15 March 2021

The fourth-generation Toyota Harrier may just be the quietest and most comfortable car for its price.

Singapore might be a little late to the Toyota Harrier party as it was only officially introduced 3-4 years ago. However, the market has more than made up for lost time as this Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) has quickly become a firm favourite. The sheer numbers seen on local road will attest to that.

The style and build quality of the new Toyota Harrier could easily pass for a Lexus

In the SUV segment, the Harrier is known for its highly stylised design. This 4th-generation model takes its good looks to another level with shapely bodywork and on-trend styling cues such as the light strip across the rear. These can also be found on cars like the Porsche Taycan, Hyundai Avante and the Lexus UX, among others.

Features and party tricks

Inside, the cabin compliments the exterior with plush leather seats, a large central touchscreen and its newest party trick; a panoramic moonroof that goes from clear to opaque at the touch of a button. This blocks out the heat to a certain extent and keeps the ambience airy. However, if the glare is still too much for you, there is also a proper retractable cover to block out the light altogether.

The panoramic moonroof instantly goes from clear to opaque at a touch of a button

Other impressive features for a car at the Harrier’s $160k-$170k price point is the LED mirror which uses the feed from a rear facing camera for an unobstructed view if you have backseat passengers. You’d have to step up to a Land Rover Defender at twice the cost to see this feature in another car.

Another first for the Harrier is the Head Up Display (HUD) for the driver. Now found on the Harrier and recently reviewed Yaris Cross, this classy feature looks set to be the norm in the mainstream market.

The latest Harrier is the first to be built on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) platform. Also found in the Camry, RAV4 and latterly its Lexus cousin the ES sedan, this chassis endows its cars with impressive levels of comfort, refinement as well as decent handling to boot.

So expect nothing less in the new Harrier. Adding to this, the the upper end models (of three variants) are powered by a 215hp 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. Meanwhile, the entry model is fitted with a 2.0-litre engine that makes a modest 170hp.

Theses figures might not seem too exciting, but in reality, the Harrier hybrid feels brisk enough. This is thanks to the nature of its 88kW (118hp) electric motor that delivers its maximum torque of 202Nm instantly.

How it drives

I suspect most owners however, will be more impressed when this car is driven at a more moderate pace. At low to medium speeds, where most of us spend our time driving, the Harrier is whisper quiet. It renders a cushy ride to pamper all aboard.

The Harrier is named after a bird of prey

From a standstill to 70 or 80km/h, the Harrier hybrid operates as an Electric Vehicle (EV) for as long as its batteries have sufficient charge. If more power is called for, the 2.5-litre engine wakes up and works in tandem to drive the front wheels and charge the batteries.

What’s really impressive is how the Harrier hybrid transitions from electric to petrol power and back again imperceptibly. It also doesn’t take long for the system to recharge the batteries to get the car into EV mode again.

On full tank of petrol, the Harrier hybrid indicates a potential range of over 800km and two days or driving on local roads suggest that this estimate is entirely realistic.

Light strips across the rear are becoming a ubiquitous design trend.

Toyota now has two SUVs to choose from that are roughly the same size – The Harrier and the RAV4. The Harrier’s sleeker styling and availability of the hybrid option should make it the more popular of the pair.

It would be better if…

In the Harrier, there are lots of storage compartments and charging points to keep the most tech-savvy families entertained. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available but lack wireless connectivity. This would have complemented the wireless charger located in the recesses of the centre console.

Toyota Harrier is curiously spec’d with a heated steering wheel. Perhaps it’s part of the package that comes with the heated and ventilated electrically-adjustable front seats

With its high level of refinement and impressive list of features, it makes us wonder if the Harrier is giving its Lexus colleagues any sleepless nights. In any case, it’s the customer that wins in the end as it mean that a luxury level SUV now can be had for Toyota money.

Need to know

Toyota Harrier Hybrid
Engine: 2,487cc, 4-cylinder with 88kW (118hp) electric motor
Power: 215hp (combined system output)
Torque: 221Nm (petrol) 202Nm (electric)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), FWD
0-100km/h: 8.1 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
VES: A2 ($15,000 rebate)
Base price: $172,888 with COE

Contact: Borneo Motors (Singapore)

If you’re interested in hybrid SUVs, read about the Toyota Yaris Cross here.