The Toyota Harrier – which isn’t officially sold here but popular nonetheless – has been given a facelift, and the refreshed SUV is now on sale in Japan. The latest-generation Harrier is still looking good, and Toyota has incorporated minor revisions as a result.

The face, which retains the a trademark “covered” grille, is now more aggressive. The lower grille is now wider at the bottom, and there are LED fog lamps on the outer edges. Those were originally placed at the corners of the bumper; now, vertical strip LED daytime running lights take their place. Speaking of lights, the new triple-bulb LED headlamps look sharp. The centre portion of the front lip has been painted black.

At the rear end, the previously clear lens LED tail lights now have a distinct red track even when the lights are on. Little red strips connect the lights to the Toyota emblem. The Harrier also gets new design alloy wheels, with top cars receiving turbine-style items.

Under the hood, the big news is the arrival of a 2.0 litre turbo engine. The motor in question is the 8AR-FTS, which made its debut in the Lexus NX in 2014 and now powers most of the Lexus range. The twin-scroll turbo VVT-iW unit does 231 PS and 350 Nm of torque from 1,650 to 4,000 rpm here.

It’s mated to a six-speed torque converter automatic with manual mode. Fuel consumption is 13 km/l for the 2WD and 12.8 km/l for the 4WD, in Japan’s JC08 mode. The turbo variant gets front and rear “performance dampers” to increase rigidity and reduce roll.

The other two powertrains are a 3ZR-FAE 2.0 litre naturally aspirated Valvematic Dual VVT-i engine with 151 PS/193 Nm mated to a CVT automatic with manual mode (2WD 15.2 km/l, 4WD 16.0 km/l); and a hybrid with a 152 PS/206 Nm 2.5 litre engine paired to two electric motors (front 143 PS/270 Nm, rear 68 PS/139 Nm), capable of 21.4 km/l.

Equipment highlights include a powered rear hatch with memory, illuminated entry system, puddle lamps with the Harrier logo, ventilated/heated seats, 360-degree cameras, front/rear sonar, sequential LED signal lamps (moves like a wave, as seen on Lexus models) and the Toyota Safety Sense P suite of active safety systems.

What’s a new Toyota without optional styling packages? One can order a JDM Harrier with factory fitted bodykits (three options) or Modellista (two options) and TRD (also two choices) packages.

Just another facelift? Yes, but this Harrier facelift also marks the first time the SUV is headed out of Japan. Yes, the Harrier is going international, and will be officially sold in Singapore by Toyota distributor Borneo Motors for the first time. Like in Malaysia, the Harrier is no stranger to the city state, but it has always been offered by parallel importers.

Borneo Motors have announced that the Harrier will launch in SG next month. The SUV “ushers in a new generation of Harriers that are made for Singapore” and it will come with the 2.0 turbo engine. No more “Japanese radio”, because the official Harrier is “designed and certified for Singapore by Toyota, and has every feature and function in English, from the multi-information display to driving controls.”

Now, if the Harrier has been adapted for Singapore, that same configuration would be a perfect fit for Malaysia as well. UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) surely has had a look at this; and for all we know, have something up their sleeves.

Both UMWT and its Singaporean counterpart have lost enough JDM Toyota sales to the grey importers already, so it’s logical to start offering these in-demand models. Our local distributor have set a precedent with the Alphard and Vellfire luxury MPVs, and didn’t have trouble selling whatever they’ve been allocated – the Harrier might just be next.



GALLERY: 2017 Toyota Harrier facelift


GALLERY: Toyota Harrier pre-facelift