2014 Mazda3, Toyota Highlander Earn NHTSA's Top Safety Rating

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Two redesigned-for-2014 vehicles have joined the ranks of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's five-star safety club. Both the sedan and hatchback versions of the Mazda3 compact car made the grade, as did regular and hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander three-row crossover.

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Both versions of the Mazda3 received scores of five stars in frontal- and side-impact tests and four stars in rollover tests for an overall score of five. The newly redesigned Mazda3's safety ratings compare favorably to those of its predecessor; the 2013 models both received an overall score of four stars, including five for frontal crashes, three for side-impacts and four for rollovers.

The 2014 Highlander models got four stars in frontal-impact and rollover ratings and five stars in side-impact tests for an overall score of five stars. The 2013 Highlander got an overall score of four stars.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2014 Toyota Highlander

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Vehicles Affected: About 7,067 model-year 2014 Toyota Highlander SUVs manufactured between Nov. 20, 2013, and Jan. 18, 2014.

The Problem: The third-row middle seat belt assembly may not have been properly secured to the vehicle floor anchorage. This could increase the risk of injury to an occupant in the event of a crash.

The Fix: Toyota will notify owners starting this month, and dealers will inspect the third-row middle seat belt anchor and, if necessary, properly secure it to the vehicle floor anchorage for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to www.safercar.gov, for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Toyota Highlander Cars.com Review

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After aiming low for a spell, Toyota has put the Highlander back on the high road with a crackerjack 2014 redesign. Gone is 2013's yawn-eliciting exterior style in favor of a bold, bulked-up appearance. Likewise, inside are classed-up materials and flourishes, a handy one-touch folding second row and a massive center storage bin. And while Easy Speak allows stereo-assisted admonishment of misbehaving kids, parents may want to consider whether the tykes are just annoyed at being roughed up by the "sporty" new ride. Read Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek's review below.

2014 Toyota Highlander Review

By Matt Schmitz | January 2, 2014 | Comments (10)

2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show

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Competes with: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot
Looks like: Its styling matches its updated-for-2014 non-hybrid sibling
Drivetrain: An electric motor teams with a 3.5-liter V-6 for a total of 280 hp; CVT
Hits dealerships: February 2014

We got up close and personal with Toyota's redesigned midsize crossover at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, but the Highlander's hybrid sibling is making its global debut in L.A. this year. The 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, a three-row crossover, seats seven and goes on sale in February with a base price of $48,160, which is $930 more than the 2013 model. All-wheel-drive V-6-equipped non-hybrid models start at $32,840 for 2014; all prices include an $860 destination fee.

More 2013 L.A. Auto Show Coverage  

Exterior

Like its non-hybrid sibling, the 2014 version got a styling makeover. It wears the same muscular look up front and sleek body side lines. It's around 3 inches longer and a half-inch wider this year. 

By Jennifer Geiger | November 20, 2013 | Comments (10)

Does Passenger Volume Measure Trunk Space?

"Does passenger capacity include the trunk area when the seats are folded?"

Anonymous

By Rick Popely | November 16, 2013 | Comments (0)

Which Crossover SUV Is the Most Fuel Efficient?

"Which crossover SUV is the most fuel efficient?"

Norman M., Brooklyn, N.Y.


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That honor goes to the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV — a low-production electric version sold only in California at the moment — that earns the equivalent of 78 mpg for city driving, 74 mpg for highway and a combined city/highway rating of 76. Given that the RAV4 EV might not be available in your neighborhood, or be a good choice for your needs, the Lexus RX 450h hybrid has a combined city/highway rating of 30 mpg with front-wheel drive and 29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The similar, but less-luxurious, Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in at 28 mpg with standard all-wheel drive.

Other crossover SUVs with higher EPA ratings are the Buick Encore (28 mpg), Mazda CX-5 (29 mpg), Subaru XV Crosstrek (28 mpg), and the Mini Countryman and Paceman (31 mpg with manual transmission, 27 mpg with automatic). The XV Crosstrek has standard all-wheel drive, but the other ratings are for front-wheel-drive models. The numbers will be lower on all-wheel-drive versions, and because these are just estimates, your mileage is sure to vary.

The Cars.com Vehicle Recommender, found here, can help you sort through the dozens of crossover SUVs to find the ones that offer the right combination of mileage, price, size and features.

Have a car question you'd like us to answer? Send us an email at [email protected], or ask in the comments below.

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By Rick Popely | August 25, 2013 | Comments (1)

Toyota Hopes to Squeeze Excitement out of 'SpongeBob' Highlander

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Who drives his own crossover under the sea? If you read that question to the tune of a certain Nickelodeon children's show's theme song, the answer is obvious: SpongeBob SquarePants! This past weekend, Toyota unveiled a one-of-a-kind 2014 Highlander concept created to sponge off the popularity of the wacky and wildly popular cartoon character.

The world's "first SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired vehicle," which debuted last Saturday in San Diego during SpongeBob Day at the Padres versus San Francisco Giants baseball game, features exterior and interior designs customized in honor of the pants-wearing, pineapple-residing Porifera and his pals. The SpongeBob Highlander will tour the nation, making stops between July and December in Baltimore; Orlando, Fla.; Minneapolis; Chicago; Vail, Colo.; Oakland, Calif.; and Los Angeles. It ends its trek at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, which runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1. The redesigned-for-2014 Highlander first bowed at the 2013 New York International Auto Show last spring.

By Matt Schmitz | July 15, 2013 | Comments (5)

Cars.com Reviews the 2013 Toyota Highlander

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In the last year before its redesign, the 2013 Toyota Highlander still has the comforting, familiar presence of an old friend — not the flashy, adventurous friend you paint the town red with, but the one you can always talk to or count on to water your plants when you're away. Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman says the midsize SUV's roominess, power, comfort and utility, along with influential exterior styling that holds up, make it a versatile family vehicle that does everything you need it to — unless what you need is exhilaration. Read Bragman's review.

2013 Toyota Highlander Review
By Matt Schmitz | July 4, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 Toyota Highlander Video

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With the 2014 Highlander, Toyota says it has addressed shortcomings that led to a fifth-place finish in our $37,000 SUV Challenge. The popular SUV debuted at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, and Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says its improvements include a higher-quality interior with touch-point padding and upgraded tech such as standard Bluetooth connectivity and a backup camera. While once-stingy cargo room has improved, Mays notes the Highlander still trails competitors in that department.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Exterior updates to the longer, wider SUV include a more vertical front end with a chrome strip running between the headlights and through the grille as well as RAV4-like taillights. The new Highlander is set to hit dealerships in early 2014. Check out the video below.

By Matt Schmitz | March 27, 2013 | Comments (6)

2014 Toyota Highlander: Photo Gallery

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They say it's what's inside that counts — but we all know no self-improvement kick is complete without an image makeover to go with it. And so it goes with the 2014 Toyota Highlander, which the automaker has dutifully spruced up, inside and out. Exterior updates include a lower, more aerodynamic roofline; longer, wider body; and larger rear quarter windows and repositioned front A-pillars, both of which improve visibility.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Inside are overdue interior upgrades like a soft-touch instrument panel and noise-reducing acoustic glass. That's in addition to a reported 34% cargo-space boost, as well as seating for an eighth passenger thanks to a wider third row. Check out the gallery below. Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Matt Schmitz | March 27, 2013 | Comments (3)

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