Toyota Highlander

Excel

Toyota Highlander, 2021, side
Toyota Highlander, 2021, front
Toyota Highlander, 2021, tail
Toyota Highlander, 2021, interior
Toyota Highlander, 2021, rear seats
Toyota Highlander, 2021, boot

"THERE can be only one."

So went the motto among the immortals in the original Highlander film, its sequels and spin-offs, implying they must fight and kill one another until only one remains standing.

I'm sure that Toyota would love its Highlander to obliterate the competition as Christopher Lambert did in the original 1980s fantasy action adventure - but they may have to make do with a seven-seat SUV that looks sure to win ‘The Prize' of decent sales figures in the UK.

It is a big beast with sharp lines and big 20-inch alloy wheels that catch the eye and make an instant impression. The tinted rear windows add to the rock-star vibe.

It is smooth to drive with radar assist cruise control taking most of the strain when it comes to motorway journeys - giving your right foot a rest from an accelerator pedal that is a tad upright.

Other mod cons removing the tension of modern motoring include front and rear parking sensors plus a reversing camera, as well as a heated multi-function steering wheel and a good-looking instrument binnacle that fills you in on the hybrid power unit's state of play. Step up to the plusher, more expensive Excel Premium trim and you also get an informative head up display.

Forward motion is provided by Toyota's fourth generation full hybrid electric powertrain which is self-charging. A 2.5-litre petrol engine is aided and abetted by rear electric motors and a small battery for intelligent all-wheel drive providing plenty of grip and fairly swift acceleration for one so large, with 62mph reached from a standing start in a shade over eight seconds on the way to a claimed top speed of 111mph.

Fuel economy is good for a big seven-seater with an average of just under 40mpg while carbon dioxide emissions are 163g/km.

There are four drive modes to choose from - Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail - with EV electric-only available for short distances.

The interior majors on comfort thanks to supportive seats covered in black leather upholstery - while a panoramic roof and efficient three-zone climate control ensure a pleasant atmosphere is maintained for all.

Those seated in the middle row get the benefit of a drop-down armrest containing two cupholders as long as no one is taking up the central spot.

The lack of a transmission tunnel means that even when three are seated here, leg room is still pretty good. The second row of seats also slide and fold forward allowing the rear seats to be easily accessed.

The dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment unit which is home to the sat nav.

Smartphones are welcome thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while your music collection will be given a welcome boost by the 11-speaker sound system. There is also a wireless smartphone charger hidden in the central storage compartment with the Highlander boasting a plethora of other cubby holes for a family's nik-naks.

The luggage area, accessed via a power-operated boot lid, is a still useful 332 litres with all seven seats in place, including 27 litres beneath the floor. This increases to a cave-like 1,909 litres with the seats in rows two and three dropped flat.

There is a ton of safety equipment ensuring peace of mind including emergency steering assist and intersection turn assistance, a pre-collision system, lane trace assist and lane departure alert, road sign assist and adaptive high beam assist.

Also on the menu are trailer sway control, traction and stability control, hill descent control and a top team of airbags.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Highlander Excel

Price:£50,610

Mechanical:244bhp, 2,487cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motors driving all wheels via an automatic gearbox

Max Speed:111mph

0-62mph:8.3 seconds

Combined MPG:39.7

Insurance Group:40

C02 emissions:163g/km

Bik rating:36%

Warranty:5yrs/100,000 miles

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