The Toyota Kluger has been given a boost for 2023 with the introduction of turbo petrol power.
Gone is the naturally-aspirated petrol V6 that debuted with the Kluger in 2021, replaced with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo that’s down slightly on power but has much more torque.
Toyota’s road-biased family SUV also picks up a bigger, more modern touchscreen in place of the slightly undercooked system from launch, and features the same app connectivity rolling out across the range.
Although it’s not a full-on facelift – the exterior has the same slightly blobby interpretation of Toyota’s latest design language as before – there’s plenty of new bits and pieces to talk about.
Pricing for the Kluger has risen by around $2000 across the range with the switch from petrol V6 to turbo four-pot power.
That means the range now kicks off at $49,720 before on-roads, and extends to $78,160 before on-roads for the range-topper.
Our all-wheel drive GXL 2.4T sits right in the middle of the range, with a sticker price of $63,240 before on-roads.
2023 Toyota Kluger pricing:
- Kluger GX
- FWD turbo-petrol $49,720
- AWD turbo-petrol $53,720
- AWD petrol hybrid $56,220
- Kluger GXL
- FWD turbo-petrol $59,240
- AWD turbo-petrol $63,240
- AWD hybrid $65,740
- Kluger Grande
- FWD turbo-petrol $71,610
- AWD turbo-petrol $74,720
- AWD hybrid $78,160
Prices are before on-road costs
The bigger screen in the middle of the dashboard is welcome, but the Kluger still looks and feels workmanlike inside.
What it lacks in superficial sizzle though, it makes up for with practicality. It’s absolutely massive, and there’s so much storage up front it’s not even funny.
The driving position is excellent. The front seats are generously padded and offer excellent support on road trips, and the view out the massive windscreen is commanding. I spent a solid six hours behind the wheel in a day, and hopped out feeling fresh.
Although the analogue dials and colour trip computer screen are unchanged in GXL spec, the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system is new for 2023.
It’s a huge improvement on the system that debuted in the Kluger, filling out the massive gloss black housing in a way the 8.0-inch unit still standard on the base GX just can’t.
The rear-view camera looks brilliant, the graphics on the new system are polished, and it responds quickly when you poke a button.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is also a welcome addition, although with no wireless phone charger you’ll need to plug in on long drives to avoid arriving with a flat battery.
Toyota’s oversized trip computer screen and analogue dials are clear, but they look decidedly low-tech in a world dominated by high-resolution digital dashboards.
Storage spaces abound up front. There are cupholders, a space at the base of the dashboard, spacious door bins, and a massive bin beneath the central armrest, along with useful slots below the touchscreen and in front of the passenger.
Rear seat space is very good. Adults will be able to sit comfortably behind taller adults, and there’s acres of headroom as well.
The bench is nice and wide, so middle seat occupants won’t feel too tightly squeezed, and the bench slides and reclines.
Both the second and third rows have air vents, although they’re both controlled from the second row – or by the driver, who has their own rear climate controls.
There are three top-tether points for child seats in the second row, as well as ISOFIX attachment points on the outboard seats. The third row doesn’t have any child seat mounts.
Accessing the back-back seats is simple enough, thanks to a second row that slides and tilts forward. Space back there is decent, although it’s still a part-time space best suited to smaller kids.
It’s not quite as good as what you get in a Mazda CX-9, but the Grand Highlander recently revealed in the USA is aimed at filling that void – we don’t know if/when it’s coming here, though.
There’s 241L of luggage space with all three rows up, 552L with the third row folded, and 1150L with the third and second rows folded. Toyota deserves points for also developing a cargo blind that shrinks to fit beneath the floor.
The 2.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine fitted to our tester replaces the outgoing 3.5-litre V6.
With 198kW of power on tap, it’s down 20kW on the older naturally-aspirated six, but its 420Nm peak torque figure is up 70Nm. It’s also on tap at just 1700rpm.
Claimed fuel economy is 8.5L/100km, an improvement of 0.4L/100km relative to the 3.5-litre engine it replaces. We saw 9.1L with a skew to highway driving.
The fuel tank holds 68 litres, and the Kluger happily drinks 91 RON regular unleaded.
It might be down two cylinders and 1100cc on the naturally-aspirated V6 engine it replaces, but the new 2.4T engine packs a solid punch.
Peak torque comes on tap at just 1700rpm, so you don’t need to work it hard to get moving with a full load on board, and it’s reasonably muted when you rev it out. Rather than needing to make it really sing like the V6, you can lean on the mid-range torque.
Given we’ve complained for years about Toyota’s droney CVTs, the inclusion of a conventional eight-speed automatic is also a win. It slurs smoothly through the ratios on light throttle inputs, but is smart enough to hang onto gears if you’re in a hurry.
There’s a noticeable change in its behaviour when you flick into Sport, and you can take control using the sequential shift mode if you’re really running late for school.
As is the case with all TNGA cars, the Kluger strikes a nice balance between ride comfort and handling given its stated aims. It’s quite soft in town, with a long-legged feeling that helps keep speed bumps, potholes, and pimply city streets at bay.
It occasionally feels a bit floaty, but that’s a trade-off we’d wager most people are willing to make to keep the kids comfy.
With light steering and solid all-round visibility it’s easy to place in tight spaces, and the cameras are so much better than before.
The tall tyre sidewalls are a handy defence against kerb strikes, along with helping to improve the ride comfort.
At higher speeds the Kluger is a relaxed, comfortable cruiser. It’s very quiet at 100km/h on Australian coarse-chip highways, and the ride is excellent.
There’s plenty of performance to feel confident overtaking, even with a full load on board, and the engine hums along below 2000rpm in eighth gear at a cruise. Although it’s not as efficient as a lazy diesel engine (or the hybrid option), it is a more miserly option than the V6 it replaces.
Toyota’s driver assists are all nicely calibrated. The adaptive cruise keeps its gap to the car in front smoothly, and the lane-keep isn’t too hands-on. The adaptive cruise can be a bit conservative around sweeping highway bends though, slowing down when it’s really not necessary.
Kluger GX highlights:
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 6-speaker audio
- DAB+ digital radio
- Keyless entry and start
- Manual front, rear air-conditioning
- Tri-zone climate (Hybrid)
- Automatic headlights
- LED headlights and tail lights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Cloth upholstery
- 18-inch alloy wheels
Kluger GXL adds:
- 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wired Android Auto
- Leatherette upholstery
- Satellite navigation
- Power tailgate
- Heated, powered front seats
- Tri-zone climate control (Petrol)
- Roof rails
Kluger Grande adds:
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- Panoramic sunroof
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Ventilated, memory front seats
- Rear door sunshades
- Head-up display
- Surround-view cameras
- Leather upholstery
- 11-speaker JBL sound system
- 20-inch alloy wheels
The only option is premium paint ($675).
The Toyota Kluger earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021.
It received scores of 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 82 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian detection (day/night)
- Cyclist detection (day)
- Junction assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Emergency steering assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane Trace Assist
- Automatic high-beam
- Traffic sign recognition
- Reversing camera
- Front, rear parking sensors
- 7 airbags
The Toyota Kluger is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
The engine and driveline are also covered for seven provided you maintain your vehicle within the Toyota dealer network.
The Kluger might be workmanlike, but there’s no question it’ll get the job done.
The switch from naturally-aspirated V6 to turbocharged four-cylinder power hasn’t dented performance, and it brings a tangible real-world improvement in fuel economy.
The tech updates for 2023 also mean the cabin no longer feels old-hat alongside its rivals.
The hybrid is still a better bet for anyone who spends more time on the school run than the open road, given it’s able to lean on its electric motor in stop/start traffic to keep the petrol engine switched off.
But if you’re constantly loading up the family and hitting the open road, the 2.4T is an appealing alternative.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Toyota Kluger