ROOM TO MOVE FOR TARAGO

PLENTY OF SPACE BUT DE­SIGN, EQUIP­MENT LACK­ING

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Matt Calvitto

TARAGO is one of the old­est name­plates in the multi-pur­pose ve­hi­cle (MPV) seg­ment and Toy­ota has pro­duced four gen­er­a­tions over three decades.

Since the Tarago made its de­but in Aus­tralia in 1983, the Aussie au­to­mo­tive land­scape has changed dra­mat­i­cally, es­pe­cially in re­cent times, where mo­torists have opted for a seven-seat SUV if they want to cart around nu­mer­ous peo­ple.

The cur­rent range starts with the Tarago GLI, priced from $45,490, and ex­tends all the way to the Tarago Ultima, priced from $65,600.

The Tarago GLX spec­i­fi­ca­tion that we sam­pled falls some­where in the mid­dle of the range, with prices start­ing from $47,990.

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, re­vers­ing cam­era, eight seats and tri-zone cli­mate con­trol.

The driv­e­train for GLI and GLX mod­els is a 2.4-litre four-cylin­der en­gine mated to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion that drives the front wheels.

The Ultima is fit­ted with Toy­ota's lovely 3.5-litre V6 and sixspeed au­to­matic and front-wheel drive, the driv­e­train also used in the Au­rion and Kluger.

Buy­ers who want more grunt – and if you're cart­ing around a lot of peo­ple and their gear, we sus­pect you will – the GLI and GLX ver­sions can be op­tioned with the V6, but it does add a sig­nif­i­cant premium.

The Tarago GLX V6 as tested is priced from $55,990, plus op­tions and on-road costs. It's an $8000 premium over the four-cylin­der ver­sion.

It's worth not­ing that GLI mod­els have eight seats as stan­dard, whereas any­thing in GLX trim or above only have seven.

So, for your $55,990, you get seven seats – the mid­dle row are in­di­vid­ual cap­tain chairs with built-in re­cline func­tion – satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, a re­vers­ing cam­era, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, heated front seats, elec­tri­cally op­er­ated slid­ing doors that can be con­trolled from the key fob and suede/leatherette trim.

That 3.5-litre V6 churns out a po­tent 202kw and 340Nm, so the big Tarago will move off from stand­still rather rapidly, even chirp­ing the front tyres if you're cal­lous with the ac­cel­er­a­tor.

Toy­ota claimed com­bined fuel con­sump­tion is 10.3litres/100km, but we av­er­aged about 12.3 litres on the com­bined cy­cle. This en­gine de­mands premium fuel, too.

Once on the move, the Tarago is a mixed bag. It al­ways has am­ple power but at the same time it feels like a big, tall and long peo­ple bus.

At low speeds, though, the steer­ing is light and it felt sur­pris­ingly ma­noeu­vrable. This should make ne­go­ti­at­ing school carparks a dod­dle.

Even with all three rows of seat­ing in place, all seven pas­sen­gers are seated with am­ple space and com­fort. And there's a huge boot too, which most seven-seat SUVS can't claim.

The Tarago has quite pos­si­bly the biggest cen­tre con­sole in the world. It can store snacks, ipads, lap­tops, an­other seven peo­ple.

For its ask­ing price, you don't re­ally get a lot of fam­ily-friendly en­ter­tain­ment equip­ment. There's only one USB port and no tray ta­bles on the back of the seats.

Ver­dict: It does the peo­ple­mover thing quite well, but has a dated de­sign and ba­sic equip­ment lev­els. An in-car DVD sys­tem wouldn't cost Toy­ota a for­tune and would strengthen the Tarago GLX as a new-car propo­si­tion for fam­i­lies with small chil­dren.

Toy­ota's multi-seat Tarago GLX is big on space.

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