2017 Toyota Kluger/Highlander up close in Detroit | video

11 January 2017
, CarsGuide

A new V6 and eight-speed auto from the Lexus range mark biggest changes to Toyota's seven-seat SUV.

Toyota Australia is set to launch an updated version of its Kluger SUV, claimed to be more powerful and economical than the existing, third-generation model.

Previewed at the New York Show in 2016 under its US Highlander name and expected in Australia in the first half of this year, the Kluger will score Toyota's latest 3.5-litre direct-injection six-cylinder petrol engine that's used across the Lexus range, including aboard the RX.

Toyota Australia officials told CarsGuide at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week that the company is yet to confirm final specs and pricing, but power will jump to 218kW (+17kW), while torque will rise to 350Nm (+13Nm).

Fuel economy is also expected to improve, thanks in part to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will come with the upgraded engine, as well as a new stop-start function.

It's likely, too, that the Kluger will be outfitted with Toyota's suite of electronic safety aids – known as Safety Sense – that includes auto emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, radar cruise control and more, which is fitted across the board to US-spec Highlanders.

The US car also received an additional four USB ports, but it's not clear if the local car will get them.

On the styling front, new headlights incorporate daytime running lights, there's a new front bumper and larger grille, and the rear lights are fitted with LED tubes for greater visibility. The third-generation Kluger, which launched in 2014, will otherwise remain very similar.

It's currently sold locally in three grades – GX, GXL and Grande – and kicks off at $42,190 before on-roads.

Check back later to read and watch CarsGuide.com.au's test of the 2017 Kluger from California.

Click here for more 2017 Toyota Kluger pricing and spec info.

Is yours a Kluger family? Will you update to the new version when it's released? Tell us what you think in the comments below.