We'll admit that we're a bit envious of Toyota's line up in their home market: Japan.
While we do get a lot of similar models, there are a few that we don't really get in our market. One of those is the Toyota Harrier, a crossover that has been around since 1997. The direction was clear for Toyota's initial crossover revolution: the RAV4 will be marketed for more outgoing, more adventurous individuals, while the Harrier was intended for more mature customers.
If the Harrier name is unfamiliar, then perhaps its cousin from Lexus would ring more bells: the first generation RX crossover from 1998.
The Harrier has since moved away from its close relations with the Lexus RX over the years and continues to be one of the most popular crossovers sold by Toyota in Japan. Whether you’re in Osaka, Tokyo or anywhere in the country for the matter, you’re bound to see one wherever you go. While the current generation model may still look quite new, it is in fact 7 years old this year.
Thankfully they now have a new generation model, though given the current global situation (read: social distancing) Toyota is doing the reveal online.
Stylewise, the fourth-generation Harrier features design cues of the newest Toyotas while blending in the familiar shape of the out-going model. In particular, the slim rear end taillights appear to be heavily inspired by the 2nd generation Mirai.
The same can be said about the crossover’s front bumper with a single large intake vent at the center paired with smaller vents to the side. Meanwhile, the “one-piece” grill design of the outgoing model has been carried over, though the grill now features the Toyota badge instead of the trademark eagle emblem. The grille is now flanked by slim LED headlights to complement the slim rear taillights. The styling is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
The all-new Harrier is now underpinned by the TNGA (GA-K) platform, meaning it uses the same platform and architecture of the current RAV4. It measures in 4,740mm long, 1,855mm wide, and 1,660mm tall with a 2,690mm wheelbase.
There are two engine options available. The first is a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine which produces 171 PS and 207 Nm torque paired with a Direct Shift-CVT. The second is a 2.5-liter hybrid mill which has a combined output of 218 PS and shifts via an electric CVT.
Inside, the Harrier features a dashboard design similar to what you’d find in the rest of Toyota’s lineup. Front and center is a large touchscreen infotainment screen. There aren’t a lot of physical buttons on the center console and instead feature soft-touch units. Leather can be seen all around the cabin, and even features some woodwork.
Possibly the most amusing feature of the new Harrier’s interior would be the panoramic sunroof; the one in the Harrier is equipped with electric shades and electrochromic glass. As a result, you can dim the glare of sunlight without having to fully close the shades.
Like most modern Toyotas, the Harrier comes with a host of Toyota Safety Sense feature including Active Cornering Assist (ACA), which according to Toyota applies braking to reduce understeer when taking corners. Other features include forward pre-collision, Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Parking Support Brakes. Also a first is Digital Inner Mirror, which records images in front of the vehicle as well as behind it when driving.
The RAV4 and Harrier may share the same TNGA platform variant but it's clear that the Harrier is the Toyota crossover meant for a more sophisticated clientele while the RAV4 continues to be marketed at more adventurous buyers. If the strategy worked in the mid-90s, it should work for Toyota in the 2020s.