Car companies continue the battle to save the planet by snuffing out polluting fossil fuel propulsion in favour of electricity. Toyota is powering on with its petrol / electric combination.

Latest model to receive the hybrid treatment is the Kluger seven-seat sports utility vehicle. Toyota Australia Vice-President Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations, Sean Hanley, says the addition of hybrid to the fourth-generation Kluger further demonstrates Toyota’s commitment to delivering on electrified options in its line-up.

Offering improved driving dynamics, a larger and more refined cabin, a stylish new look and the latest in safety technology, the all-new model is available in three trim levels – GX, GXL and Grande – in petrol two-wheel drive, or hybrid, or petrol all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment includes smart entry and start, manual front and rear dual-zone air-conditioning, rain sensing wipers and automatic lights, and five USB ports.

GXL models gain power heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, power tailgate and satellite navigation for the latest-generation multimedia system.

On test was the top-of-the-range Kluger Grande, which adds a panoramic moonroof, hands-free opening power tailgate, ventilated front seats, head-up display, a panoramic view monitor, leather-accented seats and premium 11-speaker JBL audio.

The new Kluger is covered by Toyota Warranty Advantage, with five-year unlimited kilometre cover, extending to seven years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first five years / 75,000 km and each 12-month / 15,000 km service costing $250.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary in the new Kluger’s looks. They are from the standard – read traditional (old fashioned?) – SUV script. No sleek coupe crossover curves here. Toyota calls the shape ‘sculpted’. I call it ‘square’ in both its meanings.

The MY21 Kluger is 76 mm longer (4966 mm) and, at 1755 mm, 25 mm higher than the previous model. While overall width has increased by a mere 5 mm to 1930 mm, 20 mm wider flared wheel arches give the car a robust appearance.

As befitting a seven-seat SUV, the bold character is reinforced by large upper and lower trapezoidal grilles split by the front bumper. Slimline LED light clusters with integrated daytime running lights are situated above deep recessed LED fog lamps integrated into the flared front end.

On the plus side, an extended and flatter underbody and spats in front of the wheels contribute to improved aerodynamics. The Grande rolls on 20-inch wheels with a polished chrome appearance.

The broad dash, in smart soft-touch materials, houses the instrument cluster, a central 8-inch touchscreen display and air-conditioning controls and vents. A lower centre console is separated by a panel that stretches the width of the car.

The lower centre console incorporates the transmission lever, drive and AWD mode select switchgear, electronic park brake and two large cupholders. Other storage includes a 15-litre lidded centre console box, overhead glasses holder, front door bins with 700 ml bottle holders, rear door bins with two 700 ml bottle holders and eight cupholders.

The boot space is 50 mm longer and 13 mm wider, providing an increase of 46 litres of luggage space to a total of 241 litres. With the third-row seats folded flat, this increases to 552 litres while folding the second row 60 / 40-split seat back as well, the Kluger provides an expansive 1150-litre capacity.

A removable luggage cover is standard on all models and can be stored neatly under the luggage space deck board.

Petrol models offer traditional tacho and speedo displays in the instrument cluster, while Hybrid versions replace the tacho with a hybrid system indicator that enables the driver to check the output and regeneration status of the hybrid system to monitor driving behaviour and achieve the greatest efficiency.

All models feature the latest generation multimedia system with AM / FM / DAB+ radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and myToyota apps including Waze and Stitcher (IOS) and WebEx (Android).

The Kluger GXL grade adds satellite navigation with Grande versions delivering superb sound reproduction through an 11-speaker premium JBL audio system.

The hybrid system is available in all GX, GXL and Grande grades in combination with the e-Four electric all-wheel drive.

It combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with three electric motor generators – two at the front and one in the rear – and a large Ni-MH battery to provide seamless performance and traction in all road conditions.

Under the bonnet, the petrol engine generates a maximum power of 142 kW at 6000 rpm and peak torque of 242 Nm at 4400 rpm, enabling a combined urban / highway fuel consumption as low as 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres. The test vehicle recorded as low as 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

Chief among these is the autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety system that is able to detect pedestrians day and night, cyclists during the day, oncoming vehicles and pedestrians at intersections when making turns, and assist you to take evasive action if there is potential for a collision.

The system provides varying levels of assistance from visual and audible warnings, braking assistance, steering assistance, and full emergency braking if the driver fails to respond.

Grande variants feature a camera with a panoramic view monitor that offers a variety of different views depending on the transmission mode selected, including an overhead birds-eye view.

Passive safety features in the new Kluger include a structure and body designed to absorb impacts in a controlled manner and seven airbags – front and front side, full length side curtain and driver side knee.

The hybrid system delivers a combined maximum power of 184 kW through a smooth electric continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) that offers driver selectable Normal, Eco and Sport modes.

Hybrid AWD models are also fitted with a Trail mode switch for more demanding off-road performance that is able to adjust throttle control, shift schedule, drive force distribution and brake control to deliver optimal traction for the conditions.

For enhanced off-road performance in varied conditions, the AWD Kluger also features a multi-terrain select system with Mud and Sand and Rock and Dirt modes that in the Grande can also be disconnected to improve fuel economy.

Side mirrors have been relocated lower on the door panel to improve forward visibility and reduce blind spots.

Access into the second and third row two-seat bench has been made easier with the fold down levers for both rows now located on the outer shoulder of the seats, which, for the third-row seats, also automatically folds the head rests in one action.

The rear hatch offers easy access into the expanded luggage space with power operation for GXL variants and a ‘kick sensor’ for the Grande version that allows the hatch to be opened and closed hands-free.

Off to a slow start with sales when the Kluger came out in 2003 as a mid-size SUV, years later the Kluger is a large SUV with a big following. That is about to become bigger with the addition of hybrid power.



GX 2WD petrol $47,650
GXL 2WD petrol $56,850
Grande 2WD petrol $68,900

GX AWD petrol $51,650
GXL AWD petrol $60,850
Grande AWD petrol $72,900

GX AWD hybrid $54,150
GXL AWD hybrid $63,350
Grande AWD hybrid $75,400
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Kluger Grande Hybrid 2.5L 4-cylinder petrol, CVT automatic, AWD)

Capacity: 2.487 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 142 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 242 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.6 L/100km
CO2 emissions 128 g / km
Series / parallel, full hybrid
Output (combined): 184 kW
Electric drive motor: permanent magnet synchronous motor
Maximum power: 134 kW
Maximum torque: 270 Nm
Electric drive motor (rear): permanent magnet synchronous motor
Maximum power 40 kW
Maximum torque: 121 Nm

DRIVELINE: Continuous variable transmission, all-wheel drive

Length: 4966 mm
Wheelbase: 2850 mm
Width: 1930 mm
Height: 1755 mm
Turning Circle: 12.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 2045-2090 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *