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Toyota Kluger Grande 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Toyota Kluger GX with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Toyota Kluger is aimed at the large station wagon buyer, at those wanting a spacious people mover, but who also like the image provided by the shape of a 4WD vehicle. This Toyota is big and bold in the American manner, so probably not a vehicle for the conservative buyer.

The latest Kluger was introduced to Australia in March this year and is longer and wider than before with a strong emphasis on maximising interior space. Even the rear suspension components feature a new design that keeps them low and compact. 

DESIGN

The all-new Toyota Kluger is intended chiefly for the American market, hence its bold shape. Indeed, it’s actually made in the US of A. It was introduced to Australia in March this year and has a tall front with an oversized grille, large guards, and a deep swage down the sides. The body is unashamedly boxy to maximise space inside. The tail isn’t as squared off as some in this market arena, the rear lights have a protruding horizontal shape that adds to the bold look.

The tailgate is almost a two-piece unit in that it has the convenience of opening rear glass. The ‘gate is hinged at the top, which most owners find more convenient than a side-hinged rear door.

Inside, the instrument and centre panels occupy virtually a single widespread area. This is a sensible idea, also found in the likes of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so it looks to be the way of the future. 

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION

Toyota’s 3.5-litre twin-cam petrol V6 has been carried over from the old model Kluger but has been heavily revised to reduce emissions and trim fuel consumption. It produces up to 201 kilowatts of power and 337 Newton metres of torque. 

Sadly, there’s no turbo-diesel option because the Americans aren’t keen on diesels in their smaller (yes, smaller!) SUVs.

The V6 engine is now mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, replacing the ageing five-speed unit in the superseded Kluger. It has sophisticated electronics that help it adapt its gearchanges not only to hilly conditions, but also as it senses drivers’ individual desires.

Kluger is offered in 2WD, to the front wheels, or all-wheel-drive (AWD) if you want to get a bit more adventurous and explore mild off-road areas. Indeed, it may not just be aimed at station wagon buyers, Toyota tells us the sales split between 2WD and 4WD in the previous models was about 50/50 and the importer expects this ratio to continue.

Experience tells us few will use their Klugers on unsealed surfaces, but the dream is there – and who can argue against dreams?

SAFETY

Even the entry level Kluger has a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, seven airbags, daytime running lights, stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.

The topline Kluger Grande that we reviewed also has a pre-collision safety system and lane departure alert.

DRIVING

The front seats are large and comfortable, the second row seats have excellent legroom and headroom. Access to the rearmost seats is relatively easy as the second row seats slide forward. This is a tall vehicle and the climb into these rearmost seats may be hard work for some. The cabin can take seven adults, though five, with two children in the rear will be a more practical load. 

Boot space is very good, and all seats can be folded flat. The second and third row seats each have 60/40 splits.

Ride comfort is good and noise, vibration and harshness levels are well damped. Handling is safe and predictable and there was considerable Australian testing from the early design stages. You certainly wouldn't describe it as sporting, that’s not a criticism, but we can’t see many buyers of BMW X5 and the like putting the Toyota on their short list. 

What Toyota Kluger has always been is an excellent long distance cruiser. Around town it can be a bit of a handful at times due to its sheer bulk. The rearview camera and reasonably slim roof pillars do make life easier.

Engine performance is good without being outstanding. The new automatic is excellent in the way it works with the engine torque to get the best from it. 

Fuel consumption isn’t overly high for the class, but this is certainly no economy special. Around town you’re likely to see number in the 12 to 16 litres per hundred kilometres most of the time. The new six-speed auto helps on the highway and it’s not difficult to get the big Toyota under 10 litres per hundred with moderate driving.

Verdict

Toyota Kluger is a large comfortable station wagon that will usually be used only as a people carrier. Having the option to take the all-wheel-drive versions into mild off-road areas will attract adventurous family buyers.

Pricing Guides

$29,990
Based on 346 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,888
Highest Price
$41,400

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Altitude (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $23,210 – 28,600 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Altitude (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Altitude (FWD) 7 Seat 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $21,670 – 27,390 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Altitude (FWD) 7 Seat Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $26,990 – 41,400 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Grande (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $28,788 – 41,990 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7