Latest Highlander/Kluger is the fourth generation

Latest Highlander/Kluger is the fourth generation

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Toyota has unveiled its redesigned Highlander [aka Kluger in some markets like Australia] at the New York motor show.

The three-row, petrol or petrol hybrid large SUV is made in the US, in Princeton, Indiana, and sold primarily in North America though it is also exported, with both left- and right-hand drive.

Australia is the prime RHD market.

The 2020 model will reach North American dealerships next winter with petrol versions due in December 2019 and the petrol hybrid following in February.

The unibody structure with four-wheel independent suspension carries over, now built, like the smaller RAV redesigned recently, on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K).

The fourth-generation model offers a V6 or new generation hybrid powertrain with the 'gas' version offering a manufacturer-estimated 22mpg (on the US' smaller 3.7-litre gallons) combined fuel economy and the hybrid getting an estimated 34mpg.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard, adding Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Road Sign Assist (RSA) and there are five trim grades, starting with a new L entry level (not with hybrid), followed by LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum.

Multimedia systems add a new 12.3-inch touchscreen for the Platinum grade while 8-inch screens are in other models. A new JBL sound system delivers 1,200 watts to rattle windows on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The body is 60mm longer and 20-inch wheels are now available.

Toyota Australia can't give a launch date but said their RHD versions will have a 220kW tune for the V6 petrol engine, front and all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems and Safety Sense.

Sales and marketing head Sean Hanley said: "The new-generation model expands Kluger's role as a genuine crossover vehicle, offering the comfort, convenience and safety of a passenger car combined with the off-road ability of many traditional 4WD vehicles."

The AWD system can send up to 50% of available torque to the rear wheels to counter wheel slip when necessary.

Optional dynamic torque vectoring AWD with drive-mode select and rear-driveline disconnect delivers more agility and capability.

Critical for Australian use, hill-start assist and trailer sway control for AWD variants, offering downhill assist control, will be offered.

The Kluger has passed 170,000 sales 'down under' including a record tally of 14,743 last year, making it the best-selling 2WD/AWD vehicle in the large SUV segment.

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