When it comes to the midsize premium SUV segment, there's barely any other model which stands a chance in front of the Toyota Harrier in terms of popularity. In pictures is the pre facelift version of the third generation Toyota Harrier which, till date, still remains the best selling crossover SUV since its launch in 2014.
But what makes it so popular in our local automobile market? For this week, Team Wheels took the opportunity to go on a test drive to find that out.
Part of the reason why the Harrier is so popular in Bangladesh, especially this third generation, is due to its appearance. Named after the British fighter jet 'Harrier', the model was one of the sportiest looking cars of its kind when it first came out eight years ago.
What gave it the youthful appearance was the layers of dimensions added to the crossover by the use of several bulges and sharp lines, very prevalent in the bright coloured models, like the pearl coloured one we have here. Even the roof didn't come with rails as standard, unlike the rest of the competition that go with the sporty theme.
The headlight, for the first time in the Harrier, was a three dimensional projection headlamp, with DRLs that looked way futuristic for its time. Paired with the unconventional glass covered front part of the grill featuring the Harrier's - iconic, theft prone, bird-shaped - logo, (inspired from the bird named 'Harrier'), the result was a design that looked even bolder than crossovers from many European crossovers of its era.
The rear came with a roof spoiler and transparent tail light units as standard, which is usually a modification option for popular sports cars taken care of by the aftermarket parts manufacturing department.
The unit featured came equipped with an unique oem+ TRD Sportivo bodykit that also included the eccentric 18 inch rims and a functional dual exhaust with the TRD logo engraved on it.
Stepping inside the Harrier for the first time, I kept looking at its breathtaking interior. Unlike the regular Toyota sedans on Dhaka roads everyday, the Harrier features leather wrapped soft touch materials all around - from the dash to the steering wheel, and even the door panels. The dash features a glossy piano black theme that gives it somewhat of a minimalistic look, despite all the physical buttons present. All seats are wrapped in perforated leather and the front features power-adjusted heated memory seats, both for the driver and the passenger.
Variants of the Harrier can be specced to have dual tone interior in maroon and black, or purple in black combination, but the owner of this one went for all black including the roof.
The 5ft 9" me could easily spread my legs and sit comfortably in the rear with ample headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. The panoramic sunroof can even be opened to let breeze in, or some weird undesirable bird droppings, when stuck in Dhaka's traffic under a tree.
One of the biggest features of the Harrier drawing the youth is its JBL infotainment system, that can have its language set from Japanese to English, paired with a proper JBL speaker setup, with even a JBL subwoofer situated at the trunk. We did test it out and everyone from team Wheels agreed - it is the one of the best in class!
Safety features include lane assist, emergency brakes, mandatory traction control and ABS and 12 airbags as standard.
Powering the Harrier is a 2500cc hybrid engine that powers the front wheels through the engine, while the electric motor powers the rear wheels occasionally upon demand for power. Paired to Toyota's extremely reliable continuously variable transmission, the engine produces a standard 194 horsepower and 211 Nm of torque. Variants of the Harrier are also available with a mainstream 2000cc combustion engine that produces much less power and sends all of them to the front wheels.
With a completely soundless electric start with the push of a button, the Harrier does feel sluggish at first, especially for a large 2.5 litre engine, when the car is driven around in Eco Mode. Put the gear to Sports and the true potential of the Harrier comes out. 0-100 with manumatic can easily be hit within 8 seconds and the growling TRD twin exhaust enhances the driving experience further. On the opposite end, there's also an EV mode, which makes the car run completely on its battery for a very limited range.
Weighing almost 1800 kilos, the Harrier still has a commendable braking system, thanks to its all four disk brakes. The suspension is another noteworthy feature too. It does absorb the shocks pretty well but is stiff enough to not make the car bounce around when changing lanes on the highway at triple digit speeds.
One of the best parts about driving the Harrier was its amazing viewing angle. There are barely any blind spots and anyone can easily get an idea about the dimension of the car by looking at the mirrors from the driving seat. The bulgers at the front also helps with getting an idea of how much the front extends as well.
Might sound contradictory, but this can be confidently driven in cramped roads better than any sedans, given the viewing angle and also the very helpful 360 camera that comes standard with the Harrier.
The Toyota Harrier hybrid is an amazing SUV for both city drives and road trips. It features a comfortably spacious interior, a sporty exterior and great driving feels, with a tested 9km per litre fuel economy in the city. For the about Tk60 lakh price tag in the recondition car market, the Harrier can surely be the ideal option to get, if the high Tk2.8 lakh registration fee and the annual income tax of Tk75,000 due to its large 2500cc engine is spared.