*Thanks to Toyota for providing my travel and other accommodations during this event. All opinions expressed below are my own.
I have driven my Toyota 4Runner for a little over 7 years now. It was the first brand new car that I had ever bought for myself and I love it. Even after 7 years this has been the most reliable vehicle that I have ever owned and a great family car. Earlier this month I was asked to attend an event to preview the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander. Being the Toyota fan that I am, I thought this would be a great way to test out the new SUV and have some fun in the process.
The first leg of my journey landed me in the beautiful town of Carmel, California. I have been to California before but this was a side of this state I had never seen before. Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe Carmel.
For the two nights I was in Carmel I was very fortunate to stay at the Carmel Valley Ranch. This amazing property in nestled right in heart of Carmel between the mountains and the ocean so you really get the best of both worlds. The room was absolutely amazing but I have to say that having a fireplace right there in your room puts this place way above the others.
Upon arrival I checked into my room and then headed downstairs to learn about the new 2014 Highlander and get a first hand look at this new SUV. If your thinking why is the Highlander any different than other SUV’s on the market, well the simple answer is there are lot’s of reasons!
The 2014 Toyota Highlander is the 3rd generation of Highlander and it has been redesigned with bold new exterior styling, family friendly features, the latest in advanced safety and audio technology. All of this while still maintaining it’s Toyota DNA of quality, durability and reliability. Some of my favorite features of the new Highlander include:
Seating for up to 8 people.
Oversized center console that is big enough to fit a large woman’s purse.
Second and third row air vents.
18 inch alloy wheels
Backup camera (LOVE these things!)
Entune Audio Systems which include hands-free Bluetooth streaming technology and advanced voice recognition.
Lane Departure Alert (which means it beeps at you telling you your in the other lane…yes I’m guilty.)
6.1 inch standard touchscreen
Heated and ventilated front seats with some models having second row heated seats too.
Our first full day in Carmel was packed full of exciting adventures but the best part was that we would be test driving the new 2014 Highlanders throughout the day. Toyota went above and beyond to make this experience one-of-a-kind. They had special maps made for us so that we could get to each destination easily and without getting lost. Our drives would take us through beautiful mountains, past the ocean and through the farm lands of Carmel.
The first stop of the day was at Pezzini Farms. This farm has been in business of growing and selling artichokes for over 50 years. The are one of the U.S top growers for Artichokes so chances are you have eaten one grown right here in the Artichoke capital of the world. I will admit that before this trip I had never eaten an artichoke. But the amazing folks at Pezzini whipped everyone up a batch of fried artichoke and I am now a fan for life. It was amazing to learn all about the farm and how they have grown into such a successful business. To learn more about Pezzini Farms you can visit http://www.pezzinifarms.com/.
The next stop was Tanimura & Antle Farms which has been growing premium vegetables for three generations. Their crops include premiere lettuce, cauliflower, Artisan lettuce, and hydroponic vegetables. The farm was absolutely beautiful and you can tell that they take a lot of pride in what they do.
Our last stop for the day was the Food Bank For Monterey County. Here we delivered fresh produce brought straight from the Tanimura & Antle Farms in the back of the 2014 Highlanders. I was blown away at how much boxes of food we were all able to get into the backs of the Highlanders. Once we all unloaded the vehicles we made our way inside to start helping but together food baskets in time for the holidays.
I have to tell you that I was so incredibly impressed by Toyota’s generosity during my time in Carmel. Not only did they help bring a TON of fresh produce from local farms and coordinate ways that we could all help put together food baskets, but they also made a nice donation to the food bank in all of our names. With this donation they were able to give sixteen hundred meals to families in need. It felt so great to be apart of this and with such a great company.
This event was such an amazing experience and I learned so much. I have always been a fan of Toyota but after seeing and driving the new 2014 Highlander throughout Carmel, I will admit that I am very tempted to trade in my 4Runner. The newly designed Highlander has everything that you could possibly be looking for in an SUV. It’s large but not too large, it’s sporty, has tons of room and storage and best of all it’s just really fun to drive.
To learn more about the all new 2014 Toyota Highlander you can visit your local dealer or visit Toyota online today.