The new hauler is aimed into the American heartland and that means both the design and production will be focussed on the USA, even for Australia. The Kluger is expected to continue with a familiar package - five or seven seats, front or all-wheel drive, V6 or four-cylinder power - but is getting a major overhaul. In Australia, that means the newcomer will land around the middle of the year on boats from America, not Japan.
“That's where it's going to be produced, for the whole world,” the new chief of sales and marketing for Toyota Australia, Tony Cramb, tells Carsguide. “It's essentially just for us in Australia and the United States, with a few for Russia. It's too big for Europe, they don't sell it in Japan, and for emerging markets its too high-specification.”
Cramb says the Kluger is a solid seller in Australia but admits it was almost lost for a time. “It's perfect for Australia. But we had to fight hard for it. We nearly lost it in the last generation,” he reveals. “It's definitely a good volume vehicle for us. It's not core like Corolla or HiLux, but there is definitely a market for us.”
Cramb refuses to be specific about changes to the 2014 Kluger, although he is not convinced on the need for a hybrid model being developed for America. “At this point in time we're saying the timing is in the first half of next year. It's a totally-different looking car. We haven't set the engines yet.
“There is a hybrid for the US, but we probably won't get it. We can't put the business case for it, it doesn't quite work for us.” But he says switching the supply line to America works on the financial front, both for customers and Toyota Australia. “It's a good move for us, because we sell our locally-made cars to the Middle East in American dollars. And we buy the HiLux in American dollars out of Thailand. It balances the portfolio for us.”
This reporter is on Twitter: @paulwardgover