With stratospheric fuel prices, how prescient that the Kluger has opened its hybrid powertrain account.
The latest generation has become the eighth Toyota to offer the petrol-electric fuel saver.
There are nine variants of the big seven-seater, in a mix of two and all-wheel drive.
GX is front drive only, while the GXL and Grande offer front and all-wheel drive and hybrid versions.
Grande hybrid takes up the flagship role.
What’s it cost?
Prices open at $47,650, plus on road costs, for the GX 2WD petrol, GX AWD petrol follows up at $51,650, while the Grande AWD hybrid (the test vehicle) tops out the new Kluger at $75,400.
Standard equipment across the range includes smart entry and start, manual front and rear dual-zone air conditioning, rain sensing wipers and automatic lights, and five USB ports.
Grande adds a panoramic moonroof, hands-free operating power tailgate, front seat ventilation, head-up display, 360-degree all-round view monitor, ad leather-accented seats — which lives up to its premium tag.
While far from Lilliputian, at 8.0 inches the information screen is far from ‘Grand’ – on the small side for an SUV of this size and calibre.
With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the flagship ‘flies’ with digital radio, where available, satellite navigation, and an 11-speaker JBL sound system of superior quality.
A recipient of the latest in Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance, the new Kluger features a 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.
A head-up display keeps Grande driving eyes on the road, while the big bugger slots into tight parking spaces with the help of the car’s panoramic view monitor.
New Kluger is covered by Toyota Warranty Advantage, which offers five years unlimited kilometre coverage that extends to seven years on engine and driveline.
It also comes with capped-price servicing for the first five years/75,000km, with each 12-month/15,000km service costing $250.
What’s it go like?
In looks the new Kluger errs on the wagon wing of the modern SUV – no crossover coupe-like curves here – square(ish) lines dominate the seven seater’s dimensions.
The latter, larger than the previous model in all respects, plus flared wheel arches, all add up to a robust appearance as befitting a seven-seater.
Front on the SUV follows suit with 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.
An extended and flatter underbody and spats in front of the wheels contribute to improved aerodynamics.
Grande rolls on 20-inch wheels with a polished chrome appearance.
The new hybrid system combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine with three electric motors — two up front and one at the rear.
It delivers a combined maximum output of 184kW through a smooth electric continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) that offers driver selectable Normal, Eco and Sport modes.
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.
It’s 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, Sand, Rock and Dirt modes that in the Grande can also be disconnected to improve fuel economy.
Access to the second and third row two-seat bench is made easy with the fold down levers for both rows located on the outer shoulder of the seats, which for the third-row seats also automatically folds the headrests in one action.
The rear hatch offers easy access to 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.
There’s little lacking inside the cabin, with soft touch materials, the latest design features, while the larger exterior allows for increased space and versatility for seven occupants.
Touches of luxury are supplied by leather-accented seats, memory power driver seat, ventilated front seats, electrochromatic rear view mirror, premium soft instrument panel, plus rear door sunshades and ambient lighting