Later this year, Toyota will begin selling its first-ever turbocharged Highlander mid-size SUV, which for 2023 gets a new 2.4L turbo four-cylinder in place of the model’s long-running 3.5L V6.

In the Highlander, the 2.4L engine makes 265 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque – that’s 30 hp less than the Highlander’s outgoing V6 but a bonus of 47 lb-ft for, in Toyota’s words, “better everyday responsiveness.” The Highlander turbo’s power goes to the wheels through an eight-speed transmission and standard all-wheel drive.

While Toyota estimates a 9.8 L/100 km combined (city/highway) fuel consumption estimate for the new engine (that’s a small improvement over the V6’s 10.3 L/100 km rating), the company says the turbo four-cylinder runs cleaner, boasting a 50 per cent reduction in NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions. A 9.8L/100 km combined rating would give the Highlander a slight advantage over the Ford Explorer, another mid-size SUV that comes standard with turbo power; its 2.3L mill makes 300 hp and 310 lb-ft.

The Highlander will continue to offer a gas-electric hybrid option carried forward from this year’s model.

Other 2023 Toyota Highlander updates include a 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster for LE models (it was formerly limited to XLE trim and higher); dual 12.3-inch screens and power-folding side mirrors for Limited and Platinum trims; and a hands-free tailgate in XLE and XSE models, a feature previously reserved for the Highlander’s Limited and Platinum packages.

Inside, Toyota moved the optional wireless phone charging pad to a new, more convenient spot on the dash from its former home in the centre console box.

Toyota says it will announce pricing for the 2023 Highlander pricing this summer, with vehicles set to arrive in dealerships later in the year.