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Toyota Kluger


Land Rover Discovery Sport

Summary

Toyota Kluger

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.5L/100km
Seating7 seats

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover is an interesting beast. For years there was the Defender, then the Range Rover, then the Discovery, and now suddenly there are Land and Range Rovers everywhere.

Add in the Range Rover Evoque, Sport, and Velar, and there's something for just about everyone in this SUV-mad world. If Land Rover's founders were around, they's probably be mildly perplexed.

Despite this two decade old trend, Land Rover has had trouble firing in the mid-size segment. The Freelander was a bit odd-looking, and sadly not good enough for the nameplate to make it to a third generation.

The option was a clean sweep to try and find something suitably rugged or take something already rugged and add a Sport badge to it. The Discovery Sport was born and that gave the brand a new entry point for those who couldn't get away with - or didn't want - an Evoque.

The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while, so it was time for a check-in on Land Rover's mid-sizer.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Toyota Kluger7/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7.4/10

It's a bit of a packing crate on wheels - although less than the Discovery - but looks pretty good while doing it. Even though the base price is attractive, its difficult to see anybody taking a stock SE from the lot and I'd be willing to bet Land Rover would bring in two or three and then spend a year finding buyers for them.

Ultimately, this is a car that covers a lot of ground. It works well in the city, can go much further than most German rivals could hope to (would you cross the Simpson in BMW, Merc or Audi?) and does it all with exceptional interior comfort.

Is the Discovery Sport worthy of the first part of its name? Let us know in the comnments below.

Design

Toyota Kluger7/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The Discovery Sport's exterior design is pretty much bang-on. The brand has steadily moved away from the square-rigging of the Defender and is entering a fairly happy medium of style and substance. It does look substantial but with the chamfering here, the chiselling there and the (optional) LED daytime running lights, looks thoroughly contemporary without the outright style-chasing of the Rangies.

Inside is a little less inspiring, but again working within how the brand chooses to present itself. Everything works quite well and is very functional and that's exactly how it looks. There are few jarring moments, just nothing spectacular or super-stylish.

Practicality

Toyota Kluger8/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

It's a lofty cabin, so four on board is a very comfortable proposition. Behind my driving position I chauffeured a 188cm (6'2") gentleman with room to spare, so most teenagers will be more than happy. 

Front, middle and third row dwellers score a pair of cupholders each, for a total of six, with a matching number of bottle holders. Liberally sprinkled through the car are traditional 12V, 5V and USB power supplies, so if you run out, you have Too Many Things To Charge.

Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling), with a maximum of 1698 litres with all seats folded away.

All four doors open wide, it's easy to load kids and you can slide the middle row forward and back to bring the kids within striking distance, er, closer to your love.

Kerb-to-kerb you'll turn it around without hitting anything in a biggish 11.7m, requiring another 20cm if you're suffering an Austin Powers stuck-between-two-walls moment. You can also wade in up to 600mm (without me, if that's okay) and ground clearance is 221mm. Approach angle is 23.4 degrees with a ramp angle of 20.0 degrees and departure of 31.0 degrees.

Price and features

Toyota Kluger6/10

Toyota isn't afraid to charge for the Kluger and its buyers aren't afraid to pay. With the extra safety gear, prices are up $950 on the GX and $1400 on GXL to pay for the new stuff.

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

The Discovery Sport comes in three trim levels with up to five engine tunes. Our week was spent with the entry-level SE spec (which is followed by HSE and HSE Luxury, a familiar pattern across Jaguar Land Rover) and the perky 177kW SD4 turbo-diesel.

You have a choice of three diesels - TD4 110, TD4 132 and SD4 177, as well as two petrols - Si 4 177kW and 213kW.

The SD4 SE weighs in at $66,455, a chunky $9860 more than the cheapest, 110kW SE. For that you get the strongman engine, a 10-speaker Meridian-branded stereo, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a well stocked safety list, reversing camera, sat nav, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, electric front seats, partial leather trim, folding heated mirrors, electric tailgate, variable ratio power steering and a full size alloy spare.

There are a truckload of options available and Land Rover never disappoints with its choice of inclusions on press cars. We had the '5+2' seating ($3400), 'Black Pack' exterior ($1160), head up display ($1590), 'Entertainment Pack' (17 speakers, 'Navigation pro', $3750), metallic paint ($1370), 'Blind Spot Monitor' and reverse cross traffic alert ($1210), 12 way electric front seats ($1130), black roof ($970)... look, it went on for a bit and landed the car as tested at $86,485.

To be fair, most of the stuff was cosmetic or convenience, but the blind spot and RTCA being options is a tad rugged.

The 'InControl' screen is a healthy 10.0-inch unit and runs a fairly useable iteration of JLR's own software. As things go, it's not too bad but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet). The sat nav input is still maddeningly slow, however.

Engine & trans

Toyota Kluger7/10

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.

No diesel, no LPG and they're all the same eight-speed automatic, with no option for a manual transmission.

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The SD4 unit is JLR's own 'Ingenium' unit. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, good for 177kW and a brawny 500Nm. Power and road meet via all four wheels and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The benchmark run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in 7.5 seconds, which is swift enough and not bad for 1.9 tonnes of SUV. The Disco Sport is rated to tow 2500kg of braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.

Fuel consumption

Toyota Kluger7/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover claims the Discovery Sport will sip 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The best we could manage was an even 10.0L/100km in a mix of suburban and freeway running (split about 70/30).

Driving

Toyota Kluger7/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

You do very much notice that this is a big thing before you even climb aboard. The doors are substantial and could double as Sydney to Hobart spinnakers, the trade-off being huge door apertures making it easy for all shapes and sizes to get in.

CarsGuide's 'Patron saint of Height', Richard Berry, found that out while loading his young son Ed in his own week with a Discovery Sport. My son, who is approaching Richard's height at a rapid rate, found the rear seats equally comfortable.

The driving position is classic 'high and commanding', with a terrific view in all directions and that Land Rover core value of knowing where each of the corners is.

Fire up and the diesel grumbles for a bit before settling down into a whooshy, distant feel. Throttle response is impressive and, as always, the nine-speed transmission manages most of the things you throw it at apart from sudden lift-offs at middling speeds where it can get a bit confused.

Body roll is consistent and well managed by the dampers and springs and if you can find a park big enough, it's easy to place, something magnified by the Kluger we had the week before - that thing is a pain to park because the cameras and mirrors aren't set up to help you.

If you put it into 'Dynamic' mode, things sharpen up and it feels good. It's never going to be super sprightly and you are still driving a very tall car on long travel suspension, but it handles a bit of a push with surprising vigour.

Both ends of the spectrum are largely down to the steering - with a variable rack ratio, the amount of wheel twirling required changes depending on speed, attitude and driving mode.

The ride around town is mostly good, but as with past experience with the optional wheels bolted on, probably a little less plush than you might expect. It does thunk a bit through depressions in the road, but you're well insulated from the predictable tyre noise.

Being a giant sook, I didn't throw the Discovery Sport down an off-road track so I could, a) take it to its limits, and, b) get photos of the car in mud and rivers and stuff.

The first and last thing you notice about the Disco Sport is that it feels like its bigger Discovery sibling when pottering about. Plenty of SUV buyers I talk to love that big lazy feel and the Disco Sport delivers, along with genuine off road capability.

Safety

Toyota Kluger8/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood, UK factory fits seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning and hill descent control.

The Discovery Sport scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in April 2015. It is worth noting that the side curtain airbags do not reach the third row of seats.

Ownership

Toyota Kluger6/10

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.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty along with roadside assistance extended every time you service the car at an authorised dealer. The package includes extracting you if you're bogged on four-wheel drive tracks.

Service intervals are set at 12 months/16,000km and you can pre-purchase six years of servicing for around $1500.