Toyota Kluger Grande AWD 2017 review

There are cars. And then there are CARS. The Toyota Kluger Grande is the latter kind.

Nedahl Stelio

12 Jan 2018 • 11 min read

There are cars. And then there are CARS. The Toyota Kluger Grande is the latter kind. Big. Bolshy. Uncompromising. Clearly, I was judging the book by its cover here. And so it was with some trepidation that I approached it for this week’s family car review. Would it be too big? Too stiff? Too heavy? Too much? (Spoiler: Nope, no, nope and no)

This week was school holidays, so it was hectic, but having a seven-seater was a definite bonus. I was organising a picnic with my daughter and her school friends, and it meant I could bring the kids whose parents had to work in our car, which is always a nice, feel-good thing to do. 

How did it drive?

I was genuinely, pleasantly surprised by the comfortable drive in the Kluger. Yes, it’s large, but it’s also smooth, quiet, has beautiful steering, sticks to the road and has the power you need to zip around easily.

It’s not heavy, like some SUVs this size can be, and takes off quickly from a stationary position so if you have to change lanes quickly, you can. 

What Toyota has successfully achieved is that you don’t necessarily feel like you’re driving a big car.

It also makes me feel good while driving. It’s bigger than a lot of the other cars on the road which makes me feel safe - and when you’re driving little kindy kids around, that’s a good thing. Add the fact that the Grande is the top of the range Kluger, and you do feel like you’re driving a premium vehicle. Not like you’re showboating or anything, but, well, you can allow yourself to feel a little bit special in here. 

What Toyota has successfully achieved is that you don’t necessarily feel like you’re driving a big car. It’s still relatively easy to park. There are a bunch of tools to help you do this: front and rear parking sensors and the ever-nifty reverse parking camera. All in all, it’s a really nice, smooth driving experience. 

How spacious is it?

The interior is major. My daughters loved the space inside the Kluger. Out of all the cars I test, the ones they like the most are those they can swing into with wind to spare around their bodies. There is a whole load of space up front, and another whole load in the second row. You will not be squishy if you have three children to fit in. 

Then there’s the third row, which isn’t exactly spacious. I’m 163cm and I fit in there, but I wouldn’t recommend a long drive in it. You can move the second row forward to create more room for those in the back row, which helps, and I do think children back there would feel comfortable, but there are little things other companies do to make it feel more spacious, which Toyota hasn’t. 

The Nissan Pathfinder Ti for example, has a large sunroof which extends to the back to bring natural light into the last row, while the Kluger’s sunroof is small, and down the front, so the back does feel a bit dark and cramped and there’s that ‘can’t wait to get out of here’ itch creeping up. 

There’s an air vent down there though, with it’s own fan, and you have four cupholders back there, too. Is that enough to make up for it? I’m not sure. 

The boot is big, no doubt. Even with the third row up, there’s enough room for school bags and groceries or a small suitcase on its side. With the third row down, it’s huge, and I’m able to fit in a picnic basket and my four-year old’s and six-year old’s bikes, with loads of room to spare. Official figures are 195 litres capacity with third row up, and 529 litres with third row down

  • 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande. 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande.
  • 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande. 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande.

How safe is it?

We’ve already discussed how solid it is, which makes you feel safer on the road, for one. Then there are the seven airbags - front and side for the first row, and side curtain for the next two rows. It has tether points for three car seats in the second row, however none in the third row. 

There are also a bunch of safety features like 'Auto Emergency Braking' (AEB) where the car will brake itself if it can sense a crash is imminent and a 'Blind Spot Monitor' to help when changing lanes. 

The Kluger gets a five star ANCAP rating which is the highest you can get.

How easy is it to use every day?

I found it incredibly practical and easy to pop the kids in and out of. It happily blended into my lifestyle, just like a good Beyonce track. 

The boot opens automatically with a button on the key which is so helpful when you’re carrying loads of groceries, or in my case, loading picnic fodder in and out of the car (though it does make a beeping sound while lifting and lowering, and I could do with less beeping). It opens quite wide, but you can set it to open to a certain height every time if you need to. 

Popping the back row down and up is a breeze, as is flipping the second row forward so that others can climb into the back row.

There are eight cupholders in this car - two in the front, two in the second row and four in the third row, plus four bottle holders. And storage space: there is a giant storage bin in the centre console in the front, so big that I could fit two bottles of bubbly (for the mums at the picnic!) plus two 2.0-litre bottles of water in there. Seriously. Big. It also has pockets on the back of the front seats, and a sizeable glove box that actually fits more than just the driver’s manual.

Popping the back row down and up is a breeze, as is flipping the second row forward so that others can climb into the back row. I’m lucky that one of my children is just on a booster seat, so we can easily remove that and push the seats forward for third row access. I wouldn’t want to be removing a fitted car seat each time, I’d probably make the third row passengers climb in via the boot! 

What’s the technology like?

There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen which was easy to sync with my iPhone and I could play my Spotify playlists and my podcasts out of it, plus it has a digital radio. So there’s that. But I thought the sat nav technology could be clearer, I found the map confusing to read and resorted to using Google maps on my phone instead. 

  • 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande. 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande.
  • 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande. 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande.
  • 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande. 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande.

My children were excited to learn there was an entertainment screen for them which dropped down from the centre of the roof, with an SD and Blu Ray disc slot. Even though car viewing time for them means an old David Attenborough-narrated animal documentary, they still absolutely love it. It comes with three sets of wireless headphones and a remote control, which they also thought was just fabulous - as did I because I could listen to the radio while they were watching.

However. The drop down screen means all five seats behind the front row can see it, but it presents a problem while driving, because it blocked my visibility in the rear vision mirror. I mean, I could still drive, but I don’t think anyone needs a rectangular blocker taking up a fair chunk of the mirror. The top-spec Nissan Pathfinder has a screen on the back of the front row headrests, which may mean that the third row will have trouble viewing, but at least you’ll be able to drive safely. 

What does it look like?

Now, I’ve never been one to go on about a shelf but there is a particularly fabulous shelf in the Kluger Grande. It starts on the passenger side, is long and thin and winds over to the left of the driver’s side and is not only crazy stylish, but also super functional. It’s the perfect height for my keys and my phone and after the week is over I’m left wanting this shelf to be in every car, everywhere.

The rest of the interior is perfectly fine. Nothing to Instagram about, but nothing to complain about either. There’s a lovely leather steering wheel which feels great to hold and to drive. The leather appointed seats are also heated and ventilated for the first row, and the centre console with multimedia all looks good. Not super flash, just good.  

On the outside, well, the Kluger is a big car. And they don’t hide it. It’s solid looking. Like a muscle man at your gym who you try and avoid eye contact with. But you’re not buying this car because it’s pretty, are you? We’re in a different lifestage unfortunately, those days are over, or we have them to look forward to. Right now, it’s about functionality, and the Kluger has plenty of that. 

  • There are three trim levels across the Kluger range, the GX, GXL and Grande. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson) There are three trim levels across the Kluger range, the GX, GXL and Grande. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Each trim level is offered with either front or all-wheel drive. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson) Each trim level is offered with either front or all-wheel drive. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • A 3.5-litre V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission powers the entire Kluger range. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson) A 3.5-litre V6 and 8-speed automatic transmission powers the entire Kluger range. (Grande AWD spec shown.) (image credit: Peter Anderson)

How much does it cost to run?

The Toyota Kluger Grande comes in at $69,617 + $550  for the white pearl paint option, which comes to $70,167

Toyota claims it will consume 9.5L/100km on the combined cycle, and on the last CarsGuide test we recorded 11.1L/100km.

The Kluger comes with a three year/100,000km warranty and a fixed price servicing plan will cost you $1080 for the recommended six month/10,000km visits over the first three years.

After a more detailed review? Click here.


The Wrap

It’s a pretty fab, all round family car. I gave it 7.5 stars out of 10, taking points off for rear visibility and a higher fuel consumption due to the V6 engine, but I loved the way it drove and all the luxurious space inside. My daughters gave it a huge 9 cricket bats out of 10, they loved the space and the rear entertainment screens, and the fact they could fit their friends in the car

What are the features you would consider if upsizing to a seven-seater? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Likes

Big interior space
Smooth drive
Large storage

Dislikes

Real world fuel consumption
Poor visibility when entertainment screen is down
Confusing sat nav

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

4.5

$56,435 - $69,906

Based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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