Toyota News: TRD Pro Series Headed to Chicago, CR Reviews New Highlander

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

All’s quiet on the Western front as automakers prepare for the 2014 Chicago Auto Show next week. Our latest preview is that of the Toyota TRD Pro series, which is planned to debut in Chicago next week. But, since we don’t honestly know too much about the new series, we’re also going to quickly brush over the latest Consumer Reports review of the 2014 Toyota Highlander.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Let’s dive right in.

Toyota TRD Pro Series

This video is how we found out about the upcoming TRD Pro series. As you can see, it’s a lot of ‘goofy’ and not a lot of ‘revealing’. Then, for the past week or so, Toyota has been posting little snippets of the new TRD Pros on their Facebook page to build hype for the upcoming debut. Pictures such as the one seen below:

TRD Pro

But let’s back up a minute – what exactly is the TRD Pro Series?

From what we can tell so far, you can think of it sort of like what NISMO is to Nissan, except exclusively for Toyota’s trucks and SUVs. This Thursday, they’ll debut TRD Pro versions of their Tundra and Tacoma pickups, as well as their 4Runner SUV. The upgraded versions are looking to be beefier, sturdier and all around manlier.

What’s the point?

Simple – to stay (or become, as the case may be) competitive with the latest and greatest of the mighty American pickups. That means they’re targeting the F-series and the Ford Raptor, the upcoming Chevy Reaper, and of course the Dodge Ram.

Unfortunately, Toyota has kept a tight wrap on actual specifications, so the only information we have is what you can glean from the above images and video. Let us know if you pick up on anything intriguing via the comments at the bottom of this article.

Consumer Reports is Unimpressed By 2014 Toyota Highlander

Oddly enough, in the same week as Toyota has been doing all this hype-building, Consumer Reports did them the favor of confirming a need for improved off-road vehicles. Not that the Highlander actually sees that much off-road action, but it’s an SUV; that’s close enough for us.

So, what exactly did Consumer Reports dislike about Toyota’s new family-friendly SUV?

Basically, it came down to this: there’s nothing inherently wrong with the SUV, but the reviewer expected more attention to fuel economy. He was, however, pleasantly surprised by the interior of the Highlander, being well-pleased with its “minivan-like” utility.

Ultimately, his closing remarks said it best:

“All in all, the Highlander remains easygoing, pleasant and unexciting… In other words, it’s a Toyota.” Uh oh. Akio Toyoda’s been very clear that he wants to be brand building, not “bland building”. Back to the drawing board.

You can check out the full review below:

Tune in this coming Thursday, February 6th, to see whether or not the TRD Pro Series can bring some flair to the Japanese brand’s SUV lineup. Until then, thanks for reading!

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