Toyota Harrier is the RAV4 we really want

With stylish, sleek looks and loads of tech, the Toyota Harrier would do well in Australia – but don’t hold your breath about buying one

2020 Toyota Harrier
  • New Toyota Harrier debuts in Japan
  • Virtually identical to RAV4 under the skin
  • Will it come to Australia?

Say hello to the Toyota RAV4’s slimmer, sexier sibling, the Harrier. Launched this week in Japan, the five-seat, five-door Harrier is a cutting-edge SUV that slots size-wise neatly between Toyota’s family-sized RAV4 and the bigger, older Kluger.

Details on the Toyota Harrier dropped this week, and the more we look at it, the more that we’re convinced that it could have a lot of potential fans outside of its home market of Japan.

Toyota Harrier 2 Jpg

The Harrier is the latest Toyota product to move over to the car giant’s all-encompassing global platform, the TNGA-K, which has imbued the Toyota line-up with a new sparkle when it comes to driving dynamics. It’s the same platform that sits under cars like the Camry, too.

At 4740mm long, it’s 140mm longer than a RAV4 and 210mm shorter than a Kluger, but measures the same width-wise as a RAV. Thanks to that new, swoopy roofline, though, it sits 25mm lower than the more boxy RAV4.

In terms of powertrains, the Harrier is almost a carbon copy of the RAV4, offering either a 131kW hybridised 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine backed by a CVT transmission or a conventional 126kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine using the same kind of gearbox.

The hybrid version can be had in electrically-assisted all-wheel-drive or conventional front-wheel-drive, while the 2.0-litre motor appears to have lost its turbocharger from the previous iteration of the Harrier. Interestingly, the hybrid Harrier offers a 100v/1500w outlet that uses the car’s battery as a power supply.

Styling-wise, the Harrier stands in obvious contrast to its boxier RAV4 sibling, with a curvier, more sensual design language that looks more Lexus than the big T. This is no coincidence – the Harrier is a snapshot of the next-generation Lexus NX SUV, at least when it comes to technology.

Toyota Harrier 9 Jpg

Speaking of new technology, the Harrier debuts a number of updated active safety measures for Toyota, including a pre-collision safety system that detects pedestrians day and night, as well as cyclists during the day. There is an Intelligent Clearance Sonar system that detects stationary objects, which will stop the Harrier before you biff a parking pole.

A new Digital Inner Mirror system is a factory-fitted dashcam set-up, too, which will enable the Harrier to record images both in front of and behind the car.

Toyota Harrier 8 Jpg

Other new and updated systems include torque-vectoring at the front wheels, a revised MacPherson strut front/multilink rear end and new dampers.

A 12.3in central touchscreen takes pride of place in an interior that’s more elegantly curved than the hard-edged RAV4, and it offers satellite navigation, smartphone mirroring and digital radio.

There is a lot of leather and faux wood grain going on in the Harrier, which also features the first-ever panoramic glass roof offered by the company. The roof is equipped with both photo-chromatic shading and electric sun visors.

Is the Toyota Harrier coming to Australia? We reached out to Toyota for an official answer, and it's unexpected. 

"The Harrier is not a vehicle that has traditionally been available in Australia and is currently not in our plans for introduction here," a Toyota spokesperson told us.

The company is currently selling every RAV4 it can get its hands on, and even though the Harrier would present little in the way of logistical barriers, the costs of bringing it to market here need to be weighed against potential sales volumes.

If the Harrier pushes through the $60,000 barrier – and given the RAV4 Edge tops out at around $48,000 before on-road costs - it starts to intrude on stablemate Lexus’s territory, as well.


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