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Toyota's new Harrier SUV is some sharp-dressed forbidden fruit

It used to be a copy of the Lexus RX, but that ship has long sailed, and to great effect.

Could this be a new Venza for the US? It's a long shot, but hey, anything's possible in 2020.

Before Lexus vehicles were sold in Japan as they are in many other markets, Toyota would occasionally take a Lexus vehicle, slap a Toyota badge on it and sell it at home that way. The Lexus RX was, for a time, rebranded as the Toyota Harrier, but the mass-market automaker has since split the two lines to separate vehicles. The latest Harrier, coming this year, is looking mighty promising, even if it (probably) won't come to the US.

Toyota has unveiled pictures of the new Harrier, which is slated for release this coming June. The new Harrier is a striking SUV, borrowing a lot of its design language from the latest generation of Mirai fuel-cell vehicles, especially up front. The rear end has many shades of the Jaguar F-Pace, especially around the taillights and the liftgate. It's far sleeker and looks more premium than any stateside SUV, at least in my opinion.

That focus on quality extends to the interior, as well. There's a whole lot of stitched leather in here, wrapping around the door panels and creating a lovely little two-tone getup in the pictures Toyota provided. While the corporate steering wheel is there, the center stack looks slightly more distinctive, with some physical buttons in place for the HVAC controls. It may not be a Lexus, but it's really blurring the lines between Toyota and its fancier offshoot. The panoramic sunroof has electrochromic controls, so it can change the amount of light that enters the cabin. The rearview mirror can also record images of what's happening in front of or behind the Harrier.

Two powertrains are on offer. The standard gasoline engine is a 2.0-liter, direct-injection I4 producing 169 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque, mated to your choice of front- or all-wheel drive, with a standard continuously variable transmission. There's also (surprise, surprise) a hybrid model that produces a net 215 horsepower. Both models are positively brimming with tech, including the usual complement of active and passive safety systems, in addition to an available 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a nine-speaker JBL sound system.

Toyota has not made any mention of bringing the Harrier to the US, where it would likely slot somewhere between the RAV4 and Highlander. That said, there are rumors that Toyota may bring back the Venza nameplate for a new hybrid crossover, so perhaps there's some hope for this forbidden fruit after all.