Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Toyota or Lexus RX300/Harrier Used 1999 Car Review
When the first idea of an urban luxury 4×4 was conjured up by a car manufacturer, the initial principal was to provide a luxury 4×4 for the rich farmer, contractor, site engineer, timber merchant etc etc. You get the idea! However along the way, financially well heeled families decided that a 4×4 would be a better buy over the boring luxury van, i.e. the MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) and so the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) was born.
Today the SUV market is one of the fastest growing market segments in the automotive lineup and almost every manufacturer is jumping on the bandwagon with their own version. Some have a ‘killer’ range and others provide more of a luxury station wagon with 4×4 engineering like the Volvo XC70 did a few years ago. 12 years on and this phenomena has now hit the used car market in Malaysia with great success. Advertise a SUV and you will not be disappointed with the results. It sells faster and better than the previous bread and butter sedan and the most popular SUV in our market today is the Toyota Harrier. Also badged as a Lexus, its first introduction into the Malaysian market some 12 years ago brought fortune and smiles to every grey importer in the country. Most were even sold before the left Japan.
From its shiny chrome grille, to its projector-beam headlamps and swoopy streamlined shape the Harrier is a handsome car. The Harrier had no real competition with its refinement and sophistication then. All its nearest rivals like the Terrano, CRV and RAV4 were smaller and less luxurious. At introduction, Malaysian buyers were coming out of a 2 year long recession and they were looking for commanding seating position, roominess, comfort, all-weather traction, security, power and stylish looks. The Harrier was clearly more car for their money. It had a slightly lower climb-in height (and lower ground clearance) for easy entry, had a steeply raked windshield and a softer supple ride.
In terms of off-road abilities, the Harrier has not been equipped with a low-range transfer case and its all-wheel drive system was based on a more traditional centre differential with a viscous limited slip coupling and a limited slip rear differential. The Harrier was designed to provide reliable traction when the going gets slick on road. It was not ready for serious jungle bashing like the Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover.
Inside the Harriers cabin is roomy and very comfortable almost car like. Dominating the front of the Harrier’s interior is an oval center console unit with a full colour information screen. It displays the climate control and stereo system and on some models you have a TV module built in for the passengers only. Power from the 3.0 litre V6 is rated at 220 horsepower giving the Harrier good highway performance and in town grunt.
Today a used Harrier is still very desirable as their prices have fallen to very affordable levels. This is not to say that they are going to cheap. A 1999 3.0 V6 unit with a 4×4 drive will sell for as low as RM45,000. A 2-wheel drive 2.2 liter 4 cylinder model is cheaper by RM5-10,000 which is RM40k or so and comes with a lesser power and the ability to only be driven on tarmac. However the 2.2 is cheaper to maintain and run as its drive train is similar to the previous Camry 2.2. Switches in the Harrier can also be found in the Camry, so no surprises here for replacement maintenance. For most urban dwellers the 2.2 liter 2-wheel drive Harrier is a better buy as most owners will never go off road and with rising fuel prices it makes a more sensible purchase.