2021 Kluger is more handsome than its predecessor, and more economical too. It is a huge step up in quality, and the hybrid GX has a lot of gear included.
Off-roading Side steps have off-roading aspirations, but the wheels are too small.
The 4-door, 2-box SUV is a much calmer design than Toyota models.There are restrained and ccharacter lines that play with the light.
Kluger is designed for the American market, so the look has to appeal there if is going to be a sales success.
LED headlights are fully automatic, as are the wipers, but the LED arrays might have been slightly more daring
The tailgate is manual, accessing fairly small cargo hold with all 7 seats up. You’ll probably leave the 3rd row folded, making the boot more usable.
All Klugers have smart entry and start, as they should for this price.
The looks remind me of the previous generation Rav4. Nonetheless, it looks and feels of good quality.
The cabin quality and design, like the exterior, feels much improved over the old model.
The fbric-covered seats are very comfortable in the 1st and 2nd rows, with good support nd ample adjustment. The 3rd row is for kids, or microscopic adults. Rear seat passengers have enough space to really stretch out, the longer the trip the better. There is 3 zone of climate control with abundant vents for all rows of travellers.
There is no seat heating/cooling, but you don’t expect that on a base model SUV. Plastic is good quality, and the non-reflective surfaces won’t blind you in the afternoon sun. The dash and doors are soft touch, with the dash being deeply contoured with cubby trays within the folds.
Although the cabin feels spacious and dignified, the seat covering is cheapish woven synthetic.
Switches are well placed, and the laid out makes use easy. The active-cruise controls on the right of the steering wheel, and audio on the left. The Driver’s multi-function display menu is also controlled from the wheel.
The centre console has further controls for drive modes, including “Trail”, and EV mode, which gives a quiet low-speed experience. You can glide through underground carparks in complete silance. At high speed, the system charges the battery, as well as when braking or cruising. Not a skerrick of energy is wasted.
There is a mid-size centre bin, a couple of cup holders, and 5 USB ports (3 front, 2 rear), with one connecting to CarPlay/Android auto. The infotainment system has an 8” screen with a row of fixed buttons either side.. I’d like a couple of extra pixels though. The resolution can seem a bit low-rent, especially when you spark up the reversing camera.
The ambiance is rather Zen, and I’d be happy to spend a long time in Kluger.
On the Road:
Hybrids are great around town. You don’t plug them in because the batteries are recharged while on the move.
Suspension is MacPherson Struts up front, and multilinks around the back. The soft, smooth, ride is tuned plushness rather than sportiness. That’s fine by me. Kluger isn’t a sport car, it just gets on with it. You just need to respect the 2045kg when cornering.
A drivetrain suits an CVT automatic. In fact most drivers won’t notice the gear-less system. The longer I drove Kluger, the more relaxed I got. To my surprise, my ride in the 2nd row seat made me rather regal.
Safety and driver aids include:
smart AEB, collision avoidance with steering assist. lane centering
When the Cruise radar spots a car in front, it brings up a warning where your digital speedo was, which can be annoying.
The sound system is excellent, and although already well rounded, the sound needed a bass boost.
Despite Covid, our test took in some corners and bends, stretches of freeway, and tight city lanes. You’re aware of the size of Kluger, especially in tight spots. There is a reversing camera, with sensors all round, so parking is easy. But she isn’t exactly a spritely lass, so take your time in traffic.
The AWD gives quite a lot of grip, but sports mode will give the front wheels a pleasing chirp at the lights.
At all speeds, there cabin was quiet and calm, and even in the heaviest traffic, you feel relaxed.
We liked it a lot. Kluger is good quality inside and out. GX is the base model, and apart from the seat coverings, everything looked and felt like the “luxury” fairy had waved her wand over it.
You have to keep reminding yourself you’re not driving a limo, such is the smooth ride.
- Price: $54,150 (GX Hybrid) MLP*
- Engine: 2.5L Hybrid
- Power; 142kw/242Nm
- Econ: 5.6L/100k
- Trans: CVT
- Fuel: 95Ron Petrol
- Driveline: AWD
*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means recommended drive away price including all dealer costs.