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Toyota Kluger 2022: hybrid in high demand as wait lists expected


Toyota will soon open the order books on the incoming Kluger SUV, with the fourth-generation large SUV touching down in Australia in June.

Australian customer demand for the new Toyota Kluger is anticipated to be very strong, with senior Toyota executives flagging that there may not be enough cars arriving this year to satisfy everybody who will want one.

Hybrid power will come to the Toyota Kluger for the first time from June, when the first boatloads of the American-made large SUV arrive in Australia. Toyota will also offer its long-running 3.5-litre petrol V6 alongside the new petrol-electric hybrid four-cylinder option.

“Our hybrid lineup will expand in early June with the arrival of the all new Kluger, which is large on space but small on emissions,” Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales and marketing, told Chasing Cars.

The Kluger gains hybrid power for the first time in June 2021.

“The new Kluger can’t come soon enough for us, our dealers, and our customers,” Mr Hanley said. “All I’ll say on Kluger Hybrid is that [however many] I get, it won’t be enough.”

“We will soon shift our focus to preorders, because we have pretty much sold out of the current model.”

Australian demand for Toyota hybrid SUVs has gone through the roof in recent years, with long wait lists remaining on the uber-popular RAV4 Hybrid and plenty of interest in the new Yaris Cross Hybrid.

Last year, despite the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic – Toyota doubled the sales of hybrid vehicles in Australia, from 27,000 in 2019 to 54,000 in 2020.

Toyota Kluger 2021 dashboard
The Kluger is expected to make improvements in interior quality and driving dynamics.

“So far this year, more than half of all sales for Corolla, Camry, RAV4 and Yaris Cross are hybrid,” Mr Hanley said. “This signifies a dramatic shift in consumer understanding and acceptance of hybrids.”

Hanley says it is a mix of attributes that are responsible for the sudden uptick in hybrid sales.

“[It is] their performance, the saving on petrol –  both in dollars and in preserving fossil fuels and in reduction in emissions – plus the convenience of being able fuel and drive these electrified vehicles in the same way as conventional ICE vehicles.”

The Kluger will utilise the same 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid four-cylinder engine as the RAV4 Hybrid. In the larger three-row, seven-seat Kluger, the hybrid system will produce a little more muscle than the RAV4’s 163kW of power.

Toyota Kluger 2021 hybrid badge
The Kluger Hybrid is expected to account for more than 50% of sales in Australia.

The Kluger Hybrid will be sold in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive forms. The Hybrid AWD adds an additional electric motor on the rear axle to provide drive to the aft wheels when slip is detected at the front end.

Meanwhile, the long-running 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol V6 will remain a part of the range, producing around 200kW of power, with either front-drive or traditional, mechanical AWD.

Toyota predicts that the hybrid option will account for the majority of new Kluger sales in Australia.

“I suspect [the hybrid] is going to really resonate with the market, particularly in that size of car. I think it’s a really exciting entry for us into that larger SUV market.”

Toyota Kluger 2021 silver design
Toyota hybrid sales doubled in Australia between 2019 and 2020, to 54,000 cars last year.

Mr Hanley says the addition of a Kluger Hybrid is the next step in the expansion of the technology across the broader Toyota range.

“I get asked all the time about hybrid expansion into commercial vehicles and SUVs. I have stated our global goals in terms of CO2 footprint, and no doubt hybrid will expand across the Toyota range,” Hanley said.

The 2022 Toyota Kluger arrives in Australia in June.