Barbara destinations it took me too:
Santa Barbara Roasters – couldn’t miss up the coffee!Santa Barbara MissionSolvang – for the world’s best fudge :)The Beach
There are so many more features and exciting options on the 2014 Toyota Highlander. If you are looking for a family friendly vehicle that doesn’t sacrifice on safety and technology features AND is affordable, I definitely recommend checking out the Highlander.
Finally (and I know this is a long post, so thanks for reading), I want to thank Toyota for being so welcoming and friendly. I love meeting brands that truly care about their customers and listen to what we have to say.
Disclosure: I did receive a free trip to Santa Barbara to test drive the Highlander, however, this post is 100% my opinion and the sponsor did not change or alter this post. Read more on my Disclosure page.