Test drive: Toyota Highlander: Calm, just calm!

We check the large family crossover in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive versions on a small trip to Karelia.

We are actually testing a large family crossover in front-wheel and all-wheel drive versions.

I rarely get to plan trips in advance, but the voyage from Moscow to Petrozavodsk in the middle of January was an exception. When I applied to Toyota Russia to take a two-week test drive Highlander , I could not even think that in the press park there would be a mono-drive version with a 2.7-liter engine of 188 horsepower.

I learned about this only when getting a car; looked into the documents and was upset – to travel 1100 kilometers along the winter roads, and even in unpredictable weather, on a low-power motor and with a drive to the front axle – a little joy. While the head office of Toyota was looking for the opportunity to cram my trip into the schedule of the journalistic tests of the all-wheel drive Highlander, I managed to drive a front-wheel drive car for a week.

Office “Toyota” is located almost at the Moscow Ring Road, so getting acquainted with the car has traditionally begun on the ring. Soft, spacious, the interior is perfectly finished, but the motor volume of 2.7 liters frankly does not pull. No, you can keep in the current, but the car does not want to actively accelerate. We have to “twist” the engine and force the “machine” by pushing the accelerator pedal. A “machine”, by the way, very bright! It is time to quickly skip one, two, or even three gears down, but at the first opportunity pokes the highest – all in order to save fuel.

As usual, during the test, snow fell suddenly, but such that it overwhelmed the whole of Moscow. Office parking Danilovskaya manufactory had no time to clean, had to park in snowdrifts. With difficulty, almost five-meter heavy front-wheel crossover climbed into the parking lot, skidding and imitating locks in search of adhesion to the surface. Full drive would be very handy in such conditions.

I’m a little used to the car, and now I calmly roll around the fields, turning off the stabilization system and letting snow fountains from under the front wheels. Clearance in almost 20 cm allows you to give heat. But soon there is a long-awaited call from the office – instead of the mono-drive “Highlander” I get the all-wheel drive!

Three and a half liters, 249 forces, 4 × 4 – an excellent company for a long trip. But first it would be nice to test the car in the city. Already here, the difference becomes noticeable: if the front-wheel crossover was slipping under any active acceleration along the roads filled with reagents, then the all-wheel drive, albeit connected through a coupling, was driven all the way!

Toyota introduced restyling Corolla .

The 3.5-liter engine is the same as it was for the previous generation of the model, only deformed to a comfortable tax rate of 249 forces. Differences in the work of the “machine” in mono and all-wheel drive versions I did not see. The unit is configured primarily for smooth and dimensional movement in space, but adequately responds to the driver’s desire to quickly bypass a couple of slow-moving vehicles.

The car though and family, possessing a calming character, but notes of emotions of a tandem of the V-shaped six and six-step automatic transmission gives. Push “to the floor” – the “machine” goes to the second gear and twists the engine almost to the cutoff. Short hitch on switching up – and again acceleration. Moreover, acceleration is felt even by the driver, which can not help but amuse drivers’ ambitions.

In such dynamic modes that the engine is 2.7, that V6 3.5 like to eat gasoline. The fuel consumption in the city on the front-wheel-drive “Highlander” did not fall below 14.2 l / 100 km, but if you drive smoothly, then, I am sure, you can meet the passport 13,3l / 100 km. The truth is not on the all-wheel drive version – there “pensioner’s regime” in the city does not exactly drop below the passport 14,4 l / 100 km.

The beginning of the trip to Karelia took place on a new paid M11 to Solnechnogorsk. From the last snowfall in the morning, the toll track did not have time to clean, you could go only one rolled row. There is no traffic, I console myself that I did not collect any traffic jams in Khimki – for that I was really ready to pay 450 rubles. On the way back, we passed this site at night, and it was again not cleaned – all the same lonely track and complete lack of lighting, but for a more reasonable night rate of 230 rubles.

Leningrad is docked with cameras – in almost every village there are one or two “arrows”, but there are also KRIS-P radars aimed primarily in the back – you will not overclock particularly. But outside the villages have to exceed, using all the power of the engine, in time to complete the advance of the trucks before the end of the overtaking area. And here the tandem of the 3.5-liter engine and the 6-speed automatic transmission is very pleasing, allowing to take a walk for all the money! Only constantly need to look at the speedometer – with ease you bump into the speed limiter, installed on the “deprived” mark of 180 km / h.

Toyota Land Cruiser 200 against the “Megacruzer” .

Inside the car, even at prohibitive speeds, silence and calmness: the suspension eats up all joints and irregularities, without bothering the passengers either with breakdowns or with build-up. Everything is very smooth: it creates the feeling that you are in the cabin of the Land Cruiser 200 flagship.

Although the car was created for the US market, but the reactions on the steering wheel are intelligible at any speed. “Wheel” is not acute, but the necessary feedback is still there, and on long trips such adjustments are uniquely in the joy.

But from the Vyshny Volochok bypass, the Moscow site needs to be taken as an example – let there be only two rows in each direction, but there is lighting, and even a day’s fare take a sane 230 rubles from each car. And yet, I must note that this paid bypass was not cleared, and on the way back it was not even processed by reagents, unlike the free alternative where there was neither ice nor snow.

I made quick overtaking on uncleared toll plots, and Highlander kept the trajectory by five points. In many ways he was helped by top studded tires and a perfectly tuned all-wheel drive. Frankly speaking, I always disliked crossovers for the opaque work of couplings connecting the all-wheel drive. You get into the skid on the front drive, and you pull the car already at full speed, and it is not always possible to get a feel for the moment of transition to the wheel formula of 4 × 4. In the case of Highlander, everything is very stable: on the intuitive level, the “tail” connection is caught, and for clarity on the instrument panel there is a screen showing which axis is transmitted “here and now” to which axis.

Toyota declassified the new mini-crossover CH-R .

It is time to move to the detour of St. Petersburg in the direction of the federal highway “Kola” – and the track here is narrow, snow-covered and quite severely damaged. Here I would prefer to be on wheels of smaller diameter than 19 “, mounted on the Highlander, but the fears were superfluous – the suspension swallowed all the irregularities and did not shake the soul out of the riders, and the tires did not get a single hernia.

Despite the presence of a large refinery in the city of Kirishi, there are almost no petrol stations in these parts, and those that are are questionable; refueling them I did not dare.

When it was completely dark, it turned out that the LED dipped beam of the car is very good. A wide beam of light, uniform illumination of the entire area, fog lights, even on the “wet” from the reagent asphalt is simply not required. And this is despite the fact that the light temperature of the LED modules is 5500K.

Traffic has almost disappeared, it’s time to start using the main beam. He here also does not cause any complaints. And for convenience on night trips Highlander equipped with automatic headlight control. Frankly, the principle by which the camera located on the windshield determines that the “counter” is already close and it’s time to move to the nearer, I do not understand. That the high beam in automatic mode refused to turn off, then after traveling with the oncoming transport about 5 seconds remained on the near, then for the meeting took reflecting in the distance road signs.

to warm or not to heat the modern engine .

The track “Cola” was in excellent condition – it was very quickly removed after another snowfall, and the road was abundantly sprinkled with sand. You could go very quickly. Traffic at night is almost non-existent, as well as filling stations on the territory of the Republic of Karelia. It is better to refuel in the village of Syasstroy in the Leningrad Region, because there are no petrol stations near Petrozavodsk.

It was necessary to turn off the road towards the destination, as the cleared road ended; The city met us with insane ruts. Here I was pleased with the clearance of 20 cm and the full drive. It is difficult even to imagine how in such conditions “puzzlers” move – ruts such that I on my Mazda6 would not venture to travel around the city. Short-term search for the hotel – and we’re there. By the way, after 11 hours and 1100 km of the road, I almost did not feel tired.

In the morning the frost hit -26 ° С, but Highlander was caught from half a turn. Slightly creaking still not frozen salon, we went in search of a sink to the streets of Petrozavodsk, where they were immediately stopped for unreadable license plates: in the evening I parked the car “muzzle” to the fence and just did not see their condition in the morning. Well, then … 500 rubles! To be exact 250 – I did not wait for the penalty on the AutoCode and paid for myself on the requisites with a 50% discount.

It was not easy to find a free car wash in Petrozavodsk. In general, they work “by appointment”, not by a live queue, as in Moscow. Mandatory services include waxing, hot air drying and silicone coating of rubber seals.

A bit about the city itself. The roads here are not cleaned at all since the removal of the mayor. The deep track adjoins with smooth ice at public transport stops and at intersections. Here I have many times said thanks to the engineers of Toyota for the correct crossover all-wheel drive, stunningly working in tandem with the top Scandinavian spinning.

The car salon is designed for long journeys. It was not an ordinary decision with a full length shelf of the torpedo in the first days of the test, it seemed ridiculous. However, it was very convenient for a long trip – you can expand everything that should be at hand – here and wallets, and snack food and accessories for the action camera. And between the front seats there is a box, which the tongue does not turn to be called an armrest. It amazes with its size – it easily fits a whole backpack with two SLR cameras and any small things to them.

At night, the entire interior is flooded with a blue background backlight – I thought that it would be annoying, but nothing like this happened. Everything is perfectly regulated together with the brightness of the instrument panel.

Along the center of the torpedo is a multimedia system familiar to all Toyota models, but here the button panel is sensory, and the feedback sound is delayed almost a second, which is very annoying – it seems to have pressed the button, but there is no reaction – you press it again times and you get the result of double tapping!

Navigation is well-oriented even in villages and numerous villages of Karelia, takes into account traffic and reports on cameras in Moscow with a special signal. But no matter how good the staff navigation was, we preferred to trust the proven online navigator in the smartphone and the camera warning program for photo-video fixing violations, which allowed even in an active rhythm not to bring a single fine to Moscow.

The steering wheel in a light-weight car is small, but comfortable and does not cause any complaints. In the cold season, the owner will enjoy the heating, though, unfortunately, not complete, but only in the area where the hands are grasped.

The driver’s and passenger’s seats do not have developed lateral support, but they are quite comfortable, even on a 1,100-km throw with rare warm-ups at gas stations. Usually after the first 300 km my back starts to ache, it is necessary to fidget in search of a comfortable landing. There were no problems here. The merit of this, including in the adjustable length of the driver’s seat cushion. In addition, it is equipped with a memory for two drivers. In addition to the position of the seat itself, adjustments to the steering column and exterior mirrors are memorized.

Heating works quickly, and the adjustment wheel allows you to filigreely set the intensity of heating the front seats. And if you scroll the wheel to the left, then turns on the seat ventilation, which operates in three modes.

The benefits of civilization are also available to the second row of seats – there is a climate with individual air ducts, heated seats, curtains on the windows, adjusting the seat and the angle of the backrest. The profile of the rear seat without a pronounced anatomical structure, but I would easily have spent a dozen hours of long journey on it.

On the third row, according to the laws of the genre, everything is not so good: from a hundred kilometers an adult could drive there, but more is unlikely. But the children here will be very comfortable. The backrest angle can be adjusted to suit your needs. But you need to remember that in this configuration of the passenger compartment in the trunk will remain only for a pair of sports bags of medium size.

In the car, I counted 12 cupholders! It’s not a crossover, but a “water-bottle machine”. However, Highlander even from the first generation indulged the passengers with a place for water supply, which is not superfluous on a long journey.

In this car there is also an electric drive of the fifth door with the adjustment of the opening angle – a very convenient option if the car is parked in a garage with a low ceiling. This adjustment is very rare even in this class. I note, however, that this electric drive was “duril” on both Highlanders, refusing to close the luggage compartment door to the end. The problem disappeared by itself, as it appeared. The nature of this problem I could not find out.

As for off-road abilities – do not expect from Highlander the 3rd generation patency of the legendary Land Cruiser . No, you absolutely calmly will make your way on the soggy primer and without straining you will storm the snow virgin soil, but for more this car is unlikely. My colleagues-journalists noted that Highlander, even using the imitation of inter-wheel locks, is not able to cope with diagonal hanging.

There is a minimal off-road arsenal – forced locking of the clutch for connecting the rear drive and the assistance system for descent from the mountain, which works only with the first gear of manual transmission of the automatic transmission.

After the completion of the dog sled dog race “Earth Sampo”, we, with a victory in our class, moved to Moscow. If on the way to Petrozavodsk, the quality of cleaning the Kola track surprised even spoiled Muscovites, then on the way back there was pure ice. Highlander was calmly holding onto the slippery cover and allowed to go very hard, but not at a straining pace, at a cautious, but “dry” pace.

250 km of the road were behind our backs, and the Leningrad Region loomed ahead, and along with it roadmen appeared, clearing the oncoming rock and spreading sand. The next overtaking had to be done, “jumping” through the snow dump, and it turned out that I had to drop gas, and when I was on the opposite side, press it again. And then there was a surprise.

Stable and very calm Highlander decided to leave the trajectory, “to reset the gas” by disabling the rear axle. A drift began, which instantly parried the electronics. For these fractions of a second, I still managed to get scared and began to go without any sense of permissiveness. Ice usually does not forgive excessive self-confidence, but Highlander, especially on good winter tires, thinks differently, and allows the driver to go very relaxed. Just press the “snout” to the asphalt and dovorachivaesh, using the maximum hitch of the tire with ice.

Already in Leningrad, I learned about the ice under the wheels, only when the braking, coupled with the turn, began – the crossover is traveling almost dryly on any surface and it is infinitely pleasing! However, the return journey took 11 hours and 30 minutes for 1100 km of the road and 2.8 tank AI-95. And again, no fatigue!

What in the end? Highlander with four-wheel drive is an excellent car for traveling around Russia. Yes, his philosophy in a leisurely and comfortable ride, but it seems that after this trip I suddenly got knocked 40 and I got into the target audience of this car. Very much he is good!

But the price … she worries. The car in this kit for March 2016 is estimated at 3 353 000 p. – for me it is beyond the psychological barrier. But do not forget that Toyota has a whole army of loyal customers who choose reliability, albeit at a higher cost. However, if before he did not have serious competitors, now, given the price tag – the car will have to be more difficult.

Nissan abandoned the frame construction of its Pathfinder , and the KIA Sorento grew in size and, having received the Prime prefix, began to play on the same field as the Toyota Highlander . Given the localization of the assembly and, as a result, more attractive price tags from competitors, let’s see what the consumer chooses. By the way, Toyota has already announced a new version of Highlander, which will soon go on sale in the US.