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Toyota Kluger 2021 review

The Toyota Kluger looks a lot like the big brother to a Toyota RAV4 with its new grille
EXPERT RATING
8
The Toyota Kluger has long been a common sight in Aussie driveways, but is this new-generation model worthy of that honour?

The Toyota Kluger is an Aussie family favourite. It’s the Streets Viennetta ice cream of SUVs, the Hungry Hungry Hippos of transport, the Dunlop KT 26 equivalent of cars, and the new-generation model is here… and there’s a hybrid version now.

Not only did I attend the Australian launch of the new Kluger, I took one away with me and my family and I have been living with it – just like you will.

A test drive at a dealership might not tell you everything you need to know about the Kluger, but fear not, I’ve done the testing with my family for you. Here’s all you need to know, from what’s new and the practicality upsides and downsides, to what the hybrid is like to drive.

Toyota Kluger 2021: Grande (4x2)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.3L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$65,519

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Kluger is about as beautiful as its name, which isn’t very. Still, while it doesn’t have the elegant lines of a Mazda CX-9 or the futuristic face of the Kia Sorento it does look tough and serious.

Having spent time driving it in the suburbs where off-road utes rule, I can tell you it commanded a bit of respect even while I was blocking an entire street with my seven-point turn.

This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger. But if you were expecting it to look cutting edge, I’m sorry, it doesn’t. If anything, the new Kluger looks like a larger version of the RAV4 with its moustache-like grille and blade headlights.

  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GX). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GX).
  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GX). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GX).
  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GXL). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GXL).
  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GXL). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: GXL).
  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: Grande). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: Grande).
  • This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: Grande). This Kluger is totally new, but it’s instantly recognisable as a Kluger (image: Grande).

The Kluger isn’t as angular as its mid-sized sibling, and you can see the curves in the rear haunches which wrap around to the tailgate.

The GX and GXL have 18-inch alloy wheels, but only the Grande has 20-inch rims and they come with a chrome-effect paint which might be a bit OTT for some.

The new cabin is more functional than fashionable with a dashboard dominated by what appears to be one of those big pizza paddles which holds the media screen and climate control dials.

  • The GX and GXL have 18-inch alloy wheels (image: GXL). The GX and GXL have 18-inch alloy wheels (image: GXL).
  • The GX and GXL have 18-inch alloy wheels (image: GXL). The GX and GXL have 18-inch alloy wheels (image: GXL).
  • The Grande has 20-inch rims (image: Grande). The Grande has 20-inch rims (image: Grande).

The entry-grade GX has black cloth-trimmed seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift lever; the GXL has synthetic leather seats and the Grande has actual leather upholstery.

  • The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: Grande). The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: Grande).
  • The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: GXL). The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: GXL).
  • The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: GX). The new cabin is more functional than fashionable (image: GX).

There are soft touch surfaces with stitching, but all grades still have hard plastics galore and styling which lacks the premium look of some rivals.

The new Kluger is slightly bigger than its predecessor at 4966mm end-to-end (+76mm), 1930mm across (+0.5mm), and 1755mm tall (+25mm).

The new Kluger is slightly bigger than its predecessor (image: Grande). The new Kluger is slightly bigger than its predecessor (image: Grande).

Please don’t take the Kluger too far off-road, that’s best left to Toyota's 'proper' four-wheel drives like the Fortuner, Prado and LandCruiser. But, for the record, the approach angle is between 17.9 and 18.2 degrees, while the departure angle ranges from 22.7-23.1 degrees, depending on whether your Kluger is front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

There are five new paint colours: 'Graphite Metallic', 'Atomic Rush Red Mica', 'Liquorice Brown Mica', 'Saturn Blue Metallic', and 'Galena Blue Metallic'. Carrying over from the previous model are, 'Crystal Pearl', 'Silver Storm Metallic' and 'Eclipse Black.'

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Kluger is spacious for people, has great cabin storage, and a decent-sized boot. What’s missing is wireless charging for phones on all grades and there are no sunblinds for the rear windows on the GX and GXL.

I’m 191cm (6'3") tall with a 2.0m wingspan, so I never feel like I have too much room in most cars. But that’s not the case with the Kluger, where there’s so much space up front that my elbows don’t even reach the door armrests. The touchscreen also feels almost out of reach, even for me.

All Klugers come standard with seven seats – that’s two up front, a bench of three in the second row, and two in the third.

There’s plenty of space up front (image: Grande). There’s plenty of space up front (image: Grande).

Legroom is excellent and I can arrange the seats behind my driving position so I can sit in the second and third rows without my knees touching any of the seatbacks.

Headroom in the second row is excellent and outstanding in the third (as far as third rows tend to go). Better than the CX-9's back seats.

Door pockets are on the small side, but there’s a giant centre console bin, shelves built into the dash for wallets and phones, plus two cupholders up front, two in the second row, and four in the third row.

As for the boot space, with the third row seats in place there’s 241 litres (VDA) of cargo capacity and with them folded flat into the floor the luggage room opens up to 552 litres.

These figures may seem small compared to capacities of other SUVs, but Toyota says these measurements are calculated up to the beltline of the Kluger which is the top of the rear seats, while other carmakers sometimes measure to the roof.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

There are three grades in the Kluger range: the GX, the GXL and the Grande. You can have them all with either a V6 petrol engine or petrol hybrid combination. You have a choice of all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive with the V6 engine, whereas the hybrid is exclusively all-wheel drive.  

How much then? Well, for the front-wheel drives the GX lists for $47,650, the GXL is $56,850, and the Grande is $68,900. For the all-wheel drive versions just add $4000 to each of those prices.

The hybrids cost more. So, the GX is $54,150, the GXL is $63,350, and the Grande hybrid is $75,400.

The Kluger features an 8.0-inch media display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (image: Grande). The Kluger features an 8.0-inch media display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (image: Grande).

Coming standard on the GX is, LED headlights, 18-inch alloys, fabric seats, an 8.0-inch media display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a proximity key with push button start, leather steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo, and air con for the front and second row – or if you have the hybrid you’ll get three-zone climate control.

The GXL also scores roof rails, a power tailgate, sat nav, three-zone climate, plus heated driver and front passenger seats.

The Grande features an 11-speaker JBL stereo (image: Grande). The Grande features an 11-speaker JBL stereo (image: Grande).

Leather seats don’t appear until you step up to the Grande, which also has ventilated front seats, an 11-speaker JBL stereo, head-up display, moonroof, gesture tailgate and 20-inch wheels, which are way too shiny.

Is the Kluger good value? Mainly yes, with a little bit of no here. The Kluger costs less than its Mazda CX-9 rival, but doesn’t get as many great features.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The big news is there’s a hybrid Kluger now and it makes so much sense when you consider these seven seaters will spend most of their time in traffic and carparks where they can move silently along in electric vehicle mode.

The hybrid Kluger isn’t a plug-in type of hybrid, instead its batteries recharge when you apply the brakes when you’re driving. The battery then powers the electric motors. There are two motors on the front axle and one on the rear, which work together with a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine.

The hybrid Kluger isn’t a plug-in type of hybrid, its batteries recharge when you apply the brakes when you’re driving. The hybrid Kluger isn’t a plug-in type of hybrid, its batteries recharge when you apply the brakes when you’re driving.

Swapping from engine to motor, and then to a combination of both is seamless, and Toyota’s mastery of the tech is evident. Adding to the smoothness is a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The power output of the petrol engine is 142kW and the electric motors make 184kW. The engine torque is 242Nm. The front electric motors are able to produce 134Nm and 270Nm, while the rear can make 121Nm. 

The hybrid Kluger is all-wheel drive.

The braked towing capacity for all Klugers is 2000kg (750kg unbraked). The braked towing capacity for all Klugers is 2000kg (750kg unbraked).

As with the previous Kluger there’s also a V6 version which is more affordable than the hybrid variant, and comes with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine makes 218kW/350Nm and shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The braked towing capacity for all Klugers is 2000kg (750kg unbraked).

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Toyota says that after a combination of open and urban roads the petrol V6 should use 8.7L/100km for the two-wheel drive and 8.8-8.9L/100km for the all-wheel drive. That’s not bad, although I didn’t have the opportunity to test this claim at the pump myself.

As for the hybrid, Toyota says you should get 5.6L/100km. I lived with the hybrid variant doing the school drop offs and shopping trips, with motorways thrown in, and after starting with a full tank and covering 179.2km, it took 14.18 litres to fill it back up.

That’s 7.9L/100km, which is excellent given I’d covered a lot of hilly urban terrain and at times the boot was fully loaded up.

The capacity of the V6 petrol’s fuel tank is 68 litres while the hybrid’s is 65 litres. The hybrid needs to run on 95 RON premium petrol while the V6 is happy with 91.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in this price range, up there with the CX-9, but less sporty feeling and more comfortable. So much better than the previous Kluger, this new-gen SUV has an outstanding, composed and comfortable, ride.

  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: Grande).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX).
  • The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX). The Kluger is one of the best driving large SUVs in its price range (image: GX).

My pick is the hybrid variant. The electric motors make the driving experience even smoother and more enjoyable, allowing the Kluger to move around silently at lower speeds while providing little electric shoves when you dab the accelerator.

Steering is super light, accurate and direct (image: GXL). Steering is super light, accurate and direct (image: GXL).

The V6 provides a more ‘old-school’ driving experience, which suited the twisty country roads I piloted it along. Two-wheel drive didn’t feel hugely different from all-wheel drive, but on a wet road those front wheels will struggle to maintain traction under harder acceleration. Steering is super light, accurate and direct.

All-wheel drive isn’t vital, but I’d get it for extra traction and stability if you can afford it. If you’re concerned about the fuel usage of the all-wheel drive compared to the two-wheel drive then you might surprised by the mileages in the section below.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

At the time I wrote this review the new Kluger hadn’t received it’s ANCAP score, but we’ll update this once the rating has been announced.

All Klugers come standard with AEB, including pedestrian and cyclist detection. There’s also blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control, as well as front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats there are three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX locations in the second row.

It’s disappointing to see, however, that the Kluger’s curtain airbags don’t cover the third-row occupants.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

The Toyota Kluger is covered a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months/15,000km and the pricing is capped at $250 for each visit over five years.

The Toyota Kluger is covered a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. The Toyota Kluger is covered a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Verdict

This new generation Toyota Kluger hasn’t gone as far as we’d expect in terms of modern styling, refinement and in-car tech. But there’s been a big improvement in how comfortable and easy it is to drive. And the arrival of the hybrid version is fantastic to see. This seven-seater SUV is as practical as ever and will continue to be an Aussie family favourite.  

For us the sweet spot in the range is the GXL hybrid. The price is good, the powertrain adds to the smoothness of driving, and the fuel savings are outstanding.

Pricing guides

$61,213
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$44,850
Highest Price
$77,575

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Grande (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $65,519 2021 Toyota Kluger 2021 Grande (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $68,574 2021 Toyota Kluger 2021 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Grande +pearlescent Paint 2WD 3.5L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $69,575 2021 Toyota Kluger 2021 Grande +pearlescent Paint 2WD Pricing and Specs
Grande +pearlescent Paint AWD 3.5L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $73,575 2021 Toyota Kluger 2021 Grande +pearlescent Paint AWD Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.