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The Toyota Highlander, New Zealand’s ultimate family SUV, has had a premium make-over for 2017, with a modern, lean exterior complementing the dramatic powertrain and safety upgrades across the range.
Visually, a new trapezoidal grille with silver accents is flanked by updated halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights. There are fresh 18-inch alloy wheel designs on the GX and GXL (as well as a new power back door with glass hatch for the latter) and 19-inch alloys for the range-topping Limited model. All models gain new LED tail lamps, while the Limited receives additional chrome garnishes at the rear and chrome accents in the front.
Under the bonnet, Highlander is the first Toyota to adopt the advanced 2GR-FKS 3.5-litre, V6 engine, producing significant gains in power and torque – increases of 17kW (to 218kW) and 13Nm (to 350Nm) respectively – over the outgoing model. Paired with the new direct shift eight-speed automatic transmission, the new ratios deliver improved acceleration and overtaking ability.
It’s the first Toyota engine to combine VVT-iW with D-4S technology, allowing it to enter the Atkinson cycle under light loads for greater efficiencies, including reduced carbon emissions (down 25g/km) and reduced fuel consumption (by 1.1L/100km).
“Highlander has become established as a firm Kiwi favourite, and the latest improvements deliver more of everything that families and fleet operators want,” says Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Customer Services & Product Planning.
“We’ve increased performance, improved fuel economy, added safety features and given it a fresh look.”
As the superior seven-seater family vehicle in Toyota’s SUV line-up, Highlander’s extensive safety appointments that have seen it achieve a 5-star ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) safety rating across the range, are paramount for around-town driving during the busy working week, just as they are for weekend and holiday adventures.
Knowing this, Toyota has applied additional safety technology to the entire Highlander range:
• Emergency stop signal and trailer sway control have been added to all models.
• The Limited gains the Toyota Safety Sense package consisting of a pre-crash safety system with automatic braking, high-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assistance and automatic high beam.
• The Limited also has two front parking sensors to complement the four rear parking sensors (available on all models) and adds a rear cross-traffic alert to the existing blind spot monitor.
Inside the 2017 Highlander, the GX and GXL models gain a 4.2-inch colour multi-information display while the GXL receives a larger eight-inch audio display and now features satellite navigation with (where available) SUNA traffic alerts.
The Limited now has a panoramic view monitor – which provides the driver with a live 360-degree bird’s eye view around the vehicle to see potential obstacles from all angles - rain-sensing wipers and a silver wood-grain-style finish throughout.
All vehicles have a sliding second-row seat, while the third row has a 60:40 split to increase luggage capacity, offering both practicality and flexibility for busy families and industry-based utility-lovers.