Long-serving Toyota Tarago GLX offers plenty of space, comfort and performance, but falls short on tech and value
What is it?
Toyota Tarago is one of the oldest nameplates in the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segment and Toyota has produced four generations over three decades.
Since the Tarago made its debut in Australia in 1983, the Aussie automotive landscape has changed dramatically. Especially in recent times, where Australian motorists have followed the wheel tracks of their American counterparts and opted for a seven seat SUVs as the cars of choice if they want to cart around numerous people.
But while SUVs are selling like hotcakes and Australia’s MPV market is relatively small, Motoring Guru set out to investigate whether the Toyota Tarago (Toyota Tarago GLX to be more specific) still has is charms about it and whether it still is in fact the ideal solution to transporting seven people in comfort.
What’s it cost?
The current Toyota Tarago range kicks off with the Toyota Tarago GLi which is priced from $45,490 and extends all the way to the costly Toyota Tarago Ultima which is priced from $65,600. As you may have already guess, the Toyota Tarago GLX specification which we sampled falls somewhere in the middle of the range, and GLX prices start from $47,990.
Standard equipment includes satellite navigation, reversing camera, eight seats and tri-zone climate control.
The standard drivetrain for GLi and GLX models is a 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission that drives the front wheels. The Ultima is fitted with Toyota’s lovely 3.5 litre V6 and six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive – the drivetrain also found in the Aurion and Kluger – as standard.
Customers who want more grunt – and if you’re carting around a lot of people and their gear we suspect you will – the GLi and GLX versions can be optioned with the V6 but it does add a significant premium. For instance, the Toyota Tarago GLX V6 as tested is priced from $55,990 plus options and on road costs. An $8,000 premium over the four-cylinder version. Ouch.
It is worth noting that GLi models have eight seats as standard, whereas anything in GLX trim or above only have seven.
So what do you get for your $55,990 plus costs. Well, you get seven seats – the middle row are individual captain chairs with built in recline function, satellite navigation, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, electrically operated sliding doors which can be controlled from the key fob and suede/leatherette trim.
What’s it go like?
In a straight line – rather well. That 3.5 litre V6 churns out a potent 202kW @ 6200rpm and 340Nm @ 4700rpm, so the big Tarago will move off from standstill rather rapidly, even chirping the front tyres if you’re callous with the accelerator. Toyota claimed combined fuel consumption is 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres, but we averaged around 12.3 litres on the combined cycle. And this engine demands premium fuel, too.
Once on the move, the Tarago is a mixed bag. It always has ample power, but at the same time it feels like a big, tall and long people bus. We weren’t expecting the Tarago to corner like the revered Toyota 86, but newer rivals such as the Kia Carnival are quite pleasant to drive, and not just by MPV standards. Even Toyota’s own Kluger – yes, we made an SUV reference – is a more pleasant cruiser.
At low speeds, though, the steering is light and the Tarago felt surprisingly maneuverable. This should make negotiating school car parks a doddle.
The ride quality is a little disappointing, we found that it would crash and bash over less than perfect tarmac, rattling interior fittings and tarnishing the Tarago GLX’s luxury aspirations.
What we like:
- Space! There’s so much space. Even with all three rows of seating in place, all seven passengers are seated with ample space and comfort. And there’s a huge boot left over too. A feat most seven seat SUVs can’t claim.
- If the third row of seats aren’t in use they fold flat into the floor. Then, the occupants sitting in the Captains’ chairs in the middle row can slide their seats all the way back, and use the ottoman function, reclining on long journeys with all the legroom in the world.
- The centre console. The Toyota Tarago has quite possibly the biggest centre console in the world. It can store snacks, iPads, laptops, another seven people…
- Fit and finish. Standard Toyota stuff, really, but the Tarago really does feel solid.
- The engine. Lots of power and refinement
What we don’t:
- Value for money. The Toyota Tarago GLX is expensive. And for its asking price you don’t really get a lot of family-friendly entertainment equipment. For instance, there’s only one USB port in the whole car. This could cause some arguments on long road trips. There aren’t even tray tables on the back of the seats. An in-car DVD system wouldn’t cost Toyota a fortune to install and would strengthen the Tarago GLX as a new car proposition for families with small children.
Similarly, rivals such as the Kia Carnival offer much more competitive value for money.
- Lifting the third from of seats from the floor can be heavy and cumbersome.
- A diesel wouldn’t go astray here. Whilst we haven’t sampled the base four-cylinder engine, the V6 is more than powerful enough, but it can become quite thirsty.
- That centrally mounted instrument cluster (and lack of tech) are clear throwbacks to the Tarago’s 2006 roots.
Sale or no sale?
The Toyota Tarago GLX is by no means a bad car, and it does the whole people mover thing quite well. However, high prices, dated design and uncompetitive equipment levels make it a little difficult for us to recommend.