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Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Palisade and Mitsubishi Outlander: The most important new models coming in 2021 for Australia's biggest brands

The new-generation Toyota Kluger is one of the most anticipated new models of 2021.

A new year brings fresh hope. After a difficult 2020 for all car brands, the calendar is about to tick over, and with it will come fresh models that will hopefully entice customers back into showrooms and turn around the sales slide.

There’s a lot coming, and we’ve got comprehensive coverage on your specific interests, but right here we want to look at the most important new models for Australia’s best-selling brands.

We’ve chosen one new model from each of the top-six brands that we believe will play the most crucial role for them. It might be the most popular model, or it might not, but these six new vehicles are sure to play a major role in shaping the fortunes of each manufacturer in 2021.

Toyota Kluger

Toyota's new-generation Kluger is expected to retain top spot in the large SUV market when it lands next year. Toyota's new-generation Kluger is expected to retain top spot in the large SUV market when it lands next year.

The bad news is the Kluger is long overdue. It was first unveiled by Toyota USA way back in April 2019.

The good news is the family-sized SUV is due to hit dealers in the first half of 2021, and it has the potential to be a best-seller for the Japanese giant. That’s because the Kluger has traditionally been one of the most popular seven-seat SUVs in the country.

But Toyota has another reason to be optimistic with the Kluger - it will add a hybrid powertrain. This is the first time the big SUV has had a hybrid (a 2.5-litre petrol paired with two electric motors), and based on the popularity of the RAV4 Hybrid, the Kluger could be in for a bumper year.

Mazda MX-30

Two versions of the MX-30 will come to Australia, the mild-hybrid first followed by the all-electric grade in mid-2021. Two versions of the MX-30 will come to Australia, the mild-hybrid first followed by the all-electric grade in mid-2021.

Mazda has been pushing its ‘semi-premium’ agenda for several years now but is yet to join the electric-vehicle market. The MX-30 will change that.

Powered by an all-electric powertrain that makes 105kW/265Nm and drives the front wheels, the MX-30 is a compact SUV that will do battle with the likes of the MG ZS EV and Hyundai Kona Electric.

While hardly likely to be a big seller for the brand, it would play an important role introducing Mazda’s loyal customers to EV technology that is expected to become more common over the course of the next decade. Making a statement in 2021 will lay the groundwork for the brand for years to come, so getting the MX-30’s arrival right is critical.

Hyundai Palisade

The Palisade gives Hyundai a rival to the likes of the Toyota Prado, Kluger and Mazda CX-9. The Palisade gives Hyundai a rival to the likes of the Toyota Prado, Kluger and Mazda CX-9.

Technically this big SUV is in Hyundai showrooms now, but with only a few weeks of the year to, go its success will be measured on how it performs in 2021.

Bigger than the Santa Fe and offering up to eight seats, the American-sourced Palisade has the potential to add volume to Hyundai Australia’s sales tally, which will help it close the gap on both Mazda and Toyota.

Powered by a 217kW 3.8-litre V6 or a 147kW 2.2-litre turbo diesel, the Palisade gives Hyundai a rival to the likes of the Toyota Prado (in space, if not off-road prowess) as well as the Kluger and Mazda CX-9.

Ford Ranger

The new-generation Ranger is due in 2022. The new-generation Ranger is due in 2022.

Given it accounts for two-thirds of all of the Blue Oval’s local sales, there is no more important vehicle than the Ranger. That’s why the brand has produced a steady stream of updates or special-edition models every few months to keep the Ranger fresh in its fight against archrival, the Toyota HiLux.

The challenge for Ford will be to continue that pace while preparing the way for the launch of the new-generation Ranger due in 2022. If it slows down the updates and specials, or decides to run out the current model too soon, it could have a major impact on its 2021 fortunes.

Mitsubishi Outlander 

This is the next-generation Mitsubishi Outlander before you were meant to see it. (Image credit: Allcarnews) This is the next-generation Mitsubishi Outlander before you were meant to see it. (Image credit: Allcarnews)

The Japanese brand is slowly updating its ageing line-up, and 2021 will see an all-new Outlander arrive. Caught recently undisguised, the new Outlander should be one of Mitsubishi’s biggest sellers, as the current model has managed to remain popular in the Mid-size SUV segment.

The new Outlander is reportedly based on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail, which ironically will be one of its biggest rivals, but will retain its plug-in hybrid powertrain to try and give it an edge over the Toyota RAV4.

Kia Sorento Hybrid

The Sorento will soon be available with four powertrain options, including the new Plug-In Hybrid pictured here. The Sorento will soon be available with four powertrain options, including the new Plug-In Hybrid pictured here.

As we’ve previously reported, the South Korean brand has been steady upwards progress on the sales charts thanks to its extensive line-up. Kia has offerings in most key segments, but until now one crucial piece has been missing - electrification.

The Sorento Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid are both due in 2021 and will potentially open up the brand to new buyers, which would only help its sales growth. 

The hybrids are only the start of Kia’s electric plans, which coincide with a new corporate brand and logo, as the brand tries to continue its recent growth.