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Toyota Kluger Grande AWD 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Stuart Martin road tests and reviews the Toyota Kluger Grande with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Kluger means "smarter" in German apparently — but Toyota's big family wagon also packs muscle and menace.

VALUE

The top-spec Kluger is the AWD Grande at $67,990, with a features list to match the asking price. It's about $2500 dearer than the predecessor but Toyota claims there is $7000 in extra kit. All-wheel drive brings a $4000 premium.

Features include tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, active cruise control, 19-inch alloys (and a full-size spare), leather trim and three 12V outlets.

The multimedia functions are controlled via an eight-inch touchscreen with app-based functions linked to real-time traffic-equipped satnav, digital radio, and nine-inch rear-seat entertainment screen with Blu-ray player (which perfectly blocks the rear vision mirror).

TECHNOLOGY

The seven-seater draws its urge from the 3.5-litre V6 largely carried over, but now teamed with a new six-speed auto.

The urban cycle of 14.4L/100km consigns the 72L tank to the too-small basket.

The smarts of the engine extend to acoustic control induction (which alters the effective length of the inlet system) but there's no direct injection. All-wheel drive Klugers run largely as front-driver, switching to all-paw as required and sending up to 50 per cent rearward.

DESIGN

Rather than being whitegoods on wheels, the Kluger instead seems inspired by the 1980s Battlestar Galactica TV series — there's a big angular grille and lights galore on a body that's 80mm longer and 15mm wider. Wheelbase is 2.8m.

Large doors are weighty but give good access to the interior, which has ample space for occupants and storage, massive 24L centre console and a handy shelf within the dashboard for phones and music players.

All three rows are capable of seating adults and the access even to the third row doesn't require Olympic gymnast abilities (but you won't want to be taller than 180cm).

The extra rear overhang boosts the cargo area, up by more than 30 per cent to 195L.

SAFETY

A five-star ANCAP rating applies for its seven airbags. There are stability and traction control, hill start and descent control and seat belt reminders for the first two rows; the third row has side curtain airbags.

The Grande also has auto headlights (halogen high-beam and LED low), radar cruise control, reversing camera and rear parking sensors — front sensors are inexplicably on and blind spot warning and pre-crash preparatory and auto-braking.

DRIVING

It's refined, quiet and smooth and the first few kilometres in traffic prompt a thought: would a Lexus badge be out of place?

Ride quality is a little firmer than ideal but it takes on pimpled road surfaces in good order. Wafting through traffic, the Kluger has comfortable accommodation and good vision (forward at least).

Heated and ventilated seats and a powerful (but not overly torquey) V6 are a good start but the winter functions don't extend to rain-sensing wipers, an odd omission at this price.

Head for the hills and the girth becomes apparent. It feels like a big car in bends but it sits flat enough and acquits itself without serious sin.

Open road work is a quiet exercise but the active cruise control is still not as diligent as it could be in undulating terrain.

Find an unsealed road and the Kluger doesn't shirk — there's little doubt that the primary task is a school run, not a special stage, but the ability to lock the diff to split drive 50-50 front to rear (up to 50km/h) gives it some sure footedness.

Steering is well-weighted to my touch but some might feel it on the heavy side, perhaps reflecting the kerb weight.

It's still an ardent pessimist — when the surface becomes loose and the wagon is pushed, rather than the clever all-wheel drive system working to fix the problem it defaults to the traction and stability control, not uncommon for the breed.

The sliding middle seats make the third row a reasonable space, without restricting middle row legroom.

Verdict

For those in need of a brawny seven-seater there are myriad choices — the Kluger delivers plenty but falls short in odd ways. The badge counts for plenty but it's no runaway choice.

Pricing Guides

$29,990
Based on 388 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$19,990
Highest Price
$43,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Altitude (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $23,650 – 29,260 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Altitude (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Altitude (FWD) 7 Seat 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $22,770 – 28,050 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Altitude (FWD) 7 Seat Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $27,990 – 41,400 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Grande (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $27,988 – 43,990 2014 Toyota Kluger 2014 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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