Updated Kluger ticks most boxes
Toyota has established itself as a one-stop shop for four-wheeldrives and SUVs, with seven models ranging from the urban C-HR to the go-anywhere, do-anything LandCruiser 70 and 200 series.
In-between there’s the RAV4, Fortuner, Prado and the semi-luxury Kluger.
The Kluger is aimed at the SUV buyer who wants to transport the family in comfort rather than tackling any serious off-road terrain.
Having said that, it does come with the option of all-wheel-drive, although that’s more likely to be used for recreational towing than bush bashing.
The Kluger comes in three equipment levels; GX, GXL and Grande, each with the choice of front or all-wheel-drive but with a single drivetrain, 3.5-litre petrol and eight-speed automatic transmission. All are seven-seaters.
Power comes from Toyota’s longestablished 3.5-litre V6, which was upgraded in 2017 with the added efficiency of direct-injection. This saw an increase in power of almost 8.5 per cent, to 218kW, while torque rose to 350Nm. At the same time, the automatic transmission was improved from six to eight ratios.
The combination of the revised engine and new transmission led to a reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by at least 10 per cent when measured on the official cycle.
The Kluger GX has a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen with the Toyota Link multimedia system.
The GLX and Grande get a larger (8.0-inch) screen and advanced Toyota Link as well as satellite navigation and digital radio.
Bluetooth pairing is intuitive and there is a sensibly located long narrow slot on the front console ideal for storing smartphones immediately above the USB port.
The most recent Kluger update, in January saw no external or mechanical changes but with a number of advanced safety features previously only available in the Grande added to the GX and/or GXL models.
Now standard across the range are crash prevention or mitigation features including the Toyota precollision safety system that uses the combination of camera and radar to monitor the road ahead not only for other vehicles, but also for pedestrians. Also new to the GX and GXL are autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert, active cruise control and automatic high beam. These add $950 to the price of the GX, taking it to $44,500 with front-wheel-drive and $48,500 with all-wheel-drive.
GXL adds rain-sensing windscreen wipers, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, increasing the price over the previous GXL by $1400 to $54,950 (FWD) and $58,950 (AWD).
As is invariably the case, the Kluger has grown over the years and at just under 5m long and 2m wide, isn’t that far behind the LandCruiser 200. There’s a decent climb up to get in which can be a problem for older occupants, although there is a running board to lend a hand.
The front seats are large and comfortable and there is excellent legroom and headroom in the three second row seats. These slide forward to help access to the third row seats, although it will never be too easy for adult passengers — two children in these rearmost seats makes most sense.
Boot space is very good for a seven-seater. All rear seats can be folded flat with 60/40 splits in the second and third rows.
The Kluger’s bulk can cause problems in tight carparks where the Grande’s range of four cameras, including top-down panoramic view, as well as rear cross traffic alert really come into their own.
Excellent not only for on-road use and parking, but also useful should Kluger be taken off-road.
Although the engine’s torque peak of 350Nm comes in at an extremely high 4700rpm, there’s more than enough grunt from much lower revs.
Once out on the motorway it’s easy to forget the Kluger’s size and imagine yourself cruising in a luxury saloon but with the added benefit of a high driving position and plenty of interior space.
It’s very quiet with minimal intrusion, even on coarse road surfaces. Ride comfort in the Kluger is good with safe and predictable handling partly through a considerable level of Australian testing from the early design stages.
The all-wheel-drive Kluger variants have dynamic torque control, which helps the driver get maximum traction and cornering stability.
The system uses information on vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering and throttle angles to control torque distribution automatically between the front and rear axles.
It drives only the front wheels when the vehicle is cruising and switches to AWD only when required.
Fuel consumption from the Grande AWD that we tested is listed at 9.5 litres per 100km.
We averaged just under 11.6L/100 km over our normal blend of urban, motorway and rural driving. The Toyota Kluger is a large comfortable SUV that will generally be used mostly as an urban people carrier.
Having the option to take the allwheel-drive versions into mild offroad conditions will attract adventurous family buyers, as will its 2000kg towing capacity.
Toyota shows no sign of deviating from its three years/100,000km standard warranty, and given its market domination probably doesn’t need to.
Every new Kluger is covered by Toyota Service Advantage cappedprice servicing at a maximum of $180 per service.
The Toyota Kluger is a large, comfortable and safe SUV which can go off road.
The Kluger has grown over the years and is just under 5m long.