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  • Superb cabin quality, storage and practicality; smooth, willing V6 and intelligent auto; great ride and handling balance
  • Lacking a little for torque, and can get thirsty; unrefined stability control calibration; steering vacancy on-centre

OUR RATING
8 / 10



2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review

It is difficult to find a term of measurement big enough to describe how improved the 2014 Toyota Kluger is compared with the outgoing model. It is, quite accurately, a shedload better.

On paper, things don’t look to have changed much with this third-generation Toyota Kluger. The new model gets the same 3.5-litre petrol V6, and 201kW power and 337Nm of torque as the old one. It remains the single engine choice in our market – there’s no hybrid or diesel – although the new family-focused SUV adds a six-speed automatic transmission, up from five speeds, allowing a marginal improvement in fuel consumption.

It is a little bit longer – by 69mm – and a tiny bit wider – up 15mm – but its height and wheelbase are unchanged. According to US-spec figures, weight falls on the base front-wheel drive from 1940kg to 1925kg, while the flagship all-wheel drive drops from 2055kg to 2045kg.

The past two Toyota Kluger generations were imported from Japan, but the car is now built only in the States, where it is badged Highlander. Over there, it even comes as an eight-seater, but ours won’t change from being seven-seat-only.

Where the new Kluger really steps up, though, and arguably past its older Ford Territory, Hyundai Santa Fe and Jeep Grand Cherokee rivals, is in the places that can’t be listed in a brochure.

Some can, of course, like the addition of third-row seats standard on all models where formerly they were optional. Reversing sensors and a rear camera are confirmed as standard across the circa-$40-60K range, while the flagship model will score radar cruise control, auto-braking technology and blind-spot monitor as standard – all unique features in the class.

2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review

Step inside the cabin and there’s a big lift in quality, storage space and packaging efficiency.

Soft-touch dash plastics complement impeccable fit and finish. The seats are broad and supportive, with quality leather trim on the higher grade models tested. There’s an unbelievable amount of storage options – including a centre console big enough to fit a handbag, a tray that runs beneath the climate controls across to the passenger side with indents for mobile phones, and cupholders clearly designed for American-sized cawfee.

The 6.1-inch colour touchscreen is both high in resolution and ergonomically excellent. In addition to the digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and satellite navigation housed within easy-to-use ‘apps’ on the touchscreen is another function called ‘Driver Easy Speak’ – press it and it uses the car’s speakers to amplify the driver’s voice to the second- and third-row seats.

Back there, and it’s clear no rival in the large SUV class can currently match the new Kluger’s level of space and practicality. The centre middle bench is broad and plush, and it tilts and slides forward to allow fine third-row access. The twin back seats are not just a token affair, either, being properly comfortable for adults for both head- and legroom.

My 178cm frame could fit comfortably in each of the three rows with a bit of adjustment to each of them. Moving the front passenger seat as far forward as possible to still be comfortable left me heaps of space in the second row. Sliding the middle row forward to still be comfortable permitted just enough room in the third row. Roof air vents will ensure climate comfort, too.

2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review

As a five-seater, the Kluger has a massive amount of boot space. As a seven-seater, it’s still possible to stand medium-sized suitcases upright. It’s a lot roomier than other comparably priced SUVs.

Although imported Toyota Kluger models will score an Australian suspension and steering tune, the US-spec versions driven from LA to San Francisco (via the backroads) were surprisingly excellent.

On lumpy roadworks and concrete freeways the suspension delivered the nice ride that should be demanded of a family SUV, with an underlay of firmness but a fine ability to round off large bumps and skim over small ones. Yet a detour via a bitumen backroad with possibly the largest causeways ever seen showed that when even taking them at speed the Kluger retained excellent body control.

Twisty bends also reveal a newfound dynamism with this Kluger. Memories of the old car lurching and howling in tight corners have been replaced with decent balance, predictability and composure with this new car.

The steering is at its worst around town, where the on-centre vacant patch is most noticeable. When winding on lock in corners, however, the system offers a level of consistency and directness that is unmatched in any Toyota except the 86.

It’s the stability control system that remains a Kluger flaw of old. It permits reasonably hard cornering on bitumen up to a point, but then abruptly interferes. On dirt roads, where the Kluger is otherwise accomplished – with a new on-demand all-wheel-drive system that can either automatically move to 50:50 distribution or be locked at that – the safety net completely shuts down any throttle for several seconds. It can also take several sudden bites of braking meaning that on low-grip surfaces it can actually create problems for itself and make the driver feel unnerved.

2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review
2014 Toyota Kluger Review

While the Kluger still can’t match the steering and handling of a Territory, it is now quite close, and comfortably ahead of other rivals such as the Santa Fe and Grand Cherokee. Let’s hope the Australian tuners don’t mess with the standard suspension and steering set-up too much.

Although some buyers may want a diesel, or at least a more fuel efficient option such as a hybrid, the Toyota 3.5-litre petrol V6 is a smooth-spinning delight. Aurally cultured, with plenty of power for straight-line acceleration, it is always enjoyable.

Torque of 337Nm is about 50-100Nm short of ideal for a heavy SUV application (a Territory has 391Nm) so it’s curious that Toyota didn’t pinch the 378Nm version of this V6 available in the Lexus IS350. Lucky, then, the automatic is super quick to grab a lower gear, even if it needs to do so very often, even travelling two-up on slight inclines.

Unfortunately, this means the engine needs to work hard, and therfore chew fuel. On a gentle freeway run the trip computer read 9.9L/100km; during harder driving it climbed to 15.2L/100km.

From being one of the least finessed models from the brand, the third-generation Toyota Kluger has leveraged itself to become one of the most convincing.

It may not be as economical or torquey as it could be, nor as cossetting and pleasureable to drive as a Territory. It does, however, otherwise nail its family car brief by offering a brilliant cabin, excellent suspension tune, and sweet engine and transmission. When it arrives locally in March, it will be very tough to beat.


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TOYOTA KLUGER BREAKDOWN

2014 Toyota Kluger Review
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  • F1orce

    The interior is good, but a totally different theme to the previous one.

    The exterior looks better than I had thought.

    Overall it will sell well I guess.

  • Jason

    I do not understand this entire torque argument. I have test driven both the 2010 Territory diesel and the Kluger

    The Kluger is faster from every situation. You put your foot down and it spins freely, revs quickly, smoothly, moves instantly and builds speed very quickly. It’s actually fast for a big SUV

    The Territory with more torque is slower, more sluggish and doesn’t sound nice like the Kluger V6 when revved

    The interior quality of the Kluger totally annihilates that of the Territory

    • Dieseltorque

      Sure is a sweet motor the 3.5 V6 however I don’t think I’ve ever driven such a nervous wallowing mess in the corners bar a HR Holden as a FWD Kluger.

      • Zaccy16

        yep the current gen is truly horrible, hopefully by the sounds of it this new one is improved, (not hard to do really over the last gen)

    • Phil

      Don’t forget that gearboxes are a torque multiplier – with kickdown on a good auto box and a free revving engine, you can overcome that torque deficiency somewhat. The Territory doesn’t have the greatest diesel out there either, that engine is land rover circa 2005. Drive a more modern diesel SUV, like an Audi Q5 or RR Sport, you’ll understand what the fuss about torque is.

      • Dieseltorque

        Or the more mainstream Hyundai/Kia 2.2R series diesels. Agree the Old axe in the Territory is lag city.

      • Rick

        Or go for a drive in the new jeep grand Cherokee , you’ll see the fuss about toque then and more importantly the fuss of having rear drive while trying to move 2 tonnes of metal

    • marc

      Think of torque as in a tractor; Slow but can pull trees out of a ground. Power or KW is speed or think racing car. Fast, but useless towing/driving from low rpm.

    • fourl6

      why compare a petrol Kluger with a diesel Territory? A petrol engine will always rev smoother, more freely and sound better than a diesel. at least ford finally give their customers and option.

    • Robin_Graves

      The petrol territory is what is referred to in the article and it feels much punchier than the kluger especially in the midrange. Doesn’t drink quite as much fuel doing so either, the Toyota v6 is much more suited to lighter weight vehicles.

    • Brayden Cresswell

      Compare it to the petrol its a different story.

    • Canyonero

      The Territory diesel was released mid 2011, not in 2010. I have an AWD SY petrol Territory and have driven the Kluger Grande at work many times. The fit and finish in the Kluger is better then the Ford, but the Territory annihilates the Kluger as a drivers car. The Toyota has numb steering that is too light and rides and handles like a sofa on wheels. This review says that it is still not as good as the Territory.

      • Bennyhooker

        HA! you dont buy these vehicles to be a drivers car, they are a family wagon. If you want a drivers car you buy yourself a Toyota 86 or Golf R32 Etc. And as far as fuel consumption goes, given that the kluger is quite a large heavy vehicle and still manages to return similar fuel economy to a Falcon or commodore is a pretty good effort. The review clearly states that the Kluger is a better Vehicle, the territory is only better in the handling department and quite frankly with the difference in size and weight you would expect that anyway.

        • Canyonero

          I’m comparing how a Territory drives compared to a Kluger. I never mentioned a Golf or 86. There’s no reason why the Kluger shouldn’t have decent steering, ride and handling like the Ford. I’d like to see you get 7 people into an 86 or tow 2.3t with a Golf. Keep on topic Benny my boy.

    • Adam Howley

      Load up the Kluger with a family, and caravan and luggage then head for a hill… Do the same with a Territory Diesel and you will understand what torque is and why it’s a completely different vehicle. The 2.7 diesel is a beautifully quiet and grunty beast. You need to understand the differences and appreciate them. I miss the Diesel for its effortless continued power and relaxed feel. I had a Disco 3 and it was very soothing to drive.

      I would never buy petrol suv’s… Just don’t need to hammer off at the line but the turbo diesel is more than enough.

      • Trickster

        We’ve had Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel with the 8 speed auto for just on 6 months and it’s very responsive for a diesel with lots of grunt.

        It’s also launches quite aggressively for the first 30 metres or so if you boot it off the line, great for the traffic light GPs – comes down to 8 gears and good power/torque (184kw & 570nm).

        Have driven a couple of diesel Territory’s and there is no comparison performance wise.

  • pathfinder

    pathfinder is a better option

    • drew

      I think it’d be good to do a head to head comparison of the two, because they both seem like huge improvements on the models they replace!

      • Anuj

        yea i would like to see that. I have an 09 KX-S- love it but it can be a bit thristy on fuel.

    • Fred

      Own current Kluger and have test driven new Pathfinder. Pathfinder is nice but is only a small improvement on the old Kluger I have and pathfinder has a CVT transmission which are just horrible in anything other than sedate driving. CVT’s are just not right but if you do have to one they need to have a manual sequential/ fixed ratio option like some other CVT boxes have i.e. 2013/2014 Toyota Corolla. Pathfinder doesn’t. New Kluger will be more roomy than Pathfinder, bigger boot behind third row.

    • Zaccy16

      both lack torque when fully loaded thus will hurt fuel efficiency

    • Rick

      Not with that horrible CVT transmission in the pathfinder

      • Canyonero

        I had a new Pathfinder rental in SE QLD last month and I reckon that it has one of the better CVTs that I have driven. It was quite economical too and the performance was OK too. However, while it drove well on freeways, it didn’t drive any better than a Kluger, so I would give it a miss if I was buying. Also the sound system was ordinary and you can’t stream audio on the Bluetooth which is unforgivable in a new car.

        • Rick

          No arguements here the pathfinders CVT is certainly one of the better ones , but it’s still horrible compared to a conventional auto

  • Isjsjsh

    This will become #1

  • bruzzer

    im sure many people will disagree with my comment, but to me this car, CX – 9 and pathfinder are cars that do not belong in this day and age. These cars use more fuel and cost more to maintain than a large australian car or even a people mover.
    Why people dont bring diesels for these types of cars are beyond me, people would rather buy these cars so they can look cool and keep within fashion otherwise they will fall behind the jones next door.
    Yes they are little more practical but only when the rear seats are down, apart from that they are useless, people movers covers all those aspects. 99% of these cars will never go off road either so AWD will be irrelevant .

    • Pete

      Agree. A passat diesel wagon woukd suit better.

    • JooberJCW

      Agree, but then you can say Why have a sports car when we are restricted with speed laws and anti-hoon laws. Most people who buy hipo cars 99% of them probably would never take it to the track and probably 70% or more would never see to use the cars full potential.
      So… yes, cars these days play a big part of making a fashion statement, especially in an ever-growing materialistic world. At least put it this way the more picky people are becoming, the more innovative and different companies are forced to be!

    • Sam

      The vehicles you mentioned are all designed for the US market where fuel is 90c a litre. They don’t make a diesel Kluger, Pathfinder or CX-9 so there’s your answer. Australia being a RHD market and a small one at that justifies the companies not investing in diesel for these vehicles. Also, if this suits someone’s needs then who are you to say they don’t need one? Who wants to drive around in a Kia Carnival or Toyota Tarago?? Not many hence the reason people movers don’t do well in Australia. Also a people mover is basically a van with seats, so why buy a van with seats when one without gives you more room? See how ridiculous that last statement is? That’s why we have choice :-)

      • bruzzer

        who am i to say they dont need one?? i am nobody special… but i am one with common sense.
        I never stopped anyone from getting what they want, but its like someone drinking diet coke because healthier the normal coke than eating a full packet of chips.
        these days you have to environmentally friendly yet they choose to drive fuel guzzlers.
        each to their own…but you right its a free country thats why we debating it here.

        • David Rome

          I’d rather a Mazda CX-9 over a Kluger any day….more sportier drive. These are big roomy station wagons that suit large families in safety. Sure a diesel maybe nice but when you pack one of these multi valve 3-3.5ltr V6 they at least don’t run out of breath. I drove a CX-9 with 5 adults in it from Sydney to Canberra and on average the fuel consumption wasn’t as bad as I would have thought. The driving position was great and having the AWD was great when leaving as it was icy in the Capital….these big SUV’s are part of what we need going thru out growing family years as a normal conventional just doesn’t cut it. As for mini van’s the only ones that are worth owning we don’t get here….so long live the BIG V6 SUV’s….

    • CPN

      I don’t agree at all. I had a 2010 Kluger and it was the best overall car I have had. I sold that last year and got a new Mazda 6 wagon, whilst that could be argued to be a superior car it doesn’t suit my family’s needs. I have a toddler, another baby due soon and 2 large dogs that barely fit into the Mazda. Most likely I will upgrade to the new Kluger. These types of cars are used for their space. As for fuel economy, what’s worse? Driving 15k Kms per year in a big car. Or 30k Kms in a smaller car? We are not big km drivers so I don’t really care about my fuel usage.

  • MisterZed

    This new model is really sharp looking, unlike the last 2 generations. I am amazed that they made a business case for RHD production based on a volume of 10,000 – 15,000 in just 2 countries!!

  • Ruqis

    The design has grown on me. At first it looked bloated.

    But now it looks nice and rugged

  • Zaccy16

    The design is an improvement but still ugly IMO, the interior is definitely a step forward, rav 4 should have got a similar interior instead of the cheap dated mess it got, ride and handling sound promising, also pleased that toyota stuck with a proper 6 speed torque converter auto not a unrefined CVT like in the sub par new corolla and 2.0 rav4, finally a toyota that seams like it has gone forward with the times not backwards like the dated rest of the range, ( a diesel would be preferable though)

    • Sumpguard

      Wow Zaccy. A quality ,factual contribution.

  • Rick

    The seating setup in this car is nothing short of stupid 2 seats in the second row and 3 in the 3rd row . Take it from someone with kids , it’s incredibly impractical . You lose to much cargo space

    • bennyhooker

      This is an american vehicle pictured, our one is as the current gen a 7 seater, 3 middle and 2 rear with the ability to remove the middle seat in the 2nd row if desired to have some cupholders and captains chairs. The kluger is one of the most versatile SUV’s on the market. It also happens to be one of the only 7-seaters (not including family vans) which can fit adult passengers comfortably in the 3rd row. I am 6’1 and have travelled 2hr trips on more than one occasion in the 3rd row and was quite comfortable.

      • Rick

        I hope your right about the seats as it is they are rediculous . As for third row seats in the current gen kluger you must either be a gymnast or aren’t anywhere near 6foot tall . My son is only 155cm and he has no room in my sisters kluger , he’s got a lot more room in our Santa Fe and it’s hardly “spacious”.
        The upcoming kluger certainly looks a lot more spacious than most SUVs currently on offer ,so here’s hoping

      • Canyonero

        The current Kluger really only a 6 seater. The removable centre seat in the second row is too narrow and uncomfortable for an adult for anything but very short journeys. It would seem that the yanks accept that with their 2-2-3 setup.

        • Bill

          It gets 3 kids car seats across the middle row…. which is not that easy in a lot of brat haulers

          • Canyonero

            I’m sure you could fit three car seats across the second row, the Kluger is a large, wide car, like the Territory or CX9. I was referring to adults sitting in the middle seat of the second row, it is not very comfortable. Also, the kids bums, when they are in the child seat, is not directly on the car’s seat cushion, so it would be fine for them.

  • klowik

    They should slap the more sculpted front grille of the current model on this one then it should look a lot better.

  • TG

    Soccer mums rejoice with the sliding console lid for ridiculously oversize handbags. ;)

  • davey

    Looks like Toyota took an Audi Q7 and Kluger-ised it.

  • David Rome

    The current model Mazda CX-9 has already a 6spd auto…..

    • BSMonitor

      with an old Ford V6 and drinks like a sailor

  • Bryan

    I don’t usually buy in to the petrol versus diesel debate but I’m sure that it wouldn’t be too hard for Toyota to redesign the engine mounts and fit a Prado diesel in to one of these – I don’t know why it took Ford 9 years to do this for the Territory!.

    Both fuels have their merits but the premium that most manufacturers charge for a diesel over a petrol in the same model usually off sets any money that you will save on fuel unless you either keep the car for a very long time or do a lot of driving!

    Diesels are getting better all the time, you would be hard pressed to pick some of the euro diesels from a petrol but I don’t think 10 litres per hundred k’s for a nice smooth drive in a vehicle this size is too bad. We hired a Kluger for a few weeks last year and the trip computer showed that we averaged 10 or 11 litres so this new one with it’s six speed auto should be as good if not better. The only thing that the new Pathie mind have over this is that you can apparently fit adults comfortably in the third row and still have a usable amount of luggage space in the back.

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  • gordo

    with such a high fuel economy compared with other frugal cars is the kluger subject to the LCT

  • Don

    Most of the comment here are all negative and again’s this SUV… Have you own one to tell the difference or your just trolling to attract someones attention. I own one and I must say it drives well and packed with good power…

Toyota Kluger Specs

ALTITUDE (FWD) 7 SEAT : 3.5L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 5 SP AUTOMATIC - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D WAGON
Car Details
Make
TOYOTA
Model
KLUGER
Variant
ALTITUDE (FWD) 7 SEAT
Series
GSU40R MY12 UPGRADE
Year
2014
Body Type
4D WAGON
Seats
7
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
3.5L
Cylinders
V6
Max. Torque
337Nm @  4700rpm
Max. Power
201kW @  6200rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
104.1W/kg
Bore & Stroke
94x83mm
Compression Ratio
10.8
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
5 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
3.478
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
72
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
11L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1930
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1730mm
Length
4785mm
Width
1910mm
Ground Clearance
206mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:2000  Unbrake:700
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11.8
Front Rim Size
7.5x19
Rear Rim Size
7.5x19
Front Tyres
245/55 R19
Rear Tyres
245/55 R19
Wheel Base
2790
Front Track
1630
Rear Track
1645
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Rear Air Conditioning, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
19 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Hill Holder
Driver
Adjustable Steering Wheel - Tilt & Telescopic, Cruise Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Power Steering
Entertainment
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Exterior
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Remote Boot/Hatch Release
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags
Security
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft, Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
10-O-17
Country of Origin
JAPAN