After weeks of research, the runners up were the Mazda CX9 GT and Toyota Kluger Grande. Having driven both, I found the Mazda CX9 not as sharp on the corners with a bit of under-steer, the engine sounding more like a 4 cylinder and overall I just couldn’t see it as capable “off-road” as the Kluger. With a solid deal from Toyota on a ex Demo 2015 Kluger Grande AWD with 1100km’s, I was sold. The price difference you ask? The Mazda CX9 GT ex demo also would have been 5K less.
First days were quiet intense, so much technology to get your head around, 2 weeks later I am still reading the 2 300 page books to work out all the ins and outs.
All Wheel Drive system (including electronically lockable center diff lock)
Engine/exhaust note (considering the type of car)
Handling (especially on corners)
Height clearance for “off-road” (ideal considering its not a 4WD)
Graphics/Options on instrument panel
Steering feel/assistance is accurate
Service cap for 3 years $180.00 per service including lubricants.
No rain sensing wipers (should be standard at this level but this is not even an option)
Factory front parking sensors are available only as a $400 option and are 2 head. 4 head are aftermarket option but neither of the 2 options incorporate into the graphics like the rear sensors do
Slow opening/closing rear boot
Unable to play video from USB or SDHC. So far tried mp4/mkv video formats on front/rear screens. Will update if I get any consistent results.
Only composite video inputs (HDMI not an option)
GPS/Entertainment unit is rather slow to respond to touches (fast compared to Jeep SRT)
Spotlights have traditional globes
Road noise on rough Australian roads is higher than what I would expect from a luxury car
No proper moon roof offered as seen on U.S. model
Sound system should be better at this level (listen to the Jeep SRT as a benchmark)
I wasn’t able to find many of the important points like the lack of rain sensing wipers in any of the reviews – perhaps it didn’t rain at the time of testing, so I hope this helps.