Kluger muscles in towards Toyota’s top
Nondescript would be a good way to describe the Toyota Kluger when it emerged 14 years ago.
Then, the mid-sized sports utility vehicle stood sheepishly between the RAV4, Toyota’s cute compact SUV, and the Japanese company’s superhero, the allconquering LandCruiser.
Not any more. The Kluger has since muscled in on the big wagons to join stablemate Prado and take up a premium position among the seven-seater crowd.
Now significant technological advances under the bonnet have increased performance, while improving fuel economy.
Styling has not gone unnoticed, with the latest fashion being taken up across the range, plus enhancements to safety and convenience.
The Kluger comes in three variants — GX, GXL and Grande — in two-wheel or all-wheel drive.
All benefit from the uptake of direct-injection technology for Toyota’s powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine, with 17kW more power (218kW) and 13Nm added torque (350Nm) on tap.
Not to be left out in the upgrade, the design studio has made sure the new Kluger has added street presence.
Styling updates include refreshed front and rear with a new grille and LED tail lights.
Every Kluger has air-conditioning, cruise control, electric power steering, six-speaker display audio with Toyota Link internet connection, privacy glass and power-adjustable exterior mirrors. The addition of direct-injection technology for Kluger’s powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine makes for 218kW of power and 350Nm of torque.
The engine also delivers greater fuel efficiency, which is capably united with a new automatic transmission that offers eight ratios compared with the superseded model’s six gears.
Standard Kluger safety equipment includes seven airbags, reversing camera, reverse-parking sensors, anti-skid brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, stability and traction control, and hill-start assist.
Kluger is now almost 5m long and 2m wide and with this comes inherent size and weight problems especially when parking in meagre spaces.
With more than two tonnes to cart around, Kluger’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD is a welcome inclusion, helping the driver to get maximum traction and cornering stability.
Officially, on the combined urban / highway cycle, 2WD Kluger uses just 9.1 litres per 100km for the GX and GXL grades and 9.3 litres per 100km for the Grande, while all AWDs are rated at 9.5 litres per 100km.
The test vehicle recorded up to 15 litres around town and seven on the highway.
There is no denying the brisk acceleration and ease of overtaking made possible by the addition of direct-injection technology to Kluger's 3.5-litre V6 engine.
Folding the third-row seat backs leaves a convenient flat floor to carry considerable cargo.
With LandCruiser prices up to $50,000 more than Kluger, there’s not a lot it gives away to its big brother, especially in Grande spec.
Toyota’s Kluger has joined premium stablemate Prado in the seven-seater crowd.
Styling updates include a refreshed front and rear with a new grille and LED tail-lights.