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New York show: Toyota teases next-gen Kluger

Shedding light: A curvaceous headlight design on the new Toyota Kluger signifies a departure from the angular look of recent products like the Corolla and RAV4.

First teaser shot of new Toyota Kluger suggests it will be no scaled-up RAV4

22 Mar 2013

TOYOTA has offered a peek under the silk cloth at its third-generation Kluger soft-roader with a close-up shot of the headlight and a bit of surrounding sheetmetal.

The rest of the seven-seater will be unveiled at the the New York motor show next week ahead of its arrival in Australian showrooms next year.

Toyota appears to have shied away from styling the new Kluger – sold in the United States and other markets as the Highlander – similar to a scaled-up RAV4, giving the headlights a less angular appearance.

Further distancing the Kluger from its smaller stablemate is a straight inner edge of the headlight next to what appears to be a rectangular grille.

The grille extends into the leading edge of the bonnet, slightly above a chrome bar aligned with the top of the headlights.

No technical details were revealed, but Toyota Australia has confirmed this new version of its popular family wagon will maintain the Kluger nameplate and that sourcing will switch from Japan to the US.

The new Kluger’s US origins suggest it will continue as a petrol-only proposition.

A hybrid version is likely, although whether a petrol-electric Kluger ends up in Australian showrooms remains to be seen.

VFACTS figures show the Kluger to be Australia’s third most popular large SUV with 989 registered to the end of February, a drop of 4.6 per cent.

By the time the new car arrives, competition in the segment will have hotted up with the arrival of the US-built Nissan Pathfinder in the second half of this year.

With the new Pathie, Nissan has dropped the rugged Navara ute underpinnings for a car-like – and Kluger-like – monocoque construction.

At the Detroit show in January Volkswagen unveiled the CrossBlue concept, which previews a seven-seat SUV tipped for production by 2015, aimed directly at the likes of the Kluger, Pathfinder, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Other SUVs slated for reveal at the New York show include an all-new Range Rover Sport and a hybrid version of the Infiniti QX60.

At the other end of the size scale will be a petrol-electric version of the Subaru XV crossover, and the Jeep Cherokee, which shares a platform with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

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