Home' Motoring Plus : May 7th 2014 Contents 4 —THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Drive this hidden treasure...
❚ Continued from page C3
AT A GLANCE
DOHC V6 petrol engine, six-
speed automatic transmission
with ECO drive indicator.
Outputs: 201kW at 6200rpm,
337Nm at 4700rpm, 0-100kmh
in 8.3 seconds, 10.2L/100km,
Chassis: McPherson strut front
suspension, double wishbone
setup at the rear, electric
vehicle speed-sensitive power
Safety: Seven airbags, stability
control, hill-start assist, lane
change function, rear parking
assist, reversing camera.
Dimensions: L 4865mm, W
1925mm, H 1730mm, W/base
2790mm, ground clearance
Hot: Improved interior room
and ergonomics, better auto
transmission, sound drive.
Not: New look remains fairly
Verdict: It will be interesting to
watch if more customers do opt
for a loaded SUV that isn’t all-
wheel drive. I think they will.
Efficient design: The new Highlander’s exterior look is quite
conservative, but it does work well in that it translates to
excellent interior room.
Inside: A feature of Highlander’s
interior is the parcel tray that runs
along the bottom of the dash area.
which retailed for $67,780, to offer
all the luxuries.
But what if someone wanted a
Highlander with a luxurious level
of specification but who did not
need it to be all-wheel drive?
That’s where this new 2WD GXL
crosses that divide.
The GXL is not the least
expensive model. That role has
been taken up by a 4WD GX that
costs $59,990. Then there’s the
2WD at $61,990, followed by the
$65,990 4WD version, and at the
top of the range are two more
4WD Highlanders, a $74,490
Limited and a $80,990 Limited ZR.
To all intents and purposes it
looks just like any other medium-
large SUV, and in fact it has the
same 200mm ground clearance as
the 4WD Highlanders. Really, the
only thing missing is the AWD
Lock switch that is aboard the
Maybe that explains why when
I picked up the GXL for road test,
the first thing I did was trundle
across a rural property in the
rain. It was only when the
vehicle’s front wheels started to
scrabble for traction when
moving up a fairly innocuous hill
that I remembered that it might
not be able to get there, so I chose
a more gentle gradient.
It’s a different story on the seal,
however. It’s there that in some
respects the 2WD Highlander is
superior to the 4WD models
because a combination of lighter
weight and fewer under-body
mechanicals mean acceleration is
better and fuel economy superior.
This SUV can accelerate to
100kmh in 8.3 seconds which is
half a second quicker than the
4WD models, while the official
combined average fuel
consumption is 10.2L/100km
which is better than the
10.6L/100km achieved by the
The USA-built Highlander is
exclusively petrol so it meets the
needs of the North American
markets, and it isn’t available in
Europe which has a far greater
acceptance of diesel product.
The V6 engine does work well
though. It continues to offer
201kW of power and 337Nm of
torque, but this time around it is
mated to a new six-speed
automatic transmission that
features artificial intelligence
shift control, which intuitively
alters gear ratio shift patterns in
response to road conditions and
It didn’t do anything special
when I declared my intention to
trundle across the Bertrand Rd
bridge – it simply dropped down
into first gear as I rolled the
wheels onto the very narrow
wooden decking and slowly drove
across, thus giving my wife
plenty of time to look down into
the flooded Waitara River below.
I hadn’t told her that the
Highlander’s kerb weight of
1950kg was less than half the
It’s easy to look over the side of
any bridge in this Toyota, too.
Thanks to that 200mm ground
clearance and high ride height,
there’s great visibility from any
of the three rows of seats.
The new model is longer than
before, and this combines with a
revised rear suspension design to
provide a big increase in
available space. There’s also a lot
more load space, and when the
third row of seats is folded down
there is 813 litres of cargo room.
One interior design element
that I do like is a large tray that
runs under the dash area..
There’s also a big storage box in
the centre console.
At the GXL level of
specification standard items
includes keyless entry and start,
dual-zone climate control air
conditioning, heated and
electrically operated front seats,
leather upholstery, a 3.5-inch
multi-information display, and
All 2014 Highlanders – the 2WD
model included – feature a
comprehensive suite of active and
passive safety technology
including ABS brakes with
distribution and brake assist,
traction control, hill-start assist,
and downhill assist.
So does the new 2WD Toyota
Highlander bridge a previous
divide between two-wheel drive
and better specification – or is the
thought of a highly specified SUV
offering only front-wheel drive a
bit of a bridge too far?
I think the people who buy this
Toyota simply won’t care,
because they will have got their
hands on an SUV that offers all
the bells, whistles, lifestyle
elements and perceived security
that is associated with such
product, without having to shell
out for the extra cost of all-wheel
This Highlander is more
expensive than the entry AWD
version, but that’s because of the
cost of specification which is used
all the time, and not for
offroading ability which might be
hardly used at all. It’s an
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