Menu

Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Toyota Kluger Grande AWD 2018 off-road review

It seems like seven-seat SUVs are everywhere these days. The segment is chockers and competition is fierce, so the good ones are in abundance and the great ones are on the rise.

The Kluger, riding on the crest of the perceived robustness and reliability of Toyota vehicles, continues to attract large numbers of buyers, even though its warranty and servicing pales in comparison to those offered by the likes of Hyundai and Kia.

The top-shelf 2018 Kluger Grande AWD has all the trimmings you'd expect of a premium model, as well as a raft of new safety gear on offer. But is it really worth the circa-$70,000 asking price? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Grande AWD sits atop the all-petrol Kluger AWD lineup (GX, GXL and Grande) and costs $69,917. Our test car had one of the premium paint options ('Deep Red'), which adds $550 to that price tag, pushing the total over the $70k mark. 

Standard Grande features include an 8.0-inch multimedia screen with DAB+, a six-speaker stereo, leather trim, multi-zone climate control, active cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, a second-row DVD screen, around-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, an electric tailgate with a glass hatch, 19-inch alloys and a sunroof.

Standard Grande features include an 8.0-inch multimedia screen with DAB+. (image credit: Marcus Craft) Standard Grande features include an 8.0-inch multimedia screen with DAB+. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

Exterior paint colour schemes include the no-extra-cost 'Eclipse Black', as well as the $550-a-pop Deep Red, 'Crystal Pearl', 'Rustic Brown', 'Predawn Grey', 'Rainforest Green', 'Merlot Red', 'Cosmos Blue' and, er, silver.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Grande has the same engine – the 3.5-litre V6 petrol – as the rest of the Kluger range. It produces 218kW at 6600rpm and 350Nm at 4700rpm and is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is a generally lively combination, although there's some lag between foot-down and getting the 2100kg (approximate weight) Grande off the mark from a standstill.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol produces 218kW/350Nm. (image credit: Marcus Craft) The 3.5-litre V6 petrol produces 218kW/350Nm. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Grande is a attractive, if unspectacular, SUV. It's 1730mm tall, 4865mm long and 1925mm wide; it's not a massive thing but, with a blocky front-end and chunky body, it looks and feels like it actually is, for better or worse.

The Kluger isn't a massive thing but, with a  chunky body, it looks and feels like it actually is. (image credit: Marcus Craft) The Kluger isn't a massive thing but, with a chunky body, it looks and feels like it actually is. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

As mentioned, there are a few paint options to jazz it up, but those in the market for a seven-seater SUV are surely more focussed on a vehicle's functionality than its appearance.

Inside the Grande is a mix of low-key premium (leather accents) and functional (hard-plastic surfaces, and cloth material) elements. It's a well-laidout and roomy space; there's a heap of room in the front and second rows; less so (obviously) in the third row.

How practical is the space inside?

It's an easy-in, easy-out affair, with grab handles at each door and second-row seats that are easily tipped forward and then slide out of the way, so your third-row passengers (those unfortunate two) can clamber in.

Upfront, as well as the usual glove box storage space, there are some nice touches like the narrow-slit space with a rubber grip base in the dash for keys, phones and more, and there’s a cavernous centre console accessed by two small sliding doors, with a removable tray inside as well as a power outlet. It doubles as an arm-rest when the doors are closed if you get the urge.

Upfront, there’s a cavernous centre console accessed by two small sliding doors, with a removable tray inside as well as a power outlet. (image credit: Marcus Craft) Upfront, there’s a cavernous centre console accessed by two small sliding doors, with a removable tray inside as well as a power outlet. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

For those into cupholders: there are two up front; two in the second row (in the fold-down armrest) and third-row passengers get four (two each side in moulded recesses). As for bottle holders, there are two for the front row (in the door pockets) and two in the second row (also in the door pockets).

With regards to comfort, the front-row seats are adequately cushioned and bolstered; the second row is supportive enough; and third-row passengers get the straight-up-and-down treatment in two rather simple seats which unfold for sitting or fold flat to maximise storage space. No surprise there, because rear seats often feel like a grudging afterthought.

  • The front-row seats are adequately cushioned and bolstered. (image credit: Marcus Craft) The front-row seats are adequately cushioned and bolstered. (image credit: Marcus Craft)
  • There are two cupholders in the second row. (image credit: Marcus Craft) There are two cupholders in the second row. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

There is a fold-down DVD/Blu-ray player screen just forward of the second-row seats, with three sets of headphones to go with it.

What's it like as a daily driver?

The Grande offers plenty of visibility all-round from a nice and high driver position, and that seat is power-adjustable every which way but loose. The steering wheel is manually adjustable for height and reach, too.

Once you're on the move, after disengaging the foot-operated parking brake (which is sometimes unwilling to completely disengage), the Grande confirms itself as a nice, smooth drive, with its 2790mm wheelbase, coil springs and long-travel suspension helping the cause along.

The Grande rides on 19-inch wheels and Toyo A20 Open Country tyres, which were fine for our drive loops as we never strayed far off the beaten track (gravel roads and brief patches of coastal-bush sand were the worst of it). The steering is light, almost too light at times, but offers reasonable feedback in most scenarios. 

The V6 engine evenly delivers power on the go easily enough, but, as mentioned, takes its time to push you off the mark. It's very quiet, with little to no engine noise intruding on the cabin hush. The auto is easy to use, but seems more comfortable when in sport mode.

The Kluger's part-time AWD system generally defaults to front-wheel drive (to reduce fuel consumption) but will switch to AWD mode to deliver the optimum torque split – up to 50/50 – between the front and rear axles. It's certainly effective but somehow feels more traditionally clunky, less seamless, than something like Mazda's AWD system.

In our two 'watch out for that 'roo!' emergency-braking set-ups – one on bitumen, one on gravel – the Grande pulled up well enough, although its disc brakes seemed a bit too soft at initial take-up for my liking.

What's it like for touring?

We never took it on any hectic off-road touring as that's not what this family friendly around-towner is about, but it's more than capable of copping country back roads (bumpy, ripped-up bitumen) and gravel tracks (some well maintained, some choppy) without any strife.

The Grande has 200mm of ground clearance (unladen), an 11.8m turning circle and decent approach (18 degrees) and departure angles (23.1) for what it is, so it ably coped with the light-duty off-roading we threw it at. The full-size alloy spare is mounted under the rear so be aware that it, and a towbar - if you have one fitted - will affect your ramp-over and departure angles.

This Kluger has the benefit of downhill assist control, an AWD snow mode, and, for added confidence in rough stuff, a centre diff lock. It has a maximum towing capacity of 700kg (unbraked), 2000kg (braked), and a GVM of 2760kg (approximate).

There is plenty of space for camping gear with 529 litres of cargo room available when the third row is folded flat.

There is plenty of space for camping gear with 529 litres of cargo room available when the third row is folded flat. (image credit: Marcus Craft) There is plenty of space for camping gear with 529 litres of cargo room available when the third row is folded flat. (image credit: Marcus Craft)

How much fuel does it consume?

This Kluger is claimed to use 9.5L/100km of ULP. Our daily driving figure was 13.5L/100km. Our off-road touring figure was 13.7L/100km on well-maintained gravel tracks with some driving through brief patches of coastal sand. It has a 72-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Kluger Grande has a three year/100,000km warranty, and arrives with a fixed-price servicing plan.

Recommended service intervals are set at every six months/10,000km and cost $180 each service for the first 36 months/60,000km.

The Kluger Grande AWD is a solid, premium-feel seven-seat SUV, boosted by its complement of new safety tech. It doesn't set any new standards, but it certainly does everything it's supposed to do without being too showy about it – which is unusual because, at this price-point, you expect at least a little bit of pomp an ceremony.

On the flip-side, this family friendly wagon is quiet, smooth and comfortable and packed full of standard features. But, back to the dark side, it does cost a big wedge of cash and it is thirsty. It's not a legitimate off-road touring prospect, either – it's not roomy enough or capable enough for that – but it's perfectly able to tackle family duties without complaint from driver or passengers.

What do you think of the Grande? Worth the extra cash, or not?

$50,880 - $61,880

Based on 75 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'