Cars Toyota Harrier_2021_front

Published on June 23rd, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Toyota Harrier 2021 Model Test Drive Review

Will this new Harrier continue to deliver its great ownership experience?

When the first idea of an urban luxury 4×4 was conjured up by a car manufacturer, the initial idea 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 sedan and so the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) was born.

Since the arrival of the very first Toyota Harrier in Malaysia there has never been any negative remarks from owners about its drive comfort, reliability, resale value and its ability to provide a great ownership experience.

Toyota Harrier_2021_rear

Some History

In 1999 the Toyota Harrier revolution started in Malaysia just a year after its unveiling in Japan in 1997 and it has not slowed down. Approved Permit (AP) holders who import used vehicles from Japan started bringing them in by the dozens and until today you will see the last generation Harrier in almost all AP car showrooms.

However, it was only in late 2017 that UMW Toyota decided it was time to start selling this popular SUV and in early 2018 they launched the turbocharged 2.0-liter Harrier for RM238k and it was fully imported. Just months into the sale it was sold out and till today it is a hot seller. 

It Is New

Malaysians love this SUV for its commanding seating position, roominess, comfort, security, power and stylish looks. The Harrier was clearly more car for its asking price then and even today. This new Harrier is fitted with all new signature projector LED headlamps, a new grille design, long, sweeping body lines that accentuate the bold and wide styling of the vehicle, dual exhaust pipes, and LED light strips that give the rear end a futuristic look.

When compared to the previous version, this new Harrier is slightly lower, a bit wider and longer. 

BHP_Euro5 Diesel_2021_Lexus NX

New Cabin

Step inside and it is hard to say it is NOT a Lexus. It has luxury appointments and a high build quality that equals a Lexus NX crossover. The buyer gets all-round leather seats, a 12-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat; a steering column that automatically rises out of the way when getting in and out of the vehicle; a vehicle Head-Up Display (HUD); wireless charging pad; Automatic Dual-Zone Air Conditioning system with nanoeTMX technology; front and rear USB ports for convenience; a Kick Sensor Power Back Door; and advanced infotainment in the form of an Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Ready 8-inch capacitive touch screen.

Rear passengers are also well pampered. The ride height is high but not high enough to keep retirees and ladies with short skirts from feeling troubled. Three adults in the rear fit nicely as the rear floor is flat and void of a center tunnel allowing for the middle passenger to get equal leg and thigh space. Safety features are plentiful like in the Camry and RAV 4. 

Also equipped in this new Harrier is a panorama roof with electro-chromatic windows, used for the first time by Toyota. The windows use a large sheet of electro-chromatic glass that dims automatically with the push of a button, instantly reduces heat whilst giving an open air driving feel. This is the first of its kind in any luxury SUV right now. 

High Safety

This new Harrier comes with Toyota Safety Sense, which employs a pre-collision safety system that detects pedestrians during the day and at night, as well as cyclists during the day.

Harrier Driver Impression

To start, it is no longer turbocharged and there is a good reason. There is better fuel efficiency and most buyers will not miss the previous turbocharged engine as the demographic of buyers are looking for high comfort and reliability only. 

This new Harrier uses the TNGA (GA-K) platform for its basic structure. This creates a highly rigid body with a low center of gravity in pursuit of both ride comfort and vehicle driving performance with a focus on driver sensitivity.

There is hardly any body-roll to speak of, and it is very nice to drive through twisting sections of road. As far as handling goes this vehicle is more like a large luxury sedan than a SUV exhibiting fairly decent capabilities for something so large, yet the steering feels more like a sedan than some other competing luxury SUV.

What sets this new 4-cylinder engine in the Harrier apart is not its power delivery in itself but the way in which it delivers it. It is directly responsive at throttle, providing the driver with an entertaining and sensible throttle feedback. 

In ‘Sport’ mode, which can be selected by a simple button on the center console, the engine control extracts every last ounce of performance potential from the 4-cylinder engine. Gear ratios are handled by a quick shifting gearbox. 

In town traffic the vehicle occupants will not hear the passing traffic or feel the outside heat and this is what buyers of a luxury SUV want and need.

Rear luggage space is very good and with the powered tailgate, it is easy to use. 

Harrier Rivals

It is immediately clear that this Harrier only has European rivals in Malaysia. The Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and BMW X3 are its immediate rivals and are all priced higher. 

Some are full hybrids and another is a mild hybrid and we already know the issues that come with a hybrid vehicle in Malaysia. The low reliability, the high maintenance cost and the many other problems that previous hybrid owners in Malaysia have been complaining about on social media daily. So, the latest Mercedes GLC200 which is not a hybrid is the only rival to this 2021 Toyota Harrier and with a price of RM286k the GLC200 is RM37k more expensive.

Take both SUV’s for a test drive in the same morning and then over lunch decide which suits your needs. 

Toyota Harrier 2021 Model Specification

Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve, VVT-iE

Capacity: 1987cc

Transmission: CVT With Shiftmatic

Max Power: 173PS @ 6,600rpm

Max Torque: 203Nm @ 4,400-4,900rpm

0-100km/h: 9.7secs

Top Speed: 190km/h 

Price: RM249,705.50

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