By Nat Shirley
Wednesday, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 11:45 am
 

Minivan versatility without the minivan stigma - that's long been the Toyota Highlander's recipe for success, and a redesign for 2014 helps the three-row crossover better deliver on both fronts.

Design-wise, a bolder front end with wrap-around headlights and a trapezoidal grille means the new Highlander's exterior in no way puts out the dreaded minivan vibe. But things are more utilitarian than ever inside, with a revised, more compact rear suspension making room for an eighth passenger and, critically, 34 percent more cargo space behind the third row seats.

Clever storage solutions abound, including a trey that spans 2/3 of the dashboard, and Toyota has also developed a unique "Easy Speak" microphone system that lets parents be heard over the din of bickering children in the back of the Highlander. Just as horsepower makes a muscle car and towing capability sells pickups, it's these little practical touches that are of prime importance in a family-friendly vehicle, even in one that most assuredly is not a minivan.

Join our Ron Doron for a closer look at the 2014 Highlander, and be sure to check our first drive review and Buying Guide for more information.