With an aggressive front end featuring a prominent ‘blade’ running through the headlights into a large trapazoidal grille, and LED daytime running lights flanking the front bumper, Toyota says one of its aims with the new full-sized Toyota Kluger SUV was to dramatically improve its looks.
Although measuring just 15mm wider than the previous generation, the new Toyota Kluger gains a claimed 109mm in cabin width thanks to re-packaging efforts, permitting eight-seater capability for the first time. Local Kluger's will miss out on this however, with Toyota Australia's Mike Breen telling CarAdvice that Australian models will only be available with seven seats.
The new Kluger is also 65mm longer, helping to increase boot capacity with the third row in place by 34 per cent compared with the previous car. Toyota says the extra length also allowed rear legroom increases.
The three-across middle bench, which tilts forward and slides to enable access to the rearmost three seats, can also be swapped for two ‘captain chairs’ with centre walk-through capability to the back bench.
The new interior reveals cues from the Toyota RAV4 and Camry models, including a soft-touch dashboard with stitched-look trimming. Blue dials, a blend of silver and woodgrain trim, and a new eight-inch touchscreen lift the cabin ambience.
The sweeping dashboard also gets an undertray that runs from the centre console to the passenger door, while the new Kluger also scores a huge central storage bin that even swallows a large hand bag.
In the flagship model shown (badged Highlander Limited AWD, the US-market name for the Kluger) multi-zone climate control with air vents for both middle and back rows is standard, in addition to a panoramic sunroof, radar cruise control, automatic high-beam, ventilated front seats, and heated outboard second row chairs – all new features to the Kluger.
Safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic detection and pre-collision auto braking.
While front-wheel-drive models will continue in the range, all-wheel-drive equipped variants get a new Dynamic Torque Control (DTC) system that can vary between 100 per cent of drive going to the front wheels in normal conditions, to split drive 50:50 front-to-rear. A ‘lock’ button also permanently engages that latter ratio for off-road driving.
In normal mode, Toyota says the electronically controlled drive system engages more rear-drive “when accelerating or when sensors detect wheel slippage”. The driver can view drive distribution on the central display.
While the 3.5-litre V6 engine is retained, the Kluger adds an extra gear to its ratio set, gaining a new six-speed automatic transmission, which Toyota says improves fuel efficiency compared with the outgoing car. No engine outputs or consumption numbers are yet available.
The V6 will continue to be the only engine offered in Australia, despite the availability of a 2.7-litre four-cylinder front-wheel-drive model and a petrol V6/electric motor hybrid version being available Stateside.
There is little reason why Toyota Australia couldn’t introduce either model to the local market, however, since production sourcing with this third generation Toyota Kluger switches from Japan to Indiana, USA, where both the four-cylinder and hybrid models are built. The previous two generations of Kluger have been imported from Japan.
A turbo-diesel engine isn’t offered anywhere in the world, though.
Project manager Tomoyasu Harada says that although diesel engines aren’t popular in the car’s main North American market, the company is looking at making the Kluger more adaptable to the requirements of specific markets.