Another hybrid SUV joins Toyota’s Kiwi line-up

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Words: Matthew Hansen
19 Oct 2020

The all-new Toyota Highlander has touched down in New Zealand; subsequently ticking a range of firsts for the local distributor in the process.

For the first time, the Highlander is set to only be offered in hybrid form — Toyota New Zealand confirming that the 3.5-litre V6 petrol will no longer be offered locally. The model also represents Toyota’s first electrified seven-seater.

The new Highlander makes use of fresh architecture, paired to a 2.5-litre petrol four hybrid. It’s the same powertrain as in the in-demand RAV4 Hybrid, with four-wheel drive supported by its rear-mounted electric motor. Total power sits in the ballpark of 180kW.

On the outside the new Highlander adopts a sleeker nose and less in your face grille than the outgoing model. Around the back, meanwhile, its taillights look closer to those of the RAV4. Eagle-eyed Toyota fans will also spot the contour line that starts at the front doors and sweeps up over the rear wheels — a feature reminiscent of the GR Supra.

The announcement bolsters Toyota’s already very busy SUV line-up. It joins the C-HR, RAV4, Fortuner, Land Cruiser Prado, and Land Cruiser 200. The Yaris Cross and Corolla Cross are on the way to join them, too.

The C-HR and RAV4 are already offered as hybrids. The Yaris Cross, once landed, will also have an electrified variant. And it’s expected that the Corolla Cross will be available as a 1.8-litre hybrid, too.

In terms of seven-seat hybrid rivals, the Highlander takes on the likes of the smaller Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the upmarket Range Rover Sport, in a space that’s set to rapidly grow in the coming months.

“The next generation Highlander is a significant improvement on the outgoing model, with improved efficiency and flexibility for families,” says Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand Chief Operating Officer.

“The introduction of another hybrid to our line-up further complements our focus on moving towards a low emission economy, while delivering our customers with a fuel-efficient large SUV. The new Highlander is brand new from the ground up; a new platform for improved stability and handling, a new engine with class leading efficiency, new levels of safety and with a dynamic styling package.

“Toyota has now sold more than 15 million hybrid vehicles globally, including in excess of 17,000 in New Zealand. The all-new hybrid Highlander is the beneficiary of Toyota's global hybrid leadership, extensive experience in SUVs, and unrivalled reputation for quality, durability and reliability.”


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