Irvington, New Jersey, United States
Historically, the Toyota Harrier has been a doppelgänger for North America's Lexus RX - at some points, it was little more than a badge-swap and a few options away, at least aesthetically. That appears to be changing with this just-revealed new generation at the Tokyo Motor Show.
That's because this two-row, five-seat Toyota is in possession of a bold new look, dominated by a jutting, baleen-like grille edged in chrome, along with new headlamps and fascia. The greenhouse has likewise been revamped and gotten more pointed at the rump, which has new taillights, a resurfaced tailgate and a faux rear diffuser. Were it to be ported over to North American Lexus dealers intact, the Harrier's look would be jarring in light of the brand's spindle-grille-based design language, so we suspect that if the RX gets any of these updates (it was just refreshed for 2013), it will strike out on a different path visually.
Unlike the US RX, the new Harrier will rely on smaller-displacement four-cylinder engines, namely a 2.0-liter paired with a continuously variable transmission or a 2.5-liter four backed up by an electric motor. We'd like to see a smaller-displacement option for the US RX (it presently runs with 3.5-liter V6 engines in both gas-only and hybrid guise), but suspect it won't arrive until the next all-new model.
Rumors of a revival of the Toyota Supra and MR2 have been swirling for years right up until just this week when high-level Toyota employees all but confirmed their return.
But now The Detroit Bureau has put together news from different sources suggesting that the next Supra might be all electric. The report cites recent comments from Toyota senior executives hinting at plans to work with Tesla on a new joint project. The FT-HS Concept (shown above) seems a logical inspiration for a new Supra.
And on the other side of the equation is Tesla's design chief Franz von Holzhausen who was quoted last year saying his company was looking at its next project, probably a sports car, that would follow next year's intro of the Model X. He went on to suggest the car would compete directly with BMW's 3 Series, which, in coupe form, could be a worthy competitor to a Supra as well.
Slowly, the many loose threads still dangling after the unintended acceleration issue Toyota faced a few years ago are being resolved. The Orange County District Attorney's office was believed to be the first DA's office to take Toyota to court, its suit alleging that Toyota knew its cars had defects and continued to sell them. The suit sought to "permanently enjoin Toyota from continued unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices as it pertains to both consumers and competitors" and asked for $2,500 "for every violation of the Unfair Business Practices Act," plus costs.
That suit has now been settled, Toyota - without admitting fault or wrongdoing - agreeing to pay $16 million to the county. Half of the money will go to the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, another four million dollars to the OC DA's office to investigate economic crime, the remaining four million being used to pay for the case.