Toyota will follow the wildly popular RAV4 hybrid SUV with an electrified version of its larger Kluger seven-seat SUV – but buyers will have to wait until early 2021 to get behind the wheel.
When it arrives, the Kluger will be the first offered with hybrid power in Australia. The alternative to the thirsty, naturally-aspirated V6 is welcome news for families on a budget.
The Kluger hybrid blends a petrol 2.5-litre engine with two electric motors and a compact battery, delivering a combined 179kW 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.
Under the skin, the new Kluger sits on a version of the TNGA chassis used in the new Camry, Corolla, Yaris, and C-HR.
Toyota is promising a lower centre of gravity and sharper handling, along with a more spacious cabin. The interior will also be brought into line with its rivals on the technology front, finally gaining Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The full suite of Toyota Safety Sense systems will be available, from autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist to adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.
Standard local specifications will be revealed closer to launch, but the new Kluger is likely to carry a price premium over the current model, which kicks off at just under $45,000 before on-road costs.
When it lands, the new Toyota Kluger will go head-to-head with the Hyundai Santa Fe and all-new Kia Sorento, neither of which will be available with hybrid power.
Despite its age, the seven-seat Kluger was last year the second-best selling vehicle in the Large SUV under $70,000 category behind the more off-road focused Toyota Prado.