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Toyota Tarago 2006 review


As one person put it, the test was: how would a Tarago car go, packed with cargo, well past Bargo ... The bikes required a box trailer and bike rack, and one of Toyota's combined tow bar and rear bull bar assemblies attached.

It's about now you start to realise there is going to be a fair bit of weight on board and therefore some strain on a car better known for ferrying hotel customers around Sydney.

And the pluses and minuses of this car fulfilling this new role as a family holiday escape machine start to become obvious.

The first is a plus. Unlike most large seven-and eight-seat 4WDs sold in Australia, the range of people movers actually have some reasonable storage space behind the third row of seats. In the new Tarago's case it is helped immensely by having a separate storage area down with the spare wheel and tools below the floor level. Virtually all the luggage fits behind the seats - the rest joins the trailer behind. And once the trip starts, more pluses and minuses appear.

The key plus is leg room. Two adults up front, two lanky teenagers in the middle row and two primary schoolers in the back for a long haul — and not one complaint about lack of space. As various adults filled rows of seats during the trip, the position stayed the same.

In fact, the only complaint about seating came from adults sitting in the last row who were concerned about sideways body movement — probably accentuated by the rear seats sitting behind the back wheels. But storage space was not sensational.

Each passenger has cupholders in the doors, and there are two reasonable glove compartments up front, but there is no centre console.

Designed as such to allow people to move between the rows of seats without having to get out of the car, it still meant there was nowhere in the middle of the front row, apart from on the floor, to place drinks, CDs etc.

The next minus was a bit further down the highway. Down where the car had to climb serious hills in cruise-control mode.

As the car climbed the hill it fought to maintain speed until with a giant surge the automatic shifter shot back a gear and the rev needle roared into the 5500-6000rpm range.

This wasn't such a problem when the car was out of cruise control mode, but you certainly felt the surge when it was.

Otherwise it was a comfortable speed-limit cruise. Overtaking was handled a bit more conservatively than normal, given the extra weight and strain. And side visibility for the driver looking for traffic out of the left-hand side second row of the vehicle is also a problem.

The 2006-model eight-seat Tarago GLi we drove is the fourth-generation of the people mover Toyota has sold in Australia since 1990. The 2.4-litre engine has 10kW more power than the previous model, now delivering 125kW at 6000rpm (which we felt at the tops of hills) and a respectable 224Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

Dual-zone climate control airconditioning, easy fold-down seats and an MP3 compatible CD-tuner with steering-wheel controls were particularly useful features in the car.

However, I was not a fan of the centrally located instrument display as I prefer the gauges to be directly in front of the driver.

The claimed combined-cycle fuel figures of 9.5 litres/100km proved fairly accurate on the trip, allowing for the extra load.

The GLi model tested costs $48,990 while the higher-specced GLX costs $50,490.

While that is more than demanded by the star of the people mover market, the Honda Odyssey ($38,7790-$45,290), the Tarago is a bigger car. In fact, it is considerably cheaper than a car more its own size — such as the larger-engined Chrysler Grand Voyager, which starts at $55,990.

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GLi 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,900 – 12,990 2006 Toyota Tarago 2006 GLi Pricing and Specs
GLX 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $9,985 – 11,999 2006 Toyota Tarago 2006 GLX Pricing and Specs
Ultima 2.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $13,640 – 17,930 2006 Toyota Tarago 2006 Ultima Pricing and Specs
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