The 2014 Toyota Highlander - which arrived in Winnipeg showrooms in mid-February, is more fuel-efficient and has more standard accessories and a larger interior than last year's model.
And it's price-tag has dropped by more than $4,000.
"It's a complete redesign," said Woodhaven Toyota lease and fleet manager Nelson Gaspar. Powered by a 3.5L V6 engine with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, the new Highlander has better aerodynamics, smoother handling and improved fuel efficiency, he added.
"With the new transmission, you almost feel like you're driving a Sienna rather than an SUV."
Gaspar said the Highlander's new double wishbone suspension system makes for a smoother ride, while the interior has been redone with soft-touch surfaces, ambient lighting around the doors, a new information display, new centre console, enhanced telematics and 34-per-cent more cargo capacity.
The top-of-the-line Limited Model, he added, also comes with heated and cooled front seats as well as heated rear seats and steering wheel. "You don't need to buy a luxury model -- the Highlander Limited provides luxury," Gaspar said.
With a base price of $31,680 (plus freight and pdi), down from $35,925 last year, Gaspar said Woodhaven has already sold about half a dozen of the new Highlanders. "They are going quickly. The pre-sales are also brisk.
If you want to see the new Highlander in action, just go to birchwoodtoyota.ca.
Woodhaven Lexus adds staff
Darryl Tuck is feeling right at home in his new role as general sales manager at Woodhaven Lexus.
Tuck has been in auto sales for 15 years, and with Birchwood Auto Group for the past four years. In the newly created position, he runs the day-to-day operations for Woodhaven Lexus Toyota's Lexus side.
"We have a great sales team here with (sales manager Tom (Strange), Ross (Enokson) and Matt (Leschyson)," Tuck said. "And we have the best product in the world in Lexus. Few other models can compare with Lexus' reliability and attention to detail.
"Lexus sales across Canada are up and our sales here are way up."
While Strange and Enokson have many years of experience serving Woodhaven Lexus customers, Leschyson is relatively new. The former sous-chef joined the sales team last fall after getting his feet wet in the auto business selling for a Subaru dealer in Saskatoon last year.
"I came back to Winnipeg last fall and convinced Tom (Strange) to hire me," he said. "I've always believed that Lexus makes great models. Even in high school, I was a Lexus fan. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
Vickar Auto Group personnel changes
Vickar Mitsubishi has a relatively new sales manager in Junior Bansal. Bansal had been part of the sales team before being promoted to management a couple of months back.
Bansal had previous management experience with Vision Electronics prior to joining the Vickar staff two years ago.
"I have always had a passion for cars," he said, "and I had been buying my cars here for several years. So it was an easy transition."
Bansal replaced Justin Cahill who transferred to Vickar Nissan as the new sales manager there. Coming over from the Nissan store is sales rep Andrew Kingsley, who is now Vickar Mitsubishi's business manager.
"I'm responsible for the financial side of the business as well as our sub-prime business," Kingsley said. "We're trying to attract more customers who are having trouble getting financing."
Moving from the Mitsubishi store to the Nissan store is sales rep Jeremy Pinx, who has been working for the Vickar Group for the past 2-1/2 years. Pinx is a familiar figure to classic-car collectors and is a regular at the weekly Pony Corral car shows in the summer.
"I love the '60s and early '70s models and some from the '50s," he said.
Kia Optima contest winners
Congratulations to John Enns and his wife, Teralyn, winners of a new 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid. They picked up the vehicle on March 4 at Winnipeg Kia.
The national promotion was co-sponsored by Sobeys, Coca-Cola Canada and Kia Canada. All those who purchased a Coca Cola product and used their Sobeys club card between June and the end of December were eligible to enter.