Next-generation Toyota Highlander might share platform with Subaru Tribeca

Article by Christian A., on January 3, 2011

You are not going to believe this: Next-generation Toyota Highlander midsize crossover might share its platform with the new Subaru Tribeca. As you may know already, both vehicles have similar dimensions, but it appears that there is one small problem: the Toyota Highlander uses a transverse-mounted engine while the Subaru Tribeca is powered by a longitudinally mounted boxer engine.

Moreover, the Toyota Highlander platform will also have to accommodate the hybrid system found on the Highlander Hybrid, but regarding this car there is some good news, as we will definitely see also a hybrid version of the Subaru Tribeca, according to MotorTrend.

For those who don’t know, this is now the only partnership between the two Japanese brands, as Toyota and Subaru are also working on the FT-86/086A sports car. Still, regarding this project, Toyota tackles the problem with the upcoming FT-86 rear-wheel-drive sports coupe by going with a Subaru pancake engine.

The STI 2.5-liter engine delivering 305-horsepower and 290 pound-foot. Now, the Toyota FT-86 is seen as a mid-$20s car rather than a sub-$20,000 car.

Subaru’s version of the car, the so-called 086A, is set to make its debut in 2013, and will be sold only with an all-wheel-drive in order to differentiate it from the Toyota.

As designed, the open and versatile interior of the new Toyota Highlander could accommodate up to seven people and up to 95.4 cubic feet of cargo (Highlander Hybrid: 94.1 cubic feet). The versatile cabin of the new Highlander is helped by the presence of several storage compartments, 10 cup holders, four bottle holders as well as two front and one cargo-area 12-volt auxiliary power outlets. The new Highlander also has tie down hooks in the cargo area.

Both the Base and SE grades of the new Toyota Highlander boast of an interior marked by a center console, front driver and passenger assist grips as well as shift knob wrapped in silver-painted accents. The Limited grade, meanwhile the center console, assist grip and shift knob with wood grain-style trim. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with a silver and wood grain-style interior trim with chrome door handle accents, a power meter with a hybrid system indicator as well as Optitron meters with blue graphics.

Meanwhile, the headrests of the new Highlander are adjustable (two ways on the Base grade and four on SE and Limited). The second-row seat comes with 40/20/40 split seatbacks. The seat could serve as a three-person bench or a pair of captain's chairs with armrests by removing the Center Stow seat. By removing the Center Stow seat, walk-through area is created between the seats, making it easier to access the third row. A Center Stow center console can be fitted between the second-row seats for additional storage. Interestingly, the second row could also slide fore and aft as well as recline.

Toyota has made it easier to access the third row by placing an easy-to-reach walk-in lever at the bottom of the passenger-side second-row seat. Likewise, the second-row seats could be folded forward and flat through the standard one-touch levers inside the cargo area. The second-row seats could also be folded forward through a lever in the back of the seat.

The Japanese carmaker commenced production of the conventionally powered Highlander in October 2009 at its Princeton manufacturing site in Indiana. Toyota invested around $450 million to move the Highlander assembly line to this facility.

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