1 Mar 2014
TOYOTA switched from Japan to the USA for the supply of its third-generation Kluger.
Now sold in sole seven-seater configuration, the large SUV receives a longer and wider body, with significantly more cargo space and improved third-row access.
Measuring in at 40mm longer at either end, there is a more cab-forward design with a greater windscreen angle, smaller glass area and wider track. Its monocoque platform is shared with the Camry and US-only Avalon sedan.
The 2GR-FE 3456cc 3.5-litre V6 is a carryover, delivering 201kW of power at 6200rpm and 337Nm of torque at 4700rpm.
In both the front-wheel drive and AWD models an Aisin-supplied six-speed automatic gearbox replaces the old five-speeder, helping fuel consumption improve by around eight per cent to 10.2 litres per 100km in the former and 10.6L/km in the latter configuration.
Conversely, the 1935kg to 2065kg crossover requires between 8.3 and 8.7 seconds to hit 100km/h from standstill, on the way to an 180km/h V-max.
Toyota makes a big deal about the two years its Melbourne-based Technical Centre tuned the suspension (MacPherson struts up front and a new double wishbone arrangement in the rear, replacing the old trailing arms set-up) and electric rack and pinion steering for improved handling, ride and gravel-road stability characteristics.
The steering ratio has been quickened – down to 14.8:.1 from 17.1.
About 30 per cent more sound deadening has been fitted to help quieten down the vehicle, while there has been an uplift in body and chassis strength and rigidity to further help with dynamic and refinement qualities.
Along with the longer rear overhangs and redesigned one-move sliding second-row seat mechanism that brings a larger aperture for easier entry and egress, the more compact rear suspension helps liberate extra third-row space, while boosting luggage capacity by 50 per cent when all seven seats are erect.
The volumes vary from 195 litres to 529L in five-seat wagon mode, to a lie-flat 1171L capacity in two-seater ‘panel van’ configuration.
Toyota says the latest Kluger benefits from higher quality materials inside, as well as smarter design touches brought on by innovative storage spaces such as an open tray underneath the dashboard and a large roll-top centre console with 24.5-litre tambour opening.
The dynamic torque control, as part of the part-time AWD system, sends between 10 and 50 per cent of drive rearwards as traction requirements dictate, while an AWD-Lock facility is available up to 40km/h.
Finally, towing capacity is rated at 2000kg (braked).
Rear parking sensors and a reverse camera are all standard, as part of a long list of safety gear that includes vehicle stability control, a hill-descent control on AWD cars, and seven airbags.
Other features include Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming with voice recognition, Optitron instruments, Toyota Link Apps and a Multi-Info display.