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New-gen platform, hybrid option inject RAV4-style depth to seven-seat Toyota Kluger

10 Jun 2021

IN GLOBAL terms, Australia has a unique connection with the Toyota Kluger.


We’re the only country outside of the US and Japan to receive all four generations – though we didn’t get generation one until its mid-life facelift – and we’re also the only place outside of Japan to call it ‘Kluger’ courtesy of Hyundai trademarking ‘Highlander’ – the Kluger’s nameplate in all other markets.


So generation four is quite significant for Toyota in Australia – not only because it debuts an all-new GA-K platform, shared with the current Camry and RAV4, but also because it has the potential to challenge Toyota’s own Prado 4x4 as the reigning sales champ among large SUVs.


If the RAV4 is any guide, the ace up Kluger’s sleeve is the optional hybrid drivetrain available across all trim levels, exclusively with a sophisticated ‘eFour’ AWD system and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).


Until Hyundai’s Santa Fe Hybrid launches later in the year, the fourth-gen Kluger will be the only large SUV to offer a hybrid model in Australia, even though a Kluger Hybrid has been available globally since 2005!


Where this fourth-generation model really needs to lift Kluger’s game, however, is in terms of seating comfort and functionality, interior quality, and ride comfort.


Now that the new Kluger/Highlander is a true global model (heading to the UK and Europe for the first time, solely in Hybrid form), its ambitions need to extend far beyond simply pleasing Middle America.


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