Toyota Kluger VS BMW X2
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Great styling
- Fun and agile to drive
- Practicality not compromised too much
- Tyre noise
- Less practical than an X1
- No AEB
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|
Every other review of the new BMW X2 will start by telling you that last year SUVs outsold regular cars, not just within the German brand’s own sales department, but for the whole Australian car market, and they’ll go on and on.
But you’re busy and we’re not going to do that. You’re here because you’ve seen one of those billboards or TV ads for the BMW X2, or one on the road. You want to know what it is and whether you need this small SUV in your life rather than an Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volvo XC40.
You’re in luck, we drove the sDrive20i, which is the most powerful X2, at its Australian launch and there’s so much to tell you.
We’ll answer such questions as: Is it as fast as it looks? Is it possible for a 191cm tall man to sit in the back without having surgery first? We’ll even reveal which of the world’s least attractive BMWs is its twin-under-the-skin.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
That BMW can take one of it’s least good looking and docile cars and create something which is not only gorgeous but engaging to drive is impressive. The X2 does lose some of the practicality of its twin-under-the-skin sibling, and if you have a small family, buying the X1 would be the sensible thing to do. But then again, not all practicality is lost in the X2. There’s just enough room in the back for tall people like me and that boot capacity is still good for the class.
Would you pick an X2 over an Audi Q2? 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.
Oh, heck yes, there’s a lot that’s interesting about the X2’s design. Actually, I reckon it’s one of the most interesting BMWs in years.
For starters, the exterior has stayed pretty true to the adventurous look of X2 Concept we glimpsed for the first time back in 2016 at the Paris Motor Show.
There’s that short-for-a-BMW beak; that grille which is unique for the brand in that it's wider at the base than at the top; there’s that wedged profile and the short rear overhang; the dual exhaust tips and then there’s BMW badge placed on the C-Pillar just like beautiful Bimmers of the past such as the 1973 3.0CS.
BMW could have easily created a mini version of an X4 or X6 models, but didn’t, which in my books is a good thing because this X2 look gorgeous and better than the Mini Countryman, the Audi Q2 and Benz GLA in my eyes.
What makes the X2’s design even more impressive is that under its metal skin this car is almost identical to one of the ugliest (well, I think so) BMWs ever made - the X1. They share the same platform, even the same structure, but the only exterior parts the two have in common are the door handles and the shark fin antenna.
The X2's dimensions show it to be 79mm shorter in length end-to-end that the X1, but just 3mm wider at 1824mm and 70mm shorter in height. So it's smaller in size, but not by much.
Inside the similarities are obvious, actually the interior of the X2 is almost identical to the X1 – there’s the ‘carved out’ centre console area and the large, flat dash which will be familiar to all BMW owners.
The sDrive20i has that premium cabin feel, and doesn’t even hint of having been done on the cheap to bring the price down.
I reckon the X2 sDrive20i looks better with the M-Sport package, that super-sharp front splitter is the business, and also I’m not a fan of yellow stitching.
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.
The X2 shares the same platform as the super practical X1. So, did the X2 gain good looks and lose practicality? After all, isn’t it a law of nature that you can’t be good looking and practical at the same time?
Well, the X2 is shorter in length than the X1 and its boot space is 23 litres smaller, too, with a capacity of 470 litres. The wheelbase of a car often determines cabin space and the X2’s 2670mm is the same as the X1, but legroom behind my driving position in the X2 was less than the in the X1.
I’m 191cm tall and had about 20mm of air between my knees and the seat back in the X2 – you can add another 15mm for the X1.
Headroom in the X2 is also limited due to the sloping roofline, with my hair just skimming the ceiling. That coupe styling also affects visibility for rear passengers through the side windows which are high and small. The X1 has large, rear window with low sills – great for kids in the back.
Up front, the cockpit is roomy with good storage space including two cupholders, and a large tray under the folding centre armrest. There are two more cupholders for the rear seats and all doors have large pockets with bottles holders.
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 is a BMW X2? Well BMW has brought one version of the X2 to Australia, for now – it’s the sDrive20i, a petrol powered, front-wheel drive, and it lists (RRP) for $55,900 (before on-road costs). Just to be clear, this isnt' a 'launch edition', but the first variant of the X2 to arrive in Australia.
Later in 2018 an sDrive18i will take its place at the entry-point of the range, and the xDrive20d diesel all-wheel drive will slip into the top spot in the X2 line-up, with price lists and specs to be announced closer to their launch.
The sDrive20i does sit high in the X2 range and that means it’s not short on features. Coming standard is a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and a reversing camera, there’s a 100W stereo with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, sports front seats, M-Sport steering wheel, air-conditioning, auto parking system, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and a power tailgate.
When you buy the sDrive20i it will come fitted with the 'M-Sport X' package as standard and that adds tough looking ‘Frozen Grey’ cladding to the front and rear bumpers, aas well as the door sills and wheelarches.
BMW has banked on not everybody being a fan of the grey bits and as a no-cost option you can have the X2 with the 'M-Sport' package. This adds an M-Sport aero kit with a more motorsport inspired front splitter and diffuser, and inserts in a hue BMW calls 'Dark Shadow'. Both packages come with 19-inch light alloy wheels in slightly different styles.
The interiors of both M-Sport X and M-Sport cars are identical save for the contrasting yellow stitching on the former's upholstery, whereas the latter has blue stitching and an aluminium interior trim.
An optional 'Innovations Package' ($2600) adds a more sophisticated sat nav system, head-up display and adaptive cruise control.
The 'Comfort Package' ($2700) brings a proximity key, plus heated and power-adjusted driver and front passenger seats.
The 'Style Plus Package' ($3300) and will see your X2 rolling on 20-inch wheels, with a panoramic sunroof and metallic paintwork.
Talking of paint colours, only 'Alpine White' is free. Well, it doesn’t cost extra. If you want any other colour it will be a metallic one and it will cost you $1547. But that opens up 'Sunset Orange', 'Galvanic Gold', 'Misano Blue', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Sparkling Storm', 'Mineral Grey' and 'Black Sapphire'.
At $55,900 the sDrive20i is pricey compared to its Audi Q2 rival – the 2.0TFSI Quattro sport is $48,500.
Also keep in mind that an X1 with the same engine lists for $53,600 and it shares so much of the same DNA. How much? Prepare to have your mind blown in the section below.
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.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.
The ‘s’ in sDrive means this is a front-wheel drive car. Same goes for the sDrive18i which has a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine.
BMW has told us little about the other X2 variants but has given us the engine specifications. The xDrive20d is, you guessed it, all-wheel drive (awd) and has a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel engine which is good for 140kW/400Nm. That's less horsepower but more torque than the 20i.
Both petrol variants use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the diesel uses a traditional eight-speed automatic.
BMW says the 20i and 20d accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, which isn’t slow (but isn’t super faster, either) while the 18i will get there, eventually, at 9.6sec.
The braked towing capacity for the sDrive18i, sDrive 20i and xDrive20d is 1700kg, 1800kg and 2000kg respectively.
There is no rear-wheel drive X2, although such a thing that would be great. And yes, no manual transmission.
The X2 weighs 1415kg in sDrive18i form, 1460kg for the sDrive20i and 1555kg for the xDrive20d.
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.
BMW says the sDrive20i should use 6.0L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads, which is good mileage. Our test car’s on-board computer told us it was averaging 7.2L/100km for fuel economy and that was on mainly country roads.
Official fuel consumption claims for the yet to be released sDrive18i and xDrive20d haven't been confirmed, but we’ll let you know just how thirsty they are as soon as we have the chance to drive them locally later in the year.
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.
The X2 and X1 share the same platform, structure and engines but feel entirely different to drive.
You can feel the difference from the moment you drop behind the X2’s wheel. You sit so much lower in this car – 20mm lower than the X1. That driving position makes you feel part of the car rather than riding on top of it as you do in the X1.
The X2’s ride height is also 10mm lower than the X1’s and this lowers the car’s centre of mass and improves handling. Ground clearance is 182mm.
BMW’s engineers wanted to give the X2 more agility than the X1, and did this by adding about 10 minutes of negative camber to the front wheels for better cornering ability. The addition of a swaybar with pre-loaded bushes to control body roll earlier meant softer dampers could be used for a more comfortable ride but still good handling.
The X2’s body is also 10 per cent stiffer than the X1’s, and this extra rigidity improves its agility, too.
It’s not the most powerful or quickest, not by a long shot, but it feels far more like a sedan because of that lack of the heaving body roll (common on bigger SUVs) and that low driving position.
Steering feel is superb, the larger SUVs feel like cruise ships with steering wheels that need to be spun endlessly to navigate through a corner, but the X2’s linear steering is sharp, consistent and turn-in is excellent.
Only the sDrive20i was available to drive at the launch and I can say the 2.0-litre engine is a good thing – good for overtaking, good for power up hills and good for country roads and darting through urban traffic.
We did all of this and the dual-clutch auto performed smoothly even in bumper-to-bumper traffic which can expose this type of transmission's jerky behaviour.
It’s not all perfect – there was a plenty of road noise from the large, low-profile run flat-tyres filtering into the cabin and the ride on them is a bit ‘gritty’ and hard.
I’m secretly hoping BMW will give the X2 something a bit more potent later on – maybe the straight six from the M140i hatch. An X2 M – a proper performance X2, now I’d want to drive that.
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 X2 has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating but be aware that it was given this score based on how the X1 performed when it was crash tested in 2015.
EuroNCAP and ANCAP felt that because both cars share the same platform and structure then only additional testing to the X2 was needed.
Safety technology has also come a long way since 2015 and the bar has been raised for achieving five star with AEB coming standard on many cars.
The X2 does not have AEB, nor is it available as an option, because the car uses cameras for vehicle and pedestrian detection, not radar which is needed for AEB.
There is a light braking function which slows the vehicle if a pedestrian is detected in the car's path or a collision is imminent with another car, but the system won’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop to avoid an impact. BMW said it felt certain that the X2 would meet five-star standards today.
You will find traction and stability control, plus run flat tyres.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether anchor points across the rear row.
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.