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New York show: Toyota Kluger steps out in Big Apple

Toyota Australia ticks V6 box again for new Toyota Kluger – and hybrid a possibility

Toyota logo17 Apr 2019

TOYOTA’S new fourth-generation Kluger appears destined to receive V6 petrol engine power again for Australia, but Toyota Australia has not ruled out adding the alternative hybrid version that has been revealed in the United States where the big SUV is called Highlander.
 
The new-generation Kluger made its public debut this week at the New York motor show – the same place that the current model was unveiled in 2013.
 
A V6-only line-up would maintain the status quo in Australia where the current model range also excludes the hybrid in the range that is made for global markets in the US.
 
But Toyota Australia appears to have left the door open, with public affairs specialist Orlando Rodriguez telling GoAuto: “It has not been ruled out, however at this stage we have no announcement to make about the introduction of a Kluger hybrid.”
 
Timing for the Australian launch is yet to be determined, but judging from past model launches, a first-half 2020 appearance would seem likely.
 
Sixty centimetres longer and roomier than before, the newly sculpted body of the latest model sits on Toyota’s global modular architecture in its larger TNGA-K iteration that already underpins the latest Camry.
 
Toyota claims the added strength of this platform allows the suspension to be tuned for greater agility while delivering a smoother and quieter ride, along with enhanced safety.
 
The styling is evolutionary, maintaining a strong but safe look favoured by suburban families.
 
The normally aspirated 3.5-litre engine is carried over, with a tweak to give it an extra couple of kilowatts, taking it from 218kW to 220kW.
 
The eight-speed automatic transmission also makes another appearance in the new model that, like before, comes in a choice of two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
 
One of the biggest mechanical upgrades in the new Kluger is the new AWD system that can now send up to 50 per cent of the torque to the rear wheels to counter front-wheel slip.
 
In some markets and on some variants, the Kluger will be available with a dynamic torque vectoring AWD system with drive-mode select and rear driveline disconnect for greater agility and flexibility. Multiple drive modes for bitumen, off-road and slippery conditions can be selected via a knob on the console.
 
In North America, the Highlander again gets an optional hybrid powertrain, but this time it is new, with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine hooked up to two electric motors that can drive the front wheels or – for the first time – all four wheels.
 
The powertrain generates 180kW and is said to be 17 per cent more efficient than before due to lighter weight and lower frictional losses.
 
Safety systems include autonomous braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beam, road-sign assist, a reversing camera, hill-start assist and trailer sway control.
 
On upper variants, a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are available.
 
Inside, the Kluger gets a new 12.3-inch touchscreen, which is said to be the biggest in the class.
 
Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the new-generation Kluger would be even safer and more enjoyable for families.
 
“Kluger’s new platform and driver-assist 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,” he said.
 
With 2799 sales in the first quarter of this year, the Kluger remains the second-best-selling large SUV in Australia, behind its more hardcore sibling, the Prado (4584), despite a 19 per cent slump in sales this year.
 
Toyota’s three entries in the category – Kluger, Prado and Fortuner – dominate the category, holding more than 30 per cent segment share this year.

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