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There are smarter SUVs but the Kluger’s solid feel ap­peals

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - NEIL DOWLING neil.dowling@cars­

THE Toy­ota Kluger is our third best-sell­ing large SUV, pipped in year-to-date sales by the Ford Ter­ri­tory, which in turn sits un­der Toy­ota’s Prado. Amaz­ingly the Kluger does so well with­out a diesel vari­ant and more than triples the sales of the diesel-only Hyundai Santa Fe.

Late next year, when the new US-built Kluger re­places this model, it will run only a big petrol engine.


At $55,490, the Kluger KX-S all-wheel drive isn’t cheap, but the five-year-old SUV has a de­cent level of kit in­clud­ing heated and elec­tric-ad­just front seats, re­vers­ing cam­era, sat­nav, leather trim, hill holder and hill de­scent, voice recog­ni­tion, trip com­puter, six-speaker au­dio with iPod/USB and

Blue­tooth, 19-inch al­loys and cli­mate­con­trol air­con front and rear.

Do you need an AWD? Save $15,500 with the (much) less-equipped KX-R front-drive five-seater or, bet­ter, get the Al­ti­tude model for $44,990 with seven seats, sun­roof and sat­nav, but no leather.

Driv­e­trains— and hence per­for­mance and econ­omy— are iden­ti­cal across the Kluger range. A diesel Ter­ri­tory starts at $43,250.


In poor light, the Kluger looks as for­mi­da­ble as a Land-Cruiser 200-Se­ries. There is a fam­ily re­sem­blance but they are chalk and cheese. The Kluger is an SUV in the per­fect sense of the term. It’s tall, long and wide and de­signed for heaps of cabin space. It is very ver­sa­tile. The cen­tre seat splits, slides, flips and folds flat.

It’s listed as a seven-seater but the hap­less pas­sen­ger in the cen­tre-row’s mid­dle seat is sit­ting on a re­mov­able arm­rest and cush­ion— not very com­fort­able. This cen­tre sec­tion of the seat is re­mov­able and stows in a ded­i­cated cubby hole un­der the front-seat arm­rest. The third row can sit flush un­der the boot floor and the full-size spare is in a steel shell un­der the rear.

Levers in the boot re­motely fold down the cen­tre-row seats but re­triev­ing them is awk­ward and the third row re­lies on fab­ric straps to as­sem­ble. The lift-up glass panel in the rear hatch is a boon. Hard plas­tics abound within and the all­black decor and tinny doors don’t meet the Kluger’s price tag ex­pec­ta­tions.


Toy­ota uses its 3.5-litre petrol V6 in var­i­ous tune to power the Kluger, Au­rion, RAV4, Tarago, six Lexus mod­els and even the Lo­tus Evora. The V6 varies out­puts with trans­mis­sions.

In the Kluger, it is rated at 201kW/ 337Nm and linked to a five-speed auto driv­ing the front wheels with an on-de­mand pick-up that will en­gage the rear wheels when needed.

Fuel econ­omy is a claimed 11.0L/100km on stan­dard un­leaded fuel. There’s also elec­tric-as­sist steer­ing, mul­ti­link rear sus­pen­sion, four­wheel disc brakes and noth­ing much else out of the or­di­nary — which is ex­actly what you want in a fam­ily wagon.


This is a five-star crash-rated ve­hi­cle with all the nec­es­sary elec­tronic aids, seven airbags, full-size spare wheel and of­froad as­sis­tants. There’s a rear cam­era but omis­sions in­clude park sen­sors and heated side mir­rors.


It has so many things go­ing for it but I’m let down by the drive. It’s ca­pa­ble and quiet and holds the road well but the engine’s de­liv­ery is laid back un­til you put the boot in.

Yes, it per­forms well when en­cour­aged but thrives on revs and that wrecks any po­ten­tial for econ­omy.

In subur­ban and high­way cruis­ing I av­er­aged 12.2L/100km.

Gen­er­ally, if you too­tle around the sub­urbs or cruise coun­try roads, it’s a good ma­chine.

Ride com­fort is gen­er­ally good and and tyre noise sup­pressed, both im­prov­ing at cruis­ing speeds, mak­ing it a ca­pa­ble coun­try ma­chine. It needs a front park sen­sor.

The foot-op­er­ated park brake en­joys clip­ping my left foot.


As a drive it’s ca­pa­ble but not a lot of fun. But the way its seats re­con­fig­ure and the space— even I can fit in the third seat row— make the Kluger a very ap­peal­ing pack­age.

Ver­sa­tile: The Kluger is ca­pa­ble but not a lot of fun

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