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Toyota Harrier 2.0 Premium review: Mine is Harrier than yours
LET'S face it, one reason to buy a new car is so you can lord it over your friends and family. After all, if Shakespeare taught us anything, it's that humans are base creatures (also, people used to talk funny).
If it be a sin to covet a new car, then, will the Toyota Harrier turn thy in-laws into offending souls? That might depend on where you buy yours.
Parallel importers have sold the Harrier for years here, and with such success that it has achieved ubiquity. Yet, the womb of time has finally delivered a Harrier to Toyota's authorised distributor Borneo Motors, and if any version of the car should allow you to hold your chin a little higher, it's this official one.
For one thing, as an authorised import it comes with full parts and servicing support, and is backed by a five-year warranty - seven years if you pay S$1,000 above the Premium model's S$152,988 asking price (inclusive of Certificate Of Entitlement) or if you buy the top-grade Luxury model, which costs S$159,988.
Being a Toyota, the Harrier ought to run like a Swiss watch anyway, but that doesn't mean proper aftersales service isn't important. Perhaps more to the point, the Borneo-sold Harrier is packed with top-of-the-line equipment. It has a powerful 2.0-litre turbo engine and is the first official Toyota to be sold with "Safety Sense P". That sounds like something to consult a urologist about, but is really a suite of useful crash avoidance technologies.
It includes a lane detection system that can both warn you if you're about to stray over the line and, if you ignore it, gently steer you back onto the straight and narrow. Then there's the radar-based collision warning system that's as effective as your better half yelling at you to watch out, but less annoying.
If it all goes wrong anyway, the Harrier has seven airbags, which should improve your chances of surviving a major smash so your better half can grumble at you for failing to watch out. In terms of more conventional forms of luxury, the Harrier doesn't disappoint. It comes with auto headlights and wipers, while the tailgate and driver's seat are electrically operated. The glass sunroof is the size of a boardroom table, and the capacitive control panel for the air-con is a slick touch.
Red stitching in the cabin gives the proceedings a hint of sportiness, but as a driving experience, the Harrier is almost tranquilising. The turbo engine's flexibility is more about effortlessness than exhilaration, while the chassis seems set up more for comfort and safety than agility.
All this means the Toyota glides along in unruffled silence, so much so that your attention is drawn to how much noise its tyres make. That gives the Harrier a formal bearing, a bit like a butler, only in squeaky shoes. A parallel-imported one might perform its duties in a similar way, of course, but it's never going to be an entirely faithful servant. Unlike Borneo's Harrier, it isn't here on official business, after all.
Toyota Harrier 2.0 Premium
Engine 1,998cc, 16V, inline 4 turbo
Power 231hp at 5,200-5,600rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,650rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top speed 180km/h
0-100km/h 7.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.6L/100km
Price S$152,988 (with COE)
Agent Borneo Motors