Travel

Road Trip to the Desert in 2016 Toyota Highlander

2016 Toyota Highlander at Tohono Chul Park

We are a road trip family, which means that if we can drive somewhere we do. Even if it’s to the desert in the summer. My boys and I went on a road trip to Tucson to see family and ended up in La Quinta, California – the only place hotter than Tucson in the summer.

Family Road Trip

It’s a long way to go and I wanted us to be as comfortable – and cool! – as possible so I requested a car to review. I already drive a super reliable 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Thanks to Toyota, I was able to drive a beautiful, brand new 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE.

2016 Toyota Highlander at Tohono Chul Park

The Highlander was very roomy inside and all of us remarked on how comfortable we were on the 9-hour drive. Most importantly, the air conditioner worked really well and cooled the car quickly. It was around 100 degrees most of our trip. My boys’ favorite feature was the built-in sun shade on the passenger door windows.

The 2016 Toyota Highlander had great features like a built-in shade and big back area.

The back area can hold a third row or lots of luggage. Our favorite feature were the built-in window shades.

The first day we were in town, my brother took me on a 20-mile bike ride on the paved Loop Trail. We started in Oro Valley and rode to Tucson. It was so beautiful, I went back later in the week and ran the trail.

The Loop Trail in Tucson is a beautiful paved bike and pedestrian trail.

We had a great time seeing family in Tucson. My mom is the best cook in the world so we only ate dinner out once at El Charro – it was delightful. I really wanted to try The Screamery, an ice cream shop started by a woman I went to high school with that is getting rave reviews. They have three locations in Tucson and we went to the one by the University of Arizona, my alma mater. It was out of the way to get there, but it was so worth it! It’s hand-crafted ice cream with grass-fed dairy and interesting flavors. I had blueberry cheesecake and coffee toffee.

The Screamery in Tucson is delicious old-fashioned ice cream with modern flavors.

After five days in Tucson we headed to La Quinta to meet up with my husband and our friends. Before we left town we stopped at La Mesa Tortillas for fresh, warm tortillas to share with the other families.

La Mesa Tortillas in Tucson

It was about a 5-hour drive to La Quinta. We arrived and jumped in the pool right away. It was the beginning of the heat way so the next day we decided to beat the heat and head to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It took us up to Mount San Jacinto where the temperatures were in the 80s instead of the 100s.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

We hiked around for a couple of hours and had a great time.

Mt. San Jacinto State Park

We left La Quinta at just the right time – it was 117 degrees. We had a nice drive home and we were sad to give the car back. It was great on the highway and just as good in the city – even my 95-year-old grandmother thought it was very comfortable and cute. Our roadtrip was long, but we had a great time together listening to podcasts and music and just talking. Driving around in the  2016 version of my car made me really want to get a new one. The Highlander is such a reliable car – other than the occasional recall – I don’t know when I’ll need to upgrade.

Disclosure: I was loaned the Toyota Highlander for a week for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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Yvonne Condes (745 Posts)

Yvonne Condes is the Editor and Co-Founder of MomsLA.com. She is a Los Angeles Mom of 2, former newspaper reporter, and occasional marathoner. Also find her at her personal Latina blog YvonneInLA.com and @YvonneInLA and MomsLA.


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