2017 Toyota Kluger Grande gets a new eight-speed auto, more power and extra safety tech…but it still likes a drink.
The Toyota Kluger is one of Australia’s most popular SUVs, and for good reason, the Kluger is spacious, will carry five adults and two children in comfort, is powered by a lovely 3.5 V6, isn’t half bad to drive by SUV standards, and even looks decent in its own sharp, angular way.
We’ve always been fond of the Kluger, largely because it fits the family SUV bill so well, and overall it’s a very capable thing.
The Kia and Hyundai, among other SUVs, offer something the Kluger doesn’t: a diesel. The 3.5 litre petrol V6 is the sole engine. And it’s by no means a bad thing as it offers lots of tractable performance, outstanding smoothness, it goes like the clappers and it even sounds great.
The downside is fuel consumption, and Toyota has been aware of this. Enter the 2017 Toyota Kluger range, or more specifically the 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande AWD as tested here. They’ve also fitted the Kluger Grande with an excellent 360 degree camera system, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keep assist (LKA), to gently guide the car back into the centre of the lane should the driver lose concentration momentarily.
Toyota has lifted the quality of some of the interior trimmings. There’s lightly revised styling and new wheels across the range, too
Prices are up slightly across the range. The 2017 Toyota Kluger is now priced from $69,906 plus on road costs, up from the $68,046 sticker price of last year’s model.
To curb the Kluger’s lust for petrol, Toyota has fitted all models in the 2017 Toyota Kluger range with an eight-speed automatic which replaces the old six-speed unit and reworked that engine so not only is it more efficient, but it now produces 218kW @ 6600rpm and 350Nm @ 4700rpm, compared to the old model’s 201kW @ 6200rpm and 337Nm @ 4700rpm.
On the road, this translates to sharp, creamy acceleration, and the engine always seems to be eager to please. When the car isn’t lugging around people and things, it even feels quick.
While we didn’t load our test car up to the hilt with passengers and their belongings, we suspect that the Kluger will cope fine with a car full of children and their sporting gear.
The new eight-speed automatic is a mixed bag. It’s always smooth, make no mistake, but at times it just felt confused and it’d cycle ratios before settling on the right cog.
Official combined fuel consumption figures for the Kluger Grande have dropped from 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres to 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres. On paper, that’s not bad, but in reality we managed about 12.5 to 13 litres per 100 kilometres, across a mixture of city and freeway driving.
A little disappointing, especially as the similarly equipped (it doesn’t have the cameras, though) Kia Sorento Platinum averages around 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
Toyota’s interpretation of the LKA is commendable. You know it’s always there, but its never abrupt or intrusive. Instead, the system is very subtle in making sure the car is kept on track and it discourages driver dependence.
The addition of the 360 degree camera system is a most welcome one, offering drivers a range of different views including the sides, front and an aerial view of the car. You can even set the system so it automatically activates when the car comes to a stop in traffic.
We found this feature to be particularly useful in negotiating intersections where visibility is restricted. Naturally, the camera system made parking a doddle, along with navigating tight streets, scrape free.
Rear cross traffic alert is also standard, and emits audible and visual warnings should the driver proceed reversing into a person or object.
In parking situations, we found the system quick to react and excellent in commanding the driver’s attention, and subsequently prompting them to take action.
These extras are on top of the previous Kluger’s already comprehensive standard equipment list which includes blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, traction control, stability control and a suite of airbags.
The Kluger’s interior is still a family haven. This time around though, the interior has a more premium feel with better quality plastics, more tactile surfaces and even new avant-garde woodgrain.
There’s still class leading oddment storage – we’ve never seen a centre console so deep – and there’s that shelf on the dashboard, there’s also an abundance of room for five adults; the third row – which is very easy to raise and lower – is still the domain of small children.
The Kluger Grande isn’t short on creature comforts either. You get leather throughout, heated and cooled front seats, climate controls for the first two rows, electrically operated front seats, a sunshine roof and a roof mounted DVD player to keep offspring quiet (happy, we mean happy!) on long road trips and there’s an electrically operated rear tailgate.
Sale or No Sale?
The 2017 Toyota Kluger Grande is more powerful, safer and more comfortable than ever. Yes, we’d recommend buying one, it still likes a drink though, you’ll just need to be mindful of those fuel bills.