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Toyota Kluger 2021 review: Grande hybrid

The new Toyota Kluger looks like a beefed up RAV 4, in a good way.

It’s been a while, but here we have the brand new Toyota Kluger! It’s received the full RAV4 treatment, so it looks like a bigger RAV4, and even comes in hybrid variants which is rare for a seven-seat SUV in this price bracket. 

The Kluger competes with Mazda's CX-9 and the Kia Sorento, neither of which are hybrid. This one is the Kluger Grande so it’s the top of the range and costs around $75 grand, before on-road costs. Here’s how it did over seven days for this week’s family review.

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What does it look like?

The exterior, on first glance, doesn’t look that different from the old Kluger, but on closer inspection, it is.

The exterior, on first glance, doesn’t look that different from the old Kluger, but on closer inspection, it is. The exterior, on first glance, doesn’t look that different from the old Kluger, but on closer inspection, it is.It’s got the same raw angles as the RAV4, is still quite rectangular, but does have some fancy new styling, like the grille and the shape of the back window.

It’s got the same raw angles as the RAV4. It’s got the same raw angles as the RAV4.

Inside, because this is the top-of-the-range, it looks quite luxe, particularly the cream leather upholstery. It feels much more premium than the last Kluger I was in. 

The seats are heated and ventilated, there’s a leather-trimmed steering wheel, the centre console is nicely designed and though it does lack the gloss of its rivals, it still looks good.

You get some soft touch surfaces with external stitching and a moonroof in this model, and it feels good to be in this car on the road.

Inside it looks quite luxe, particularly the cream leather upholstery. Inside it looks quite luxe, particularly the cream leather upholstery.

The design around the multimedia screen is still the old Toyota, though. It’s quite messy and busy compared to the more streamlined modern designs you’ll see on some competitors.

What’s the tech like?

The 8.0-inch multimedia system feels small for this size car, though it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can instantly sync up to Google Maps and Spotify for easy tech on the road. You also get an 11-speaker JBL stereo on this model. 

The 8.0-inch multimedia system feels small for this size car. The 8.0-inch multimedia system feels small for this size car.

How easy is it to use everyday?

The front seats are power operated, there’s keyless entry that actually works before you go to open the driver’s door, which is more than some luxury cars can say, and there’s a power operated tailgate.

For storage there are two cupholders in the front, a very large, deep centre storage bin, a spot for keys and a phone, though no wireless charger, two extra shelves - one in the middle and one in front of the passenger - with a textured bottom that would make it hard for your phone to slide off and bottle holders in each door. 

Second row passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest and their own climate control, while in the third row there are four cupholders and directional air vents for good air flow in this area. 

How spacious is it?

There is loads of space in the Kluger, upfront has plenty of leg and headroom, even for taller people and even with the sunroof. 

Rear passengers will be comfortable back here, my two children, aged seven and nine, were happy to climb in and when we gave a few kids a lift this week, they fit happily in the third row.

Upfront has plenty of leg and headroom. Upfront has plenty of leg and headroom.

You'll also fit three child car seats into this second row, I did it with two boosters and a baby capsule.

Rear passengers will be comfortable in the back. Rear passengers will be comfortable in the back.

I’m 161cm (5'3") and have enough space between my knees and the seat in front that taller adults and teenagers will also have a good journey. 

Taller adults will even find enough leg and head space in the third. Taller adults will even find enough leg and head space in the third.

Into the third row and the space shrinks, which is fairly standard for this category. I can still fit back there and the kids we drove around this week were fine to fit in. Taller adults will even find enough leg and head space.

With all seats in use, you’ll get 241L of boot space. With all seats in use, you’ll get 241L of boot space.

And the boot is large for this category. With all seats in use, you’ll get 241L which will let you transport a suitcase on its side, school bags or grocery bags. 

With that row down, the boot opens up to 552L and you’ll fit a double pram in there, it’s enough room for sporting equipment and plenty of room to go on a driving holiday with it.

The boot opens up to 552L with the third row not in use. The boot opens up to 552L with the third row not in use.

How does it drive?

It’s been a few years since I’ve driven a Kluger but the one takeaway I had from that was that is was heavy to drive.

The hybrid set-up on this version has taken that heaviness away. It’s almost quick off-the-mark, which for a heavy car is saying something, and it feels much lighter.

The steering wheel turns easily and you can navigate into parks quite well using the reverse parking camera. The steering wheel turns easily and you can navigate into parks quite well using the reverse parking camera.

It also makes it feel smoother and more nimble on the road. The Kluger Grande is an AWD which gives you more traction on unstable road surfaces. It gets up hills quickly, overtakes easily on highways and generally feels great to drive. 

Even parking isn’t really an issue considering the size. The steering wheel turns easily and you can navigate into parks quite well using the reverse parking camera.

How safe is it?

Safety is comprehensive in the Kluger Grande. You’ll get auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

It has airbags to cover driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags that extend to the third row, but they don’t cover all of the third row passengers, so you might not want to pop your children into the third row regularly.

The Kluger was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2021. The Kluger was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2021.

It makes the Kluger a great five seat family SUV with the two seats in the back better as back up seats. 

It’s got two ISOFIX points and three top tether points in the second row to fit kids’ car seats in safely. 

The Kluger was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2021.

How much does it cost to own?


The Wrap

I really liked driving the Toyota Kluger Grande hybrid this week. It’s big with loads of interior space and boot capacity. It's really stepped up the styling inside the car, and while it doesn’t look as fancy as some of its rivals it has the one thing they are missing right now: it's a hybrid with lower fuel consumption and a smoother, lighter driving experience.

I gave the Kluger Grande a family rating of 8.1 out of 10 and my kids gave it an 8.0, they love a hybrid. 

Likes

It's a hybrid
Interior space
Boot space

Dislikes

Interior not as swanky as some
Limited curtain airbag cover for 3rd row
No wireless charger

Scores

Nedahl:

4.1

The Kids:

4

$76,075

Based on new car retail price

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