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Highlander breaks cover

Hip hybrid: The Toyota Highlander will offer car-like refinement and handling along with a modicum of off-road ability.

Toyota will extend its car-derived four-wheel drive lineup with the Camry-based Highlander

25 Apr 2000

TOYOTA took the wraps off its new Camry-based off-roader - dubbed Highlander - at the New York motor show last week.

Although built on a Camry-derived platform, the Highlander offers increased ground clearance and ride height while its suspension travel and off-road durability are also enhanced.

Due on sale in the US next year, the Highlander builds on the success Toyota has had internationally with the RAV4, its first monocoque-bodied off-roader.

Highlander has been designed primarily for sale in the US where the 4WD market for car-derived all-terrain vehicles has been booming.

"With more and more new buyers entering the segment from passenger cars, it makes sense to diversify our mid-size SUV offerings into two distinctly different products," Toyota US group vice president and general manager Don Esmond said.

"For buyers demanding the image and versatility of an SUV, but who prioritise car-like ride and handling, we will have Highlander." Whether the mid-size off-roader will be sold in Australia is yet to be confirmed.

Highlander will be available in the US in both two-wheel drive and full-time four-wheel drive configurations, powered by either a four-cylinder or 164kW V6 engine.

Both powerplants will carry LEV - low emission vehicle - certification.

The V6 4x4 configuration is expected to account for majority of sales in the US.

Highlander is the name Land Rover originally wanted to bestow on what became known as the Discovery in 1990.

Toyota had previously registered the Highlander name in many states and countries but has not wheeled it out in more than a decade's ownership.

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