So, another year older, another year marked with interesting (or forgettable) cars, and we’ll be doing it all over again next year. SUVs will undoubtedly continue to play a greater focus here, so in this article – part one of three – we’ll look at the possible non-luxury, non-EV SUVs that are very likely to launch in Malaysia in 2023.
Hang on to your downpayments, we’re going straight in…
2023 Chery Omoda 5
We’ll start off with a bang, perhaps the most awaited-for model in this list. It’s already been previewed here earlier in November, and our initial first impressions were good – think RHD-friendly controls, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (with Sony audio!), all wrapped up in a beautiful package with turbo power under the hood.
Speaking of which, China-market Omoda 5s come with two turbocharged powertrain options: the first is a 1.5-litre 4-pot (156 PS/230 Nm, paired to a CVT), and the other is a 197 PS and 290 Nm 1.6-litre engine. This one is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT).
Upon its launch in Malaysia, it’s poised to take on the Honda HR-V and Proton X50. Still, its arrival here, along with the rest of the Chery cars in this list, will have to wait a while. The brand is still ‘setting up shop’ so to speak, but we think it’ll be one that makes a bang once its here.
2023 Chery Tiggo 4 Pro
This one is set to be Chery’s most affordable SUV, with its crosshair set on the lower rungs of the Honda HR-V. A circa RM 100k starting price for this dainty five-seater is the aim, and despite its position as the junior in Chery’s stable, it still has a lot going for it.
Previewed here was one with a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder (147 PS and 210 Nm), and though its styled relatively conservatively it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Standout features include leather and soft-touch upholstery in the cabin, digital gauges, and like every other vehicle Chery showcased that day, Android Auto and Apple Car Play.
2023 Chery Tiggo 7 Pro
Chery’s offense in the larger side of the SUV market is also not one to be forgotten, as their upcoming Chery Tiggo 7 is billed to take on Malaysia’s favourite C-segmenters like the Proton X70 and Honda CR-V.
Suitably so, on the outside is quite a clean, bordering on premium look, although things still remain relatively familiar. Not necessarily a bad thing; squint and the front is quite reminiscent of the beautiful DS7 that was once sold here.
Moving past digressions the Tiggo 7 Pro comes with LED head- and tail lights, a plush interior with all the right amounts of digitalisation, and under the hood is a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine that does 147 PS and 210 Nm that’s married to a CVT automatic.
2023 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro
After 7 comes 8, and the Tiggo 8 Pro will be the Chinese carmaker’s flagship in Malaysia. Big power – 250 PS and 390 Nm off a 2.0-litre turbo – is the headline-grabber, but being Chery’s totem pole headpiece means it needs to offer more than that. After all, it’s only got the 2023 Proton X90 to worry about…
Hence, expect rich digitalisation inside (full-colour touchscreen just for the air-cond controls), rich leather upholstery, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and ADAS littered in the spec-sheet.
Oh and that’s not all…Chery very kindly showed us the Tiggo 8 Pro PHEV too, which makes even more power (510 Nm). Certainly an interesting development…
2023 GWM Haval H6
The other Chinese competitor that’s making inroads to Malaysia is Great Wall Motor, purveyors of the Ora line of EVs, and the Haval series of SUVs and trucks.
Their Haval H6 has been a best-seller in Thailand ever since it was introduced there, jam-packed a long list of features and extensive ADAS, things which have been proven to make Thai customers look away from the CR-V.
Although multiple variants of the H6 have been spotted here – from the regular-ICE petrol pre-facelift, the H6 Hybrid, and the newer plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) – exact Malaysian-market specifications and their launch dates haven’t yet been disclosed.
Globally, the Haval H6 is available with a range of powertrains. Our neighbours up north in Thailand gets their Haval H6 with a petrol-electric 1.5-litre hybrid that does 243 PS and 530 Nm, while other right-hand drive markets like South Africa and Australia can be had with a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder that does 204 PS and 320 Nm.
2023 GWM Haval Jolion
If anything, 2023 will be a toughie for the HR-V and the Corolla Cross as GWM will also be fielding a competitor for a slice of their pie – a job to be carried on the Haval Jolion’s broad shoulders.
It’s got to be priced right for that to happen, and although like everything else in this list specifications are yet to be confirmed, the H6’s stablemate is expected to bring its own set of choice features like ADAS and a delectable interior.
In Thailand, the Jolion gets a petrol-electric hybrid that does a combined output of 243 PS and 530 Nm. Alternatively, Haval also offers the same turbocharged engine but without the aid of an electric motor, which does 152 PS and 220 Nm.
2023 Honda BR-V
We’d bet our bottom dollar that one of Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd (HMSB)’s earliest launches next year is the all-new 2023 Honda BR-V.
It’s about time the old model goes away, plus in the face of the D27A Perodua Alza and W151 Toyota Veloz, Honda sorely needs the boost the new BR-V brings in order to stay competitive in the 7-seater segment.
Honda Sensing ADAS is almost certain to be included – just like it is on the Honda Civic, HR-V, City, City Hatchback – to go with its heightened features inside. These features in the Indonesian and Thai-spec cars include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, auto air-conditioning, and remote engine start.
Powering the all-new Honda BR-V is a new naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre DOHC petrol engine borrowed from the current-generation Honda City, producing 121 PS and 145 Nm, paired to a CVT automatic.
2023 Honda CR-V
The sixth-generation all-new 2023 Honda CR-V is yet another model HMSB could introduce into Malaysia next year. The brand-spanking new model will feature a host of new technologies injected into it, though its much too early to confirm anything – it’s not even in any other SEA countries yet – expect turbo and hybrid powertrains, per Honda’s latest directions.
That said, its appearance here may not be the earliest. The outgoing G5 CR-V took 10 months between its American world debut till its launch here, but we now have chip and supply issues to contend with. A mid-to-late 2023 launch in Malaysia is likelier.
2023 Honda WR-V
Ah yes, the 2023 Honda WR-V. Made as a South East Asia-focused product, Honda’s latest upstart will train its sights on the Perodua Ativa once it makes its way here.
In Indonesia, Honda’s little SUV packs a naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine that makes 121 PS and 145 Nm, the bevy of Honda Sensing ADAS, and all the good stuff, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
2023 Kia Sorento (MQ4)
Kia, under Bermaz’s stewardship, has seen a steady revival in Malaysia led by the effervescent Kia Carnival and the EV6. Their contention in the SUV space will be spearheaded by the latest-gen Sorento.
The Sorento is a large SUV, and in Malaysia it’s been slated to launch with both ICE and PHEV/HEV powertrains. The model previewed in Indonesia is a good indicator what to expect; a combination of the 4-cylinder Smartstream G1.6 T-GDI unit (179 PS/264 Nm) with a 44 kW (60 PS) electric motor.
Together, the system produces 230 PS and 350 Nm with the power sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Features include expansive digital screens, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, and ADAS.
2023 Kia Sportage
Up next is the Kia Sportage, yet another Kia that’s earmarked for local assembly (CKD). Bound for Malaysia next year, this SUV that scares children is also earmarked to get hybrid powertrains alongside regular internal combustion engines.
The feature set we expect it to have is rich; think things like a complete set of ADAS, and an interior that doesn’t lose the tech edge against its stablemates.
2023 Mazda CX-5 (KF) facelift
Bermaz’s offensive won’t stop there, and the low-hanging fruit that’s only a matter of time to introduce is the facelifted Mazda CX-5. Having made its world debut in September this year and bringing with it revised suspension underneath a mildly-retouched skin, the CX-5 facelift might make it here in early 2023.
Factoring ripple effects from the Covid pandemic, this slightly longer-than-usual timeline is pretty understandable. As it’s a facelift, don’t expect much in the way of all new engines – our current crop of the 2.0- and 2.5-litre petrol engines will likely soldier on alongside the 2.2-litre turbodiesel.
2023 Mazda CX-60
If a CX-5 just isn’t enough, moving up a notch brings you to the 2023 Mazda CX-60. This takes to the BMW recipe of plonking a big engine (the plug-in hybrid is Mazda’s most powerful road car ever, with 327 PS and over 500 Nm of torque) in an RWD drivetrain, and along with that pairing it all with a very premium exterior and interior.
Sources familiar with the matter say the Mazda CX-60 is currently being studied by local Mazda distributor Bermaz, for an eventual launch in Malaysia, aimed at the Toyota Harrier, so it won’t be wrong for you to expect a circa RM 250k price tag.
2023 Proton X90
Now, the big one. Based on the Geely Haoyue large SUV, the Proton X90 will finally be the 7-seater Proton needs to finally put the tired ol’ Proton Exora to rest, and simultaneously catapulting its model range to higher levels.
This large SUV is based on Geely’s CV platform, and judging from what we’ve heard at their new Tanjung Malim engine plant, it should debut in Malaysia having turbo power. If that’s the case then it’s likely sharing the X50 and X70’s 1.5-litre turbocharged three-pot, though electrification can happen along the line of the model’s lifecycle.
2023 Subaru Forester (SK) facelift
Whaddya mean “Wait, this exists?” The Subaru Forester was facelifted in Japan way back in June 2021, and it’s only just arrived in Thailand in November. A Malaysian launch in 2023 is worth a shot.
The Subaru Forester (SK) facelift brings a sharper new look, and beneath it all there’s reworked suspension and improved Subaru EyeSight ADAS.
These 15 models are just some of the SUVs we can expect to launch in Malaysia in 2023, and oh no this isn’t exhaustive yet; just the ‘regular’ ones. Some of them are facelifts, some of them new generations, while some are just starting to carve a name out for themselves in our market.
Whatever the case, there’s a lot to look forward to – just like parts 2 and 3 of this series, in which we’ll share with you upcoming electric SUVs and luxury ones.