Toyota could not use the "Highlander" name in Australia and Japan, since it is a trim line of the Hyundai Terracan SUV.
Called the Highlander in North America, the Kluger shared the Toyota Camry platform with its Lexus RX/Toyota Harrier cousin and came in five and seven-seat configurations, and became a sales success for Toyota in a number of markets across the world. The Kluger came standard with front wheel drive and offered all wheel drive as an option. The Kluger was not meant for serious off roading, unlike competitors such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and Toyota's own 4Runner. Although it was originally longer than the 1996-2002 4Runner, the Kluger was surpassed in length by the 4Runner in 2003.
The Highlander was available in three trim lines in the United States: the Base model, the Sport model, and the Limited model. The Base and Limited models were present when the Highlander was initially introduced, while the Sport model was introduced in March 2006.
In 2004 the wheels on the Limited trim changed from a 6-spoke, to a 5-spoke alloy. The base-model Highlander rims also changed from steel-rims to the alloy rims that were on the 01-03 Highlander Limited and B-Package.
The Kluger was available in three trim lines in Australia: the CV model, the CVX model, and the Grande model. A limited edition CV Sport model was also released in 2006. There was no hybrid model available in Australia. The only engine offered was the 3.3L 3MZ-FE V6.
- 2001-2003 2.4L 2AZ-FE I4, 160hp (119kW)
- 2001-2003 3.0L 1MZ-FE V6, 220hp (164kW)
- 2004-2007 3.3L 3MZ-FE V6, 230hp (172kW)
The 3.0L engine was able to propel the Kluger from 0-60mph in approximately 8.8 seconds. In 2004 the Kluger was given a new 3.3L V6 engine to compete with the more powerful V6 offerings from its competitors, mainly the Nissan Murano and the Honda Pilot. The 3.3L engine made it possible for the Kluger to reach 0 to 60mph (97km/h) in 7.8 seconds.