The CarAdvice family is growing, and what better way to show that than with a new Melbourne long-termer. Enter the Toyota Kluger…
The Toyota Kluger Grande is a big, comfy, seven-seat, Japanese American au pair of a car, and it will be with us for the next three months.
The Kluger range starts at $40,990 (plus on road costs) for the front-wheel-drive GX model and rises to $67,520 (plus on roads) for our four-wheel-drive Grande test car.
All models feature the same 201kW/337Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
With seven airbags, seven seats, a reverse-view camera and rear parking sensors across the range, the Kluger is aimed fair and square at family buyers.
Slotting in below the more off-road-focused Prado and the mid-sized RAV4, the Toyota Kluger is a full-size urban SUV, and outsells its closest competitor, the Nissan Pathfinder, by more than two-to-one.
With more than 150,000 Klugers already sold here since 2003, the latest US-built third-generation Kluger (sold as a Highlander in North America) is Australia’s first Toyota model sourced from the US of A.
And our Champagne-coloured Grande comes standard with all the bells and whistles you would expect of a family wagon with a price that'll likely tick over $70K by the time it's parked in your driveway.
Comfort is amplified with heated and cooled front seats, a sunroof, a large 8.0-inch touch screen (other models have a 6.1-inch screen) and a 9.0-inch flip-down screen and DVD player for rear passengers.
There is a proximity monitor included with the reverse-view camera, a pre-collision warning system, lane departure alert and blind spot monitoring, as well as radar controlled adaptive cruise control. In all, you get a lot of goodies for your money.
The Grande also features a split tailgate, meaning the rear glass can be opened independently of the door – something so handy, I have no idea why it isn’t offered on other models in the range.
I will say too that the power tailgate is among the slowest we have ever encountered. “Beeep, beep, beep,” it chimes as it takes a full 11 seconds from closed to open.
This aside, early impressions are good. We love the ‘Americool’ look of the car and up front, the big ‘Klug’ is a great place to be.
The V6 is punchy and speed humps are easily traversed thanks to a ride that initially seems hugely compliant and comfortable, even on 19-inch wheels.
There is plenty of room both up front and for middle- and third-row passengers. The second-row sits on sliding runners to offer more room to those in the back, or business-class legroom for crew in the middle.
So far, on around-town support duties, the Toyota has been a comfortable and capable performer, but dashing to meetings and picking people up from the airport is not what the Klug was put on this earth for. The Kluger is a family car.
Phil Dunphy shills it for Toyota, and we have to admit, we do feel a bit Phil when behind the wheel.
With this in mind, we have some plans for the Kluger while it is under our care.
There are some longer trips planned to see if the 10.6 litres per 100km combined cycle fuel economy is attainable, but more to the point, how far we can get the big V6 on a long highway tour?
We will of course be assessing the car from the driver’s seat, but we’ll also be looking into what it’s like from the others – for a car like this, passenger appraisal is almost more important.
In the mean time, ask us anything you want to know about the Klug and let us know if there is anything you’d like us to cover off or investigate while it’s part of the CA family.
Toyota Kluger Grande
Date acquired: November 2014
Odometer reading: 11,769km
Travel since previous update: 0km
Consumption since previous update: 14.2L/100km
Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.