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Next-gen Toyota Kluger is even bigger, more modern


Even though Australians like to chide Americans for their massive vehicles, in 2018, nearly fifteen thousand of us took home a Toyota Kluger – one of the largest crossovers on sale here. No wonder, then, that this Japanese brand’s local arm are so keen to get their hands on the 2020 Toyota Kluger – which in new fourth-generation form gets even larger.

Revealed overnight at the New York International Auto Show, the next-gen Kluger grows in length by six centimetres – half of which translates to extra space in the third row. The SUV also transitions to Toyota’s TNGA platform which also underpins the latest Corolla, Camry, C-HR and Prius vehicles.

The new Kluger’s rear end sports prominent taillights.

TNGA has been responsible for dramatic ride and handling improvements in those vehicles, and we’re hoping for similar improvements to the rather boat-like third-generation Kluger that currently rolls around Australian roads.

Expect a lower centre of gravity and increased stiffness as the headline dynamic changes, while we also predict around 50kg of modest weight loss.

We like the blacked-out A-pillar theme going on here.

Visually, the new Kluger combines familiar forms from the current car with some more radical lines inspired by the new RAV4 midsize SUV, which launches in Australia in May. These new touches include a more elegant front end, flared wheel arches and a simplified tail. 20-inch wheels on top-spec cars are the biggest ever fitted to a Toyota.

There are quite a few throwbacks to the current car, though, including the carryover 3.5-litre direct injected V6 petrol, which eschews turbocharging in favour of natural aspiration. Producing 220kW of power and around 357Nm of torque, the Kluger V6 is pretty quick in a straight line while returning real-world fuel economy in the mid-teens.

A hybrid may sit behind this snub-nosed front end for the first time.

For the first time ever, Toyota Australia may also take up the four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain offered on the American-market Highlander (what the Kluger is badged on home territory – this is a US-built vehicle). The hybrid makes about 180kW of total system power while consuming closer to 7L/100km.

Front-wheel-drive and two forms of AWD will be offered in Australia. The two all-paw systems are a simple mechanical do, or an upgraded dynamic torque-vectoring setup that should offer more spirited handling closer to the limit.

The Kluger also targets a more premium cabin.

Inside, the popular dashboard shelving system from the current Kluger has been largely retained, now in split-level form. That’s about all that carries over in the cabin, though, with Toyota talking up dramatic improvements in material quality and plushness – make sure to watch our video above.

Increased use of soft-touch plastics, more sumptuous leather and a generally more premium air should all see the Kluger step slightly upmarket. That’s important, as the Mazda CX-9 currently schools the Kluger for perceived expense in the cabin.

We didn’t miss the Land Cruiser 200-inspired bonnet groove.

A 12.3-inch touchscreen will likely be fitted to the top-spec Kluger grade in Australia, sporting the ability to split content 60/40. In the US, it’s fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though Toyota Australia are yet to confirm their plans around smartphone mirroring tech here. We expect an announcement soon. JBL audio will also be fitted on higher-spec grades.

Decent levels of adaptive safety technology will be fitted rangewide, including AEB with pedestrian detection, active lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, and traffic sign recognition.

Those shoulders are pretty broad.

It’s a little disappointing that blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – surely critical features on a behemoth like this – require stepping up from the base model, though detailed specification here is yet to be announced.

Toyota Australia have not locked down a timeframe for the 2020 Kluger’s local launch but we’d put our money on early next year.