Toyota Kluger VS BMW X1
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Roomy cabin
- Big boot
- Easy to drive
- No AEB
- Small screen in all but the top grade
Like the statues of Easter Island, the Toyota Kluger casts a huge shadow over the Australian motoring landscape. It's a strong seller for Toyota, having been around for ages and is one of three large SUVs in Toyota's armory next to the evergreen Prado and disappointing Fortuner.
Competition, of course, is growing ever more fierce. Hyundai is about to drop a new Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento gets better every year and more manufacturers are joining the party. Most notably, Mazda's CX-9 is also loaded with safety gear and a potent 2.5-litre turbo engine.
The intensity of the battle became apparent in my esteemed colleague Matt Campbell's recent comparison test where the Kluger came last behind the Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9, thanks largely to Toyota's reluctance to fit the same advanced safety features.
They heard Matt (that's what he reckons, anyway) and recently added some important safety tech to the 2018 Kluger. Let's have a look to see if it's enough.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The BMW X1 is the base camp at the foot of the German brand’s SUV model mountain, but there's more to it than entry-point affordability.
And there are many other surprises from this small and seemingly sensible and small member of BMW’s X family.
Want to know more? Then read this range review of the X1.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
The 2018 Kluger is still a very solid car, with tons of room for you and your things. And your family and their things. It remains way out in front (although the new Santa Fe is lurking menacingly) and the boost in safety gear will help ensure it stays there.
The pick of the range is still the GX which is now a much stronger proposition with the extra safety features. There's little of real interest in the higher models, you can't get better headlights (a curious state of affairs) or a better stereo, so it's difficult to understand the appeal.
The Kluger will serve you and your family well in a solid and unspectacular way. Given most of us like that in our cars, it's easy to see why it's a hit.
Does the Kluger's new safety focus do enough to lure you away from the competition? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The X1 is a small, sensible, practical member of BMW’s SUV family – it’s also the most affordable and the value for money is good. But don’t worry, the X1 is a real BMW, right down to the driving dynamics and craftmanship.
The sweet spot in the X1 range is actually the entry grade sDrive18i as it comes with nearly all the features you'll see on the rest for a lot less money.
The X1 is up against some tough competition. Would you choose a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 over an X1? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Kluger is handsome in a squared-off, what-are-you-looking-at kind of way. That big bluff front-end makes the car look rather bigger than it is, which is quite an achievement because it's pushing two metres wide and 1.73m tall. It's not the longest in its class, though, coming in at 4.89m.
Despite it hailing from the US, it's not too blinged-up, but neither is it CX-9 pretty. Some might find the grille reminiscent of a krill-hoovering whale or Bane from Batman, but it's certainly distinctive.
The cabin is like the exterior - nothing flash, but what you see is what you get. Materials are mostly pretty good and it leans towards thoughtful and practical rather than sexy. Normally I'd say, "just like me", but I'm none of these things.
The interior dimensions of the big bruiser match its eclipse-causing exterior. No matter your size - well, within reason - you'll find plenty of space in the first or second rows. The third row features decent space for kids and very patient adults for short trips.
Nope the X1 is the sensible one in the family and in many ways this is a strength and you can read all about its practical side below.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a prestige car and it looks it outside and inside where the premium feeling interior is well-crafted.
Take a look at the interior images. BMW fans will know the dash layout well – that large centre stack of climate control and media, but the scooped-out centre console design is new to this generation and looks great.
All X1s come fitted with the 'xLine' package which adds Pearl Dark and Peal Chrome trim elements, and aluminium door sills.
At 4439mm long, 2060mm wide (with mirrors) and 1598mm tall, the X1 is 79mm longer end-to-end than the X2, about the same width, and 70mm taller. So yes, the dimensions - exterior and interior - show that even though the X2 sits higher in the SUV line-up, the X1 is bigger in size.
An M Sport package can be optioned for $3000 and adds a tough-looking body kit with side skirts and a more aggressive front bumper, plus adaptive dampers and sport seats.
Only two paint colours are no-cost options – 'Alpine White' and black, but both look great. Metallic paint will cost you $1547, but ticking that box unlocks more colours such as 'Sunset Orange', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Atlantic Grey', 'Sparkling Brown' and 'Glacier Silver', but no red.
The big question people ask me about the Kluger is "How many seats are in there?" - every Kluger packs seven seats, with two flip-up seats in the boot. Boot space dimensions are obviously dictated by whether they're up or down. With the seats down, you've got a decent 529 litres, leaving you with good luggage capacity and a cargo cover to keep it all hidden away. Lift the seats with the straps and you've got just 195 litres, about the same as a small hatchback.
Put the second and third rows down and Toyota says you'll have 1117 litres, but I reckon that's conservative.
The cabin is well-planned for families. Every row features cupholders - front and middle rows have a pair each, while those banished to the third row score two each, a total of eight across the car.
Back in the front row, the tectonic split in the dashboard is lined with a soft rubbery material, making it a great place to sling phones, keys and odds and ends. Between the seats is a massive 24-litre storage bin that a small grandparent could ride in. On second thoughts, that's probably not a great idea.
Now we’re talking. The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which is a mini people mover and inherits many of its good practicality points. That’s one of the reasons why the X1 has more head and legroom in the front and back than an X3.
Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare and could wear a top hat at the same time.
Okay, boot space dimensions. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres, but that’s 35 litres more than the boot size of the X2. A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres.
Storage throughout the cabin is great with two cupholders in the back and two up front, large bottle holders in the doors, fold-out storage in the back row and a tray under the centre armrest in the front.
If you have small children or you’re not the gymnast you used to be you’ll like the ride height of the X1 – it’s not sky-high like many large SUVs and you’re not sitting on the ground; you almost walk in and shut the door.
Price and features
There are three models in the Kluger range and how much you pay will vary depending on your thirst for standard features. Our price list features RRP prices and are a guide only - your dealer might be convinced to reduce the cost.
The GX opens with the lowest price - $44,500 for the 2WD and $48,500 for the 4WD. Specs include six-speaker stereo, 18-inch alloys wheels (no 17-inch alloy wheels anymore), front and rear air conditioning, Bluetooth, forward and reverse camera, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, remote central locking, auto headlights, power windows and mirrors and a full-size spare wheel.
The GXL adds an lazy 10 grand in comparison to the GX - $54,950 (2WD) and $58,950 (AWD). The GXL adds a GPS navigation system, DAB digital radio, rear-cross traffic alert, keyless entry and start, partial leather seats, and electric tailgate with separate glass hatch.
The Grande - again, for a further 10 grand plus, is available for $65,646 (2WD) or $69,617 (AWD). You'll get the same satellite navigation as the GXL, 19-inch rims, electric sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system with 9.0-inch screen and Blu-Ray and heated and ventilated front seats.
The entertainment system is powered by a 6.1-inch touch screen in the GX and 8.0-inch in the other models, which also include satellite navigation. The software package is distinctly 2006, painfully so in the GX. The system includes AM/FM radio, CD player and USB. There's no DVD option, however.
Colours include 'Crystal Pearl' (white), silver, 'Rustic Brown' (looks better than it sounds), 'Predawn Grey', 'Rainforest Green', 'Merlot Red' (dahling), 'Deep Red', 'Cosmos Blue' and 'Eclipse Black'. All but the black are $550 extras, which is not modest but not extortionate either.
Toyota's accessories list is well-stocked, with items like nudge bar (which is remarkably well integrated), side steps, cargo barrier, roof racks (no roof rails, though) and various plastic shields, driving lights, floor mats, towbar, parking aids and blind spot monitor.
You're out of luck if you want a Toyota-branded seat belt extender or bull bar.
For comparison, the cheapest CX-9 is $700 less (than the GX), but with a higher spec level, while the fully-loaded Azami is also around $800 cheaper (than the Grande) but - again - better-equipped.
The Korean rivals, while older and slightly smaller, are significant cheaper - the Kia Sorento is priced from $42,990 to $46,990 while the Santa Fe starts at $40,990 and finishes at $57,090 (albeit not a petrol V6). All these cars are well-equipped, with more modern features and tech.
How much does the X1 cost? Let’s take a look at the price list. The X1 is the most affordable model in BMW’s SUV line-up and kicks off with the sDrive18i ($45,900 RRP), stepping up to the only diesel in the range, the sDrive18d ($49,900), followed by the sDrive20i ($53,600) and the top-of-the-range, and only all-wheel drive (AWD) variant, the xDrive25i ($61,500). Dealerships will often do driveaway deals and don’t be afraid to ask for their best price.
How much are second hand X1s going for? Well, at the time of writing there were four 2016 model X1s on carsguide.com.au, including an xDrive25i listed for $44,888. That should give you an idea about the X1’s resale value, too.
An inside tip on BMW SUVs is that the lower grades in the range come with most of the standard features you’ll find on the top-spec models, so really, the extra dollars buy you an engine with more grunt or AWD, which improves the on-road experience.
Here I’ll show you. The entry grade sDrive18i, and its diesel twin the sDrive18d, come standard with LED cornering headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (roof racks), a power tailgate, auto parking system (self parking/park assist), front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.
Inside, these grades have a leather sports steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cargo cover and floor mats.
The sDrive20i has all of this and adds dual-zone climate control, a luggage net, a dimming rear view mirror and an ambient lighting package.
If you want to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, you can option the $1627 panoramic sunroof.
Engine & trans
Across the range, Kluger buyers are treated to the same engine specifications - a 3.5-litre V6 petrol. The big unit devlops 218kW/350Nm to help move the two-tonner.
As to whether the V6 features a timing belt or chain, it's the latter. The engine uses standard (OW-30) oil and 0-100km/h acceleration times are around nine seconds.
Towing capacity is the same for each model, coming in at 700kg for unbraked trailers and 2000kg braked. We haven't yet carried out a towing review.
Remember the pricing and how the features didn’t seem to match the dollars? Well here’s where a lot of your money goes – drivetrains. Oh, and by the way, the ‘s’ in sDrive means the SUV is front-wheel drive while the ‘x’ xDrive means, yes, it’s an AWD.
The sDrive18i has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and makes 103kW/220Nm. Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. BMW says the 0-100km/h ‘sprint’ takes a leisurely 9.6 seconds.
The sDrive18d is the diesel version of the 18i and its 2.0-litre four cylinder makes 110kW/330Nm. According to BMW 0-100km/h arrives in a slightly brisker 9.2 seconds. An eight-speed traditional auto shifts more smoothly but slower than the dual clutch.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 141kW/280Nm, using the same seven-speed dual clutch as the 18i. The 20i is noticeably quicker with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.
Want something faster, more powerful and AWD? The xDrive25i also has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder but it’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm and is more than a second quicker to 100km/h than the 20i at 6.5 seconds. Shifting gears is BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic.
For its engine size and overall weight, fuel economy is always going to be marginal and continues to be the Kluger's weak spot. For the front-wheel drive, Toyota claims 9.lL/100km on the combined cycle. The heavier 4x4 version recorded an official combined fuel consumption figure of 9.5L/100km.
These mileage figures would be a stretch - in a week of gentle suburban running around in a GX AWD, we copped a figure of 13.7L/100km.
The fuel tank capacity is a handy 72 litres, meaning a decent run between fills, especially when you're out on the open road.
Obviously, without a diesel engine, there are no diesel fuel consumption figures.
Well it depends how you drive it, but officially BMW says the 18i uses 5.4L/100km, the diesel 18d is the most frugal at 4.7L/100km, while the 20i is thirstier at 6.2L/100km and the 25i is (as expected) even more so at 6.6L/100km.
When we drove the 18d our mainly urban use saw the trip computer reporting an average 10.6L/100km, while the top-of-the-range 25i used an average of 12.1L/100km in a week of city-centric duties.
You never really forget that the Kluger is a big unit. Ground clearance is a not-inconsiderable 200mm and the turning circle a fairly lazy 11.8 metres. People don't seem to mind that it feels big, and is one of the few in the segment that I feel like I'm climbing up into with my 183cm (six-foot) frame rather than stepping in.
From behind the wheel you can practically see the curvature of the Earth you sit so high. Fire up the near-silent V6 and you're struck by how incredibly smooth it is. Also smooth is the ride - the long travel suspension is probably exactly the same as it is for our American cousins vs, say, Hyundai's habit of setting up its cars for Australia.
Everything is soft and squidgy but in a reassuring way, even the warning beeps aren't too shrill or irritating. The steering is light and with the occasional moment of vagueness but again, it's all very predictable. The brakes, though a bit spongy at the top of the pedal, are more than up to the task of washing off speed in the unlikely event you've overcooked things.
The engine continues unchanged. There's enough horsepower to get you going and hold a decent clip, it will keep you out of trouble and do what Toyotas generally do - look after you. Performance is hardly the key point of the Kluger - it weighs in at a fairly unapologetic 2005kg in AWD form - but, as I say, there's ample power to keep you moving.
We're yet to perform an exhaustive off-road review, but our experience is that the Kluger has reasonable off road ability.
You could pick any of these X1s to take home and you’ll be happy with the driving experience. From the 18i to the 25i the ride is comfortable and composed, but the performance varies depending on which grade you’re piloting.
The 18d’s diesel engine is a bit noisy, but the cabin insulation cuts most of the clatter out. The 18d's tyres grip well in the corners, but while the steering feels smooth and accurate, it lacks road feel, and that goes for all X1s and many BMWs in general. Still, all X1s are engaging and easy to drive.
Does the 18d feel like it lacks grunt? Nope, 330Nm is heaps. It’s a shame we don’t get the 18d in AWD. Our steep test hill saw the 18d struggle to maintain traction under hard accleration, while the all-paw 25i powered up with no wheel spinning.
The 20i like the 18i and 18d is front-wheel drive only, but unless you’re accelerating hard uphill or in the wet from a standstill you're not likely to notice.
All X1s have hill start assist which will stop you from rolling back on steep gradients.
The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited.
A turning circle (radius) of 11.4m is about par for the small SUV course.
A ground clearance of 183mm gives it an extra 20mm over say a BMW 3 Series, which is just enough to get you places a sedan would fear to tread.
What’s the X1’s wading depth? Wait, what? Where are you thinking of taking it? If you must ford a river (please try to find a bridge instead), the wading depth of the X1 is 250mm.
The Kluger arrives from the US with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls and rear parking sensors.
The 2018 Kluger is really about the battery of new safety features in the lower models. Added to the GX and GXL are pre-collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning, active cruise and auto high beam. GXLs also pick up a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert. As you can imagine, the Grande has the lot.
There are three top-tether anchors for the middle row as well as two ISOFIX points.
As before, the ANCAP safety rating stands at a maximum five stars, awarded in November 2016.
The X1 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. You’ll find the usual traction and stability controls, plus a suite of airbags, as well as lane departure and forward collision warning.
But it doesn’t come with AEB or other advanced safety equipment such as blind spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert. This is a weakness for the X1, because this type of technology is becoming common place.
For child and baby car seats there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
Where is the X1 built? The X1 is made in Germany at BMW’s Leipzig plant.
Toyota's three year/100,000km warranty also comes with a fixed price servicing plan. It seems the Japanese company can get away with the short warranty because of the long-held reputation for reliability and few problems or faults.
I've certainly never heard complaints from Kluger owners, or Toyota owners generally for that matter. Having said that, Hyundai and Kia both smack Toyota out of the park for warranty length and in Hyundai's case, lifetime fixed price servicing.
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 for the stamp in your owners manual, which is always good for resale value.
Few owners report any genuine issues, such as engine problems or tranmission problems.
The X1 is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition based servicing and maintenance means your X1 will tell you when it needs a check-up. Owners can purchase a servicing package. The 'Basic' package costs $1340 while the 'Plus' package is $2500 more.