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2017 Toyota Sampling

Frank Washington | 12/28/2016, 10 a.m.
OJAI, Calif., – W came here to test a bevy of 2017 Toyota products. We had the Prius Prime, the ...

OJAI, Calif., – W came here to test a bevy of 2017 Toyota products. We had the Prius Prime, the 86, the Corolla, the Highlander and the Sienna. We dealt with the Prius Prime in another column so that leaves the other four. First up was the 86.

In case you hadn’t heard, Toyota has discontinued its Scion brand and is rebranding the products as Toyotas. The first car we got our hands on was the Scion FR-S but now it is the Toyota 86.

This was way more than a name change. Yes, the 86 was still low, long and it had a wide stance, just like its predecessor. But the car had been greatly improved. It had standard LED front headlamps, daylight running lights, and a new fog lamp bezel and revised bumper. The rear sported LED tail lamps too and a more sculpted bumper design with integrated aerodynamic diffuser.

Soft touch materials were used in the interior and of course 86 logos were used on the car. Silver stitching was used inside and the bucket seats in the 2+2 coupe were comfortable. The 86 performed well on the twisting two lane roads through the hills and mountains surrounding this valley.

Powered by an aluminum alloy 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine, there is a six-speed manual transmission and the six-speed automatic. The manual made 205 horsepower while the automatic generated 200 horsepower. We had the automatic and it made 151 pound-feet of torque. It got and an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The Toyota 86 is a classic sports cart. It was light, 2,815 lbs., had a great power to weight ratio and it was highly maneuverable. That is a long winded way of saying it was fun to drive. Prices for our test vehicle start at $27,840.

2017 Toyota Highlander

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2017 Toyota highlander

photo credit: motortrend.com

photo credit: motortrend.com

Next was the 2017 Toyota Highlander. The automaker tweaked the crossover which can be equipped with three rows of seats, from stem to stern. Under the hood was a retuned 3.5-liter V6 that made a robust 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque.

Mated to a new eight speed- automatic transmission, the all-wheel-drive model of the 2017 Toyota Highlander had a fuel efficiency rating of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. That was a big jump from the 2016 model.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine made 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic and in front wheel configuration got 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. They didn’t bring any four cylinders here, nor were there any trailers to check out the towing prowess of the Highlander. Toyota said it could pull up to 5,000 lbs.

The Bird’s Eye View camera system had four cameras that assisted during parallel parking. The system also provided a 360 degree view around the vehicle helping the driver to see obstacles.

We didn’t stray too far from the staging area because we really wanted to get into the Toyota Highland Hybrid. So we confined our test drive of the gas powered Highlander to city streets. The cabin was spacious, quiet, comfortable, and open. We didn’t get the feeling that we were hemmed in by a high center stack or short side windows.