Australia’s best-selling large crossover is losing its V6 engine for 2023 as Toyota shifts away from petrol bent-sixes.
The 2023 Toyota Kluger, due in the first quarter of next year, will be offered exclusively with four-cylinder powertrains: the popular hybrid, and a new torquier turbocharged 2.4-litre.
The turbo four produces 198kW of power and 420Nm of torque, down 20kW but up 70Nm on the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 engine currently powering the Kluger.
Some Australians will be familiar with the new 2.4 turbo, as a version of it is used in the latest Lexus NX350, in which it produces 205kW/430Nm.
It’ll be offered with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Like the hybrid and the outgoing V6, it’ll be offered across GX, GXL and Grande grades.
Inside the cabin, the base GX gets the larger 7.0-inch instrument cluster screen (up from 4.2 inches), while the GXL and Grande swap their 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system for a 12.3-inch unit.
The Kluger will gain Toyota Connected Services, enabled by a new in-built data communication module and offering features like SOS emergency calling and stolen vehicle tracking.
Toyota hasn’t announced any other updates for the Kluger, but says more details will be confirmed closer to its launch next year.
Notably, it hasn’t mentioned yet whether it’ll get the new generation of Toyota infotainment with wireless smartphone mirroring and over-the-air updates, or whether it’ll get the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster revealed in the US.
Also unclear is whether the Kluger will finally offer wireless smartphone charging as the Highlander does.
“With superb torque and response, we expect the addition of this strong new engine will make the popular Kluger family SUV an even more enticing prospect for buyers,” said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations.
Toyota had already announced the North American Highlander would lose its V6 for 2023, so a similar move in Australia was a fait accompli as our Klugers are sourced from the same US factory.
Toyota’s current 3.5-litre V6 engine, the latest version of a 3.5-litre that debuted in the mid-2000s, has been slowly disappearing from the Toyota and Lexus line-ups both here and abroad.
The latest Toyota Sienna people mover, related to the Kluger/Highlander, is available only with a hybrid four.
While the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento are offered in markets like the US exclusively with a range of four-cylinder powertrains, including a turbocharged mill, they still offer a petrol V6 in Australia.
The new Nissan Pathfinder, due here this year, also uses a petrol V6.
Mazda has been ahead of the curve with its turbocharged four-cylinder CX-9, which offers an identical torque figure to the new turbo Kluger but is down 28kW of power.
The rival Japanese brand can’t match Toyota in offering a large hybrid SUV, however.
Last year, the hybrid accounted for 53 per cent of total Kluger sales in Australia.
MORE: Everything Toyota Kluger