The $70K top-spec seven-seaters navigate easily with precious cargo
Meet the cars for the modern family: large seven-seat wagons with enough height to provide a commanding view of the road ahead — and to make it easier to get kids in and out. Third-row seats that fold flat endow them with cavernous cargo holds for weekends away or trips to the hardware store. Diesel is a popular choice; however, the top-selling Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9 are petrol-only propositions, as is the new Holden Acadia, built by GMC and sent to challenge them.
We’ve tested the flagships, which also happen to line up closest on price. Here’s how they compare.
The Kluger starts from $43,990 drive-away but we have the Grande AWD at $68,990 driveaway, down from its full RRP of $75,000. The appeal of Australia’s favourite seven-seat SUV is apparent as soon as you open the door. The interior, though it’s starting to look dated, is extremely practical.
There’s a massive centre console, large door pockets and glovebox, extendable sun visors and airconditioning vents for all three rows.
Unique among this trio, the rear window opens independently of the tailgate, to throw a towel in quickly.
The cabin and cargo hold are huge — overshadowed only by the Acadia — yet there is a full-size spare under the boot floor.
However, the Toyota loses points on connectivity. There are two 12V sockets and a USB port for the front row, one 12V socket for the middle row, and nothing in the rear. The instrument cluster doesn’t have a digital speed display and the eight-inch touchscreen lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although there are digital radio, built-in navigation and, unique among this trio, a CD slot.
As with each vehicle tested, autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, blind zone warning, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear sensors and 360-degree camera are standard (tap a symbol on the screen for the overhead view). The sunroof is above the front seats only but there’s a built-in DVD player in the roof to keep the back stalls quiet.
As with the others, there’s leather upholstery throughout, with heating, cooling and power adjustment for the front pews.