2023 Toyota Kluger Grande Hybrid new car review

Up until recently, if you were looking for a hybrid family SUV, Toyota was your only option. But that has changed this year as key rivals have embraced petrol-electric technology.

We test its seven-seat Kluger SUVs to find out if it’s still the right choice for a family seeking frugal motoring.

VALUE

In the past year Toyota has upped the price of the Kluger by about $4000. The range now kicks off at about $57,200 drive-away.

Toyota has also ditched the thirsty V6 petrol engine and installed a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo unit that is sold alongside the popular hybrid versions.

There are three variants: GX, GXL and Grande. Petrol is available in two- or all-wheel drive, but the hybrid comes with all-paw grip only, making it a more expensive proposition.

It costs $4000 to add all-wheel drive and a further $2500 to have hybrid power.

We are testing the range-topping Grande Hybrid AWD priced at about $87,000 drive-away.

That is about $12,000 more than rival machines from Kia and Hyundai.

It has LED lighting front and back, 20-inch alloy wheels and chrome exterior highlights.

Grande variants get a 12.3-inch digital driver display compared to a mix of analog dials and a small digital information screen on others.

GX versions have a small eight-inch central touchscreen and others have a 12.3-inch unit. All have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and the Grande swaps out a six-speaker stereo for an 11-speaker JBL unit.

Toyota covers its vehicles with a five-year/unlimited km warranty and servicing is extremely cheap at $1325 for five years or $265 a year.

COMFORT

The Kluger is big inside and out.

Leather-accented seats are cosy and comfy with power adjustment, heating and ventilation up front.

You sit nice and high with great forward vision and the leather accented steering wheel has plenty of reach adjustment.

The Grande’s cabin feels like a plush sofa with soft-touch materials all over the dash, door trims and most other high contact areas. Faux-wood inserts through the cabin add a touch of class.

In typical Toyota fashion the layout is practical with easy to reach climate buttons and steering wheel controls that are very user friendly.

There is plenty of room in the second row but the third row is best left to kids on longer journeys.

As with most seven-seaters luggage space is adequate with two rows in use and shrinks dramatically with the third row in place.

The Kluger is built for comfort and soft suspension makes for a smooth drive around town as it handles potholes and poor quality roads with ease. It’s quiet around town and on the open road.

SAFETY

The Toyota excels on the safety front.

There are loads of hi-tech safety features included as standard across the range.

It’ll automatically hit the brakes if it detects a potential collision with a car, pedestrian or cyclist. A range of safety aids will help keep you centred in your lane and stop you wandering, while sensors will alert you if a vehicle is in your blind spot or approaching from the side as you reverse.

A panoramic view camera and front and rear parking sensors make navigating big car parks a cinch.

Seven airbags provide added peace of mind and the Kluger scored well for adult and child occupant protection in independent crash tests.

DRIVING

The electric motors and 2.5-litre petrol engine combine for 184kW. They are paired with a CVT automatic and all-wheel drive.

Toyota’s hybrid tech is a winner around town. The electric motors cut in and out seamlessly on start-up, takeoff and when cruising.

The petrol engine does most of the heavy lifting when travelling up hills or under hard acceleration. The CVT auto allows the engine to rev quite high during these times and things can get a little noisy.

It has a plush ride on all surfaces with bumps of all sizes accounted for easily. On the flip side the Kluger tends to pitch and roll when cornering. It’s a fair trade-off for a big SUV designed to move lots of people around in comfort.

The steering is well weighted and predictable and all-wheel drive inspires confidence in all weather conditions.

Fuel use of 5.6L/100km is exceptional for a big SUV but it does require pricier premium petrol.

VERDICT 3/5

It’s an efficient and comfy family hauler, but the Grande’s price premium over rivals is hard to swallow. Lower grade versions represent better value.

ALTERNATIVES

Kia Sorento Hybrid AWD, about $75,500 drive-away

Efficient, good looking and well equipped family SUV with a seven-year warranty. Expensive to service.

Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Hybrid AWD, about $75,200 drive-away

Mechanically identical to the Kia but with a classier cabin and shorter warranty.

Mazda CX-90 Touring diesel, about $82,000

Bigger and more luxurious and with a potent and efficient six-cylinder diesel engine. But you only get the base model for the same money.

TOYOTA KLUGER GRANDE HYBRID

PRICE About $87,000 drive-away

ENGINE 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol and three electric motors, 184kW

WARRANTY/SERVICING five years/unlimited km, $1325 over five years

SAFETY 7 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, 360 degree camera and radar cruise control

THIRST 5.6L/100km

SPARE Full size

LUGGAGE 552 litres

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