Australia’s favourite seven-seat SUV has had a major makeover. Families can expect a choice of V6 or hybrid power when it goes on sale next year.
Families on a budget will soon have a lower fuel bill for Australia’s top-selling seven-seat SUV.
The new, fourth generation Toyota Kluger not only promises better fuel economy from its powerful V6 engine but Australia is likely to get the option of hybrid power for the first time.
A hybrid version of the Toyota Kluger has been available in the previous two generations in the US but has not yet been made available to Australian buyers.
However, with Toyota’s push to expand hybrid options across its passenger car range, a Kluger hybrid is now likely even though it has not been confirmed.
Although it looks familiar, the Kluger is all-new and based on Toyota’s new generation global architecture (TNGA).
It will include a suite of advanced safety aids including autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and speed-sign recognition.
The new model is slightly larger than the current version, to give occupants more room in all three rows of seats.
It will also be easier to clamber into the back seats now that Toyota has extended how far the second-row seats slide forward.
In the main cabin, Toyota claims the infotainment system’s 12.3-inch touchscreen will be the largest in the class, although it is unclear whether Apple Car Play and Android Auto will be available on Australian models.
The petrol V6 engine – backed by an eight-speed auto as with the recently updated current generation Kluger – gets a power bump to 220kW, while the hybrid benefits from a new generation 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a hybrid powertrain shared with the Toyota Camry.
As with the current line-up, the new Kluger will be available in front-drive or on-demand all-wheel-drive.
In a media statement, Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley said: “The new-generation model expands Kluger’s role as a genuine crossover vehicle, offering the comfort, convenience and safety of a passenger car combined with the off-road ability of many traditional 4WD vehicles.”
Toyota claims new driver assistance technologies “dial-up the fun-to-drive factor by making it even more agile on all road surfaces as well as being more surefooted with its ability in the bush”.
The company says the stronger body structure offers even better protection in a crash than before and is the basis for better suspension tuning.
The unveiling of the new model explains why the Kluger has been at runout pricing over the past 12 months, starting from $45,990 drive-away, a discount of about $5000 off the full RRP.
The sharp pricing is part of the reason the Kluger recently passed 170,000 sales since the first generation model arrived locally in late 2003, including a record 14,743 deliveries in 2018, making it the best-selling 2WD/AWD vehicle in the large SUV segment.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling