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As soon as we bought our house here in Connecticut, it was time to tackle the next big purchase on our list; cars. Neither MacKay or I had owned a car in nearly five years. We’ve driven a handful of times throughout these years, but they have all been rentals cars which we didn’t put much thought into when we rented. Now we needed to find cars that would suit our family of five.

I couldn’t have said yes quick enough when Toyota offered the new 2014 Highlander to our family for a week. We were back and forth from the city and Connecticut and were getting a little tired of taking the train with all of the kiddos.

Prior to the loan, the Highlander was on my short list of cars for us to check out because it can hold up to eight people. I was so excited to get an opportunity to test it out for our family for a week so we could really get the chance to see if it worked for us.

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The dashboard was one of my favorite parts of the interior of the car. It featured a backup camera (which was perfect in helping us parallel park in the city,) a navigation system (because I still haven’t memorized out to get from the city to Connecticut,) and Entune App Suite which allows you to listen to music, buy movie tickets, and make restaurant reservations, gas prices, and access information on stocks, sports, traffic and weather all using the touch screen. It has voice command too which lets you control the navigation and more. I wasn’t a huge fan of it because it took to long to actually recognize the location that you want to go to, but MacKay loved it. It also has bluetooth capability which the girls loved because I was able to play the Frozen soundtrack from my phone throughout the car. We probably listened to “Do you want to build a snowman?”  a thousand times that week.

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With three kids, I have a ton of stuff that always needs to be in the car. Thankfully the Highlander is built with an incredible amount of storage space. The front dashboard has a space that reaches all the way to the front passenger side of the car. When MacKay was driving, I was able to keep all of my stuff on “my side” of the car without interfering with his driving. It also has USB ports that you can plug your phone or electronics into to charge.

The storage compartment between the driver and passenger seat was huge! I was able to fit my entire purse in it while driving. No more storing it on the floorboard during trips. That was a huge plus for me because I hate having clutter in the car.

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I mentioned that the Highlander has a third row seat, which was a mandatory request for three little ones with car seats. Although having the third seat was great, it was a bit cramped for Harlan and significantly reduced the amount of trunk space. It would be hard to fit suitcases for our entire family or groceries in the back of the car because of the limited trunk space.

Harlan did seem rather comfortable in the backseat, but I don’t think it would be extremely comfortable for an older child or an adult because of the lack of leg room. This was really my only con of the car, but it was to be expected as most SUVs with a third row limit both trunk space and leg room unless you get a minivan or much bigger SUV  (which we ultimately bought because we needed the extra space.)

I did appreciate that it did have a  tether for the car seats in the center, but it made it nearly impossible to see out of the back of the car.

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Another great feature was the blind spot technology on the rear view mirror. The little symbol on the mirror lights up when a car is approaching your blind spot. This is great for highway driving. It also had a feature that tells you when you are veering into the other lane. A light on the dashboard lights up and you can also allow it to vibrate on your seat.

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As I mentioned, the trunk space was limited when the third row is up, but if you didn’t have the third row up, there is plenty of room in the back. We were able to put down 1/3 of the back seat for extra room while still having room for Harlan’s car seat in the third row.

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Ultimately we loved the 2014 Toyota Highlander for the smooth ride, extra storage space, and technology. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the car for our family because we just need the extra room in the back. If you have a smaller family or have kids that aren’t in car seats, I would definitely recommend the 2014 Highlander.

{Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I received the Highlander for a week for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own.} 

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