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The Toyota Harrier, a mid-size SUV built on the K platform, was introduced to the Japanese auto market in December of 1997. The Harrier is not exported under its own name, but is rebadged as the Lexus RX 300. The Harrier did not replace a former model, but was introduced as a free standing marque from the beginning. It is now in its third generation and; since the Lexus brand is now offered in Japan, has morphed into a freestanding marque.

Toyota Harrier is considered luxurious, highly reliable. The interior and exterior have a refined style with superior technology.
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By 1994 Toyota executives had recognized the need for a luxury SUV in the Japanese market. The concept was to combine a luxury saloon, estate model, and an SUV. The result was the Sport Luxury Vehicle, or SLV, that premiered at the Chicago Auto Show on February 9, 1997. The SLV was a production ready concept that was broadly based on the Lexus ES 300 saloon. For production the SLV was renamed the Lexus RX 300; however, the Lexus brand was not available in Japan, so the vehicle was dubbed the Toyota Harrier for the Japanese market.

The Harrier/RX 300 featured a unibody chassis, front triangular quarter-windows, side mirrors that are mounted on the doors, a rear liftgate with a top mounted spoiler, and a two-tone exterior color scheme. The two-tone color was accented by grey lower body cladding. The higher stance, elevated seating, and larger size of the Harrier gave it a drag coefficient of 0.36 Cd, thus limiting its fuel efficiency potential. The Harrier was specifically designed for suburbanites, thus its larger size is considered a detraction for city dwellers.

First Generation (1997 - 2003)

The first generation of the Toyota Harrier went on sale in Japan in December of 1997. The Harrier base models are front-wheel drive vehicles that are powered by a 2163cc 5S-FE I4 engine that is coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. The combination is capable of 137 bhp and offers 9.5 km/l. These base models were given the Japanese model code GF-SXU10W. Toyota added a a full time four-wheel drive option that was given the Japanese model code GF-SXU15W. The same base I4 is used to power this unit as well. Both iterations are available in the base, G, and S trim levels. The word FOUR is used to distinguish four-wheel drive models from front wheel drive examples on the sales floor. The options added by upgrading trim levels include a JBL sound system, sport seats, and a leather steering wheel.

From the beginning, Toyota offered a V6 option. These units were given the Japanese model codes GF-MCU10W for the front wheel drive version and GF-MCU15W for the full time four-wheel drive iterations. Power for these units is provided by a 2994cc 1MZ-FE engine that is paired to a four-speed automatic. The engine/transmission combination allowed the upgraded Harrier to offer 220 bhp and 222 N-m of torque, but limited fuel efficiency to 8.8 km/l. The transmission in the V6 Harrier offers a ''Snow'' mode. When engaged, the Snow mode started the Harrier in second gear for improved traction. The V6 Harrier is available in the same trim packages as the base I4 unit.

Both the base and V6 units feature adjustable rear seats that fold flat for increased cargo room, giving the Harrier a total cargo volume of 3.68 m3. Both units offer a multitude of safety features, including: dual-side front airbags, seat-mounted side torso airbags in the front, anti-lock brakes, side impact door beams, and stability control.

The Harrier remained relatively unchanged throughout the first generation with the exception of an engine update and a special edition being offered. The four-cylinder engine was upgraded to a 2362cc 2AZ-FE in November of 2000. The change was accompanied by a Japanese model code change to TA-ACU10W for the front-wheel drive and TA-ACU15W for the AWD option. The V6 remained unchanged, but took on the model codes TA-MCU10W and TA-MCU15W. Toyota added sport-tuned suspension and DVD voice navigation as options the same year.

The Toyota Harrier ''Silversport'' was offered in 2001. This edition featured monochromatic paint in either Millennium Silver or Black and an all black interior with perforated leather seats.

Second Generation (2003 - 2013)

The second generation of the Toyota Harrier went on sale in Japan in February of 2003. The second generation is much sleeker and offers a lower drag coefficient of 0.35Cd, slightly improving fuel efficiency potential. Additionally, the updated Harrier offers LED tail lamps, wood trim, a sliding center console, dual-zone climate control, and a power tilt/telescopic steering column. As buyers upgrade through the trim levels available options include a premium sound system, a DVD-based navigation system with backup camera, a rear seat DVD player with wireless headphones, a panoramic three panel moonroof, and heated seats.

The second generation is powered by two engines. The base model, given Japanese model codes UA-ACU30W for the front-wheel drive units and UA-MCU30W for the AWD units, is powered by a 2362cc four-cylinder engine paired to a new five-speed automatic transmission. The ACU30W is capable of 11.0 km/l and the MCU30W is able to achieve 10.6 km/l. The 2994cc V6 returned for the second generation as well. It was given the Japanese model codes UA-MCU30W and UA-MCU35W for the front-wheel drive and AWD options, respectively. The larger engine offers 9.7 km/l or 9.1 km/l depending on which drive option is chosen. The V6 is also offered with the ''AIRS'' air suspension system. The models equipped with AIRS carry model codes UA-MCU31W and UA-MCU36W depending on the drive system chosen. These units offer lower fuel efficiency, only able to achieve 9.1 km/l.

Available trim packages include the 240G, 240G L, 240 G Premium, 240 L, and 240 L Premium for he base models. The V6 units have the same trim packages available, but are distinguished by using the 300 designation in place of the 240. Models equipped with air suspension are simply badged as AIRS.

In 2004 the Japanese model codes were changed due to minor changes in the basic platform of the Harrier. The base models took on the model code CBA-ACU30W, while the AWD units morphed to model code CBA-ACU35W. The V6 units acquired model codes CBA-MCU30W and CBA-MCU35W. The AIRS equipped units began to have the model codes CBA-MCU31W and CBA-MCU36W. The model code for the AIRS units changed again in 2006 to become DBA-GSU31W and DBA-GSU36W.

In March of 2005, Toyota introduced the Harrier Hybrid with the Japanese model code DAA-MHU38W featuring Hybrid Synergy Drive. Power is provided by a 3310cc VVT-i V6 engine that is paired to a CVT and features AWD. The hybrid is able to offer owners 17.8 km/l and meets government fuel economy requirements as well as reducing NOx and non-methane hydrocarbon emissions by 75 percent.

Third Generation (2013 - present)

In 2008, Toyota began selling its Lexus nameplate in Japan. As a result, the Toyota Harrier became its own marque. The third generation is built on the New MC chassis, similar to that used in the RAV4. The chassis update did not bring a significant change in size from the second generation. The new Harrier is 4,720 mm in length, 1,835 mm wide, and 1,690 mm tall. It has a 2,660 mm wheelbase. It is designed using the L-finesse design template, much like the third generation of the Lexus RX 300. This design language creates a sleeker, more refined exterior with better aerodynamics than previous generations.

The non-hybrid Harrier is available with a single engine choice, a 1986cc I4 that offers 155 bhp and 195 N-m of torque at 4,400 rpm. The engine is paired to a seven-speed Super CVT-i. The non-hybrid Harrier is able to achieve fuel efficiency of 16.0 km/l. Buyers can opt for front-wheel drive or AWD. The front-wheel drive models have the Japan model code DBA-ZSU60W, while the AWD versions have the model code DBA-ZSU65W. Trim levels include Grand, Elegance, Premium, Elegance GS, and Premium Advanced.

The Toyota Harrier Hybrid continues to be sold with a single engine: a 2493cc I4 gasoline engine to supplement the Kumiawara electric drive system. The hybrid has a fuel efficiency rating of 21.8 km/l. All third generation hybrid models to date have the Japan model code DAA-AVU65W and are available in the Grand, Elegance, Premium, and Premium Advanced trim packages.



Our BE FORWARD Car Expert Recommends The Toyota Harrier

Our BE FORWARD car expert gives the Toyota Harrier five stars out of five in every category except fuel economy, where it receives four stars. The Harrier is a very luxurious offering that easily accommodates a growing family or can be used as a corporate vehicle. The Harrier appeals to the high income demographic for its luxury, yet offers adequate fuel economy for those who are high-earners and eco-conscious.

Style & Design - 9.8

The Toyota Harrier entered the market with a fresh styling technique that allowed it to stand out from all other units available in the Japanese market. Each generation has seen a continued dedication to refinement and eye-catching aesthetics. Many have said the Harrier simply mimics the Lexus RX 300; but, in truth, the RX 300 is a homage to the Harrier. The Harrier is designed with driver and passenger safety at the forefront. The result is a vehicle that has always been highly rated in all aspects of the crash test regimen, including front and side impact; and rollover testing.

Under the Hood - 9.8

Toyota Motors has always gone to extraordinary lengths to outfit its models with exceptional engines that offer power and reliability. The engines in the Harrier are no exception. The entire drivetrain of the Harrier has earned a reputation for long term dependability that as not been exceeded by any other automaker. The Harrier is well known for lasting well past 200,000 km with regular maintenance. The Harrier has not been involved in any major recall events, nor is it known for common repair issues.

Some detractors point to its low fuel economy numbers; however, the Harrier performs on par with, or in excess of, all other models in its class. When equipped with the Hybrid Synergy System, the Harrier outperforms its counterparts in the luxury SUV class.

The Toyota Harrier is the perfect mid-size SUV for the well-heeled buyer. It offers the deep luxury that buyers in the higher income brackets desire as well as the dependability to be a top-notch corporate vehicle. Should you want to compare the Harrier to its closest competitors, you would have to look at the Lexus RX, Nissan Murano, Mazda CX5, and Honda CRV. In side-by-side comparisons, you will find that the only vehicle that is truly on par with the Harrier is the Lexus RX as the others do not offer the same interior comfort. Since these vehicles are nearly identical, your choice will come down to simple brand preference.