Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Toyota Kluger 2019 review: GXL 2WD

The Kluger stands tall in the seven-seat SUV field, attracting buyers like bees to Toyota-badged honey.
EXPERT RATING
6.9
The Kluger stands tall in the seven-seat SUV field, attracting buyers like bees to Toyota-badged honey.

Cars don't come much simpler than the Toyota Kluger. Twenty kilograms short of two tons of American-built iron equipped with an unstressed V6, it's big and straightforward.

The Kluger nameplate predates our new love of seven-seat SUVs, but this third-generation car seems to have really taken hold. And there are good reasons for that. Folks love the Toyota badge, and they love that the Japanese brand’s cars are built to outlast about eighteen Australian Prime Ministers.

The big Kluger might not be cheap, but it doesn't stop us buying a ton of them every month, even in the face of rising fuel prices.

So we spent a week in a GXL variant to find out why.

Toyota Kluger 2019: GXL (4x2)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.1L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$54,950

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

The GXL is the middle of a three-tier range and is available with all-wheel drive ($58,950) or front-wheel drive ($54,950), the latter being the car I had.

It's worth noting that the jump to the GXL from the GX variant below is a very steep $10,000 for what I think is a very limited benefit. Even the $4000 price difference between the AWD and 2WD seems exceedingly cheeky. There's also only one free paint colour, the rest slapping you for another $550.

  • It's worth noting that the jump to the GXL from the GX variant below is a very steep $10,000 for what I think is a very limited benefit. It's worth noting that the jump to the GXL from the GX variant below is a very steep $10,000 for what I think is a very limited benefit.
  • The GXL has 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, sat nav, DAB digital radio and active cruise control. The GXL has 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, sat nav, DAB digital radio and active cruise control.
  • The GXL is the middle of a three-tier range and is available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. The GXL is the middle of a three-tier range and is available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.
  • The 6.1-inch screen from the GX is replaced with an 8.0-inch unit here, and it pairs with a six-speaker stereo which is nothing special. The 6.1-inch screen from the GX is replaced with an 8.0-inch unit here, and it pairs with a six-speaker stereo which is nothing special.

Above the GX, you get fake leather, a slightly bigger screen with the same awful software, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and not much else. And you still can't get LED headlights, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which at this level in 2018 is near-scandalous.

The GXL has 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, sat nav, DAB digital radio, active cruise control, front and rear cameras, rear parking sensors, auto headlights, keyless entry and start, power windows and mirrors, partial leather seats and an electric tailgate with a separate glass hatch. 

The 6.1-inch screen from the GX is replaced with an 8.0-inch unit here, and it pairs with a six-speaker stereo which is nothing special. A rarity these days, you get a CD player.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Kluger really does set out to be a big car, right from the get-go.

The cliff-face front end is pretty masculine and reminds me of various science-fiction villains. Apart from that, it's a big box on wheels, which is no bad thing. It's not meant to wow the soccer mums, and Toyota was more than happy to riff on that in a recent Kluger ad campaign.

  • The Kluger really does set out to be a big car, right from the get-go. The Kluger really does set out to be a big car, right from the get-go.
  • The GXL has front and rear cameras, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and keyless entry and start. The GXL has front and rear cameras, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and keyless entry and start.
  • Inside is all terribly conservative, with okay materials (apart from the horrid plastic of the central console lid). Inside is all terribly conservative, with okay materials (apart from the horrid plastic of the central console lid).
  • The Kluger is a big box on wheels, which is no bad thing. The Kluger is a big box on wheels, which is no bad thing.

Inside is all terribly conservative, with okay materials (apart from the horrid plastic of the central console lid). The rubber lining of the shelf that splits the upper and lower dashboards is a nice touch, but I'm not particularly fond of the shade of brown used.

Everything is clear, concise and built to last.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, the Kluger is big. I mean really big. Except, it isn't even the biggest in its class, at least in its external dimensions. But the Kluger's square shell delivers a huge interior.

Being a Kluger, it has seven seats across three rows. The front row is hugely spacious, with two cupholders, a shelf for phones and bits and pieces that stretches from the passenger side to the driver side of the centre console (very clever, that), and a huge 24-litre storage bin that seems absurd at first but turns out to be enormously useful.

  • The front row is hugely spacious, with a shelf for phones and bits and pieces that stretches from the passenger side to the driver side of the centre console. The front row is hugely spacious, with a shelf for phones and bits and pieces that stretches from the passenger side to the driver side of the centre console.
  • The second row is very roomy, and is home to two more cupholders. The second row is very roomy, and is home to two more cupholders.
  • The third row isn't particularly spacious and is really only good for small kids. The third row isn't particularly spacious and is really only good for small kids.
  • The boot starts at 195 litres with all three seating rows in use. The boot starts at 195 litres with all three seating rows in use.
  • The Kluger's square shell delivers a huge interior. The Kluger's square shell delivers a huge interior.
  • With all the back seats down, you've got 1117 litres. With all the back seats down, you've got 1117 litres.

The second row is again very roomy,  and is home to two more cupholders, but the third row isn't particularly spacious and is really only good for small kids. They’ll be spoilt for cupholders, though, with four in total (all up, the cupholder count sits at eight, which means one lucky passenger can bring two cups, for some reason…), as well as third-row air-con vents.

The boot starts at 195 litres with all three seating rows in use. In wagon form, you have 529 litres, and with all the back seats down, you've got 1117 litres. But the space feels much bigger than those numbers suggest.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The Kluger's V6 is a 3.5-litre unit producing 218kW (at a high-ish 6600rpm) and 350Nm. In the GXL 2WD the power goes only through the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

The Kluger's V6 is a 3.5-litre unit. The Kluger's V6 is a 3.5-litre unit.

The Kluger can haul a trailer of 700kg unbraked or 2000kg braked.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

The windscreen sticker suggests the Kluger will manage 9.1L/100km on the combined cycle, which is a noble goal but hugely unlikely. Our time delivered an indicated 13.3L/100km, and no, I wasn't thrashing it. Last time I had an AWD Kluger, the difference was about half a litre.

Apart from a general commitment to efficiency, the Kluger's V6 has nothing like stop-start to cut fuel use. The big 72-litre tank means you'll still get a week of average motoring in before you need to fill again. Thankfully, it drinks the cheaper 91RON fuel.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

My heart is not in big soft SUVs, but after a long day doing, erm, things, the Kluger is a welcome, relaxing haven. Once you've hoisted yourself in, the wide seats are just right, the big steering wheel suggests an easy time of things and the complete lack of distraction and visual clutter ensure mental calm.

It is also extraordinarily comfortable. Put it this way; until I drove a Kluger, I'd always been baffled by its appeal. It is also extraordinarily comfortable. Put it this way; until I drove a Kluger, I'd always been baffled by its appeal.

The starter button seems to start an engine three cars away - it's all very smooth and quiet. You could probably drive the Kluger for the whole time you owned it without once going past half-throttle, so you'll never hear it. You float about on soft suspension, marvelling at the completely different approach this American tune takes to most of its rivals.

I'm only being half-facetious here. Of course the Kluger rolls around a bit, its high centre of gravity apparent every time you put on more than two degrees of steering lock at more than 10km/h. But it is also extraordinarily comfortable. Put it this way; until I drove a Kluger, I'd always been baffled by its appeal. 

It doesn't have the chassis to amuse you if you're a bit of a hoon. But here in the two-wheel drive version with cheap tyres, there's a lot of fun to be had spinning up the front wheels without much provocation. Hilariously, the traction control can be switched off with a single, casual tap of the button.

It still has one of motoring's most annoying things; a foot-operated parking brake. I'm sure you get used to anything, but a) I kept forgetting to engage it, b) I kept swearing at it when trying to reverse out of my driveway, and c) I have awful visions of it doing unspeakable damage to my shins in an accident.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Kluger arrives with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, and rear parking sensors. For the 2018 model year, Toyota added new safety features in the GX and GXL, meaning pre-collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning, pedestrian avoidance with braking, lane keep assist, active cruise and auto high beam.

The GXLs also picked up a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, bringing it almost in line with the CX-9's safety package.

There are three top-tether anchors for the middle row as well as two ISOFIX points. The ANCAP safety rating stands at a maximum five stars, awarded in November 2016.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

Toyota is starting to look increasingly lonely in the three-year/100,000km warranty camp. I think only Lotus offers a shorter warranty.

Service costs are fixed via Toyota's Service Advantage pricing. For the Kluger, you’ll pay $180 per service for the first 36 months or 60,000km. You'll have to visit the dealer every six months or 10,000km, which is not so bad when you consider the sensible price of services.

Verdict

While I do like wafting around in the Kluger (the forthcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan better ride well...) I can't help but wonder why you'd pay this much money for the GXL. In isolation, there's nothing wrong with the car, but it's a lot more than the GX for not very much gain. 

Here's where the buying public and I part company, though - they can't get enough of them.

The Kluger takes a fairly old-school approach in a high-tech world. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$57,048
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$44,850
Highest Price
$69,246

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Grande (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $65,519 2019 Toyota Kluger 2019 Grande (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $69,246 2019 Toyota Kluger 2019 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GX (4x2) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $44,850 2019 Toyota Kluger 2019 GX (4x2) Pricing and Specs
GX (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 8 SP AUTO $48,850 2019 Toyota Kluger 2019 GX (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.9
Price and features6
Design7
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership6
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

Share