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Toyota’s new-generation Kluger large SUV has been awarded the maximum five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), but the third-row airbag covereage falls short of completely protecting occupants.
As discovered by CarsGuide, the Toyota seven-seat SUV does offers side-curtain airbags, but protection only extends to the window area between the C- and D-pillars.
A design document supplied by Toyota Australia shows the headrests of the third-row seats extend past the airbag area and, with no protection at the D-pillar, leaves occupants vulnerable in a side-impact collision.
However, ANCAP testing protocol deems the airbag coverage appropriate in three-row models if the safety device covers window and glass areas, and in the new Kluger's case, that "the occupants of all three seating rows are protected by side curtain airbag".
ANCAP boss Carla Hoorweg explained the firm's testing procedure: "ANCAP currently undertakes a dynamic crash test (oblique pole test) combined with a geometric assessment to establish airbag coverage."
"The dynamic test assesses head protection provided to the driver, with the geometric assessment evaluating coverage of all remaining glazed portions of the side of the vehicle (i.e. side windows)," she said.
"The curtain airbag is an important safety feature designed to minimise the risk of injury by hard intrusion through the windows, and also prevents occupant ejection through the windows. ANCAP strongly encourages the fitting of head-protecting side curtain airbags for all seating rows, including the third seating row where fitted.
"The curtain airbag fitted to the Toyota Kluger meets airbag coverage requirements as the inflated portion of the airbag sufficiently covers the glazed portion of the third row. The vast majority of three-row vehicles assessed by ANCAP since the introduction of common protocols with Euro NCAP in 2018 have also been fitted with curtain airbags that extend to the third row (Carnival, Defender, GV80, Q7, Granvia, Fortuna, CX-8, Santa Fe etc.)."
Regardless, the crash testing was conducted in Australia in accordance with the tougher 2020-2022 ANCAP protocols, and the rating applies to all variants of the 2021 Kluger.
For the adult occupant protection test, the Kluger scored 90 per cent, only dropping points in the frontal offset, full width frontal, whiplash protection and far side impact examinations.
In the child occupant protection assessment, Toyota’s latest SUV performed very well in crash testing, but lost points due to a lack of Isofix points in the third row, resulting in an 88 per cent result.
ANCAP found the Kluger to offer ‘good’ and adequate’ protection of pedestrians if struck, and awarded the new Toyota a 76 per cent score in the vulnerable road user protection test.
The Kluger’s autonomous emergency braking system works from 10-80km/h, and features forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
Finally in the safety assist category, the Kluger scored 82 per cent thanks to a long list of standard equipment.
Across the range, the Kluger comes fitted with second- and third-row side and head protection airbags, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera and traffic sign recognition.
Of note, the Kluger does not come with an emergency call function that can notify emergency services in the event of a serious collision, nor does it feature a side-centre airbag for the front occupants.
ANCAP boss Carla Hoorweg praised Toyota in a statement for offering high levels of safety equipment in its new Kluger.
“This five-star ANCAP safety rating for the Kluger rating is good news for families and fleet buyers,” she said.
“The occupants of all three seating rows are protected by side curtain airbags. A fatigue detection system, intelligent speed assistance system and rear cross-traffic alert system are also fitted as standard.
“With every new model generation, the highest levels of safety should be offered to provide consumers with immediate safety benefits as well as provide sustained road safety benefits for future owners and other road users.
“Toyota have sought to achieve the highest level of safety with the Kluger and succeeded. Brands taking this approach should be proud of the proactive role they are playing to improve safety on our roads.”