Toyota Motor Corp. will make a $100-million investment to hike output of the Highlander at its Princeton site in Indiana as the crossover has been reaching the production ceiling at the facility. Once the investment is completed, the site will be capable of producing 30,000 more Highlanders every year.
It will also lead to hiring of 300 workers to the site existing workforce of about 4,500 people. Toyota saw sales of the Highlander surge 18 percent in the first seven months of 2014 to 81,374. The figure excludes a small yet declining volume of Highlanders imported from Japan.
The production increase, however, will not hike the overall capacity of the Indiana site at 365,000 vehicles annually. The project, however, will expand Highlander to both of the site’s two assembly lines.
The site currently builds Highlanders and Sequoia SUVs on one assembly line and the Sienna minivan is built on the second. Toyota spokesman Mike Goss remarked that expanding the Highlander to both lines will give the carmaker more flexibility and capacity in producing the crossover.
He noted that demand for the Highlander is strong and Toyota needs it. Princeton was originally Toyota’s key truck site. Following a slump in truck and SUV sales in 2008, Toyota reorganized its truck production, and consolidated all Tundra output at a site in San Antonio.
The new Toyota Highlander preaches its sophistication and dynamics through its progressive silhouette, lower roofline that enhances aerodynamics, as well as sculptured side-door panels. Compared to its predecessor, the new Highlander offers a sleeker and stronger look, thanks to the fact that it is longer by 3 inches and wider by half an inch.
On the front end, the new Toyota Highlander features a more assertive appearance thanks to its hood, redesigned trapezoidal grille, deeply chiseled fenders and wraparound headlamps. The new Highlander features a bold profile thanks to the sculptured wheel wells at the corners that enable the vehicle to ride on protruding wheels. The new Highlander also comes with a newly designed rear lift-gate that boasts of one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings. It is also provided with taillights and a bumper that convey both strength and style.
To increase the rigidity of the Toyota Highlander's body structure, the front pillars make use of high-strength steel. The A-pillars have also been repositioned and the size of the rear quarter glass has been increased to improve the outward visibility in the new Highlander.
Certain noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) measures help refined the character of the new Toyota Highlander. For instance, the floor areas employ 30 percent more insulation materials and the windshield is made from acoustic-type glass to reduce the noise that enters the interior. Likewise, Toyota designed the panoramic moonroof to help further reduce wind noise, even when opened.