It’s still a fair way off in Australia, but the third-generation Toyota Kluger is an important vehicle in Australia so we thought we would bring you preliminary information on the mid-size SUV. We attended the world premiere of the Toyota Highlander (as the Kluger is known in the USA) at the New York Auto Show, and liked what we saw.
Like many of the latest crossover SUVs, the new Toyota Kluger is no longer styled as though it’s aimed a the tough off-road buyer, rather it has the looks of a stylish station wagon. The great majority of SUV buyers are no longer dreaming of one day crossing the Simpson Desert, but want a practical wagon to cart kids, groceries, dogs … whatever.
Kluger comes with a trapezoidal grille that’s obviously a close cousin of the unit fitted to the latest Lexus range of vehicles. It has large swept back headlamps, and a neat rump. To our eyes it looks particularly good in the side view thanks to sculpted door panels.
Toyota Kluger is longer and slightly wider than before and from our brief sit inside it certainly has a spacious feel. Forward-side visibility has been improved by changing the shape of the front A-pillars.
The rear-quarter glass has been increased in size compared to the outgoing model to improve the view for the junior occupants of the back seat. The new design gives easier access to the third row seats.
Toyota has made a strong push on refinement, with the new Kluger’s interior featuring premium materials and fittings including a soft-touch instrument panel.
New Toyota Kluger will be sold in Australia with a 3.5-litre V6 engine. We are assured that fuel efficiency has been improved, not only due to modifications to the engine, but also by the fitment of a new design of six-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Toyota hasn’t completely given up on Kluger’s off-road credentials. It will be able to run well on unsealed surfaces thanks to an efficient Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive system. This uses information from various sensors (speed, steering angle and speed, throttle angle and yaw rate) to automatically govern the transmission of torque to the rear wheels, as required.
Toyota Australia is still being non-committal on the importation of the new Kluger to Australia, simply saying we will see it “in the first half of next year.” Interestingly, our Klugers will be built in the USA rather than Japan.