Ever since the launch of the first-generation model in 1998, the Toyota Harrier has been a firm favorite among the crossover-buying crowd, wooing buyers with its good looks, great build quality, and decent practicality. Its biggest draw was perhaps that it was a Lexus RX save for the engine, badges, and price tag. It’s also no secret that these siblings were so identical that many owners swapped out the Toyota and Harrier badging for Lexus ones.
Following the launch of the third-generation Lexus RX in 2009, the Harrier soldiered on as the old model based on the second generation RX launched in 2004. However, this year the Harrier makes a comeback as a stand-alone model.
With this new generation, the Harrier is detached from its RX sibling and is instead based on the Toyota RAV4 platform. The Harrier sports new sheet metal that is also no longer be shared with the RX, an attempt to prevent the cannibalization of Lexus RX sales where the Harrier is exported.
The new Harrier is without doubt a handsome car, it manages to carry the curves on its body without looking too busy. The chiseled front nose features a bold chrome strip and a grille with 3D slats, though it does not actually let the car breathe. Chrome is also featured on the fog light surrounds, door handles, and door rubbing strips.
Round the back, the swoopy lines are especially concentrated around the rear LED lights, giving the car plenty of character. Around the car, despite being designed with a clean slate, it still evident to connect the Harrier back to its predecessors, the rear quarter windows feature the signature upward kink and the tapered tailgate, both found in the second generation Harrier/RX.
Inside, occupants will be bathed in a sea of quality materials. The interior is free from cheap and hard plastics, but instead heavily features soft-touch plastics and lush leather matched with contrast stitching on the door panels and most of the dash trimmings. That said, the shiny plastic trim on the center console is a magnet for fingerprints.
The upper portion of each door panel features an embossed Harrier logo on the leather, which depicts a stylized hawk. This logo is also featured in the information screen between the speedometer and tachometer. The door sill plate is illuminated in a cool blue, lighting up the word “Harrier”.
In the car tested, there was plenty of kit. The front seats are electrically operated, the dual-zone air conditioning controls are touch-sensitive and a joy to operate, there is a full panoramic roof to play with, and there are plenty of controls on the steering wheel.
The seats, which also feature contrast stitching, are especially comfortable and offer plenty of support, while the rear seats have plenty of legroom while the backrests may be adjusted for tilt. The boot is large, and the powered tailgate makes light work of loading grocery shopping and golf bags.
To drive, it is may be a tad light (like most Toyotas), but the car is able to tackle corners and bends confidently and precisely with good grip.
The 2.0-litre four cylinder engine produces 151bhp and 192Nm of torque, and sounds slightly rough when pushed, but pulls well and never feels inadequate moving the 1600kg body around.
Riding on 18 inch rims, the ride is fairly good, though over imperfect road surfaces and humps, the ride may be harsher, though never bouncy or uncomfortable. Interestingly, during our test drive, we noted that the ride on the rear seats felt smoother than on the front seats.
The “Super CVT-i” gearbox drones a little, but it is extremely efficient and plays a big part in contributing to the decent fuel consumption figures of 12 to 13km/L. It also has selectable settings, with”PWR” for sprightlier performance, and “ECO” for smoother and more relaxed drives.
Noise and tyre roll from is well insulated from the cabin, which is austerely quiet save for the engine noise.
The Toyota Harrier is a car that aims to transport its occupants in comfort while giving the driver a fuss-free and straightforward driving experience, and as a spacious and more luxurious family car or a middle executives runabout, it certainly fits the bill very well.
We love its good looks, acres of space in the cabin, the quality touches and details, and the fuss-free nature of the car.