Big, robust and up to pretty much anything the family can throw at it, the Kluger is well and truly fit for purpose.
Let’s get the down side out of the way first. The Toyota Kluger, endowed with a lusty, powerful V6, has an appetite for unleaded like a sailor’s thirst for beer on shore leave.
This fuel consumption is the Achilles heel that Mazda has really gunned for.
Toyota’s official figure is 10.6L/100km. The best I could muster was 14.2L/100km.
Admittedly there was a lot of city and suburban driving, but that’s the Kluger’s turf. And that’s where the new Mazda has one over on Australia’s best selling family SUV.
Built in the US and designed for the North American market, the Kluger doesn’t offer a diesel option. So thanks to the yanks, here in Australia it’s the petrol V6 or nothing.
It’s a delicious V6 though. The engine is silky smooth, loves to rev, and pumps out a muscular 200kW and 336Nm.
It’s able to push the 2.7 tonne Kluger around with the minimum of fuss with plenty in reserve.
The transmission is Toyota’s familiar six-speed auto. It’s happy to kick down a gear or two when required, and has a knack of being in the right gear at the right time.
The steering is light, but not too light, and is pretty much what you’d expect for a high riding SUV.
The ride is a delight, dispensing with ordinary and even substandard road surfaces with little or no cabin intrusion.
It’s quiet too, with a great ability to suppress road, wind and tyre noise.
The space on offer is generous to say the least. Seven can be accommodated in comfort…sure the back row is best suited to those under 12, but at a pinch, Dad can pack all 6 of his mates in and provide the transport to the footy.
In the GXL as tested everyone assumes it’s an all leather affair. It certainly looks like that, and no one will know it’s only partial leather.
It’s perfect if there’s only a box of Wet Ones in the glove box to mop up after an ice cream spill or a meat pie explosion and it all feels like the real deal.
The big central screen controls the apps, vehicle and sound systems. It’s almost easier to use than an iPhone and will happily stream the latest Top 40 hits in a couple of pushes of a button.
In fact, the Kluger is fully kitted out with nearly everything that should be there in 2016.
Standard is a reverse camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control, front fog lamps, three-zone climate-control air-conditioning, keyless smart entry and start, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat and roof rails.
The Kluger is tasked with carrying the most precious load and has achieved ANCAP’s highest five-star safety rating.
The stupid thing is you have to pay a whopping $13,140 to get the latest driver assistance systems.
Pre-collision safety system, radar cruise control, lane departure alert and blind spot monitoring all come standard in the more expensive, top of the line Grande model.
Toyota, like the majority of other manufacturers, don’t even offer what is essentially life saving equipment as an option.
That aside, the Toyota Kluger is a bloody good unit.
It has a relaxed personality and is always happy to do what you ask, and it embraces every member of the family, dogs included.
It looks great, has enormous amounts of interior space and is a genuinely great car to live with.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 Toyota Kluger GXL AWD
Engine: 3.5 litre V6 petrol developing 200kW and 336Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United States
Price: GXL from $55,190