Toyota could be readying an even more spacious version of its largest crossover, the Kluger.
A user on the GR86.org forum shared a US trademark filing for the name Grand Highlander, suggesting Toyota will introduce a longer version of the Highlander that we know as the Kluger.
Opting for the Grand suffix could mean Toyota will develop a version of the Kluger for the US market that has a longer rear overhang and therefore more third row room, in the vein of the Lexus RX L. Hyundai’s last-generation Santa Fe was also available in the US in an XL variant with a longer, boxier rear end.
The Highlander/Kluger is designed and built in the US and targeted predominantly at that market.
Both the redesigned 2021 Highlander and the last-generation model, however, have been criticised by American outlets for the size of their third row.
While the Kluger is one of the largest mainstream crossovers available in Australia, in the US it goes up against even larger crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse and Dodge Durango which offer more third-row room.
Trademark filings don’t always indicate a new product is imminent, as automakers sometimes file simply to prevent other companies from using that name.
Nevertheless, it seems improbable another automaker would try to introduce a Grand Highlander of its own considering Toyota has been using the Highlander name since the turn of the century.
It’s virtually tradition to apply the “Grand” prefix to a larger model.
Take, for example, the Chrysler Grand Voyager, Ford Grand C-Max, Kia Grand Carnival, Renault Grand Scenic and Suzuki Grand Vitara – all were introduced as longer companions to existing models, though in some cases they outlived their donor model.
The upcoming, fourth-generation Kluger may already be a large crossover, but even in Australia it goes up against some larger rivals.
It measures 4950mm long and 1930mm wide, or 85mm longer and 5mm wider than the outgoing model.
All of these rivals were also developed predominantly for the North American market, too.
Due early this year, the fourth-generation Kluger will offer a hybrid for the first time in Australia, giving Toyota a rival to the Pathfinder Hybrid and upcoming electrified versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.
The Kluger hybrid blends a petrol 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with two electric motors and a compact battery, delivering a combined 179kW of power to all four wheels.
Pure petrol power will come courtesy of a 3.5-litre V6 engine making 218kW, put to the road through a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic.
It was revealed at the 2019 New York motor show and went into production later that year, so we’ve been waiting a while.
Kluger sales have remained strong, however, with the Toyota remaining the best-selling crossover in the Large SUV segment through November 2020 with 7977 sales.
The only large SUV to outsell the Kluger last year was the LandCruiser Prado (15,534), though the Mazda CX-9 was within striking distance at 6167 sales.