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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    Toyota Shows All New Highlander in New York

      ...Fourth generation of the popular crossover...


    Toyota took the wraps off the all-new Toyota Highlander at the New York International Auto Show today.  This new fourth generation Highlander rides on Toyota's new TNGA-K platform.   

    large.1141192426_2020_Highlander_11_52B0408106D3DD60DBFCABAC228633C50AD81B7F_low(1).jpgPowering the Highlander will be a choice of a V6 with 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque with both direct and port injection, or a hybrid that is 17% more efficient than the outgoing model. The hybrid is a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder combined with two electric motors for a total system rating of 240 horsepower.  Preliminary estimates put the Highlander hybrid at 34 mpg combined fuel efficiency.   The new hybrid setup is lighter and more compact than before while the battery pack has been reduced in physical size and now sits below the rear seats so as not to reduce cargo room. 

    On the safety front, Toyota loaded the Highlander up.  Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard.  This includes Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard on LE grade and above. Rear Cross Traffic Braking is available with clearance sonar on Limited and above.
     
    The standard backup camera features projected path. A Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, available on Limited and standard on Platinum, provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle.
     
    The 2020 Highlander is equipped with eight airbags, including side-curtain airbags for all three rows. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control , Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution , Brake Assist , Anti-lock Braking System , and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

     

    More from Toyota on the Press Release on Page 2 


    World Premiere of All-New 2020 Highlander at New York International Auto Show

    Toyota’s Fourth Generation SUV Redesigned from the Ground Up;
    Offers Best-in-Class MPG for Hybrid
     
    • 17 Percent Fuel Economy Improvement Over Current Gen Hybrid with Estimated 34 MPG Combined
    • Bold, Chiseled New Design
    • New TNGA-K Platform Enhances Driving Refinement
    • Standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, SiriusXM®, Waze and Amazon Alexa Compatibility
    • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 Standard (TSS 2.0)
    • Available with 7- or 8-Passenger Seating
    • Choice of V6 or New-Generation Hybrid Powertrain
    • New Available Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive with Driveline Disconnect and Multi Terrain Select
    • Largest in segment 12.3” multimedia display
    April 17, 2019
    NEW YORK (April 17, 2019) – Toyota is on a major roll with new SUVs, especially the next-generation three-row 2020 Highlander debuting at the New York International Auto Show. Arriving in Toyota dealerships in winter, the Highlander Gas model will arrive in December 2019 and the Highlander Hybrid will make its way to customers in February 2020.
     
    Just as the first RAV4 launched the compact crossover SUV segment 22 years ago, the original Highlander redefined the midsize family SUV when it arrived in 2001. At a time when most midsize SUVs were truck-based, the Highlander’s unibody structure with four-wheel independent suspension quickly became the template for a new segment of more comfortable and family-friendly SUVs. After adding a third row, the Highlander not only grew in size, but is also now the best-selling retail model in the segment since 2016.
     
    Now, the fourth-generation of this benchmark SUV brings a new level of bold, distinctive design to a foundation built on safety, comfort, quality, durability and reliability set by predecessors. The 2020 Highlander amplifies all qualities while taking on a dramatic new design direction that combines a powerful SUV presence with sophisticated detailing.
     
    The 2020 Highlander’s new sophisticated look, covers a new vehicle platform called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K). This robust new foundation, shared with other Toyota models, enables even greater capability, comfort and safety than before.
     
    The fourth-generation Highlander offers the choice between a powerful V6 or new-generation hybrid powertrain, with the gas version offering a manufacturer-estimated 22 MPG combined fuel economy and the Hybrid offering an manufacturer-estimated 34 MPG combined fuel economy.
     
    Whether they’re young families or empty nesters exploring a new chapter in life, safety remains the top priority for Highlander customers.  Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 comes standard in all models in the 2020 Highlander. This comprehensive active safety system includes:
     
    • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)
    • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
    • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
    • Automatic High Beam (AHB)
    • (New) Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
    • (New) Road Sign Assist (RSA)
    Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection offers automatic braking capability under certain circumstances should the driver not react in time in a system-detected emergency situation. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Parking Support Braking and Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) are available depending on the model grade.
     
    The 2020 Highlander delivers renowned Toyota value in a choice of five grades, starting with a new L grade, then layering amenities and technology in LE, XLE, Limited and the top-of line Platinum. (The Hybrid is offered on all but the L grade.)
     
    The 2020 Highlander offers cutting-edge entertainment and connectivity for all ages through its intuitive and versatile multimedia system, including a new 12.3-inch touchscreen display on the Platinum grade and 8-inch on the other models. The available new JBL Premium Sound System delivers a whopping 1,200 watts of power to turn any music source into a mobile concert.
     
    The midsize SUV segment has become fiercely competitive, and the 2020 Toyota Highlander is ready to take on all.
     
    The Strong, Athletic Type
    A sculpted new shape with chiseled lines gives the 2020 Highlander a more powerful stance, yet with a modern, sophisticated attitude. The 2020 Highlander remains a family-friendly SUV, now with capability for bigger family adventures.
     
    Setting off the new design, the L, LE and XLE grades feature a black front grille with silver trim, while the Limited and Platinum grades are distinguished by a black grille with chrome trim and chrome-plated lower rear fascia, premium projector headlamps and the Highlander’s first-ever 20-inch alloy wheels. The Platinum stands apart with silver painted front bumper and rear fascia and a unique 20-inch wheel.
     
    Accentuating the 2020 Highlander’s bold lines, the exterior color palette carries over three colors from 2019 (Blizzard Pearl ($395 option), Celestial Silver Metallic and Midnight Black Metallic) while adding five new ones: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Moon Dust (a striking blue premium paint), Ruby Flare Pearl (a daring red premium paint), Blueprint and Opulent Amber (a deep, luxurious brown).
     
    While Highlander’s new design will turn heads everywhere it goes, it’s also highly functional. Greater aerodynamic efficiency reduces wind noise while enhancing vehicle stability, and even the taillights and side mirror designs lend a hand.
     
    The fourth-generation Highlander is 2.36 inches (60mm) longer than before, all in the cargo area to add even greater cargo volume than before. The second row can be slid an extra 1.2-in. further up to increase distance between the second and third rows.
     
    The TNGA-K platform, which makes extensive use of high-strength steel, gives the Highlander a stiffer unibody structure than the previous model. Its inherent strength allows tuning for the front strut and rear multi-link suspension that enhances agility and a smaller turning circle while also providing a smoother and quieter ride than before.
     
     The presence of takumi is evident whenever the driver experiences the Highlander’s premium touch and feel in everyday driving. Throughout vehicle development, these highly trained master craftsmen focused on the finest technical details to ensure a higher level of operating smoothness in all driving conditions - especially at everyday speeds.
     
     
    Take It All with You
    Looking sporty does not come at the expense of practicality in the 2020 Highlander. The L and LE grades come standard with a second-row bench for seating for eight, while the XLE and Limited grades come standard with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven and the option of a second-row bench for seating for eight. Finally, the Platinum grade will come standard with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven. Either way, the large rear doors provide easy access, while versatile seat folding features make it easy to enter the third row. And, passengers in the third row stay comfortable thanks to standard three-zone climate control that ensures ample flow of warmed or cooled air.
     
    With all seat rows in use, Highlander offers 16.1 cu. ft. of carrying space behind the third row. Folding the 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seatbacks opens the space to 40.6 cu. ft., and then folding the second row increases that to 73.3 cu. ft. The versatile cargo area makes the most of its additional length with side surfaces and pockets shaped for maximum space usage.

    Power, Performance and Panache … with Efficiency
    Power and efficiency are a whole lot sexier when wrapped in Highlander’s striking design. The 2020 Highlander offers a choice between two advanced powertrains, a gas V6 or a new version of the Toyota Hybrid System.

    The 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is the epitome of smoothness. Its Toyota-innovated D-4S Injection system combines direct fuel injection with port fuel injectors to optimize efficiency, power and emissions in all conditions. Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (Dual VVT-i) likewise ensures ideal response and efficiency at all engine speeds.

    That translates into 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. of torque, which further translates into exemplary everyday performance and generous towing capability. The Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission maximizes Highlander’s acceleration and highway merging capability while operating seamlessly and transparently.

    On V6 models, the available towing package enables a 5,000-pound towing capacity. The package includes a heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler and improved fan performance. Trailer Sway Control (TSC) uses the Vehicle Stability Control to help control unwanted trailer movement.
     
    Why use fuel when you don’t need to? The Highlander’s standard Stop and Start Engine System allows the engine to shut off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop, and then instantly restarts when the driver’s foot lifts from the brake pedal. This technology reduces fuel consumption and cuts emissions.


    Hybrid Aims Even Higher 
    Toyota made “hybrid” synonymous with high fuel efficiency more than 20 years ago. Later, Toyota introduced the first hybrid SUV in its class, the 2006 Highlander. Leave it to Toyota to again raise the bar for hybrid SUV functionality by making the 2020 model the most fuel-efficient Highlander Hybrid ever.

    The new-generation Toyota Hybrid System in the 2020 Highlander Hybrid combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with two electric motors in a system that’s more compact, and more efficient than before. The gas engine employs Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor (VVT-iE) on the intake camshaft, and VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft. A variable cooling system (electric water pump, electric thermostat) and a fully variable oil pump further improve engine efficiency.

    The bottom line is an eye opener for the efficiency-minded: 240 total system horsepower and an EPA-estimated 34 combined MPG. The latter is a 17-percent improvement over the previous-generation Highlander Hybrid’s 28 combined MPG. Yet, Highlander Hybrid still delivers the everyday acceleration, power and responsiveness that family buyers expect. In another Highlander first, the hybrid is now available in either 2WD or AWD, further expanding hybrid technology to a new group of buyers.

    The transaxle mounts the electric motors (MG1 and MG2) coaxially rather than in-line, and the resulting smaller and lighter package reduces frictional losses. The gas engine and MG2 work in concert to deliver dynamic performance, while both MG1 and MG2 charge the hybrid battery.

    To reduce the transaxle’s size and weight, the reduction gear is now a parallel shaft gear, rather than a planetary, and a new multi-function gear integrates the power-split planetary ring gear, parking gear, and counter-drive gear. New computer integration and a smaller, lighter power stack installed directly above the transaxle reduce energy transmission losses.

    The battery pack is small enough to be installed under the rear seats, so it does not take up any cargo or passenger space.  

    Seamless Everyday Performance
    The Highlander Hybrid delivers its exemplary fuel economy and performance without calling attention to its high-tech powertrain operation. Quite the contrary, like all Toyota Hybrid vehicles, it simply goes about its business in a transparent way. For example, the new system optimizes the level of electric motor assistance and gas engine speed without the engine running at high revs. Engine speed is synchronized with vehicle speed, yielding effortless and quiet acceleration.

    As on many modern vehicles, the Highlander Hybrid offers selectable NORMAL, ECO and SPORT driving modes that let the driver choose the vehicle’s performance personality. The bonus is the EV mode, which allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.

    SPORT mode unlocks boost from the hybrid system for improved acceleration response. ECO mode gets maximum efficiency from the fuel and battery, while NORMAL mode is ideal for everyday driving.

    Special, easy-to-use hybrid tech adds an element of control and fun. Using a sequential shifting feature, the driver can “downshift” to increase the regenerative braking in steps, which fosters greater control when driving in hilly areas, for example.

    The 2020 Highlander Hybrid can also coach the driver to drive as economically as possible. For example, an accelerator guide function suggests an acceleration level to the driver according to the driving conditions, and a scoring function adds a measure of fun to eco driving.
     
    Features for More Efficiency
    Highlander Hybrid’s Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) analyzes the driver’s daily driving habits and upcoming road and traffic conditions to more efficiently charge and discharge the hybrid battery accordingly alongside actual driving.

    The more the vehicle is driven, the more data is accumulated, contributing to practical fuel efficiency. Many actual roads chosen to represent common usage scenarios, such as in urban congestion or on mountain roads, were driven on and analyzed to create control that feels natural to the driver when operating to enable more efficient driving.
     
    All-Wheel Drive Gets Smarter
    The 2020 Highlander gets a grip on any road with a choice of front-wheel drive or three different available all-wheel drive systems -- two for the V6 models and a unique AWD system for the Highlander Hybrid. For the Highlander Gas L, LE and XLE models, the optional AWD system can send up to 50 percent of available torque to the rear wheels to counter wheel slip when necessary.
     
    Sounding like something from a high-end sports car, Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Drive Mode Select and Driveline Disconnect is available for the Highlander Limited and Platinum for even greater agility and capability. In addition to governing torque distribution between the front and rear wheels, this advanced system uses special couplings to actively manage torque distribution between the left and right rear wheels.
     
    Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD doesn’t need wheel slippage before springing into action. Rather, a sophisticated AWD Integrated Management (AIM) manages Electric Power Steering (EPS), throttle control, transmission shift control and drive torque distribution to continually optimize handling.
     
    Using the Multi-Terrain Select control dial on the console, the driver can maximize traction when driving through inclement weather or road conditions. Mud & Sand mode works well for beach driving, while Rock & Dirt mode optimizes AWD traction for trails. The driver can monitor, in real time, torque allocation and slip control on the Multi-Information Display (MID).

    In addition, Highlander models include the following features for optimal on-road and off-road performance and safety:
     
    • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
    • Trailer Sway Control (TSC)
    • Downhill Assist Control (DAC)
     
    All-wheel drive is a great traction partner, but it’s not needed all the time, such as during steady highway cruising. In such situations, Rear Driveline Disconnect automatically disengages drive to the rear wheels and stops the propeller shaft’s rotation. As one might guess, that reduces the energy needed to propel the vehicle and therefore reduces fuel consumption. When AWD is needed, the system instantly re-engages, without the driver even noticing.
     

    Hybrid AWD
    As with the AWD system in the previous Highlander Hybrid, the 2020 model’s AWD employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed. Like the hybrid powertrain itself, the AWD works seamlessly and transparently.
     
    The rear electric motor operates independently, with no mechanical connection between the transmission and the rear wheels. Preemptively distributing more driving force to the rear wheels, such as when accelerating, helps suppress front wheel slip during off-the-line starts. The system also enhances cornering agility by helping to reduce understeer. And, when venturing onto a trail, the increased rear-wheel torque helps move the Highlander Hybrid confidently over rough or slippery surfaces.
     
    A New Level of Comfort
    From the L grade to the top-of-line Platinum, the 2020 Highlander offers its plushest accommodations ever. Designers took inspiration from luxury crafted interiors to create a more premium ambience. Details include softer padded surfaces and a more tailored look with stitching that continues from the door trim to the instrument panel. The dash integrates the multimedia and HVAC controls in an elegant and functional way.
     
    The 2020 Highlander cabin offers improved functionality throughout, from a center console that offers available Qi wireless charging to plenty of storage spaces and USB charging ports. On Limited and Platinum grades, new ambient LED lighting sets a relaxing mood. Inset steering wheel controls are a modern luxury touch on all grades.
     
    Highlanders have long been renowned for a quiet ride, and with the high-strength TNGA platform, Toyota pushes the bar even higher. Sound-damping and soundproofing materials have been optimized throughout the vehicle, with the takumi approach focusing particularly on minimizing noise in the frequencies that interfere with conversation.
     
    The seating color palette enhances the sense of luxury permeating the 2020 Highlander. The L and LE grades offer comfortable woven cloth in Graphite or Black; the XLE offers embossed Softex®artificial leather trim in Harvest Beige, Graphite or Black, while the Limited offers those colors in perforated leather trim. The top-of-line Platinum grade, the most luxurious Highlander ever offered, exclusively features embossed, perforated leather trim in those three colors plus Glazed Caramel, a luxuriously delicious new brown.


    Multitalented Multimedia 
    However passengers listen to music and connect with their worlds, the 2020 Highlander is ready with the latest multimedia systems.  All grades come standard with Apple Car Play®, Android Auto™, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM®, and Wi-Fi connectivity through AT&T.
     
    All Highlander models come equipped with Toyota Safety Connect with a one-year trial subscription.
     
    LE and above grades offer Service and Remote Connectivity. A move up to XLE or Limited grade offers available Dynamic Navigation. A move up to Platinum grade offers standard Dynamic Navigation and the 12.3-inch screen.
     
    The JBL® Premium Audio System is standard for Limited and Platinum grades and rocks music of all genres with 1,200 watts of power playing through 11 speakers in nine locations. Clari-Fi®technology breathes new life into compressed digital music formats, with the result like a mobile concert. The system will not, however, settle arguments over which music to play.
     
    Exceptional Toyota Value, Naturally 
    Toyota’s typical outstanding value is clearly evident in the Highlander L grade, where the standard equipment list includes features that one might expect in an upgraded model:
     
    L:
    • Toyota Safety Sense 2.0
    • 18-in. alloy wheels
    • 3-zone automatic climate control
    • 4.2-in. Multi-information Display (MID) in instrument panel
    • 8-way power driver’s seat
    • Auto up/down for all power windows
    • Multimedia with 8-inch touchscreen display
    • Front seat reading lights and cargo area light.
    • LED headlamps and taillamps
    • Privacy glass on rear side, quarter and liftgate windows
    • Smart Key entry on front doors and back door
     
    LE adds over L:
    • Power liftgate
    • Blind Spot Monitor
    • Additional multimedia capability
    • LED fog lamps
    • Leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob
     
    XLE adds over LE:
    • 10-way power driver’s seat
    • 2nd-row sun shades
    • 4-way power front passenger seat
    • 7-in. Multi-information display
    • Auto dimming rear-view mirror with garage door opener
    • Auto LED headlamps with Auto High Beam
    • Plated interior door handle
    • Heated front seats
    • LED fog lamps
    • Machined-face alloy wheels
    • Captain’s Chairs second row (standard)
    • Power tilt and slide moon roof
    • Roof rails
    • SofTex®-trimmed seats and door trim
     
    Limited adds over XLE:
    • 120V 2nd-row power outlet
    • 20-in. Limited style alloy wheels
    • Ambient interior lighting
    • Cargo area cover
    • Driver’s seat memory
    • Hands-free power liftgate
    • Heated and ventilated front seats
    • “Highlander” puddle lamp
    • Perforated leather trimmed seats in Beige, Gray or Black
    • Metal door scuff plates
    • Projector beam headlamp with chrome bezels and separate, stylized DRLs
    • Wood interior trim
    • JBL® Audio System as standard
    • Embedded navigation system
     
    Platinum adds over Limited:
    • 12.3-in. Multimedia head unit
    • 20-in Platinum style wheels
    • Adaptive, self-leveling headlamps
    • Additional leather seating color choice: Glazed Caramel
    • Digital display rear view mirror
    • Embossed, perforated leather trimmed seats
    • Head-up display
    • Heated 2nd-row seats
    • Illuminated door scuff plates
    • Panoramic moonroof
    • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
    • Birds eye camera
     
    Safety at Its Core
    The new TNGA-K platform forms the foundation for exemplary collision protection in the 2020 Toyota Highlander, while a suite of standard driver-assist technologies is designed to help prevent collisions, or to mitigate their impacts.
     
    The 2020 Highlander is equipped with the second-generation of Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0). Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) are standard on LE grade and above. Rear Cross Traffic Braking (RCTB) is available with clearance sonar on Limited and above.
     
    The standard backup camera features projected path. A Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, available on Limited and standard on Platinum, provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle.
     
    The 2020 Highlander is equipped with eight airbags, including side-curtain airbags for all three rows. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

    User Feedback

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    WOW, where to begin. This is just TERRIBLE!

    FAT Station Wagon with a disconnected dash of two odd shapes fighting for your attention and the seats do nothing for me especially with that pattern and just look cheap.

    To the Sheeple fans of Toyota, it will probably sell.

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    I think looks wise it is a huge step back from the current one. Exterior and interior.

    I think while RAV4 was a big step forward at least in how it looks this is a step backwards from the current one.

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    Until Toyota sales begin to fall precipitously, the Toyota faithful will get more like this new Highlander.  Too bad there are few if any compelling competitive products that will pull loyal Toyota buyers away.

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    26 minutes ago, riviera74 said:

    Until Toyota sales begin to fall precipitously, the Toyota faithful will get more like this new Highlander.  Too bad there are few if any compelling competitive products that will pull loyal Toyota buyers away.

    Lemmings have limited mental capabilities. Hard to show a mental lemming that there are better options out there.

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    2 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

    The mainstream multitudes that buy Toyotas want predictability and consistency in their leased transportation products. . 

    Yup the lemming factor, not a bad thing to build consistent long range profits on. Demming and Druker said not all things built to appeal to the masses is a bad thing.

    One cannot fault the masses giving them Billions of dollars. GM and others should have focused on that long ago. Yet GM has under Marry really moved in that direction, just gonna take a few generations to change the perception.

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    10 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Yup the lemming factor, not a bad thing to build consistent long range profits on. Demming and Druker said not all things built to appeal to the masses is a bad thing.

    One cannot fault the masses giving them Billions of dollars. GM and others should have focused on that long ago. Yet GM has under Marry really moved in that direction, just gonna take a few generations to change the perception.

    A lot of people are going to have to NOT remember the 70s for GM to come close to former glories.  Perhaps the 80s too.

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    12 hours ago, balthazar said:

    Wonder how people are doing at forgetting Toyota of post 2007 ??

    I know that a number of relatives that live in the greater LA area that used to have Prius's have dumped them and want nothing to do with them since the accelerator issue.

    Yet with that said, even though we all know about the Toyota Frame Rot and the terrible built FJ Unibody breaks, for some weird stupid reason, Americans seem to be willing to accept the repairs that Toyota did and buy again.

    I honestly do not know how you could accept a $50,000 new CUV you take off road, and the front nose cracks and so they cut it off, insert steel rods and weld the aluminum back and say here is a 36,000 mile extended warranty.

    Nope, not gonna happen as that weight bloat and now weakened auto is not gonna handle off road like it should.

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      Have you ever wondered what it would be to add all-wheel drive to a Prius? What about adding slightly more sport to a Corolla hatchback? Wonder no more as I can tell you some thoughts on the 2020 Toyota Prius AWD-e and Corolla XSE hatchback.
      Prius XLE AWD-e
      The Prius AWD-e powertrain is mostly the same as you'll find in the standard model - a 1.8L inline-four paired with an electric motor to provide an output of 121 horsepower. But, the e-AWD adds a second electric motor producing 7 horsepower and 40 pound-feet onto the rear axle. This provides extra traction and helps with initial acceleration (up to 6 mph). The other change deals with the battery as Toyota swaps the lithium-ion pack for a nickel-metal hydride. Toyota says the nickel-metal hydride chemistry has better resilience in extremely cold temperatures. Does the addition of a second electric motor make the Prius any faster? Not at all. It feels the same as the standard Prius; fine in stop-go driving, but struggling during hard acceleration such as merging onto a freeway. The AWD system is very unobtrusive, you don’t notice come on when one of the front wheels loses traction. There is an important caveat to note; this system only operates up to 43 mph. This is likely due to Toyota wanting to keep somewhat high fuel economy figures. As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Prius AWD-e at 52 City/48 Highway/50 Combined - the lowest of any Prius model. My average for the week was a slightly disappointing 47 mpg. Handling characteristics are the same as the standard Prius. It's slightly fun to drive on winding roads with minimal body roll, but the steering is lackluster. Ride comfort is excellent with most bumps being ironed out. The AWD option does make the Prius a more appealing option for those living in the snow belt who still want excellent fuel economy. Corolla XSE Hatchback

      Toyota wants to make it clear the XSE is the sporting version of the Corolla Hatchback and it shows on the exterior. There is a distinct rear wing, 18-inch wheels with black inserts, and a body kit that makes the hatchback stand out from the plain-jane SE. Power comes from the same 2.0L inline-four found in the SE, producing 169 horsepower. In my tester, I had the standard six-speed manual. The CVT is an option. I was hoping for a slight improvement in overall performance with the manual, but it’s similar to the CVT. The engine feels more suited around town where it can get up to speed pretty quick. But it does show some signs of struggling when trying to reach higher speeds. The manual transmission is a mixed bag. The throws are a bit too long for any sort of enthusiastic driving and it is slightly difficult to slot into the next gear due to the vague feeling gate. But, the clutch is very easy to modulate. Despite having a sportier tune for the suspension, I couldn't tell any difference in the handling between this and the SE hatchback I drove in 2020. Both feel agile and composed when driven on a curvy stretch of pavement. I will say the SE does a better job of minimizing impacts from bumps and potholes with smaller wheels. The only reasons I see picking the XSE over the SE is for the more aggressive looks and additional standard equipment (dual-zone climate control, 7-inch screen in the instrument cluster, and power-adjustable driver seat). Otherwise, the SE offers the same driving dynamics, manual transmission, and a slightly better ride for less money. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Prius AWD-e
      Trim: XLE
      Engine: 1.8L DOHC 16-Valve VVT-i Four-Cylinder, AC Synchronous Motor
      Driveline: ECVT, All Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 96 @ 5,200 (Gas): 71 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1): 7 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2): 121 (Combined)
      Torque @ RPM: 105 @ 3,600 (Gas): 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 52/48/50
      Curb Weight: 3,220 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: 
      Base Price: $28,375
      As Tested Price: $31,757 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Advanced Technology Package - $800.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Corolla Hatchback
      Trim: XSE
      Engine: 2.0 DOHC 15-Valve D-4S with Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Manual, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 168 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 151 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 28/37/31
      Curb Weight: 3,060 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $23,240
      As Tested Price: $26,450 (Includes $955.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Black Roof, Spoiler, and Side Mirrors - $500.00
      Adaptive Headlights - $415.00
      Rear Window Spoiler - $375.00
      Carpet Mat Package - $249.00
      Door Sill Protectors - $165.00
      Black Emblem Overlays - $129.00
      Mudguards - $129.00
      Door Edge Guard - $125.00
      Rear Bumper Protector - $89.00
      TRD Air Filter - $79.00
    • By William Maley
      For your consideration: Two unlikely sport sedans.
      The Toyota Camry TRD and Lexus ES 350 F-Sport may not seem like credible sport sedans at first glance. They may seem like tarted-up sedans in terms of looks, but nothing else. However, after spending a week in each one, I can say both are the real deal.
      Camry TRD
      This Camry is in your face about its sporting potential. It comes with a front splitter, side skirts, a distinct rear spoiler, and 19-inch TRD wheels with a matte black finish. I found it to be a bit much and wished Toyota offered a package that got you the goodies for the suspension and exhaust system while keeping the looks of a standard Camry. A sleeper of sorts. TRD models come with small touches inside such as red seatbelts, red stitching on the seats and dash; leather-wrapped steering wheel, and TRD floor mats. Otherwise, it is your standard Camry interior. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Yes, that's the same output as the Camry XLE V6 I drove earlier. But what TRD has done is added a new exhaust system that provides a nice growl. I'll admit I was surprised when I blipped the throttle at a stoplight and heard what came out. This is an engine you have to work slightly to get into its sweet spot of power - around the mid-range on the rpm band. But once you do, the engine delivers a smooth punch of power. I do wish the six-speed automatic wouldn't try to go into the highest gear ASAP to maximize fuel economy. Where TRD worked their magic is with the suspension. The car is lower than a standard Camry, along with being stiffer thanks to thicker underbody braces, stabilizer bars, and shocks. On a winding road, the Camry TRD feels much more athletic than the standard Camry with minimal body and a set of summer tires providing excellent grip. The only downside is the steering which needs a bit more weight. Ride quality is a bit more firm than a standard Camry, but the suspension does a decent job of minimizing the bumps and impacts. To top it all off, Toyota has priced the Camry TRD at a surprising point. With the two-tone paint on my tester, it comes at $32,920 - making this the cheapest way to get a V6 in a Camry. The added bonus is that the TRD is also the most fun you can have in Camry.
      ES 350 F-Sport
      Lexus takes a more sedate approach with the ES F-Sport with a mesh grille insert, new wheels, and a small lip spoiler. I think if they went overboard with the sporty touches, it would ruin the elegance of the standard ES design. I will say the grey on my tester makes the F-Sport kind of look somewhat bland. Going with either the blue or red helps it stand out. Under the hood is the same 3.5L V6 found in other ES 350s, producing 301 hp and 267 lb-ft. The behavior is similar to what I found in the Camry, needing to work it before a smooth rush of power comes on. The transmission doesn't have the same programming as the Camry's with trying to maximize fuel economy. It is ready to downshift at a moment's notice. I've praised the standard ES for making a real leap forward in handling as there is less body motion on windy roads when compared to the previous model. The F-Sport takes that a step further with a revised suspension and optional adaptive dampers - which my car had. Slip the drive mode into Sport+ and ES transforms into something that you can pilot with confidence on a twisty stretch of road. The dampers firm up to make body roll non-existent, and the steering feels more weighty when turning. When you decide to stop having fun and turn the drive knob to either normal or comfort, the F-Sport transforms a standard ES with a smooth and quiet ride. The price? Base is $44,635 and this fully-loaded tester comes in at $53,950 with destination. A bit hard to swallow when you consider that the Avalon TRD offers similar performance for slightly less money. But not everyone wants a sedan that screams "look at me", and thats where the ES 350 F-Sport shines. It may be sporty, but it keeps quiet about its intentions. Disclaimer: Toyota and Lexus Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Camry
      Trim: TRD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 301 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,572 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $31,040
      As Tested Price: $32,920 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Two-Tone Midnight Black Metallic Roof and Rear Spoiler - $500.00
      Special Color - $425.00
       
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: ES 350
      Trim: F-Sport
      Engine: 3.5 DOHC 24-Valve VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $44,635
      As Tested Price: $53,950 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package - $2,900.00
      Triple Beam LED Headlights - $1,515.00
      Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intuitive Parking Assist w/Auto Braking - $1,065.00
      Adaptive Variable Suspension - $750.00
      Hands-Free Power Open/Close Trunk - $550.00
      10.2-inch Head-Up Display - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sill - $400.00
      Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00
      F Sport Heated Leather Steering Wheel with Windshield Wiper Deicer and Fast Response Interior Heater - $180.00
      Door Edge Guard - $145.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      For your consideration: Two unlikely sport sedans.
      The Toyota Camry TRD and Lexus ES 350 F-Sport may not seem like credible sport sedans at first glance. They may seem like tarted-up sedans in terms of looks, but nothing else. However, after spending a week in each one, I can say both are the real deal.
      Camry TRD
      This Camry is in your face about its sporting potential. It comes with a front splitter, side skirts, a distinct rear spoiler, and 19-inch TRD wheels with a matte black finish. I found it to be a bit much and wished Toyota offered a package that got you the goodies for the suspension and exhaust system while keeping the looks of a standard Camry. A sleeper of sorts. TRD models come with small touches inside such as red seatbelts, red stitching on the seats and dash; leather-wrapped steering wheel, and TRD floor mats. Otherwise, it is your standard Camry interior. Power comes from a 3.5L V6 with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Yes, that's the same output as the Camry XLE V6 I drove earlier. But what TRD has done is added a new exhaust system that provides a nice growl. I'll admit I was surprised when I blipped the throttle at a stoplight and heard what came out. This is an engine you have to work slightly to get into its sweet spot of power - around the mid-range on the rpm band. But once you do, the engine delivers a smooth punch of power. I do wish the six-speed automatic wouldn't try to go into the highest gear ASAP to maximize fuel economy. Where TRD worked their magic is with the suspension. The car is lower than a standard Camry, along with being stiffer thanks to thicker underbody braces, stabilizer bars, and shocks. On a winding road, the Camry TRD feels much more athletic than the standard Camry with minimal body and a set of summer tires providing excellent grip. The only downside is the steering which needs a bit more weight. Ride quality is a bit more firm than a standard Camry, but the suspension does a decent job of minimizing the bumps and impacts. To top it all off, Toyota has priced the Camry TRD at a surprising point. With the two-tone paint on my tester, it comes at $32,920 - making this the cheapest way to get a V6 in a Camry. The added bonus is that the TRD is also the most fun you can have in Camry.
      ES 350 F-Sport
      Lexus takes a more sedate approach with the ES F-Sport with a mesh grille insert, new wheels, and a small lip spoiler. I think if they went overboard with the sporty touches, it would ruin the elegance of the standard ES design. I will say the grey on my tester makes the F-Sport kind of look somewhat bland. Going with either the blue or red helps it stand out. Under the hood is the same 3.5L V6 found in other ES 350s, producing 301 hp and 267 lb-ft. The behavior is similar to what I found in the Camry, needing to work it before a smooth rush of power comes on. The transmission doesn't have the same programming as the Camry's with trying to maximize fuel economy. It is ready to downshift at a moment's notice. I've praised the standard ES for making a real leap forward in handling as there is less body motion on windy roads when compared to the previous model. The F-Sport takes that a step further with a revised suspension and optional adaptive dampers - which my car had. Slip the drive mode into Sport+ and ES transforms into something that you can pilot with confidence on a twisty stretch of road. The dampers firm up to make body roll non-existent, and the steering feels more weighty when turning. When you decide to stop having fun and turn the drive knob to either normal or comfort, the F-Sport transforms a standard ES with a smooth and quiet ride. The price? Base is $44,635 and this fully-loaded tester comes in at $53,950 with destination. A bit hard to swallow when you consider that the Avalon TRD offers similar performance for slightly less money. But not everyone wants a sedan that screams "look at me", and thats where the ES 350 F-Sport shines. It may be sporty, but it keeps quiet about its intentions. Disclaimer: Toyota and Lexus Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Camry
      Trim: TRD
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 301 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,572 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $31,040
      As Tested Price: $32,920 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Two-Tone Midnight Black Metallic Roof and Rear Spoiler - $500.00
      Special Color - $425.00
       
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: ES 350
      Trim: F-Sport
      Engine: 3.5 DOHC 24-Valve VVT-iW V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 302 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 3,649 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $44,635
      As Tested Price: $53,950 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Navigation/Mark Levinson Audio Package - $2,900.00
      Triple Beam LED Headlights - $1,515.00
      Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intuitive Parking Assist w/Auto Braking - $1,065.00
      Adaptive Variable Suspension - $750.00
      Hands-Free Power Open/Close Trunk - $550.00
      10.2-inch Head-Up Display - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sill - $400.00
      Power Rear Sunshade - $210.00
      F Sport Heated Leather Steering Wheel with Windshield Wiper Deicer and Fast Response Interior Heater - $180.00
      Door Edge Guard - $145.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00
    • By William Maley
      It is surprising to think it has been over six years since Hyundai first showed the Santa Cruz pickup concept at the Detroit Auto Show. But today, Hyundai has unveiled the production version. The automaker isn't calling this a truck, instead using the term "Sport Adventure Vehicle". To us, it's a truck.
      We need to start with a bit of a reality check. The Santa Cruz is not a direct competitor to the likes of Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, or Toyota Tacoma in terms of measurements. Compared to those models, the Santa Cruz is around 10 to 17 inches shorter in length. Overall height is around 3 to 4 inches shorter. The bed measures 4.3 feet, which is about foot shorter than the Ranger. There is also an in-bed trunk like the Ridgeline.
      The model is based on the recently redesigned Tucson crossover, which explains why it shares the front end styling - complete with headlights in the massive grille. That also means it shares the same engines as the Tucson. Here's the lineup,
      2.5L four-cylinder:  estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque Turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder: estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque The N/A 2.5 comes with an eight-speed automatic, while the turbo makes do with an eight-speed dual-clutch. Front-wheel drive is standard, while HTRAC all-wheel drive is optional.
      The interior looks very modern and comes with an eight-inch touchscreen in the center stack. Optional features include a 10-inch touchscreen and TFT instrument display. 
      Hyundai is keeping mum on pricing until the Santa Cruz launches sometime this summer.
      BTW: If you're wondering why the Santa Cruz took so long to reach production, I recommend this piece from Autoblog which delves into this.
      Source: Hyundai
      Hyundai Unveils Segment-Shattering Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle
      Highly-anticipated Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle Shatters Both SUV and Truck Segments, Creating an Entirely New Vehicle Category Multi-utility, Secure Open Bed Provides Diverse Gear-Carrying Flexibility Powerful and Efficient 2.5L Turbo Powertrain with HTRAC® AWD Capability Available Cutting-edge Connectivity, Convenience and Active Safety Features Compact Footprint Provides Superior Maneuverability in an Open-bed Configuration Proudly Built at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Apr. 15, 2021 – Hyundai today unveiled its highly anticipated Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. The 2022 Santa Cruz breaks new ground within the SUV, Truck and Crossover segments by offering a true Sport Adventure Vehicle unlike anything else in the U.S. market. Santa Cruz boasts bold yet sophisticated design, powerful and efficient powertrain options, a flexible open bed for gear, cutting-edge connectivity and a highly maneuverable all-wheel drive platform that is equally at home in urban and adventure-focused environments. The Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle begins production in Montgomery, Alabama in June and will be available for sale in summer. The addition of Santa Cruz to HMMA production will add an estimated 1,200 jobs to the U.S. economy. Hyundai is also creating an early reservation system for the U.S.-market Santa Cruz in late April at https://www.hyundaiusa.com/.
      “Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole. Open-bed flexibility coupled with closed-cabin security meets the changing everyday needs of its adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful and efficient engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments. Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one,” said Jose Munoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America.
      Why Santa Cruz?
      Santa Cruz was developed to be the ultimate Sport Adventure Vehicle, a moniker confirmed in Hyundai’s early consumer research. The research found consumers, often living in urban environments, whose lifestyles include the need to escape to weekend adventures of all kinds. Many of these customers carry various gear and equipment that is better suited to an open bed rather than a typical SUV bodystyle. These buyers want versatile transportation that is equally flexible for urban, adventure, occupational or even home improvement gear. Santa Cruz features a secure, open bed area which includes a lockable tonneau cover, hidden bed storage and versatile bed extension accessories. At the same time, these customers still value the secure utility of a compact SUV, with its comfort, passenger space, fuel efficiency and parking ease. Santa Cruz, with its unique, bold design, created an entirely new segment that meets these specific buyer needs like no vehicle before it.
      Everything about Santa Cruz reflects a duality of purpose in its design execution. This all-new category-bending vehicle holds a variety of imagery in balanced juxtaposition:
      Urban life connectivity with escape to outdoor adventure Work and play flexibility Tough yet alluring demeanor Roominess with maneuverability Open cargo area and secured, lockable storage Towing capability and fuel efficiency The forward view of Santa Cruz deploys a hidden lighting signature that becomes visible within the grille only when illuminated. The daytime running lamps (DRLs) present a parametric jewel design with high-tech precision detailing. A bold, cascading grille anchors the front view, supported by a skid plate element in the lower front fascia. Voluminous hood and fenders further communicate an imposing first impression.
      In profile, Santa Cruz signals a sporty yet capable spirit. The A- and C-pillars present faster forward and rearward rakes than typical open-bed utility vehicles. Large 20-inch alloy wheels with a multi-faceted, triangular design are surrounded by armor-like wheel arches, conveying both wheel-articulation potential and off-road capability. Powerful body side volumes contrast with precise triangular sheer-edged surfaces and tight radius character lines.
      From the rear, a horizontal “T” lighting signature adds visual width and distinguishes Santa Cruz from anything on the road. The functional rear open bed area features secure, lockable in-bed storage, integrated corner bumper steps and a lockable tonneau cover, seamlessly integrated with the overall design. The rear tail lamps are embossed with: “Designed in California” as a testament to the passion of Hyundai’s California-based design team. Small, discrete design details such as this can be found throughout the exterior and interior.
      Interior Design
      The interior of the Santa Cruz expresses a sophisticated and refined appearance. The contrasting rugged yet refined motif matches the boldness of the exterior, boasting a technical ambience that appeals to those who appreciate cutting-edge technologies in their daily lives. It features an enveloping dual-cockpit design that encapsulates each passenger. Design teams focused on ease of ingress and egress and ergonomic comfort on long drives. The premium center stack display features an edgeless infotainment screen appearance, with an impressive 10 inches of visibility. The optional center digital cluster display also measures 10 inches. Under the rear seats is convenient, in-cabin storage. Completing the premium ambience is an available Bose® audio system.
      Powerful and Efficient Powertrains
      Santa Cruz offers two powerful, flexible and efficient powertrains. The standard powertrain is a 2.5L direct-injected in-line four-cylinder engine with an estimated 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb.-ft. of torque. This engine couples to an eight-speed hydraulic automatic transmission for quick acceleration and superb efficiency. Santa Cruz also offers a 2.5L direct-injected turbocharged engine with an estimated 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb.-ft. of torque linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). This DCT includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting control by the driver.
      Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
      The eight-speed transmission for the standard 2.5-liter engine provides quick and crisp shifts for an engaging and efficient driving experience. This automatic transmission adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds allowing for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip on the interstate. A multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter improves responsiveness by expanding the direct connection band, while a downsized oil pump and double ball bearings minimize frictional losses.
      Advanced HTRAC® AWD and Towing Capability
      Both 2.5L four-cylinder and 2.5L four-cylinder turbo models offer HTRAC® all-wheel drive capability for complete confidence when pursuing adventures of all kinds or for that extra peace of mind when driving in an unexpected snowfall. The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty, dynamic experience. This system has a wide range of torque distribution variability, tuned for conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts. For those customers who like to tow their weekend gear with them, the 2.5L 4-cylinder is rated at 3,500 lbs. for towing and the 2.5L Turbo AWD model boasts a generous 5,000 lbs. of towing capability.
      Compact Dimensions Yield Superb Maneuverability
      Santa Cruz makes efficient use of its compact dimensions by offering high utility with excellent maneuverability. Its shorter wheelbase and smaller overall footprint make it a joy to maneuver and park in challenging urban parking, with an exceptional curb-to-curb turning radius of only 20.0 feet.
      Specification (in.)
      Santa Cruz
      Tacoma
      Ridgeline
      Frontier
      Length
      195.7
      212.2
      210.0
      205.5
      Width
      75.0
      75.2
      78.5
      72.8
      Height
      66.7
      70.7
      70.3
      70.1
      Wheelbase
      118.3
      127.4
      125.2
      126.0
      Bed Length
      Upper 48.4
      Lower 52.1
      60.4
      63.6
      59.4
      Footprint Area
      (sq. ft.)
      101.9
      109.7
      114.6
      103.9
                         
      Responsive and Refined Chassis Tuning
      Santa Cruz was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for a wide variety of urban and off-road, multi-surface driving conditions. The shorter wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in urban environments. These specifications also provide confident agility when traversing off-road terrain. Available 20-inch alloy wheels with wide, all-season, all-terrain tires give surefooted, agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces. Available 18-inch wheels with more voluminous tire sidewalls for off-road adventures are also available.

      View full article
  • Posts

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