Up­dated Kluger ticks most boxes

North West Telegraph - - Motoring - Alis­tair Kennedy

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.

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