Toyota Kluger 2021 gx (4x2)
launch-review

2021 Toyota Kluger launch review

Rating: 8.3
$39,590 $47,080 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
    9.1L
  • Engine Power
    218kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    212g
  • ANCAP Rating
    5Stars
The Toyota Kluger is new from the ground up and available in Australia with the choice of hybrid or V6 power for the first time. Our preview drive left us with a difficult choice.
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The Toyota Kluger has been Australia’s favourite seven-seat family SUV for the past seven years. It has dominated the seven-seat soft-roader segment since it overtook the Ford Territory and Holden Captiva in 2014.

This is despite the fact the Toyota Kluger has only been available in Australia with petrol V6 power in a segment where diesel is a popular choice among rivals.

Now there is an all-new 2021 Toyota Kluger. It’s the fourth generation in 18 years, and comes as the Toyota Kluger nameplate approaches its 200,000th customer in Australia.

In addition to being completely new from the ground up, the new Toyota Kluger will offer local buyers the choice of hybrid power for the first time.

The petrol-electric technology has been available on the Toyota Kluger overseas before, but this is the first time it has been offered here.

There are three levels of luxury in the new Toyota Kluger range – GX, GXL and Grande – and all variants are available with petrol V6 front-wheel drive, petrol V6 all-wheel drive, and four-cylinder hybrid all-wheel drive (there is no hybrid front-wheel drive).

The Toyota Kluger GX starts from $47,650 plus on-road costs for the V6 petrol front-wheel drive, $51,650 for the V6 petrol all-wheel drive, and $54,150 for the four-cylinder hybrid all-wheel drive.

The Toyota Kluger GXL starts from $56,850 plus on-road costs for the V6 petrol front-wheel-drive, $60,850 for the V6 petrol all-wheel drive, and $63,350 for the four-cylinder hybrid all-wheel drive.

The flagship Toyota Kluger Grande starts from $68,900 plus on-road costs for the V6 petrol front-wheel drive, $72,900 for the V6 petrol all-wheel drive, and $75,400 for the four-cylinder hybrid all-wheel drive. Premium paints adds $675.

All models are equipped with a full suite of safety technology including radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and speed sign recognition.

Seven airbags are standard, including an airbag for the driver’s knee. And unlike other seven-seaters in the segment, Toyota says the curtain airbags extend to the third-row seats and offer head protection all the way to the rear roof pillar.

Other standard features across all model grades: five fast-charging USB ports, two 12V sockets, front and rear parking sensors, rear camera, a sensor key with push-button start, four one-touch 'express' power windows, extendable sun visors, dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, air vents to all three rows of seats, and a full-size spare with matching wheel and tyre.

The 8.0-inch infotainment screen includes AM/FM and digital radio as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The base GX model grade lacks embedded navigation, but built-in maps are standard on GXL and Grande variants.

Toyota Kluger GXL variants gain electrically adjustable heated front seats, three-zone air-conditioning, faux leather upholstery, a power-operated tailgate and satellite navigation.

The flagship Toyota Kluger Grande adds a panoramic sunroof, hands-free opening for the power tailgate, ventilated front seats, a driver’s head-up display, a 360-degree camera, leather-accented seats and a premium 11-speaker JBL audio system.

For a more detailed breakdown of each model, please click here.

The new Toyota Kluger has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on the vehicle, plus up to seven years' coverage on the engine and driveline, and up to 10 years for the hybrid battery – in line with Toyota's service schedule and annual battery inspection schedule.

Routine maintenance is covered by a capped-price servicing program for the first five years/75,000km in 12-month/15,000km service intervals.

Each visit for routine maintenance costs $250, though prices rise once you’re beyond the capped-price program.

Toyota Kluger V6 2WDToyota Kluger V6 AWDToyota Kluger Hybrid AWD
GX model grade$47,650$51,650$54,150
GXL model grade$56,850$60,850$63,350
Grande model grade$68,900$72,900$75,400
Engine3.5-litre V63.5-litre V62.5-litre four-cylinder, three electric motors
Fuel type91 regular unleaded91 regular unleaded95 premium unleaded
Power218kW @ 6600rpm218kW @ 6600rpm184kW @ 6000rpm
Torque350Nm @ 4700rpm350Nm @ 4600rpmNA
Transmission8-speed auto8-speed autoContinuously variable auto
Kerb weight1885kg to 1955kg1970kg to 2045kg2045kg to 2090kg
Fuel capacity68L68L65L
Towing capacity2000kg braked2000kg braked2000kg braked
Length4966mm4966mm4966mm
Width1930mm1930mm1930mm
Wheelbase2850mm2850mm2850mm
Height1755mm1755mm1755mm
Turning circle11.4m11.4m11.4m
Cargo (VDA, to window line) third row up241L241L241L
Cargo (VDA, to window line) third row down552L552L552L
Cargo (VDA, to window line) second and third row down1150L1150L1150L
Claimed consumption8.7L/100km8.8 to 8.9L/100km5.6L/100km
Consumption on test8.0 to 11.0L/100kmNA6.0 to 6.5L/100km

ON THE ROAD

The new Toyota Kluger is bigger in every dimension than before, and roomier than its main rivals including the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

It has a larger footprint on the road, and yet its turning circle is still respectable (11.4m kerb to kerb), which makes light work of shopping centre car parks.

The wider and longer footprint delivers a comfortable ride and confidence in corners (and roundabouts), even though this is a family wagon.

Visibility all around is good thanks to the relatively large glass area, and the over-shoulder view is helped by wide-view mirrors on both sides of the car and blind-zone warning symbols in the corner of the lenses.

The extendable sun visors are a welcome addition and are great at blocking side glare.

The instruments and dials are well positioned and easy to use. The volume dial is on the right of the infotainment screen – some other manufacturers such as Hyundai and Kia neglect to sweat such details and oblige drivers to reach to the left of the screen.

Toyota has retained the convenient storage trays in the lower middle section of the dash, and in front of the passenger. There’s also room beside the power ports to store a large phone without having to bend or crimp the power cord.

The centre console is huge and has a sliding lid, which is more convenient than a lid that lifts open 90 degrees.

There are three fast-charging power ports and a 12V socket in the front cabin, a 12V socket in the centre console, and two fast-charging USB ports for the second row, though no power to the third-row seats.

Second-row seats have separate air-conditioning controls. Occupants in the third row are kept cool with roof-mounted air vents (some rivals use less effective floor vents), and passengers in the second row are cooled by vents in the roof and in the rear of the centre console.

The second-row seat split-folds 60:40 with the 40 per cent portion on the passenger side, making it easier to access the third row if two of the three seats in the second row are occupied.

The second-row seat tilts and slides to grant easier access and create more or less space, but the third row really is for kids, with limited head, shoulder, and knee room for adults or lanky teenagers.

The boot is larger than the cargo hold for the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento according to our tape measure. Curiously, Toyota only quotes cargo volumes to the window height, while others quote cargo volumes to the roof, so it’s difficult to compare like-for-like in litres.

The Kluger has a well-thought-out storage area under the boot floor. The full-size spare (with matching alloy wheel and tyre) is slung under the rear behind a cover, which is an extra process to access, but ensures the spare isn’t covered in mud or debris when you need it.

The V6 petrol engine is the same as before (218kW/350Nm) paired to an eight-speed automatic. Toyota claims fuel consumption has improved by between four and seven per cent – 8.7–8.9L/100km depending on variant.

The V6 has a lusty sound and works well from low revs. Despite all the moving parts, the new Toyota Kluger – whether in V6 or Hybrid guise – is a much more refined vehicle than before. It’s borderline luxurious, even in the cheapest model grade.

The Hybrid combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with three electric motors that generate a maximum combined output of 184kW.

Two small electric motors give the petrol engine a boost delivering power to the front wheels via an e-CVT automatic, while a larger electric motor drives the rear axle on demand.

Toyota claims the Kluger Hybrid can sip as little as 5.6L/100km (about two-thirds the V6 consumption) in laboratory tests. We are yet to conduct an extended test of the Toyota Kluger Hybrid, but on the media preview drive the display show a consumption average of between 6.0–6.5L/100km, which is remarkable for such a large and heavy SUV.

The only potential downside: the hybrid version insists on 95-octane premium unleaded, whereas the V6 can run on the cheaper 91-octane regular unleaded.

On our preview drive, the V6 front-wheel drive returned an average consumption of 8.0L/100km on the highway and 10.0–11.0L/100km during inter-urban driving.

Consumption would climb further in a traffic snarl, but the 10.0–11.0L/100km average we saw is still better than Ford Territory SUVs that used to deliver 15.0–17.0L/100km.

The Toyota Kluger V6 feels perky, though we couldn’t quite match Toyota’s 0–100km/h claim of 7.5 seconds. We got close, though, at 7.7 seconds using precision satellite timing equipment based on GPS speeds rather than indicated speeds on the digital and analogue instrument displays.

We didn’t get a chance to run 0–100km/h numbers on the Hybrid, but Toyota claims it’s about one second slower to the speed limit (8.4 seconds).

We mention these times not because the Toyota Kluger is a performance car, but to show just how far seven-seat SUVs have come. This sort of performance is on par with, or not far off, Holden Commodore V6 and Ford Falcon six-cylinder acceleration times. Little wonder Australians have adapted to these vehicles so readily.

It also is a sign the new Toyota Kluger will make light work of any towing duties asked of it. Both the V6 and the Hybrid are rated with a 2000kg braked towing capacity.

We spent most of our time in the base-model GX grades of the V6 and Hybrid.Base models are the hardest for vehicle manufacturers to get right and often highlight any shortcomings when they’re not covered in leather and chrome. But to be frank, the Toyota Kluger GX did not feel like a bare-bones proposition and, for me, it’s the pick of the line-up.

My 'room for improvement' list is very short for the new Toyota Kluger.

It would be great for Toyota to include individual tyre pressure monitors, a central locking switch for the front passenger near the power window switch (so they don’t have to lean over to the driver’s side to secure the car while the driver ducks out quickly), power to the cargo hold, and a power-operated tailgate.

For me, the GX model grade is the best buy in the new Toyota Kluger line-up, as the better-equipped models start to get very pricey very quickly.

VERDICT

The new Toyota Kluger finally delivers a welcome level of refinement, comfort, and driver enjoyment. Toyota has also equipped every model with all of its available advanced safety aids.

Toyota initially predicts a fairly even split in demand for Hybrid versus V6 variants, though over time it expects the petrol-electric version will likely become the more popular choice.

However, for all the merits of the Hybrid, the V6 has the potential to offer better value.

Depending on your driving style and daily routine, it could take years to recoup the Hybrid’s $6500 price premium in fuel savings.

Using fuel at $1.50 per litre as a guide, a V6 consuming 11.0L/100km would use $2475 to travel the national average distance of 15,000km per year, versus $1350 for a Hybrid consuming 6.0L/100km over the same distance.

Assuming fuel prices were identical for premium and regular unleaded (which, of course, they are not), at $1.50 per litre it would take almost six years to recoup the Hybrid’s $6500 premium.

However, using the average price of premium unleaded at $1.65 as a guide – 15 cents per litre more than regular unleaded – it would take more than six years to recover the Hybrid model’s $6500 price premium.

While Toyota is finally offering Australian families a choice of V6 or hybrid power for the new Toyota Kluger, it has also created a dilemma.


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