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Toyota's Kluger is one-third of Toyota's assault on the seven seat SUV segment, along with the Prado and Fortuner. Between the three cars, Toyota owns a quarter of the big SUV market. That's a lot of cars.
The Kluger has been a mainstay of Toyota's range for well over a decade, forging ahead with the same formula, resisting fashionable swoopy styling or the trend for diesel or downsized engines. It's a classic Toyota - what you see is what you get.
|Toyota Kluger 2017: GX (4X2)|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
There are six distinct Toyota Kluger models across three trim levels - GX, GXL and Grande. In each level you get the choice of front or all-wheel drive but the whole range comes with the same eight-speed automatic and a 3.5-litre V6 for motivation.
Pricing quoted below is RRP, or MLP as manufacturers prefer us to call it.
All Klugers are fitted with a total of seven seats, reversing camera, front and rear air-conditioning zones, cruise control, three 12 volt power points (two in the front, one in the back), auto headlights, power windows and mirrors, rear parking sensors and rear privacy glass.
The six-speaker sound system arrives with AM/FM radio and CD player with bluetooth and USB. In the GX the stereo is powered by Toyota's familiar ho-hum media software allied to a 6.1-inch touchscreen. In the GXL and Grande, add sat nav and an 8.0-inch screen, but using the same software.
Moving up the price list means you arrive at the GXL. For FWD you'll pay $53,550 and $57,550 for the AWD.
Compared with the GX, the GXL spec level adds GPS navigation with SUNA traffic updates, the bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, DAB+ digital radio, keyless entry and start and an electric driver's seat. You also get partial leather seats, the front ones heated.
The Grande starts at $65,935 for the FWD and $69,906 for the AWD. To the GXL spec add 19-inch alloys, sunroof, front parking sensors, around-view camera, window shades for rear seat passengers, plus heated and cooled front seats. Finally, a suite of safety gear which includes front collision warning, blind spot monitoring, reverse cross traffic alert, AEB, lane departure warning and reversing guides.
You have a choice of nine colours - Eclipse Black, Cosmos Blue, Rustic Brown, Rainforest Green, Predawn Grey, Deep Red, Merlot Red, Silver Storm and White Pearl. Helpfully, all those names actually describe the colour. Only one of those colours is a freebie (black), the rest cost $550 extra.
The Kluger's is one of the most thoughtfully laid-out cabins in the class for getting people and their stuff in, the generous interior dimensions giving Toyota's designers plenty to work with.
Front seat passengers sit on a pair of high-set thrones with two cupholders, bottle holders in each door and a huge 24-litre centre console with a sliding tray. A small dog could ride along in the centre console... and I'm not joking.
The dash is also split open by a shelf, lined with soft material, so your phone, keys, wallet and glasses have somewhere to go and won't rattle around.
Rear seat passengers have a sliding 60/40 bench seat, two cupholders in the centre armrest and bottle holders in each door, along with their own air-conditioning zone (GX) or climate control zone (GXL and Grande).
Finally, the third row folds 50/50, is easily accessible with a single action lever to tilt and slide the middle row out of the way. Those trapped back there can luxuriate with four cupholders. Head and legroom are scarce, but not any worse than most in the segment.
The full-size spare tyre is slung underneath and outside so you can get at it without pulling everything out of the car. Toyota has rather thoughtfully put a plastic cover around it to reduce the amount of grime it might collect.
Interior boot space starts at 195 litres with all seats in play, expanding to a minimum of 529 litres with the rear seats folded.
The Kluger's exterior dimensions mean it might be a challenge for an inner-city garage - 4.89m long, 1.96m wide and and 1.73 metres tall. Despite that not-insignificant length, the turning circle is a reasonable 11.8m
The Kluger is typical Toyota - understated, doesn't shout about itself. The Kluger is a high-rider, with a 200mm ground clearance only telling part of the story. From the front, the big, full depth grille makes it an imposing presence, the big headlights sweeping up to further increase the impression of height.
The side profile is entirely conventional, with squared-off wheel arches filled with 18 or 19-inch wheels depending on grade. The big doors and a gently rising glass line make the cabin look huge.
The roof doesn't drop away, meaning good headroom for the first two rows. The tailgate is almost upright, maximising space and keeping the glass away from the third row.
The rear is probably the most Toyota angle one can imagine, with big blocky taillights reminiscent of the RAV4.
The cabin is from the same school of the thought. Generic but beautifully put together, the interior will take a good hammering. Everything is clear, well laid-out and made for real humans to be in rather than look at.
Engine specifications are identical across the range, Toyota's 2GR-FKS does duty under the bonnet. It's a 3.5-litre V6 with 218kW of power and 350Nm of torque, with a choice between 4 wheel drive and front-wheel drive. An eight speed automatic puts the power through both all-wheel drive and two-wheel drive versions. There is no manual transmission option, nor is there a diesel or LPG version.
Instead of a timing belt, the V6 uses a timing chain to avoid any surprise breakages or costly scheduled belt replacements
Few of the Kluger's competitors can boast an engine size this big. The V6 seems a sturdy unit, with no widespread reported engine problems. The eight-speed automatic is called 'Direct Shift' and there are as yet no common reports of transmission problems.
Weight differs slightly between the versions - GX and GXL two-wheel drivers tip the scales at 1980kg while the AWD adds 45kg to take it to 2025kg. Grandes are separated by 75 kilos, with the 2WD coming in at 2025kg and the 4WD at 2100kg.
Kluger V6s swallow standard mineral motor oil, no need for synthetic.
0-100 acceleration times are around nine seconds across the range.
Toyota claims fuel consumption figures of 9.1L/100km for the 2WD GX and GXL and 9.3 for the Grande front-driver. For the all-paw GX and GXL the claimed figure is 9.5L/100km for all three spec levels. Both official mileage figures are an improvement on the 10.6L/100km for the 2015 model AWD and 10.2L/100km for the FWD.
Our most recent GX FWD test yielded 13.1L/100km. With a fuel tank capacity of 72 litres, that works out at a range of just under 550km to a bone-dry tank. Slightly better was our time with the GXL AWD, which yielded 11.7L/100km (including two long highway runs) and the Grande AWD returned 11.6L/100km in our hands.
Fuel economy doesn't seem to be a gripe with owners but does seem quite variable depending on usage. A heavy right foot will send the figure into the mid-teens.
The Kluger's thirst is somewhat tempered by the fact it's more than happy to consume standard unleaded.
The Kluger's suspension tune is definitely more about comfort around town and on the freeway than it is about excitement or, heaven forbid, off-road shenanigans. The V6 is powerful and smooth on road, while off-road performance might be hampered slightly by a lack of low-down torque. But really, nobody is buying a Kluger to go rock-hopping - the Prado and Fortuner are better bets for that kind of tomfoolery.
Off-road ability in the AWD models is modest but capable. Downhill ascent control, diff lock and snow modes are fitted to help with the loose and wet stuff, but deep bumpers front and rear will keep you from getting too ambitious. The quoted approach angle is 18 degrees with a departure of 23.1 - hardly world-beating.
The Kluger is all about tarmac. The steering is light and, occasionally, vague but it suits the character of the car. The engine is a very distant whirr, wind noise is practically non-existent and road noise a barely perceptible rumble. The new eight-speed transmission is pretty good at picking the right gear for every occasion and quickly skips to the best gear to help rein in consumption.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Grande adds lane departure warning, sway control, auto emergency braking, forward collision alert, rear cross traffic alert and auto high beam. These aren't available even as options in the GX or GXL, which is disappointing.
There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether child seat anchors for the middle row. The rear row does not have seatbelt warnings.
Like all Toyotas, the Kluger comes with a three year/100,000km warranty and a fixed price servicing plan will set you back $1080 for the recommended six month/10,000km visits over the first three years, which is very good value, especially considering the service intervals are tighter than most of its rivals.
Roadside assist is included for the first year in case you run into any problems, but given Toyota's reputation for reliability, you're unlikely to meed it.
Reining in the service costs partly offsets the upfront cost of the Kluger.
An internet search yielded little in the way of complaints against the Kluger, with no widespread faults or issues.
As you can imagine, the resale value for the Kluger is strong. The third-gen was introduced in 2014 when a GX cost $40,990 and a top-spec Grande AWD cost $67,520. Selling a GX privately will net you between 70 and 76 percent of its price when new, with dealers offering between 58 and 64 percent. Values seem about the same for GXL and Grande, remembering that these older cars have a little less power and two fewer gears in comparison to the 2017 model.
The Kluger has plenty of space for your cargo of people and luggage, a strong V6 petrol engine, Toyota's bulletproof reputation and, of course, high quality fit and finish. It holds an almost unassailable sales lead over its competition, most of whom are quite a bit cheaper and/or better-equipped. The Kluger clearly hits all the right buttons with its buyers.
We reckon the GX is the pick of the range. Moving up to the GXL costs $10,000 more and brings little to the party that's especially useful. You'll have to spend almost $23,000 more to nab the safety gear sorely lacking in the GX and GXL models. Worse, there aren't even LED or xenon headlights options available, a better stereo or the sorts of things you expect as you swing further up the range.
Everything that's good about the Kluger is in the GX - it's quiet, rides beautifully and does what it's supposed to do - get you from here to there without fuss, and do it for many, many years.
|Grande (4x2)||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$35,400 – 45,760||2017 Toyota Kluger 2017 Grande (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Grande (4x4)||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$37,600 – 48,620||2017 Toyota Kluger 2017 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|GX (4X2)||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$25,900 – 34,320||2017 Toyota Kluger 2017 GX (4X2) Pricing and Specs|
|GX (4X4)||3.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$27,200 – 36,080||2017 Toyota Kluger 2017 GX (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||6|
|Engine & trans||7|