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Toyota Kluger 2008 Review

Mud puddles and slippery clay on the flat were no bother at all to the Kluger.

It had appeared to be a good idea at the time.

A couple of days away from the computer's big square eye so why not take a Toyota Kluger off the beaten trail and see what it can do in terms of off-road work.

Nothing too strenuous. After all, it does not have a low range gearbox, no diff locks and it is impossible to turn the computer controlled stability control program off. It has only computer controlled all-wheel drive and hill descent assist.

But there was time to spare so a romp through some forests near Dayboro should do the trick.

All was going perfectly until the Kluger reached a section of track about which my 16-year-old navigator said; “Do you realise this part of the track is marked in red?”

The "red” section consisted of a series of very steep descents with built-in steps. And on the other side of the “great divide” a similar section heading skyward again.

"What have I done?”

There is no room to turn around and the Range Rover ahead of us has gone on and will shortly disappear from sight and the chance to render assistance.

"How am I going to explain to Toyota that their Kluger can be returned if it can be winched by helicopter out of the state forest.”

"Does The Courier-Mail's insurance policy cover stupid actions by dopey testers?”

They were just some of the thoughts running through this driver's mind.

Nothing for it but to give it a go.

Lock the auto into first and hit the hill descent assist button then hold the breath.

The KX-S sports Kluger required just steering. Any attempts to use brake or accelerator while the hill descent button was engaged resulted in free fall. But left to its own devices the Kluger went down over the steps faultlessly. No skidding, no getting caught on the steps, no crabbing or sliding — just a slow controlled descent into the chasm.

"Wow. Amazing. But what about getting up the other side?”

Keep it in first and give it gentle but well timed throttle. The 3.5-litre, 201kW, V6 performed faultlessly. Accelerate gently up the hill, ease off over the 'step' and repeat for the next half dozen steps.

The all-wheel-drive system worked faultlessly. With no wheelspin or drama of any other sort the Kluger took the stairway to heaven in its stride. Up and over, up and over until the going was once again maintained forestry track.

This SUV had already impressed with its road manners; very little body roll, impressive acceleration with the five-speed auto doing its job unobtrusively and a quiet cabin.

The 3.5-litre V6, as used in a range of Toyotas including the Aurion, is a willing worker with a smooth, seamless power delivery and goodly amounts of torque spread at low to mid engine revs.

The version of the Kluger on test was an all-wheel drive and a seven seater. It can be had, at a cheaper price, as two-wheel drive only and five-seater.

The seven-seat arrangement was easy to use with the extra bench portion used in the second row to make it a three-person bench being stowed in the centre console between the driver and front passenger.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of the Kluger is that the claimed fuel consumption of 11l/100km is hard to achieve on the open road never mind combining it with round town toottling. The test vehicle was returning around 13-14litres/100km if any of the ample performance was being used.

And if you give it a flogging the amount of fuel used will make you think there is a V8 under the bonnet.

But all in all this version of the Kluger is a delight to drive.

It is only when you start sticking it into corners at sport sedan speeds that it cries enough and in the bush it will take some real rough country before it cries enough.

But the traction and stability control cannot be turned off which, while being a boon in the boondocks, may turn out to be a setback in the sand.




Toyota Kluger KX-S

Price: $54,490

Engine: 3456cc, DOHC, 24-valve, fuel injected V6 bore x stroke: 94 x 83mm, compression: 10.8:1

Power: 201kW @ 6200rpm

Torque: 337Nm @ 4700rpm

Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 8sec

Transmission: AWD, 5-speed automatic, electronically controlled with sequential shift and flex lock-up torque converter

Differantial ratio: 3.478:1

Fuel: ULP, 72-litre tank

Economy: 11L/100km

CO2 Emissions: 259g/km, Euro IV

Turning circle: 11.8m

Brakes: ventilated discs, twin-piston calipers (front), solid discs, single-piston calipers (rear); ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, traction control, stability control and hill holder system

Suspension: independent, MacPherson struts, L-arms, coil springs, gas dampers and ball joint-mounted stabiliser bar (front); independent, MacPherson struts, coil spring/damper units, dual lower transverse links, lower trailing arm, gas dampers and ball joint-mounted anti-roll bar (rear)

Wheels: 17 x 7.5J alloys

Tyres: 245/65R17

Dimensions (MM): 4785 (L), 1910 (W), 1730 (H), 2790 (Wheelbase), 206 (Clearance)

Track: 1630mm (front), 1640mm (rear)

Angles (DEGREES): 29 (approach), 24 (departure), 17 (breakover)

Kerb weight: 1920-2020kg

Towing: 2000kg (braked), 700kg (unbraked)


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

Grande (4x4) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $12,990 – 19,490 2008 Toyota Kluger 2008 Grande (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Grande (FWD) 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $9,999 – 18,995 2008 Toyota Kluger 2008 Grande (FWD) Pricing and Specs
KX-R (4x4) 5 Seat 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,999 – 12,990 2008 Toyota Kluger 2008 KX-R (4x4) 5 Seat Pricing and Specs
KX-R (4x4) 7 Seat 3.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $8,885 – 14,990 2008 Toyota Kluger 2008 KX-R (4x4) 7 Seat Pricing and Specs