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New York show: Toyota’s new Kluger shapes up

Hanging by a thread: Artist Michael Murphy used a design rendering of the new Toyota Kluger to create this suspended view of the wagon in profile.

Toyota keeps Kluger buyers in suspension with New York tease of next generation

10 Apr 2019

THE pieces are beginning to come together for Toyota’s new-generation Kluger, with an innovative 3D display to provide a glimpse of the big SUV at the New York motor show on April 17.


The hanging sculpture is comprised of 200 pieces, all 3D-printed, hand-painted and then hung from the ceiling by artist Michael Murphy who used a designer’s rendering of the vehicle to fashion the display in a two-month process.


Only when viewed from directly side-on does the image come together, showing the Kluger (known as Highlander in the United States) in profile, which looks a lot like the new upcoming RAV4, only bigger and more stretched.


In the lead-up to the show, video of the display is being beamed on to buildings around New York to tease the public.


Sleeker than before, the new family wagon is expected to be new from the ground up, sitting on Toyota’s global modular platform that underpins all of the Japanese giant’s recent monocoque offerings, including Camry, Corolla and RAV4.


So far, Toyota is tight-lipped on details such as powertrains, performance, fuel economy, seating options and tech, but the presentation in the Big Apple, which will be streamed live on the internet, might shed more light on some of those factors.


While the current model is offered in Australia with just one powertrain – a 218kW/350Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 mated with an automatic transmission – the next generation could be expected to move into the 21st century with a four-cylinder hybrid unit lifted from Camry.


But don’t expect diesel this time around, either.


The choice of front- and all-wheel drive almost certainly will be carried over from the current range that, like the current model, can be expected to be made in the United States for global markets.


Toyota Australia is yet to confirm any details of the changeover, but the company has hinted it will say more after the New York announcement.


If history is any guide, the new version will land in showrooms in the first or second quarter of 2020 – one year after the New York show introduction.


American journalists speculate the North American version will arrive in showrooms there in the last quarter of this year.


With 2799 sales in the first quarter of this year, the Kluger remains the second-best-selling large SUV in Australia, behind its more hardcore sibling, the Prado (4584), despite a 19 per cent slump in sales this year.


Toyota’s three entries in the category – Kluger, Prado and Fortuner – dominate the segment, holding more than 30 per cent of large-SUV sales this year.


In the medium segment, Toyota Australia is warming up to welcome the all-new RAV4 next month in what is shaping up to be another monster year for the long-time market leader.

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