Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 Toyota Kluger GXL.
The Kluger has been a big seller for Toyota for a number of years, so the all-new Toyota Kluger has some big shoes to fill.
With added size, more refinement and a more rugged look, it seems Toyota has hit the mark. The recipe is essentially the same; a powerful V6, seven seats and lots of family friendly features that make it easy to live with.
Starting at $40,990 for the two-wheel drive base GX model, the test car was a mid-spec all-wheel drive Toyota Kluger GXL priced at $53,990 before on road costs.
Lined up against its competitors the Kluger’s pricing is sharp, and standard inclusions are about on par with its rivals.
Under the bonnet is the same tried and tested 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine as found in the previous Kluger, it’s also an engine shared with the Aurion sedan.
Power reserves are plentiful with 201kW and 337Nm on tap, and the power delivery is smooth and responsive in combination with the all-new six-speed automatic gearbox.
With no diesel or four-cylinder options though, you’ll need to be prepared for regular visits to the petrol station.
Toyota claims 10.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but in the real world with plenty of short trips to school and the shops, and a couple of freeway runs, the test car returned 12.1 litres per 100km.
The big Kluger is a pleasure to drive with a composed, compliant ride and reasonable dynamics that have been tuned specifically for Australian roads.
If you push really hard the Kluger can become a little unsettled and body roll is quite evident, but this was never meant to be a sports car.
The steering is weighted perfectly, light at low speeds and it gets meatier as the pace increases. Feedback through the steering wheel is a little numb, but sufficient enough for day-to-day driving.
The 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat has you sitting up high for great all round visibility.
Parking sensors and a standard reversing camera make for easy parking although you become acutely aware of the size of the Kluger in tight shopping centre car parks.
The cabin of the Toyota is a modern, well-designed affair with a nice mix of textures and materials, and from the driver’s seat everything falls easily to hand.
The multi-function steering wheel has a nice feel about it, while the layout of the dash and switchgear is logical and reasonably attractive.
The Kluger’s real strong suit is the cavernous interior that is considerably bigger than the model it replaces.
Up front there are acres of space with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room, and it’s a theme continued in the remaining two rows.
All the seats have been moved forward in the cabin meaning the third row is now easier to access, while the middle row is endowed with overly generous legroom.
An abundance of storage areas is another Kluger strong point, with plenty of options including a cabin wide storage shelf under the dash designed so things don’t slide out of it.
The Toyota Kluger also boasts possibly the biggest centre console that I’ve ever seen with a unique roll-top lid that doubles as an arm rest.
Standard fare on the mid-spec GXL model includes 18 inch alloys, front fog lamps, privacy glass, three 12V power outlets, auto headlights, three-zone climate-control and heated leather seats.
All Kluger’s come with a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; The Kluger is an accomplished family car with a bank-vault build quality, attractive new look and enough space for the biggest of families.
It has some serious competition in the Nissan Pathfinder though, which is surprisingly similar in terms of how it drives and its price.
The Pathfinder is probably a better value buy with a higher standard specification, but there is only a few hundred dollars difference between it and the Kluger so it will come down to personal preference.
In 2014, Australian families have never been so spoiled for choice.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.5 litre petrol V6 producing 201kW and 337Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United States
Price: GXL from $53,990