OJAI, CA – Toyota is drawing a line in the sand, staking out a position as a car company that makes safety a top priority. It goes further than just a philosophy or even company policy – Toyota is making an extensive list of safety features standard equipment on most vehicles in its vehicle lineup, starting with 2017 models.
Bundled under the term TSS (Toyota Safety Sense) and TSSP (Toyota Safety Sense P) these systems will appear on more than 150,000 Toyota vehicles Canadians will buy in the coming year.
Safety Sense includes: a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and on vehicles equipped with TSSP, a dynamic radar cruise control system.
The main goals of the systems are improved night-time safety, keeping drivers within their lane and mitigating forward collisions. The company says the systems are meant to augment control, not to replace driver input.
The first vehicles to be equipped with TSS and TSSP are the 2017 Corolla, Highlander, Sienna and 86. We had an opportunity to drive each of these vehicles here during a multi-model new vehicle preview paired with the introduction of the new plug-in Prius Prime.
Here’s what’s new:
The world’s best-selling nameplate gets a mid-cycled makeover for 2017. First up it gets TSSP – the full slate of safety features described above, across the full model range, making it the first in class to have them all at all trim levels.
The Corolla celebrates five decades on the market with the addition of a hatchback sibling - the Corolla iM. The demise of Scion allowed Toyota to rebadge the iM as a Corolla. Both get a new common front-end appearance that includes a new bumper , grille and headlights. They share suspension and mechanicals.
There are new wheels and the interior has been updated with a new instrument cluster and audio display. The base price of $16,290 is up $300, which is more than offset by about $2,800 in additional standard equipment.
The 2017 Corolla comes in CE, LE, SE and a new-for-2017 XSE trim. The latter comes with alloy wheels, sunroof, navigation, power seats and leather trim,
The Highlander gets a fresh new look for 2017 with new head- and tail-lights and upper and lower front grille on all models. The grille gets a distinct finish for each trim level and there is a new SE trim level. There are five USB ports scattered throughout the interior so it is never hard to find a spot to plug in and charge.
The Safety Sense systems are standard across the range and the 3.5-litre D-4S V-6 engine gets direct injection and is mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. On all-wheel-drive models, the engine is equipped with automatic start/stop technology. Hybrid models get a similarly-updated version of the V-6 paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Like the 2017 Corolla iM hatchback, the 2017 Toyota 86 is the result of the demise of the Scion brand. Formerly known as the Scion FR-S, the Toyota 86 is a sleek two-door sporty car with a revised 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder Subaru engine paired with a six-speed transmission, manual or automatic.
Updates to the engine have resulted in an additional five horsepower and five lb-ft of torque (now 200 and 156 respectively). Models equipped with the manual transmission get a lower final drive ratio.
The 86 gets the Toyota Safety Sense system, new frontal appearance, LED headlights and revised springs and shock absorbers in the transfer to the Toyota brand. The Vehicle Stability Control System has been recalibrated and now includes a “track” mode. It remains one of the best-handling vehicles of any size and price on the market today.
There are minimal visual changes to the big Sienna minivan for 2017. But beneath the skin lies an updated engine paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-litre V-6 now has direct fuel injection for more power and improved fuel economy. The Sienna remains the only minivan available with all-wheel-drive. It also gets Toyota’s Safety Sense features at all trim levels.