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by Daniel DeGasperi

The third-generation Toyota Kluger range has launched in Australia priced from $40,990.

A three-tier range comprising entry-level GX (below), $49,990 GX-L and $63,990 Grande (above) are each available in either front-wheel drive, or for an extra $4000, all-wheel drive.

Every new Toyota Kluger utilises a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine with 201kW of power and 337Nm of torque and six-speed automatic transmission, and for the first time all grades get seven seats as standard.

2014 Toyota Kluger GX

The base GX is claimed to add $2000 of value compared with the outgoing KX-R base model, including a six-speed auto (up from five), 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors and touchscreen audio, while compared with the KX-R seven-seater pricing is reduced by $2200.

The GX-L (below) is claimed to add $1000 including keyless auto-entry and Toyota Link connectivity, while compared with the outgoing KX-S seven-seater pricing falls by $1500.

Top-spec Grande rises from $60,635 to $63,990 but is claimed to add $7700 of value including projector LED headlights with auto-dip high beam, digital radio, ventilated front seats, active cruise control, pre-collision warning and light auto braking, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitor.

2014 Toyota Kluger GXL

While the GXL runs the same 18-inch alloy wheels as the GX, the Grande gets 19s, and the top two grades add silver roof rails.

The GX-L and Grande score leather trim, tri-zone climate control and 10-way electrically adjustable front seats, while the latter adds memory settings and a rear DVD screen.

All Kluger grades get a colour touchscreen – 6.1-inch in GX (below) and GX-L, and 8.0-inch for the Grande – but only the top model gets satellite navigation, digital radio and live traffic updates. Meanwhile, the Easy Speak app that projects the driver’s voice through the speakers to rear occupants is reserved for the US only – Toyota originally thought it would be available here.

2014 Toyota Kluger GX

Similarly, although all grades get LED daytime running lights and a reverse-view camera in addition to the rear parking sensors, only the Grande (below) gets an auto tailgate and sunroof. And, disappointingly, not even the Grande gets front parking sensors, despite coming standard with active cruise control.

Compared with the second-generation model, the third-generation Toyota Kluger is 80mm longer, at 4825mm, and 15mm wider than before, at 1925mm. Third-row shoulder room is claimed to be up 110mm, with entry space to the rear seats rising by 70mm. The boot area is 155mm longer, 20mm wider and 85mm higher than before.

Luggage space with all three rows in use totals 195 litres, rising to 529L in five-seater form, or 1171L in two-seat configuration.

2014 Toyota Kluger Grande

Toyota says an all-new double wishbone rear suspension design aims to improve both space and dynamics, while the new auto provides better shifts, helping to reduce consumption. Compared with the previous models, 2WD economy is down 7.2 per cent to 10.2L/100km, and AWD consumption falls by more than 8.0 per cent to 10.6L/100km.

On AWD models, a ‘lock’ button holds power distribution at 50:50 front/rear up to 40km/h, and beyond that speed or when the button is left untouched, the system becomes on-demand.

A quicker steering rack ratio – 14.8:1, down from 17:1 – and retuned electro-mechanical power steering is also claimed to improve response and feel. Suspension has been tweaked for Australian conditions.

2014 Toyota Kluger Grande

Toyota says it is targeting baby boomers who may need to carry grandparents in addition to their children, and may want an SUV image. It says 55.8 per cent of Kluger buyers are under 45, and 21 per cent are aged 30 to 39 years old.

Toyota adds, however, that Kluger supply will be constrained in the intial months as the single Indiana, USA, production facility ramps up.

Currently, 52.6 per cent of Toyota Kluger buyers choose 2WD, while the base car is favoured by 52 per cent, compared with an even 24 per cent for the middle- and top-tier grades – Toyota expects this to stay broadly the same.

2014 Toyota Kluger GX

Meanwhile the overwhelming majority of Kluger drivers picked the seven-seat option, leading to the decision to make three rows of seats standard. While Kluger is standard overseas with eight seats, Toyota said it preferred to create a roomier two-seat third row rather than a cramped three-seat back row.

Toyota Kluger chief engineer Takashi Goto said that five key goals with the Kluger were to include attractive styling, a luxury interior, dynamic handling, improved ride comfort and quiet cabin.

The original Toyota Kluger launched 11 years ago when the medium SUV segment totalled 38,054 units, almost half that of the compact SUV class (72,957). Last year, the large SUV segment in which the Kluger now resides (renamed from the medium class) totalled 126,530 versus 119,464 for the medium models (renamed from compact SUV).

2014 Toyota Kluger: Key features model by model

GX
3.5-litre V6 engine and new six-speed automatic transmission
Seven seats
Reverse-view camera
Rear parking sensors
Seven airbags
Cruise control
Air-conditioning
Front fog-lights
Daytime running lights
Six-speaker stereo
18-inch alloy wheels

GXL (gains over GX)
Tri-zone climate control air-conditioning
Keyless entry and push-button start
10-way electric driver’s seat adjustment
Roof-rails
Leather interior accents
Leather steering wheel and gearknob

Grande (gains over GXL)
19-inch alloy wheels
Projector LED headlights with auto high-beam control
Sunroof
Ventilated front seats
8.0-inch infotainment system with DAB+ digital radio and satellite navigation
9.0-inch rear seat Blu-ray entertainment system
4.2-inch driver information screen
Second row sunshades
Power tailgate
Woodgrain interior trim
Radar cruise control
Low speed collision avoidance
Lane departure warning system
Blind spot monitoring system

2014 Toyota Kluger pricing (plus on-road costs)
GX 3.5-litre V6 6-speed automatic – $40,990
GXL 3.5-litre V6 6-speed automatic – $49,990
Grand 3.5-litre V6 6-speed automatic – $63,990




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