Toyota Kluger Wins Drive Car of the Year 2022 Best Large SUV
Toyota’s large, versatile SUV proves it has what it takes to keep up with active Australian families.
Where Australian families once roamed our vast continent in Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons, the large SUV is now the vehicle of choice for buyers looking for a practical, spacious and well-equipped family vehicle.
This multi-faceted expectation on the part of the buyer means that an SUV that was once perhaps more rudimentary and less polished, now has to tick a multitude of boxes.
We didn’t envy the position Toyota found itself in when it came to overhauling the Kluger. Already the most popular vehicle in this segment, it would have been easier to make a meal out of it than to upgrade the popular outgoing model. And yet, in typical Toyota fashion, the new Kluger takes evolutionary steps forward and makes a good thing even better.
Along with 2WD petrol, AWD petrol and AWD hybrid, the only thing missing from the Kluger lineup is a diesel. However, the efficiency of the hybrid driveline counteracts this and ensures that there is a Kluger to suit most buyers. Starting at just over $47,000 before on-road costs for the front-wheel-drive Kluger GX V6, the Kluger lineup rises to just over $75,000 before on-road costs for the Kluger Hybrid Grande AWD top of the line.
Across the range, the Kluger is comfortable, capable and fun to drive. Whether you’re cruising around town or going on a long-distance trip, the Kluger is a great quality family vehicle. Inside the cabin there’s space and comfort for the family, with a versatile cabin offering plenty of storage and Toyota’s usual sense of quality and toughness.
The non-hybrid engine is a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6, which develops 218 kW and 350 Nm mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Toyota claims 8.7-8.9 L/100km depending on the variant, but in the city you’ll use more than that.
The Kluger Hybrid, which is our pick of the range, uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, along with electric motors for a combined output of 184kW. Small electric motors give the petrol engine a boost and deliver power to the front wheels via an e-CVT automatic, while a larger electric motor drives the rear axle on demand.
Despite its undeniable quality and competing so heavily in the segment, there are subtle areas where the Kluger could be even better. Upgrading to Hybrid adds a significant premium, which is fine if you can afford it. We’d like to see entry grades get a useful power tailgate as well.
However, the Kluger’s popularity in such a competitive segment is no surprise and no accident. He is a worthy winner of the 2022 edition To drive Car of the Year Best Large SUV award, even against quality competition.