Toyota Kluger VS Kia Seltos
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Great interior space
- Amazingly practical
- The right size for a lot of customers
- Optional safety stuff on base grades
- Hard plastic armrests on lower grades
- Steering not terrific
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|
This the probably the most anticipated new car in Kia Australia’s history. It’s the 2020 Kia Seltos, the brand’s first proper go at making a small SUV, and it goes on sale on October 25.
There have been prior forays into this market space before by Kia - the Soul could have been considered a small SUV, though it was a big old flop. The original Sportage was small, too - but it moved up in size over the years.
For years we’ve been wondering when Kia Australia would be able to fill the gap below the Sportage - one that has probably seen customers settling for a Cerato hatch until a new high-riding model arrived.
Can it deliver on expectations? Read on to find out.
|Fuel Type||Regular 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.
The Kia Seltos 2020 model range is packed full of surprises - the majority of them very nice, a few of them not so much.
The pick for me is the Sport+ 2WD model, which offers the stuff you want, the safety you should get, and all the drivetrain that most people will need.
We can’t wait to see how the Seltos compares to some of its main rivals in a comparison test later this year. Stay tuned for that.
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.
The beauty of the Seltos isn’t its aggressive but stylish front end, it’s sleek and not too boxy profile, or its “Oh my gosh, that looks a lot like a shrunken Holden Acadia - but heaps better!” rear-end design.
It’s the way the designers have pieced this car together to work so well with the dimensions on offer that is the beautiful bit. It’s a compact SUV, but not as compact as many of the other cars in this part of the market.
At 4370mm long (on a 2630mm wheelbase), 1800mm wide and 1615mm tall, the Seltos is among the biggest small SUVs in the mix. It’s not that much shorter than a Sportage (4485mm), and is markedly larger than its brother-from-another-mother, the Hyundai Kona (4165mm), with which it shares a platform.
The big thing will be if it fits in with your lifestyle - an extra couple of centimetres of nose-to-tail length can be the difference between fitting in that tiny parking spot, or having to search the back streets for another 10 minutes.
But there are big practicality benefits of being just a smidge longer than your rivals. And if you want to get to the big-name competitors, the Mitsubishi ASX is 4365mm, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is 4405mm, and the Nissan Qashqai is 4394mm. So the Seltos isn’t too big, and indeed could be the right size for the vast majority of people looking a compact high-rider.
Now, as for the rest of the design, I think it’s really good. It’s masculine but not macho. Stylish but not blingy. Funky, but not too funky.
Though it’s not all roses. While I can deal with the steel wheels on the base car - there’s a good chance a lot of those versions will be snapped up by fleets, and that’s not such a big issue - my design concern comes down to illumination.
This may matter to you, or it may not. But for me, the biggest letdown of the design is that Kia Australia has specced three of the four variants with halogen headlights and halogen daytime running lights. Yellow. Yuck.
It really cheapens the look of this brand new car, and makes it look old before its time.
As for the interior design? Take a look at the interior pictures below to make up your mind
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.
This is a small SUV that’s going to be the right size for a lot of people because it isn’t so small. Weird, right? But the interior practicality of the Seltos is one of its biggest selling points - it’s among the best, if not the best, in the class for cabin space.
Let’s start at the back - the boot capacity is claimed at 433 litres for models with a full size spare wheel, where the entry-level version has an even bigger boot - 498 litres! - because the floor sits lower due to its space-saver spare. That’s phenomenal room, considering the size of the car - though what’s not so good is that the two lower grade models don’t get a cargo cover/parcel shelf (also known as a tonneau/cargo blind).
That aside, the space is flexible - the rear seat can fold down in a 60:40 fashion to allow 1393L of space. It’s a big, big boot, and will fit the needs of a lot of customers.
The back seat is spacious, too. The room in the second row is beyond what many of its rivals offer, with easily enough knee room, head room and shoulder room for someone my size (182cm, or six foot in the old money) to slot in behind a similarly sized driver. It’s exceptionally good.
There are some issues with the back seat, though. The top spec model is the only one that gets rear air-vents, and the only one with a back seat USB port, too. And lower grade versions don’t get a fold-down armrest, and therefore no cup holders. And there’s only a map pocket on top grade models, too.
Then there are the plastics: hard plastic backs to the front seats (good as it’ll stop your kids from kicking the fabric to threads), but a similar hard plastic is all over the doors in lower grade models, meaning you miss out on padded elbow rests front and rear unless you spend up on the dearer models. It may seem like nitpicking, but rest your elbow on a hard bit of plastic for a while and see if you come away thinking, “Yeah, that was nice!”.
Up front it’s the same - top models get padded elbow rests, the others don’t. The plastic on the dash is mostly hard, too, which is less of an issue unless you have a thing for touching the dashboard a lot.
There are cup holders between the seats, bottle holders in the doors, a decent storage area in front of the shifter for your phone and wallet, and the presentation is nice even if the materials could be nicer.
The big tick (for all but the base model) is that there’s a nice, big 10.25-inch touchscreen media system on top of the dash. It looks great and works really well, and even the base car (with the smaller 8.0-inch screen) gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and USB connectivity (1x USB in the base car, 2xUSB in the others, plus wireless phone charging in the top grade).
All models get a digital driver information screen with trip computer and digital speedometer, and the instrumentation and ergonomics of the cabin are all spot on.
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 Kia Seltos model line-up consists of four variants: the entry-level S grade (priced at $25,990 drive-away), the Sport variant ($29,490 drive-away), the Sport+ (from $32,990 drive-away) and the range-topping GT Line ($41,990 drive-away).
That's right - all models on the Seltos price list are drive-away deals. That means the national RRP or MSRP is the same, and you can be assured that you won't be stung by additional delivery and on-road costs.
Let’s run through them model by model.
The $25,990 S variant has an 8.0-inch touchscreen media unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, a six-speaker sound system, auto headlights, halogen headlights and daytime running lights, cruise control, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. It rides on 16-inch steel wheels with covers, and has a space-saver spare and roof rails.
The $29,490 Sport adds a number of desirable features, including 17-inch alloy wheels, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav (including SUNA live traffic and 10 years of map updates), a second USB port, single-zone climate control, folding side mirrors, halogen front fog-lights, a full-size spare, and auto up/down driver’s window, auto window defogging, and ‘solar windows’.
The Sport+ is available with front-wheel drive ($32,990) or with an up-rated engine and all-wheel drive ($36,490). This variant takes what’s in the Sport model and adds smart key entry and push-button start, heated side mirrors, cloth and faux-leather seating, LED interior lighting, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, front parking sensors, a cargo cover. It also adds safety spec - read the section below for more info.
The top-end model is the $41,990 GT Line, which can be had with two-tone paint or a sunroof (but not both!), 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED front fog lights, LED tail-lights, LED daytime running lights, interior mood lighting, an eight-speaker Bose stereo, wireless phone charging, a 7.0-inch driver info display, head-up display, fake-leather seats, power adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, a heated steering wheel, auto wipers - and again, there’s additional safety spec.
There are some likeable elements to the pricing and spec equation of the Seltos, but there are some rudimentary shortfalls, such as a cargo blind and LED daytime running lights on lower models.
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.
There are two engines available in the Seltos - both are petrol, and both are teamed to automatic transmissions. That’s right - there is no manual gearbox option, and there is no hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric or diesel Seltos available. Not yet, anyway.
The entry level engine in the 2020 Seltos range is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘Atkinson cycle’ petrol engine producing 110kW of power (at 6200rpm) and 180Nm of torque (at 4500rpm).
This engine is paired to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic, and is exclusively offered in front-wheel drive.
The top engine is fitted to the all-wheel drive versions of the Seltos. It’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 130kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 265Nm of torque (from 1500-4500rpm), and is paired exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Towing capacity for the Seltos is 600 kilograms for an unbraked trailer for both 2WD and AWD models, while braked trailer capacity is 1100kg for the 2WD and 1250kg for the AWD.
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.
The combined cycle fuel consumption claim for the 2.0-litre CVT FWD Seltos model is 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, which is okay for the segment. For what it’s worth, on test at the launch in Noosa over a mix of driving, we saw an indicated 7.3L/100km for this powertrain.
The 1.6-litre DCT AWD model claims 7.6L/100km, which is - again - okay, but not class-leading. On test, we saw 8.4L/100km indicated on the dash.
Fuel tank capacity is 50 litres, and the Seltos can run on 91RON regular unleaded petrol.
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 Seltos is one of the better compact SUVs to drive, all things considered. But let’s go through it in a bit of detail.
First off, let’s talk about the 2WD models, which have that 2.0-litre engine and CVT auto. Now, those three letters - CVT, which stands for continuously variable transmission - is often enough for some buyers to turn and run, but trust me, these transmissions are so much better than they used to be.
The engine is powerful enough for the vast majority of people’s needs - it revs nicely and gets moving from a standstill without fuss. The CVT is partly to thank for that, as it helps keep the engine in its sweet spot. And thankfully, it’s not too noisy or buzzy as it works.
Being front-wheel drive, it’s not going to be for everyone - but as Kia Australia predicts 80 per cent of sales to be this 2.0-litre FWD model, it’s going to be fine for almost everyone.
I found the steering to be sweetest in the 2WD model - lighter, more agile feeling than the AWD model, but still not quite perfect. It’s a touch heavy, especially when parking or negotiating roundabouts. The steering is a new system that includes a form of feedback and resistance when you return the steering wheel to the centre position, but it still doesn’t feel as natural or easy as some rivals.
The ride is mostly good, though still a bit firmer than some people might like at higher speeds on relatively smooth surfaces (smaller ripples on an otherwise smooth freeway upset the suspension more than they should have).
The 2WD model is definitely the more comfort-focused on the road, and that comes down the fact it is available either with the 16-inch steel wheels with 205/60 rubber or the 17-inch alloys, which have 215/55 low profile tyres, but not as low-pro as the 18s (235/45) on the top-spec GT Line.
Speaking of, that model suffers more road noise as a result of the more aggressive tyres, and the ride is adversely affected. It can feel a little too hard at times, and Kia Australia admits it “maxed out the hard points” of the chassis to achieve the character the company wanted for the Seltos.
Don’t get me wrong - it’s not harsh or firm to the point of being uncomfortable, but it could be softened off, I reckon. To me, it seems Kia Australia’s chassis and steering tuning team is placing too much emphasis on making cars to please reviewers and rev heads - a lighter touch wouldn’t have gone astray here.
The 1.6-litre turbo engine is certainly peppier than the non-turbo engine, especially in the mid-range. And while the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly at higher speeds, and will apparently learn your driving style - but I think it might take some human learning too, as it can be sluggish from a standstill.
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 Kia Seltos 2020 model range hasn’t yet been crash test rated by ANCAP - but based on the current stipulations around safety tech, you can expect a four-star rating on S and Sport models, and a five-star score for the Sport+ and GT Line variants.
It’s a similar thing to what happened with the Cerato. The entry level models come with a form of camera-based low-speed auto emergency braking (AEB) with car and pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warning.
Kia has once again chosen to offer optional safety equipment on the entry S and Sport grades, priced at $1000. It consists of upgraded AEB (high speed with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection), as well as adaptive cruise control, Driver Attention Alert+, an electronic parking brake, electric folding mirrors, auto up and down driver’s window and 15-inch rear disc brakes (to accommodate the electronic park brake).
The Sport+ variant also includes blind-spot monitoring with intervention to stop you from merging into someone if you don’t heed the warning, as well as rear cross-traffic alert with auto braking.
And the top-end GT Line further adds “Safe Exit Alert” (warns occupants if they’re about to open their door onto a hazard) and “Lane Following Assist” (which centres the car in the lane more actively than the standard lane-keep system).
All models have dual ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether points for baby seats. It comes with six airbags - dual front, front side, and full length curtain.
Where is the Kia Seltos built? For Australia, it’s made in Korea. China has its own domestic market version, and so does India.
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.
As with all Kia models, the ownership program is hard to beat.
There’s a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which remains the best in the business. That plan is bolstered by a seven-year capped-price service plan with service intervals every 12 months (10,000km for the turbo, 15,000km for the non-turbo).
At the time of writing, Kia Australia hasn’t locked down its servicing costs yet. However, estimate about $380 per year on average for the 2.0-litre model, and $470 per year for the 1.6 turbo. That’s pretty high compared to other brands out there.
But you do get seven years of roadside assist included in the ownership plan, plus for models with sat nav there is 10 years of map updates, too.