It’s taken almost 20 years but Toyota has finally delivered a Kluger that won’t eat families out of house and home.

Launched in 2003, the seven-seat SUV has always been an appealing package, for those who don’t want a real off-roader — apart that is from the challenging fuel economy.

The original 3.3-litre V6 was good for 12.3L/100km. Its 3.5-litre replacement which arrived in 2007 with 200 “killer wasps” delivered 11.0L/100km on the knocker (or on paper).

The move first from five, then to six and finally to an 8-speed auto brought this figure down to a claimed 9.0L/100km, and now 8.7 in its latest iteration.

When we drove the Kluger in 2019, however, we still only managed to get 12.1L/100km — that’s not too bad either, because 15.0 is not uncommon.

And, for as long as there’s been a Kluger, buyers have asked, no make that begged, for a fuel-saving diesel? It is after all an SUV.

An embarrassed Toyota Australia has been forced to put on a brave face, smile and say, sorry, no diesel. Unfortunately, it was designed for the North American market and the Yanks don’t do diesel.

Sorry to say, even as we speak, there’s still no diesel, but the latest Kluger, launched this week, can be had with a hybrid.

Halle-bloody-lujah.

The 2.5-litre powertrain is similar to the system in the Camry Hybrid, but with some obvious differences — direct injection for the petrol engine, a less powerful electric motor and larger but heavier Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery.

Go figure?

The hybrid combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine with three electric motors.

With a combined output of 184kW that drives through an advanced electric e-Four AWD system, it takes 95 unleaded and sips the good stuff at a rate of 5.6 litres/100km.

Driving through an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT), the e-Four AWD system allows up to 100 per cent of drive to be sent through the front wheels or up to 80 per cent through the rear, depending on conditions, with a Trail mode for more challenging off-road environments.

Performance is quoted at 8.4 seconds from 0-100km/h.

The V6 (yes, a V6 is still offered for now), does this in 7.5 seconds in two-wheel drive form or 7.8 with all four wheels turning.

Prices for the hybrid start from $54,150 for the GX AWD, $63,350 for GXL AWD and $75,400 for top of the range Grande AWD.

Premium paint adds $675 while a Rear Entertainment System, available for Grande only — is $1500.

Toyota Australia’s Sean Hanley said the addition of hybrid to Kluger further demonstrated Toyota’s commitment to delivering on electrified options in its line-up.

“Kluger is now the eighth Toyota model in Australia that offers a fuel-efficient, environmentally-conscious, hybrid drivetrain and as our sales success proves, it is still currently the leading option for environmentally sustainable transport,” Mr Hanley said.

“While Toyota is continuing to develop a range of alternative powertrains to meet our sustainability goals into the future, right here, right now, for this market, we believe a petrol electric hybrid meets the needs of families for a practical and affordable vehicle perfectly.

The all-new model is available in three trim levels — GX, GXL and Grande — in petrol 2WD guise or hybrid or petrol AWD configuration.

New Kluger features the latest in Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features including pre collision safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, emergency steering assist and intersection turn assist on every model.

Added to this are active cruise control — with curve speed reduction function — lane trace assist, blind spot monitor, reversing camera and seven airbags, creating a very comprehensive safety package.

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.

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

Kluger is covered by a 5 year unlimited kilometre coverage extending to seven-years on engine and driveline, with capped-price servicing for the first five years/75,000km and each 12-month/15,000km service costing $250.

 

CHECKOUT: Kluger: it’s all good bro’

CHECKOUT: Powerful stuff: Toyota promises seven EVs

Finally, a family-friendly frugal Kluger

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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