2014 Toyota Kluger GXLToyota Kluger is aimed at the large station wagon buyer, at those wanting a spacious people mover, but who also like the image provided by the shape of a 4WD vehicle. This Toyota is big and bold in the American manner, so probably not a vehicle for the conservative buyer.

The latest Kluger was introduced to Australia in March this year and is longer and wider than before with a strong emphasis on maximising interior space. Even the rear suspension components feature a new design that keeps them low and compact.

The all-new Toyota Kluger is intended chiefly for the American market, hence its bold shape. Indeed, it’s actually made in the US of A. It was introduced to Australia in March this year and has a tall front with an oversized grille, large guards, and a deep swage down the sides. The body is unashamedly boxy to maximise space inside. The tail isn’t as squared off as some in this market arena, the rear lights have a protruding horizontal shape that adds to the bold look.

2014 Toyota Kluger GXL
The tailgate is almost a two-piece unit in that it has the convenience of opening rear glass. The ‘gate is hinged at the top, which most owners find more convenient than a side-hinged rear door.

Inside, the instrument and centre panels occupy virtually a single widespread area. This is a sensible idea, also found in the likes of the all-new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, so it looks to be the way of the future.

Toyota’s 3.5-litre twin-cam petrol V6 has been carried over from the old model Kluger but has been heavily revised to reduce emissions and trim fuel consumption. It produces up to 201 kilowatts of power and 337 Newton metres of torque.

Sadly, there’s no turbo-diesel option because the Americans aren’t keen on diesels in their smaller (yes, smaller!) SUVs.

2014 Toyota Kluger GXL
The V6 engine is now mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, replacing the ageing five-speed unit in the superseded Kluger. It has sophisticated electronics that help it adapt its gearchanges not only to hilly conditions, but also as it senses drivers’ individual desires.

Kluger is offered in 2WD, to the front wheels, or all-wheel-drive (AWD) if you want to get a bit more adventurous and explore mild off-road areas. Indeed, it may not just be aimed at station wagon buyers, Toyota tells us the sales split between 2WD and 4WD in the previous models was about 50/50 and the importer expects this ratio to continue.

Experience tells us few will use their Klugers on unsealed surfaces, but the dream is there – and who can argue against dreams?

Even the entry level Kluger has a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, seven airbags, daytime running lights, stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.

The topline Kluger Grande that we reviewed also has a pre-collision safety system and lane departure alert.

The front seats are large and comfortable, the second row seats have excellent legroom and headroom. Access to the rearmost seats is relatively easy as the second row seats slide forward. This is a tall vehicle and the climb into these rearmost seats may be hard work for some. The cabin can take seven adults, though five, with two children in the rear will be a more practical load.

Boot space is very good, and all seats can be folded flat. The second and third row seats each have 60/40 splits.

Ride comfort is good and noise, vibration and harshness levels are well damped. Handling is safe and predictable and there was considerable Australian testing from the early design stages. You certainly wouldn’t describe it as sporting, that’s not a criticism, but we can’t see many buyers of BMW X5 and the like putting the Toyota on their short list.

What Toyota Kluger has always been is an excellent long distance cruiser. Around town it can be a bit of a handful at times due to its sheer bulk. The rearview camera and reasonably slim roof pillars do make life easier.

Engine performance is good without being outstanding. The new automatic is excellent in the way it works with the engine torque to get the best from it.

Fuel consumption isn’t overly high for the class, but this is certainly no economy special. Around town you’re likely to see number in the 12 to 16 litres per hundred kilometres most of the time. The new six-speed auto helps on the highway and it’s not difficult to get the big Toyota under 10 litres per hundred with moderate driving.

Toyota Kluger is a large comfortable station wagon that will usually be used only as a people carrier. Having the option to take the all-wheel-drive versions into mild off-road areas will attract adventurous family buyers.


GX 2WD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: 2WD: $40,990
GXL 2WD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: $49,990
Grande 2WD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: $63,990
GX AWD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: $44,990
GXL AWD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: $53,990
Grande AWD 3.5-litre five-door wagon: $67,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for driveaway prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Satellite Navigation: Standard in Grande, not offered in other models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Kluger GX 3.5-litre five-door wagon)

Capacity: 3.456 litres
Configuration: V6
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Bore/Stroke: 94.0 x 83.0 mm
Maximum Power: 201 kW @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 337 Nm @ 4700 rpm

Driven Wheels: 4WD
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 4.154:1

Length: 4865 mm
Wheelbase: 2790 mm
Width: 1925 mm
Height: 1730 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 2005-2020 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 litres
Towing Capacity: 750 kg (2000 kg with braked trailer)

Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, L-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension: Independent, McPherson struts, dual lower transverse links, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Disc

Type: Petrol 91RON
Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.6 L/100km

Green Vehicle Guide Greenhouse Rating: 5/10
Green Vehicle Guide Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Three years/100,000km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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