Toyota Kluger VS Volvo XC60
- Quiet and refined
- GX is well-specified
- GXL and Grande are pricey for not much benefit
- Deeply ordinary entertainment system
- Great looks
- Strong diesel
- Advanced safety technology
- Smallish boot
- Diesel doesn't suit sporty driving
- No full-sized spare
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|
A Volvo XC60 R-Design D5, eh? Not only are you looking at a Volvo, but you’re looking at a diesel one, too.
So, you’re thinking out of the Benz and BMW box, but with a practical element as well, because as anybody who has ever towed a caravan or anything else knows, nothing quite beats diesel pulling power and the fuel saving advantages that go with it.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Premium Unleaded|
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 Volvo XC60 R-Design D5 is an alternative take on the prestige mid-sized SUV. There’s the cabin that feels more like modern art, the pioneering safety technology, and it’s easy and enjoyable to drive. The diesel engine can be noisy, and you’ll be busy shifting gears to keep the grunt under your right foot, but in return you’re getting great pulling power.
Would you chose the XC60 R-Design D5 over a Mercedes-Benz or BMW rival? Tell us what you think in the comments.
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 XC60 is a beautiful beast – long bonnet, the raked windscreen and set back cabin make for a sleek profile. I’m a fan of those carved-out door panels and the wing style rocker panels, and those famous Volvo hallmarks are strong with this model – that stately grille with is giant badge and the vertical tail-lights.
The R-Design D5 looks almost identical to its petrol twin the R-Design T6 and top-of-the-range R-Design T8 hybrid with its 21-inch matte black and polished alloy wheels and the matte silver mirror caps.
The R-Design D5’s interior is modern and minimalist. The R-Design Sports seats look like those super expensive office chairs that are good for your posture, although I don’t find them overly comfortable (the office chairs and the D5’s seats).
The 9.3-inch vertical touchscreen isn’t quiet as impressive as the giant display in the XC90, but it’s still a unique looking set-up. With that screen taking care of air-con, vehicle settings and the media system the cabin has been de-cluttered, with minimal buttons on display. An aluminium mesh trim snakes its way along that cleanly designed dash, around that display, and the oversized air vents.
The XC60 is a mid-sized SUV with dimensions similar to its Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3 rivals. The XC60 is 4688mm long, 2117mm wide and 1685mm tall.
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 XC60’s cabin is spacious but not overly so, with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room, while in the back, even at 191cm, I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm to spare. Headroom back there is excellent.
Storage inside is good, with two cupholders and large door pockets in the front, and two cupholders and smaller door pockets in the back. The centre console storage area under the centre armrest is also a decent size.
A boot capacity of 505 litres (with rear seats up) isn’t huge. Rivals such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC have 550 litres of cargo space.
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 XC60 R-Design D5 lists for $73,990, which positions it high up in the range for this model. While the D4 and T5 engine variants are available in a couple of trims, the D5 only comes with the R-Design treatment, which includes the R-Design steering wheel, sports seats, pedals and carpet.
The standard features list is extensive. There’s the 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen and a 12.3-inch driver display, sat nav, 360 parking camera, auto parking system, head-up display, 10-speaker stereo system with digital radio, leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, power adjustable driver and passenger seat, proximity key, paddle shifters, roof rails, LED headlights, power tailgate and 21-inch alloy wheels.
All XC60s come with an armoury of advanced safety equipment – you can read about it in the safety section below.
At this price the D5-Design is good value, and you’re getting more features for your money than the T8, which I reviewed as well.
How does the XC60 compare to other SUVs? Well the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d is a good match for size, features and price at $73,200. There’s also BMW's X3 xDrive 20d M-Sport for $73,450, and Audi’s Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport for $70,700.
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 D5 has the most powerful and torquey diesel engine in the XC60 range – a 2.0-litre twin-turbo which makes 173kW/480Nm.
Using two turbos sequentially means turbo lag is reduced, with the first spooling up to 'pre-charge' before the second kicks in at higher revs.
I need to ask you a personal question: why are you thinking of buying the diesel? Please say it’s because you tow. If so, then it’d be a good choice because all of that 480Nm of torque comes in low at 1750rpm and that provides good pulling power.
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.
Volvo says the XC60 D5 should use 5.6L/100km of diesel over a combination of open and urban roads. The trip computer in my car said I averaged 9.4L/100km after a roughly 120km test drive through The Royal National Park (south of Sydney), highways and inner city. While I was using the stop-start system to save fuel, I wasn’t driving to conserve it either.
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 XC60 D5 feels special just to sit in with its well-crafted, stylish interior and the driving experience goes a long way to matching that high-quality impression, too.
Steering is effortlessly light but accurate, acceleration is swift, and those brakes are responsive, with great pedal feel.
It’s not all perfect, though. That turbo-diesel engine is noisy, but the cabin is so well insulated you’ll only notice it if you accelerate hard or you put the window down (like I did, to stop and talk to a mate who then told me the engine was loud).
But then the diesel in the X3 xDrive 20d I drove to work in today is also noisy. Even in 2017, that’s the nature of these engines.
The other issue you’ll find with diesel engines is the need to shift up through the gears low in the rev range to take best advantage of the torque on offer. That makes for a busy time on the shifting paddles if you want to have a blast through twisty roads.
The sequential turbo set-up reduces lag impressively – although response is not instantaneous.
The D5 comes with a 'sports-tuned' chassis, but it’s on the firmer side. If you’re planning to spend money on options, throw it all at the air suspension for $2490 - the T8 I tested had it, and the ride was cushioned and composed.
Those LED headlights are excellent and cut through the darkness ahead with impressive brilliance.
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.
Safety is Volvo’s ‘thing’ and the maximum five-star ANCAP score it was awarded this year doesn’t reveal just how impressive its safety performance is.
This new generation XC60 is fitted with AEB, which can detect and stop for animals, humans and other cars. Plus, there’s steering support, blind spot warning, front and rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
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 XC60 is covered by Volvo’s three-year/unlimited km warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months.
Volvo offers two service programs: the basic 'SmartCare' and the more comprehensive 'SmartCare Plus'.
The SmartCare three-year/45,000km plan is $2225 (SmartCare Plus costs $3050); a four-year/60,000km version is $3500 ($5200 with SmartCare Plus) and the five-year/75,000km agreement costs $4230 ($6400 with SmartCare Plus).