OJAI, CA – Toyota will introduce stop-start to the U.S. for the first time outside of a hybrid application on the ’17 Highlander midsize CUV.

While the automaker is late to the party on the technology here, it offers stop/start on an estimated 40 Toyota non-hybrid models in various markets around the globe.

Recognizing stop-start has been a controversial technology, as consumers and reviewers have complained about the shock and vibration of some automakers’ systems during engine restart, Brian Williams, product specialist-marketing, products and communication for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., is quick to note how much effort Toyota put into its version to avoid buyer blowback.

“The chief engineer spent a lot of time trying to get that engine-on timing to be very smooth and very preferable for our customers,” Williams says. “You’re also going to get the benefit of reduced emissions and in some cases reduced fuel consumption, based on your city driving,” he says.

As with other automakers’ systems, an up-to-1 mpg (0.4 km/L) improvement in city driving can be realized by leaving Toyota’s stop-start system on. If buyers would rather not use it, the system can be turned off via a button on the Highlander’s lower dash after each ignition cycle.

The Highlander is the first, but not the last, Toyota to get stop-start in the U.S. However, Toyota Div.’s Bill Fay, U.S. group vice president, says the automaker doesn’t intend to blanket the market with the technology, but rather take a surgical approach to its introduction.

“Not to minimize stop-start, but we feel there’s much more of a consumer value with (our advanced safety technology),” Fay says here during a ’17 Highlander media preview.

Adds Williams: “We’re not hesitant about it. This is just the first iteration in North America with our new motor.”

The Highlander’s new motor is Toyota’s 3.5L Atkinson-cycle-capable V-6 with its D-4S port- and direct-injection technology. Last year, the ’16 Tacoma midsize pickup became the first Toyota-brand model in the U.S. to get D-4S. It originated in the U.S. on the ’05 Lexus GS and in 2012 came to market on the 4-cyl. Scion FR-S sports car, which for ’17 becomes the Toyota 86.

All ’17 Highlanders get the 3.5L V-6 with D-4S barring the base LE grade which carries over its 2.7L 4-cyl.

For CAFE compliance, the Sienna also adds the 3.5L V-6 with D-4S for ’17, but because the vehicle underwent what is considered a model-year change compared with the Highlander’s mid-cycle refresh, Toyota did not allocate funding for in-dash electronic updates to add stop-start to the minivan, Williams says.