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Toyota Kluger 2007 review

Toyota has been king of the 4WD market in Australia for decades. Some models, such as the best-selling LandCruiser, are synonymous with offroading in this country and the staple transport of many country folks.

In recent years Cruisers have often become part of the suburban scene as well. However, they are truck-like in some respects and many suburban dwellers look for something softer, though still with a degree of toughness in looks and physical makeup.

Enter, in late 2003, the Toyota Kluger. Slightly smaller than the traditional LandCruiser but still capable of carrying seven people, provided two of them are child-size, Kluger has more offroad ability than most owners will ever need.

Based on the front-drive Toyota Camry, and a close cousin of the recently introduced Lexus RX330, the Kluger is a large, conservatively styled station wagon that performs almost as well as a conventional wagon in on-road conditions but is aimed at those who don't actually want a 4WD but rather the macho looks and practical interior space they provide.

Cynics may laugh at vehicles like this but Toyota is merely being pragmatic in providing a tough-looking people-mover. And sales figures confirm Toyota has hit the nail on the head because it has been a winner here since the day it arrived. So there is already a good number on the used-4WD market.

The limiting factor of the Kluger by 4WD standards is poor ground clearance. Kluger ride height is about halfway between that of a normal 4WD and a passenger car.

However, the 4WD system is a good one that gives the Kluger good grip on slippery dirt roads so you can do some off-the-beaten-track running with little risk of getting stuck.

But beach driving should be attempted only if the sand is reasonably firm as deep ruts can get the Toyota bogged down to its belly.

Because of the lower ground clearance, ride comfort is good and Kluger's suspension soaks up typical Australian bush roads well.

Handling on-road is better than average for the class. Interior noise levels are well suppressed almost to passenger car standards, because there's some Lexus in every Kluger — the two share a fair bit of underbody gear.

Kluger can carry four adults and three children in comfort. The rear seat has a 60/40 split and slides backwards and forwards depending on how much passenger/luggage space you require. Rear-seat legroom with it pushed all the way rearwards is impressive.

The front seat backrests can be folded back at right angles to make a not-very-comfortable emergency bed.

The rearmost seat row is an optional extra that folds completely out of sight. When you buy a Kluger as a five-seater you get handy underfloor luggage spots. Build quality is good and, although relatively new to the Australian market, the Kluger looks set to have a long and trouble-free life.

Toyota's dealer network is legendary in Australia for its reach and competence. Though not all outback dealerships will carry spare parts for the Kluger, they can generally get bits freighted to them within a day or so.

Spare parts prices are about average for this class and we have heard of no complaints about availability.

Underbonnet space is good and the competent home mechanic should be able to do routine servicing and maintenance work.

As always, leave safety-related items to experts. And we recommend having a workshop manual on standby before you pick up the first spanner.

Insurance costs are reasonable for a vehicle in this class. The fact that Kluger is really regarded as a car by virtually all owners certainly stands it in good stead in this area.

UNDER THE BONNET

Power comes from a 3.3-litre twin-cam V6 engine with plenty of grunt, even in the low-to-mid-range areas.

At this stage the Kluger's engine hasn't been upgraded to the 3.5-litre engine seen in the Lexus RX350, but we expect that will be only a matter of time.

The Kluger five-speed automatic is a sophisticated unit that's smooth and intelligent in its operation. It's easy to use it manually, though it's not a full sequential transmission in the modern mode.

As befits a relatively upmarket passenger car, there's no option of a manual gearbox.

DANGER SIGNS

Kluger's still quite new on the market, so there's no real history of problems at this stage, nor do we expect any.

Be sure the engine starts within a second or so of you turning the key, and that it settles into a steady idle immediately it kicks over.

Check that an automatic transmission doesn't hunt up and down through the gears and doesn't hold onto too high a gear when it should change down.

Look over the body for signs of crash repairs. Examine the underbody for damage. The most likely areas to suffer are the bumper corners and the door sills. So few are taken into real offroad conditions that it's probably best to pass up on one that has.

Pricing guides

$11,990
Based on 86 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$5,999
Highest Price
$18,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CV (4X4) 3.3L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,000 – 7,810 2007 Toyota Kluger 2007 CV (4X4) Pricing and Specs
CVX (4X4) 3.3L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,900 – 9,130 2007 Toyota Kluger 2007 CVX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,900 – 12,210 2007 Toyota Kluger 2007 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Grande (FWD) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,300 – 11,330 2007 Toyota Kluger 2007 Grande (FWD) Pricing and Specs