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Toyota Tarago GLX V6 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota Tarago GLX V6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the 2016 Toyota Tarago GLX V6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

There are certain materials that form the building blocks of every Australian childhood. There’s plenty of sunshine, of course, usually mixed with a blend of saltwater, vegemite and the kind of nuclear-strength sunburn that penetrates to the bone. And inevitably, somewhere in the background of that sepia-toned snapshot of Aussie youth, there will be a Toyota Tarago.

Australia’s first people mover has been ferrying families across the country for more than 30 years, and for most of that time it’s been the car of choice for big families, with more than 102,000 sold since its 1983 launch. As a result, almost every person in Australia has spent time squeezed into the back of one at some point or another.

But the last major update to the Tarago arrived in 2007, and the competition has never been stronger. The eight-seat Honda Odyssey proved family haulers didn’t have to look like a mini-bus, while Kia’s Rondo and Carnival, along with Hyundai’s iMax, significantly lowered the cost of entry to the segment. None of which was good news for the humble Tarago, which is running a distant fifth in its segment this year, managing just 479 sales – a mile behind segment-leader, the Kia Carnival, which has recorded 2,857 sales.

And so in August, Toyota lowered pricing and increased value across its Tarago range, dropping the asking price to a level last seen two decades ago. Unfortunately, it’s not the only part of the Tarago offering that feels like it’s been transported from the 1990s, but more on that in a moment.

As practical as a pair of Crocs, and every bit as popular with Dads, the Tarago V6 GLX is equipped with everything you might need in a family hauler.

The V6 GLX tested here – which is now $1500 cheaper, kicking off at $55,990 – sits above the entry-level GLi and below the range-topping Ultima. The mid-range model now includes more standard kit than ever before.

But the question remains whether a price cut and a warm sense of nostalgia is enough to propel this iconic people mover back onto the shopping lists of Aussie families.

Engine and transmission

The Toyota Tarago V6 GLX is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 that’ll produce 202kW at 6200rpm and an accessible 340Nm from 4700rpm. Hardly headline-grabbing numbers, but it is safe, predictable, dependable power – exactly what’s required for a car in this segment.

The V6 engine is paired with a six-speed ‘sports automatic’ complete with a manual-shift option, so enthusiastic drivers can change gears for themselves, shortly before wondering why they purchased a Tarago to drive enthusiastically.

Practicality

As practical as a pair of Crocs, and every bit as popular with Dads, the Tarago V6 GLX is equipped with everything you might need in a family hauler.

The second row gets armchair-style twin seating (which Toyota calls “Captain’s Chairs”) that include an integrated ottoman and a “super-relaxed mode”, allowing them to fold almost completely flat, business class-style. While life in the triple-seat third row isn’t quite so rosy, it does offer plenty of head and legroom for child passengers.

In two-seat mode, the second and third rows are hidden away in clever under-floor compartments, transforming the Tarago into a genuine mover’s van with commercial-vehicle levels of storage. With the second and third rows of seats up, you get 466 litres of storage space, but flatten them and that swells to 1161 litres. The GLX is also the first trim level that gets a roof rail as standard, increasing its load-lugging capability to ridiculous levels.

Best of all, the flat floor and twin-seat set-up allows what Toyota calls “walk-through” access to the third row of seats, meaning the front passengers can literally walk between the seats to access the second and third rows – a feature sure to strike fear into the hearts of misbehaving children everywhere.

Even with all the seats in place, the Tarago V6 GLX offers storage aplenty, with a heap of clever hidey-holes including in the dash, under the seats and even in a sliding console that moves between the first and second, which also houses two cup-holders. Every row of seats gets another two cup-holders, bringing the total count to eight (which means one lucky passenger can bring two coffees…), along with room in the doors for the bottles. There are also two ISOFIX points, one for each of the second-row seats.

Design

Largely unchanged from the models of yesteryear, the humble Tarago remains one of Australia’s most iconic, if practical, designs: bus-like, and with all the body contours of a jelly bean, it has been built for function over form.

Inside, practicality rules. The second-row of seats, for example, sit on visible rails that run the length of the cabin, adding to the somewhat utilitarian feel of the interior. The only immediately visible nods to style are the wood-grain highlights across the dash, which is also wrapped entirely in a soft-touch faux-leather. That, and the information gauges have been shifted from their traditional location in a recess above the steering wheel, to a centre position angled toward the driver. The move makes room for yet another clever storage binnacle in the space where they would normally reside.

So, practical over plush, but that’s to be expected. The only true downside is an antiquated multimedia set-up, highlighted by a clunky, slow-moving touchscreen which controls everything from the navigation to the audio settings. It’s among the most frustrating units currently available, and feels like an aftermarket purchase rather than a factory inclusion.

Another pointer to the time between updates is a lack of in-car USB ports. The only place to plug your phone in is into 6.1-inch touchscreen unit itself, which means there’s always a cable dangling out of the dash.

Price and features

The Toyota Tarago V6 GLX received a $1500 price cut in August, lowering the sticker price to $55,990 – though it will cost you another $550 to have it painted the same “Wildfire” red as our test car. The new pricing sees the Tarago range now kick off at $45,490 for the entry level GLi four-cylinder, and stretch to $65,600 for the top-of-the-range V6-powered Ultima. And that’s quite expensive. The segment-leading Kia Carnival, for example, begins at $41,490 for the base petrol, and tops out at $57,490 ($59,990 for the diesel).

For the money, though, the V6 GLX is well-equipped. It sits on 17-inch alloys, and arrives as-standard with a satnav-equipped 6.1-inch touchscreen multimedia unit paired with a six-speaker stereo, as well as three-zone climate control. Other niceties include push-button start, parking sensors, automatic sliding doors, seat heaters in the front and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, along with standard roof rails.

Safety

For a family hauler, the Tarago’s standard safety equipment is a little underwhelming. All Taragos get seven airbags that cover all three rows, along with Toyota’s Safe-T-Cell (a body design built to absorb the impact of an accident). You’ll also get “intelligent” brakes, which include ABS, brake assistance and electronic brake-force distribution.

The August update also introduced a long-overdue standard reversing camera across the range, and a system that flashes the hazard lights under heavy braking. And… that’s about it. Parking sensors, present on more expensive models, are yet to be made standard across the range, while advanced technologies like AEB, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring are missing from the feature’s list altogether.

The Toyota Tarago scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was tested in 2010.

Fuel consumption

The Toyota Tarago V6 GLX sips a claimed/combined 10.3 litres per hundred kilometres, though the on-board computer readout hovered in the 12s along our (admittedly urban) test route.

Driving

Exciting it is not, but the Tarago V6 GLX proved a dependable, predictable workhorse as it weaved its way through Sydney’s traffic.

The 202kW and 340Nm generated by the 3.5-litre V6 is plenty for anything you’re likely to throw at the Tarago, and there’s enough power on tap to suggest you’re unlikely to be struggling up hills, even with six passengers on board.

There’s a simplistic, old-fashioned air to the way the power is delivered, with no clever turbochargers and their associated lag, just a smooth, constant power delivery, aided by a simple, effective six-speed automatic that flicks through gears with little fuss.

Vision from the driver’s seat – both to any misbehaving kids in the back and to the road in front – is outstanding, and the Tarago’s 4.79m (long) and 1.8m (wide) dimensions disappear from behind the wheel, making traversing even inner-city streets a breeze. The steering is light and easy, and it’s far easier to park than its bulk suggests.

Ownership

The Tarago V6 GLX is covered by Toyota’s three-year, 100,000km warranty, and requires servicing every six months, or 10,000km.

The entire range falls under Toyota’s Service Advantage program, capping service costs at just $180 each for the first six services, bringing your total servicing costs for the warranty period to $1080.

Verdict

Once the defining people-mover in Australia, increased competition and a high price point has knocked the ageing Tarago from its perch. It remains a solid proposition, though, and the price reduction and increased level of standard equipment has added some much-needed value back into the equation.

Do you think the Tarago is past it's heyday or is it still a family favorite? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Toyota Tarago pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$28,980
Based on 35 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$22,888
Highest Price
$43,950

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GLi 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,000 – 26,400 2016 Toyota Tarago 2016 GLi Pricing and Specs
GLi V6 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,500 – 29,150 2016 Toyota Tarago 2016 GLi V6 Pricing and Specs
GLX 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $20,700 – 28,050 2016 Toyota Tarago 2016 GLX Pricing and Specs
GLX V6 3.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $23,700 – 32,120 2016 Toyota Tarago 2016 GLX V6 Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$22,888

Lowest price, based on 32 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.