News & ReviewsLast 7 days
2014 Toyota Kluger GXL Speed Date
By Mimi Kwa
Quick Specs
3.5-litre V6 petrol
$53,990 (before on road costs)
3-year / 100,000km
Read the full review
By Mimi Kwa

So, where did you go on your date?

It was a normal day in the life of a busy family.

First stop school number one. Second stop school number two. Third stop kinder. There was shopping, errands, work, school pick-ups and after school activities to attend.

First impressions, I must say really do count. Hauling four school bags groaning with books and lunch boxes into the boot of the Toyota Kluger was a welcome joy. To my pleasant surprise the boot door glided gently and easily upward. Stark contrast to the bulky and weighty swing door of our Toyota Prado.

We had a busy couple of days of the usual weekday madness and then weekend activities, birthday parties and dinners. The Kluger certainly lightened the load of what was the usual heavy going schedule of working parents, four children and a dog!

Our family needs a vehicle that’s spacious and easy to handle. There was no disappointment with the Kluger in any of those areas.

Ideal first date?

It was a sensible first date. The Kluger was just what we needed to ferry the kids to and fro. Driving a shiny new car did make what are usually quite mundane tasks seem a whole lot snazzier! Steering was sensitive and suspension was good. There are a lot of roundabouts and speed bumps on our school route and the Kluger handled everything very well.

Hot or not?

We draw the line at a sliding van door type vehicle. So the Kluger is hot to trot for a big family like ours. It maintains style whilst being super practical. It’s quite sleek for a big car and driving and handling are both very smooth. It’s quite funny how having a smoother, lighter ride makes you actually FEEL lighter and calmer. I think we’re ready to move on from our much loved but clunky old model 4WD to something like a Kluger.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Love it!

Black leather seats and seat warmers. The light display dash makes me feel like I’m in a space ship.

And it’s huge inside. Kind of like a tardis. It’s actually smaller than our current 4WD but more spacious inside! How can that be?

Really refined design and great headroom, two of our kids can actually stand in the back while one of our kids can stage dive over the middle seat to the back. Our dog, Cookie the Cavoodle, can leap from lap to lap without the usual arguments and struggle between everyone shouting “my turn”.

Standout features?

Rear camera, blue tooth phone, keyless ignition, seat position controls. Love the gold class seat adjustment, particularly between husband wife drivers. We all know the issues there!

Annoying habits?

The handbrake was very hard to find despite the flashing light display on the dash warning me to “release brake pedal”. So in fact the hand brake is not a hand brake but a foot brake, which I found rather confusing. Once I got past that hurdle though, it was certainly love.

It took a while to get to know the infotainment system, but I suppose that’s just the 'getting to know you' phase. I heard on the radio the other day that some insurance companies won’t insure keyless cars that can be started remotely. I think the Kluger escapes this issue as you do still need to be in the car to press the ignition button.

Ready for a family?

So ready.

The kids were shouting “we love this car”.

Having such an easy car to negotiate some pretty gruelling traffic and distances was like having a holiday. It was quite sincerely a treat to have the Kluger. Manoeuvring to reverse and parallel park was seriously a dream with the rear camera action going on. You’ll be horrified but I have gotten used to opening the door of my old 4WD and leaning out to look behind me when I reverse parallel park! The camera was not only a novelty to me but an every day saviour.

High maintenance?

Not that I noticed. I think a tank of petrol cost about a quarter of what we pay for our current car...

Any deal-breakers?

For the kids who want it all and the parents who want peace and quiet on the long haul trip – video/tv screens would have been good. They are included on the $67,520 Grande model however.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

Pretty serious.

We have never been a luxury car family but if we did upgrade I always thought it would be to a European luxury vehicle.

The Kluger made me think differently. It has everything I imagine a 'luxury' brand has, without that coveted status but more importantly, without the price tag. I would totally consider the Kluger for a long term unpretentious relationship.

Keeping your options open?

I don’t kiss and tell.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

It's for me alright.