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AutoTrends: Toyota Highlander 2023 excites with turbo, new tech

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Toyota Highlander, which has been the best-selling midsize crossover in the United States for six consecutive years, is getting a significant update for 2023, the leading automaker has said.

According to a new report by carscoops.com, the biggest change occurs under the hood as the 3.5-litre V6 engine has been replaced by a new turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder.

A turbocharged engine uses turbine power and forced induction to push extra compressed air into your engine’s combustion chamber.

The 2023 model Highlander produces 265hp (198 kW/269 PS) and 309lb-ft (418 Nm) of torque, which is a loss of 30 hp (22 kW / 30 PS) but a gain of 46lb-ft (62 Nm).

 

This is considered a mixed bag and the situation is further complicated by a combined fuel economy rating that is expected to remain at 24 mpg. This is somewhat surprising, but Toyota said the four-cylinder is more environmentally friendly as it offers “more than a 50 per cent reduction in NOx and NMOG [emissions] as well as an improvement in CO2 emissions compared to the outgoing V6 engine.”

Environmentally conscious consumers will likely opt for the familiar Highlander Hybrid.

It features a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, which enable the crossover to have a combined output of 243 hp (181kW / 246 PS) and an estimated fuel economy rating of 36 mpg combined.

Interior

Moving into the cabin, Limited and Platinum trims now come equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that replaces the previous analog gauges and 7-inch display.

Toyota did not say much about it, but the digital instrument cluster offers some degree of personalization as there will be four different display modes known as Casual, Smart, Tough and Sporty.

The higher-end trims also benefit from a new 12.3-inch infotainment system, which will also be available as an option on the mid-level XLE and XSE that come standard with an 8-inch display.

Speaking of screens, the entry-level Highlander L and LE trade their tiny 4.2-inch multi-information display for a larger 7-inch setup.

Getting back to the infotainment system, all 2023 Highlanders are equipped with the Toyota Audio Multimedia system that debuted on the 2022 Tundra.

It offers cloud-based navigation, over-the-air updates, and an intelligent assistant that responds to the “Hey Toyota” wake word.

The infotainment system also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as integrated Apple Music and Amazon Music streaming with the available Wi-Fi Connect subscription.

Additional changes are minor, but Limited and Platinum trims gain power folding side mirrors, while the XLE and XSE now come equipped with a hands-free power liftgate.

More importantly, the available wireless smartphone charger is no longer hidden in the center console as it moves to the instrument panel shelf, which puts it within easy reach.

Rounding out the highlights are a new Cypress paint job, and updated Harvest Beige and Glazed Caramel interiors that trade Noble Brown accents for Black contrasts. Furthermore, the 2023 Highlander XSE gains new 20-inch wheels with a black finish.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander should arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year and we can expect to learn more details closer to launch.

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Auto finance: CBN, NADDC discuss new options for vehicle buyers

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The Director General of the National Auotomotive Design and Development Council, Jelani Aliyu, says the agency has commenced discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to design workable solutions for auto financing to make vehicle purchase affordable for Nigerians.

He stated this in a presentation made at the 9th Annual Transport Lecture organized by Transport Day Newspapers, with the theme, ‘Nigeria’s Transportation For Development: Sectoral Achievements, Prospects and Challenges’, held in Abuja.

“We had a meeting with the CBN yesterday on auto financing. We want to work out a solution that would enable Nigerians to buy new vehicles and pay over a period of six years,” he said.

The NADDC boss said the move was part of the agency’s efforts geared towards promoting and enhancing value addition in the transport cum automotive sector of the economy by creating a conducive business climate to further enhance investment inflow and industrialization.

Aliyu also said the NADDC was rapidly shifting attention to carbonless transport system in Nigeria in a bid to develop and promote advanced transport technology in the automotive industry.

He said, “This is because, vehicle electrification is inevitable, it is the future of automotive industry worldwide and we are working assiduously towards achieving its comprehensive and sustainable adoption in Nigeria.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that poor maintenance culture of vehicles in the transport sector contributes immensely to environmental pollution. The use of EVs that have advanced technology will not only curb these excesses but will also lead to more productivity in the industry.

“Currently, one of our top focus areas is scaling up production of applicable electric vehicles locally, to enable Nigeria meet its target for the Paris Accord and 2060 net zero commitment, both on reducing harmful gas emissions from vehicles” he said.

He further stated the NADDC recently set up a technical committee on electric vehicle development plan aimed at drawing up a comprehensive development programme for vehicle electrification in Nigeria.

According to the NADDC boss, this plan will also ensure that made-in Nigeria EVs are of world standards and compete favourably in the global market.

“As a pilot scheme project, the NADDC has established 100% Solar Powered EV Charging Stations at Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, University of Lagos and University of Nigeria Nsukka and also discussing with other stakeholders for collaboration in establishing more charging infrastructure all over the country.

“In conclusion, NADDC is committed to establishing and giving support to development programmes that will aid the Nigerian transport sector.

“I therefore urge all stakeholders to begin to think of a paradigm shift from the conventional vehicles to carbonless transportation system and key into the vehicle electrification projects of the Council with a view to achieving cleaner air in Nigeria.”

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AutoTrends: Stop driving your old crossovers, Mercedes warns, recalls ML, others

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Mercedes-Benz has asked owners of certain older crossovers to stop driving due a to corroded brake booster that could cause the brakes to fail.

The automaker said the request and corresponding recall applied to 292,287 ML-, GL-, and R-Class crossovers and SUVs from the 2006-2012 model years.

Recalls are common, but urging customers to stop driving is not,  according to thecarconnection.com.

In the affected vehicles, water exposure in the brake booster housing can cause a joint to corrode, leading to a leak in the brake system.

Brake force may also be reduced, forcing drivers to press harder on the brake pedal to decelerate and come to a stop. In rare cases, Mercedes said, it may be impossible to stop if there has been severe corrosion.

The risk of a crash or injury would increase, although Mercedes said it was aware of no known crashes or injuries related to the issue.

According to the premium brand automaker, the emergency brake pedal is not affected, and could be used in case of a regular brake pedal failure. Mercedes will provide complimentary towing of the affected vehicles to service centers.

Dealers are expected to inspect the brake booster housing and replace parts as required. If the part cannot be fixed immediately, Mercedes said it will help “coordinate an individual solution for the customer, including alternate mobility.”

 

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AutoTrends: Hyundai Sonata models face fuel leak risk

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A potential fuel hose leak in 2013 and 2014 models of Hyundai Sonata has again led to the immediate recall of the vehicles globally.

The NHTSA disclosed this, noting that the factory fault could increase the risk of a fire.

The 2013-2014 Sonata and 2013-2014 Kia Optima had previously been recalled for a fuel hose that can crack prematurely and leak fuel.

The tape and zip-tie remedy for those earlier recalls did not stick.

With the new recall, the fuel line will be replaced at no cost to owners, Hyundai states.

Without the proper fix, the leaking fuel could come in contact with a spark or ignition source that could cause a fire in the engine compartment, thecarconnection.com notes.

The recall encompasses 215,171 Sonatas. Owners may smell fuel on vehicles equipped with either the 2.0-litre turbo-4 or 2.4-litre inline-4 engines. Hyundai reported 138 incidents in the past two years of the defect, but the automaker said there were no known crashes, fires, or injuries.

Hybrid versions of both sedans from those model years were recalled for a separate fire risk.

Hyundai and sister brand Kia have issued a series of recalls for increased fire risk for a variety of reasons, ranging from a faulty electrical socket (2011-2012 vehicles) to a short circuit in the braking system (2006-2011 Elantras).

Owners will be notified by mail as early as July 5, and will be instructed to take their affected Sonata into a dealer to have the fuel feed line replaced at no charge, regardless of warranty status.

Hyundai owners who paid for fuel line repairs to address the leak will be reimbursed.

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