Toyota Kluger Grande AWD is thoughtfully designed, stylish and comfortable
Toyota’s mid-sized Kluger has recently entered its third generation, with the Camry/Aurion based family truck now adopting more angular and upright lines as well as larger dimensions all round. The Kluger competes against everything from the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and perhaps most directly, Nissan’s Pathfinder.
The new Kluger is actually sourced from Toyota’s Princeton plant in the U.S, whereas previous models have been made in Japan.
We tested the top-of-the range Toyota Kluger Grande with the optional all-wheel drive system.
What we like:
- Oddment storage
- Interior space and comfort
- Equipment levels
- Fit and finish
Not so much:
- Petrol only
- Third row seats suitable only for smaller passengers
- Ordinary road manners
- Transmission can feel under-geared for car’s weight.
Price and Equipment
The Toyota Kluger range opens with the GX 2WD from $40,990 plus on roads and extends to the Toyota Kluger AWD which is priced from $67,130 plus all government charges. As the ambitious name suggests, the Grande is plush and lavishly equipped, featuring leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, 19 inch wheels, a large sunroof, multi-zone climate control with controls for second row passengers, DVD entertainment satellite navigation, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a suite of other safety technology.
All-wheel drive is optional across the range, but all models are fitted with a six-speed automatic and that 3.5 V6, which may deter some buyers who are searching of SUV practicality and diesel efficiency.
Toyota insists in its marketing material that the Kluger is an ultimate family hauling tool. In many ways, the Kluger Grande seems to fit the brief rather well. There is a huge amount of oddment storage upfront – there’s a shelf with decent depth that runs almost the entire length of the dashboard and one of the biggest centre consoles in the business. In short, it should be able to swallow all those small things that seem to accumulate with family life.
The dashboard seems to be designed function rather than form – it’s not what you’d call “pretty”- but all functions are easy to negotiate, although we found that some of the shortcut buttons for the infotainment system seemed to be a little slow in their responses.
The front five seats are big and comfortable and their leather trimming is supple and of good quality. Space for the front five passengers is more than capacious, although the third row of seats is best reserved for small passengers.
Climate controls throughout the cabin work to ensure that the cabin ambience is just right and the DVD entertainment system helps to cut down the “are we there yet” complaints of long road trips.
The boot is big too and is even useable when all seven seats are upright.
Engine and Transmission
The 3.5 lire V6 fitted to the entire Kluger range develops 201kW @ 6200rpm and 337Nm @ 4700rpm. The engine is smooth, powerful if a little peaky. Performance is more than adequate, but lacks the easy going nature of some diesels, such as the 2.2 litre diesel found in the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe twins.
Another upshot of the motor is that is has a surprisingly addictive engine note, although there seems to be more engine noise in the cabin than the Kluger’s sedan sister, the Aurion.
The six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly, but seems to exacerbate the engine’s peaky nature. Official combined fuel consumption figures for the Toyota Kluger Grande AWD are 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres, however during test week we achieved around 12.2 litres per 100 kilometres.
On The Road
Dynamically, the Kluger feels like just what it is – a big, high-riding seven seat SUV – and isn’t as car like as the Kia. However, the Kluger has more direct steering and is more than acceptable for family adventures.
On the subject of adventures, the optional all-wheel system adds another $4,000 to the Kluger’s sticker price. The system does offer a number facilities such as Snow and Lock mode which should help with those little weekend getaways. An extra $4,000 is an expensive option and mightn’t that appeal to all. It is one this scribe would have, as the added on road safety and greater flexibility – should it be needed.
The adaptive cruise control fitted to the Toyota Kluger Grande is easy to operate and maintains distances from the car in front diligently and is a certainly a step up from the system fitted to the Prado Kakadu, which we found to be a little slow and clunky.
Ride quality is a little firm but road imperfections very rarely make their way up to passenger bottoms.
The Toyota Kluger Grande is fitted with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, traction control, stability control and dual front, side, curtain and a driver’s knee airbag. The Grande adds blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning to help avoid accidents in the first place.
The Kluger is covered by Toyota’s three year, 100,000 kilometre warranty
Toyota Kluger Grande AWD Specs
Make and model: Toyota Kluger Grande AWD
Engine type: 3456cc V6 with DOHC and variable valve timing
Power: 201kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 337Nm @ 4700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Fuel consumption: 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres
Dimensions: 4865mm long, 1925mm wide, 1730mm high and 2970mm wheelbase
Country of Origin: United States
Price: $67,130-exclusive of on road costs and options
Crystal Pearl paint $550