Toyota Kluger VS Ford Everest
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- All-round package
- Ride and handling
- Safety tech
- No AEB on Ambiente (coming in 2019)
- No reach-adjustment on steering wheel
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|
Since we first published this story on August 24, 2018, there have been some changes to the Ford Everest range, including the entry-level Everest Ambiente (RWD and 4WD variants) getting advanced driver-assist safety systems, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, at no extra cost.
The Ambiente also now gets lane-keep assist with driver alert, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beams. That's all in addition to the line-up's reversing camera, rear parking sensors, roll-over mitigation, trailer sway control and more.
The 4WD Ambiente also gets hill descent control, hill launch assist and an electronically locking rear differential.
In other Everest news, the top-shelf 2.0-litre twin-turbo Everest Titanium 4WD has dropped in price to $72,290 so it now avoids the luxury car tax.
Changes are rumored to be coming soon for the Ford Ranger range – perhaps towards the end of 2019 – and those changes may also materialise in the next update of the Everest line-up.
Stay tuned for more Ford Everest news.
As originally published August 24, 2018:
Change is good but there will always be some who become enraged at the mere hint of it. Case in point: those who strongly dislike 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engines.
In February this year, when just such an engine was revealed as the powerplant of choice for Ford’s high-performance ute, the Ranger Raptor, CarsGuide comments, online chat rooms and beer gardens everywhere echoed with acid-tongued complaint and hearty objections that included such pearls of wisdom as “The only good two litres are milk and orange juice”.
Well, it looks like some of us have a bitter pill to swallow because that 2.0-litre engine is now in the new, refreshed MY19 Everest, Ford’s large SUV wagon, as well – and it’s here to stay. But don’t fret because the 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine remains in the Everest ranks.
In other good news, the 2019 Everest has AEB.
Any bad news? Maybe. Read on.
|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.
Originally built off the Ranger platform, the Everest has always been overshadowed by its overachieving ute stablemate. But now, with the introduction of AEB and some up-speccing to its Everest line-up, Ford has ensured its large SUV wagon is still a strong contender in the race for top honours in the market.
The line-up's volume seller is the Trend and that's still a pretty good sweet spot for the range.
Most of us don’t want a big, shouty 4WD, but we do expect a lot in our new vehicles: we want a quiet, refined family-friendly SUV that drives well, has plenty of safety tech, car-like ride and handling, and good fuel consumption. In its Everest, Ford has come pretty close to producing one of the best around. If only the Titanium's price-tag wasn't so high.
Is the Everest's 2.0-litre twin-turbo the way of the future or a misstep? Tell us what you think in the comments section 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.
Nothing much to report here. The Everest has always had substantial presence and nothing has changed in that respect; it’s a good-looking unit.
Among the styling tweaks are a new grille design, revised bumper and fascia design, halogen projector headlights with halogen daytime-running lights, a laminated acoustic windscreen, a 10-speaker audio system, as well as an 'Ebony' interior colour scheme with contrast stitching and chrome highlights.
If there’s any potential strife to the interior look and feel here, it may be that it’s too neat and tidy – too plain – and in danger of becoming a bit dated.
The Titanium has new 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels.
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.
Inside is nice and roomy. It’s also well blended together; chrome, leather accents, as well as clear, easy-to-read instrument displays and colourful Sync3 screen. Nice, small touches, such as the illuminated blue edging around USB ports, add to the cabin’s premium feel.
The front seats are very comfortable and electrically adjustable; the third row can be deployed or stowed away by using buttons on the right-hand rear interior wall of the cargo area.
Those in the front are well catered for with access to two 12-volt sockets, and two USB ports.
Storage spaces include glovebox, two cup holders and a deep bin between driver and front passenger, and bottle holders in each door.
Second-row passengers get a pair of pop-out cupholders in the arm-rest, and can control aircon temp and fan speed, as well as open or close air vents, and use a 230-volt or 12-volt socket from their seat.
There are two ISOFIX anchor points in the second row and the cargo area has bag hooks each side, as well as luggage tie-down points on the floor.
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.
The Everest range remains a three-model line-up: entry-level Ambiente, mid-spec and volume seller Trend, and top-spec Titanium.
One of the other more notable new features in the range is 'Inter-Urban Autonomous Emergency Braking' (AEB) with 'Pedestrian Detection' and 'Vehicle Detection', which is now standard across the Trend and Titanium; it will become standard on Ambiente in 2019.
Keyless entry and push-button start are now standard across the range, and Trend and Titanium get Ford’s hands-free power tailgate.
Also new to the Trend are leather-accented seat trim, eight-way power driver's seat and a leather-trimmed gear shifter.
All prices to follow exclude on-road costs.
Everest Ambiente pricing is: RWD 3.2L (five seats) $49,190; 3.2L RWD (seven seats) $50,190; 3.2L 4WD (five seats) $54,190; and Ambiente 4WD 3.2L (seven seats) $55,190.
Everest Trend pricing is: RWD Bi-Turbo $56,190; 4WD 3.2L $59,990; and 4WD Bi-Turbo $61,190.
The Ford Everest Titanium is only available as a 4WD with the twin-turbo engine and 10-speed auto at a cost of $73,990, including luxury car tax. We spent the lion’s share of our time at the launch in a Titanium so we’ll focus on that variant.
The new exterior prestige paint is Diffused Silver for $780.
The 2019 Everest is due in showrooms this month.
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 new-generation twin-turbo engine – 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm from 1750rpm-2000rpm – is paired with a 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, the same combination as used in Ford’s high-performance models, Mustang and Raptor.
But this working partnership is a better match here, in the Everest, than it is in the Raptor, in terms of smooth delivery of power and torque at low and high speeds, as well as doing everything in an unfussed manner – low-key but still effective.
As mentioned, the previous-gen 3.2-litre 143kW/470Nm five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto is still offered in Ambiente and Trend, ensuring those who prefer their engines bigger are catered for.
The Titanium has full-time 4WD with low-range gearing ('4x4 Low') and electronic diff lock, as well as a 'Terrain Management System' with four driving modes (Normal, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand and Rock) to suit different terrain.
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.
Best-of-the-bunch 2.0-litre fuel consumption is listed as 6.9L/100km (combined) in the Trend RWD, and 7.1L/100km (combined) in the 4WD. We noted an average of 9.8L/100km on the dash but there may have been some heavy right foot involved in prompting that figure.
The Everest has an 80-litre fuel tank.
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 Everest’s 2.0-litre is not going to get any pulses pounding with its engine note, that’s for sure, but it more than makes up for any lack of rough, gutsy charm – perceived or otherwise – by being the consummate quiet achiever. Because it is very quiet … and it achieves.
The good news is that we pushed the 2477kg Titanium pretty hard off the mark, as well as made a series of overtaking moves and clocked up a bit of open-road cruising and it just burbled along nicely. There’s a real no-fuss quality to its delivery of big torque at low revs. It certainly seems to work better in the Everest than in the Raptor, which we drove at launch a few weeks ago and the consensus there was that it was underpowered and underwhelming.
The Everest is also very quiet inside. Ford reckons the twin-turbo is “much quieter” than their 3.2-litre models due to advanced sound insulation and 'Active Noise Cancellation' which has helped to improve cabin quietness. Well, the 3.2 is pretty quiet anyway, but in the short time I’ve spent so far in the 2019 twin-turbo Everest, I have no reason not to believe them.
Its steering has that real Ford feel – light and lively but precise – and on its revised coil-spring suspension, the Titanium’s ride and handling is even smoother than before. It was firm, bordering on stiff at times, but perhaps the Titanium’s 20-inch rims on road-biased Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV tyres set at 38 psi could be blamed for some of that; 18 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels and tyres are a no-cost option on the Titanium.
We did some decent 4WDing on this launch out near Lithgow and the Everest was infrequently challenged anywhere near the limits of its off-roading capabilities.
In fact we intentionally drove our tester in Normal mode and took the ‘off’ line through sections of terrain that would have likely put some rivals in a spot of bother but, with judicious use of that 10-speed auto, especially that low first, we trucked through no problem.
The Everest’s hill descent control deserves a mention also as it’s rather smooth and effective; it holds very low speeds (registering as 0km/h on the dash), can be adjusted via buttons on the steering wheel, and was not jerky or jarring like some systems in other off-roaders can be.
When we did dial through the drive modes of the terrain management system to actually suit the surface we were driving on there was no surprise at how efficient and effective it was, as we’ve used it quite extensively before in the bush and on beach sand.
The Titanium has 227mm ground clearance. We observed a few Everests on different terrain and, especially on deep sharp-edged ruts and short steeper-angled rocky climbs its underslung full-sized spare tyre behind the rear axle can seem like it’s about to become a plow – and there's something else to watch out for.
One fellow journo pointed out that what appears to be the AdBlue tank protrudes below the bottom edge of the full-sized spare, eating into a bit of ground clearance and the Titanium’s departure angle; posing a bit of a damage risk if your 4WDing takes your Everest into particularly tricky territory.
The Everest has a towing capacity of 3100kg (braked) up from its previous 3000kg; unbraked max is 750kg. The Titanium has a payload of 623kg, a GVM of 3100kg and a 5900kg GCM.
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 Everest range has a five-star ANCAP rating as a result of testing conducted in 2015.
Standard safety gear across the range includes seven airbags (driver and front passenger, side front, side curtain (to third row) and driver's knee), ABS, DSC, RSC, EBD, traction control, EBA, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
Driver-assist tech in the top-spec Titanium includes AEB, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
It has five child-seat anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors in the second 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.