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Toyota Kluger Turbo anyone? V6 may go in Australia as popular Toyota Highlander SUV matches Mazda CX-9, LDV D90, VW Tiguan Allspace and Skoda Kodiaq with a downsized powertrain move

While there are no visual changes outside, the 2023 Kluger is expected to offer a turbo, upgraded multimedia and refreshed trim.

Toyota has updated Australia’s best-selling monocoque-bodied three-row large SUV in its North American home market for the 2023 model year, with a new turbo engine that means the demise of the long-lived V6, as well as a big multimedia update.

While the turbo engine transplant may only apply to the US and Canadian-bound Highlanders (as the Kluger is known elsewhere) for now, it is expected that Australian-bound versions will eventually do the same in the near future.

A Toyota spokesperson has been contacted for information on when/if our Kluger goes turbo and whether the V6 continues for Australia, and we’ll report back as soon as we find out. If the swap does happen for us, and with MY23 production commencing shortly at the brand’s Indiana factory, we’d expect a late-2022 release in Australia.

So, should the Kluger go turbo or stick with V6 in this country?  

Consider the following. The new engine in question is the T24A-FTS related to the 2393cc 2.4-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo petrol unit also found in the related Lexus NX 350 that was recently launched in Australia.

In the latter application, it pumps out 205kW of power at 6000rpm and 430Nm of torque from 1700-3600rpm, and drives all four wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission – though the Highlander/Kluger versions will also offer front-wheel drive versions as well.

In contrast, the current Kluger’s 2GR-FKS 3.5-litre V6 delivers 218kW at 6600rpm and 350Nm at 4700rpm, highlighting the turbo’s drop in power but substantially wider torque band to go with the extra Newton metres on offer.

The turbocharged 2.4-ltre four cylinder makes 205kW/430Nm. The turbocharged 2.4-ltre four cylinder makes 205kW/430Nm.

Curiously, in US Highlander specification, there are no fuel consumption decreases despite the reduced capacity, fewer cylinders and stop/start tech, meaning that we can anticipate numbers close to the current V6’s 8.7-8.9 litres per 100km depending on spec.

However, it’s also worth noting that the North American fuel consumption testing regime is completely different to Australia’s, while carbon dioxide pollution in the MY23 Highlander is reduced and nitrous oxide emissions are said to be slashed by 50 per cent. Plus, in US-spec Highlanders at least, the towing capacity remains the same. Current Kluger’s is 2000kg/700kg braked/unbraked.

Whether the 2.4-litre turbo can match the 3.5-litre V6 2WD’s 7.5 second sprint time to 100km/h (AWD: 7.8s) isn’t as yet known.

Also nicked from the new NX is the MY23 Highlander/Kluger is a completely overhauled multimedia system, and though the standard touchscreen remains at 8.0 inches, a 12.3-inch upgrade is available, while the instrumentation loses the 4.2-inch multi-info display for a 7.0-inch item on some grades, moving up to a new 12.3-inch full-digital layout on top-line versions. Which of these make it to our Kluger remains to be seen.

The overhauled multimedia system features wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. The overhauled multimedia system features wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.

Finally, the Highlighter gains improved voice recognition capability, over-the-air updates for some of the software in the vehicle, a newly repositioned wireless smartphone charger, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and foot-gesture actuation for grades with the powered tailgate. 

Revised colours and interior trim round out the changes.

Small but meaningful changes there, then, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know Australian-specific MY23 Kluger specifications and launch timings as soon as they come to hand.