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The Toyota Highlander will arrive early next year, the latest offering to the Toyota SUV line-up, featuring all wheel drive and seating for up to seven people. Both spacious and versatile with 658 litres boot space, it is bound to appeal to family users. Equipped with the highly efficient fourth generation Toyota full hybrid electric power train with AWD-i intelligent all-wheel drive.

The hybrid system has an output of 241bhp and CO2 figures from 146g/km to deliver the best-in-segment balance of power and emissions. The full hybrid power train features a 2.5 litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with front and rear electric motors. The rear motor provides the vehicle’s AWD-i intelligent all-wheel drive and a high-voltage nickel-metal hydride battery is located beneath the second row seats. You can use the vehicle’s Drive Mode Select system to switch between Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail modes. Each of these can also be used when Highlander is running its separately switchable EV all-electric mode. According to Toyota, the newcomer will join the established D-segment RAV4 and C-segment C-HR and the new B-segment Yaris Cross that will also be introduced next year. The huge Japanese manufacturer has an unmatched 23 years’ experience in developing hybrid technology, during which time it has produced nine models, gained 15 million customers and progressed to a fourth generation of self-charging hybrid electric power trains. It has combined this with its reputation for quality, durability and reliability and its strong SUV heritage to create the new Highlander which is built on the company’s GA-K platform.

Highlander brings together the Toyota SUV qualities of comfort, drivability and safety with a fuel and emissions-efficient hybrid power train, intelligent, all-wheel drive, a flexible interior and a two-tonne towing capacity. Looking at dimensions, the newcomer is 4,950mm long and is fitted with striking 20 inch alloy wheels, creating an urban SUV look that is sleek, dynamic and sophisticated, matched with the power, durability and rugged appeal of a versatile AWD vehicle.

Moving to the interior, and there is practicality, durability and space-on-demand in a comfortable, premium-quality environment. This is an authentic seven-seater: a 180mm sliding range for the second row seats ensures spacious third row accommodation for two adults and easy access. Ease of use, a kick-sensor allows hands-free access to the generous litre luggage area. There is also underfloor storage space; while fully flat-folding the third and second row seats can bring the load capacity up to 1,909 litres. The design of the cabin provides plenty of storage compartments plus USB ports for the front and second row seats. Premium equipment features will include a multimedia system, satellite navigation, head-up display, wireless phone charging, Smartphone connection via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, ventilated front seats and a digital rear-view mirror that provides a wide image unobscured by rear passengers or headrests.

There are a number of noise reduction measures to maintain a quiet cabin environment which include an acoustic windscreen, silencers in the roof, dashboard and floor, and liners in the wheel arches and load space. The calm interior adds to the inherently smooth and quiet performance of the full hybrid power train. High levels of safety thanks to the latest Toyota Safety Sense package of active safety and driver assistance systems. These include a Pre-Collision System with active steer assist, to provide further collision avoidance support. The PCS can also detect pedestrians in the vehicle’s path by both and day and night, and bicycle riders in daylight. Other features include full-range Adaptive Cruise Control with Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert and Lane Tracing Assist, and Automatic High Beam.

Ian Lynas