Toyota unveiled the all new next generation Highlander and Highlander Hybrid mid-size sports utility vehicles at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. The Highlander is sold by Toyota as the Kluger in Australia and will be introduced here this year. The new Kluger was displayed at the Melbourne Motor Show, where it was announced it would be powered by the dual VVT-i 3.5-litre V6 engine recently introduced into the Tarago and used in the Aurion sedan. For the first time it will also be offered in 2WD as well as all-wheel drive in five and seven seat layouts. The 2008 Highlander is significantly larger, roomier and more powerful than the vehicle it replaces, yet its fuel efficiency will be virtually unchanged. It is noticeably quieter and smarter, with improved versatility and ride comfort. It will also offer the highest level of standard safety equipment. Highlander has an impressive list of standard features. It will provide a total of seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and roll-sensing side curtain airbags for all three rows.
As with all Toyota SUVs (in USA) for the last three years, Highlander will provide Toyota's STAR safety system, featuring: anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and for the first time, enhanced vehicle stability control, with electronic power steering. On all models except the base models, it will provide a stand alone backup camera with a multi-information screen, not tied to a navigation system. Highlander will have the distinction of being the first Toyota division vehicle to feature both active head restraints and a new hood and fender system designed to crumple on impact with a pedestrian. On the outside, Highlander moves away from traditional SUV styling cues with a statement of strength instead of ruggedness: of intelligence over toughness. Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, California, sculpted clean, crisp lines, a wide, stable stance and muscular contours to give Highlander an advanced, contemporary, forceful and dynamic personality. Highlander rides on an all new chassis derived from the current Camry and Avalon. It is nearly four inches longer and three inches wider, with an inch more ground clearance and three inches of additional wheelbase.
Interior designers took full advantage of Highlander's substantial dimensions. Design intelligence is carried through to the refined interior, where smart and sophisticated blend with practical, flexible and versatile. The passenger compartment is open and airy. Convenient and innovative interior features such as flexible seating arrangements, and ease of entry and exit, were directly related to customer input. For example, Highlander's second row features captain's chairs with armrests that, if needed, can be converted to a bench seat for three passengers. A "Centre Stow" seat, when not in use, is hidden in a compartment under the front centre console. In its place, passengers can easily snap-in the provided stow centre console or choose to leave the area open as a walk-through to the third row. The second row also slides forward and back 4- inches and reclines. Clever and convenient standard features include a third row bench seat with foldable headrests for a flat rear cargo area, a rear glass hatch for quick access to the back (optional on base grades), and Smart Start and Entry for Limited models.