- Roomy and well built interior
- Solid on-road feel with improved dynamics
- Gutsy engine and gearbox combo
- Thirsty petrol V6 engine
- Outdated infotainment screen
- Grande pricing is quite expensive
It’s safe to say that since its inception in 2003, the Toyota Kluger has been a firm family favourite in Australia. Spacious and reliable, albeit bland, it became a staple in many driveways. It’s also been Australia’s favourite seven-seat SUV for the past seven years, outperforming cars which are now long dead, such as the Ford Territory and Holden Captiva. Now in its fourth generation, the 2022 Toyota Kluger Grande is still super fresh, having been launched just last year and comes with Toyota’s promise to inject some much needed flair into its large SUV.
With a choice of a hybrid power for the first time on the Kluger, Toyota has also decided to offer the classic V6-petrol alongside the hybrid option. We came away mightily impressed with the Kluger Hybrid before, so how does the classic V6 fair? Is it an outdated powertrain option, or does it make a compelling argument for itself?
Price & Equipment: 7.5/10
Toyota have created a Kluger model for most budgets, with three model grades and a total of three powertrain options, including the all-important hybrid.
While the entry-level Toyota Kluger GX kicks the range off from $47,650 plus on-road costs (+$,4000 for all-wheel drive and +$3,000 for the hybrid again), with the mid-range GXL priced at $56,850 plus on-road (+ the same costs for all-wheel drive and the hybrid).
Here we tested the the top of the range, the 2022 Toyota Kluger Grande, which starts from $68,900 plus on-road costs for the V6 petrol front-wheel drive, $72,900 for the V6 petrol all-wheel drive we had, and $75,400 for the four-cylinder hybrid all-wheel drive.
Standard equipment highlights on all Kluger models from the spec sheet include keyless entry with push-button start, auto LED headlights and auto wipers, air vents for all seats, five USB ports and a full size alloy spare wheel. The Toyota Kluger Grande sits atop the local range and adds leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, a power tailgate, ventilated front seats, a 360-degree camera, along with a heads up display and an upgraded 11-speaker JBL audio system.
Toyota has done a relatively good job with being generous when it comes to standard equipment across the range. Tech is well looked after with plenty of active safety tech from front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, and speed sign recognition to help keep driver’s out of trouble on the road. Should the Kluger be in an accident, Toyota has given the large SUV seven airbags. It’s important to note third row occupants have full protection from the curtain airbags which extend all the way to the rear. A 5-star ANCAP rating should be coming through any day now.
Competitors of the V6 Toyota Kluger include the Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander V6 at $61,700, the Kia Sorento GT-Line at $64,290 drive away and the Mazda CX-9 Azami at $66,190. Overall, the Kluger range is not only more expensive than its peers but also seems to be lacking equipment too. Take the Mazda CX-9 Azami for example. It comes with a larger, higher quality screen, a more potent turbocharged turbo petrol engine, Nappa leather seats. A Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander also comes with better quality leather, a much larger infotainment screen as well as wireless smartphone charging.
What we struggle to sallow the most is the fact that the Kluger Grande costs a whopping $12,000 more than the mid-range Kluger GXL. That’s quite the price to pay for some leather, a better sound system and some larger alloys.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
All petrol-powered Klugers come with Toyota’s trusty ‘2GR’ naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine pumping out 218kW of power at 6600rpm and 350Nm of torque at 4700rpm. The engine is married to an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, with power sent to the front wheels, or to all four in AWD versions.
Toyota says the Kluger will sip fuel at a respectable at 8.9L/100km in a mixture of highway and city driving. Our experience showed it was almost impossible to get consumption into the single digits, with our tester returning 11L/100km over a week of city and freeway driving. The Hybrid Klugers are officially rated at 5.6L/100km – and this is relatively easy to achieve in real life – meaning they will almost halve your fuel bills. The Hybrid makes so much sense for a family SUV that we would recommend it every time.
The V6 does fight back however with a beautiful, deep growl as revs rise and feels well sorted and refined. The gearbox shifts effortlessly and has a great ability of always knowing which gear to select. For an old school engine, the V6 is glorious.
Toyota claims the Kluger V6 will hit 100km/h from rest in just 7.5 seconds, which we think is right on the money. There’s no denying it, the Kluger V6 feels perfectly fine and is perky around town and on the freeway. It a quality drivetrain, but it is one which will live in the shadow if its more frugal Hybrid peer.
The rival Mazda CX-9 has a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder petrol engine under its bonnet. It might be smaller than the Kluger’s V6, and is down on power with 170kW, but its 420Nm easily trumps the Kluger V6’s 350Nm.
Ride & Handling: 8.5/10
While the 2022 Toyota Kluger Grande might feel positively large on the road, with a larger footprint than the previous model, it actually rides and handles like a quality product thanks to Toyota’s newfound talent for making cars drive well. Thanks to an all-new platform, with new suspension front and rear, the Kluger feels soft and supple, even on the larger 20-inch alloys on our car. It handles well too, holding its line through corners much better than you’d think.
The damping especially feels well controlled, the Kluger doesn’t float around like old models, instead the suspension goes about its business soaking up bumps, while keeping the body in check. It’s clear that Toyota has spent some serious time making sure this US-built Kluger drives well and is as dynamic as possible. Heck, even the rear tailgate is made from a special light-weight plastic resin to keep overall weight low, improving handling and fuel economy. Road noise is kept rather low, with excellent door seals and sound deadening keeping out unwanted wind and road noise.
Around town, visibility is decent not only thanks to the large windows, but also thanks to the 360-degree camera while the turning circle is a respectable (11.4m kerb to kerb), helping with parking and maneuvering in and out of tight spots.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
The Kluger’s wheelbase grew a whopping six extra centimeters with this latest generation meaning the interior is now much roomier than before. Opening any door to the Kluger reveals a well-built, roomy but ultimately slightly bland interior.
Material quality is bordering on luxurious, with soft touch plastics in most areas and well sorted touchpoints and key controls. Sliding into the front seats reveals them to large and relaxing, with some quality leather and great adjustability. The centre console is cavernous storage places abound with large door bins and a sizeable glovebox.
We aren’t fans of the small the 8.0-inch touchscreen which is perched on the top of the dash, and flanked by thick borders and a myriad of buttons. It’s not that sharp, or fast and frankly feels a generation behind the rest of the car. Seriously Toyota, we like our screens to be large, bright and sharp. This one just isn’t. We’re glad Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as Toyota’s software feels very 2010. Infotainment is a big part of a car’s overall appeal in 2022, and the Kluger Grande’s screen is simply not up to scratch for the money, bringing an old feel to an otherwise decent and well-made interior.
The second row of the Kluger is supremely spacious, even for three lanky adults. Kids will love the integrated monitor in the headliner which can play content using smartphone mirroring and pump audio through the Kluger’s included headphones. Road trips will be a breeze.
Not entirely unexpected, but the third row is best reserved for short trips or for smaller children. There isn’t much headroom or toe-room in the back but there are are air vents in the back to keep everyone cool on warmer days.
With the third row folded away, the Kluger manages a very decent 552-litres of boot space, while having the third row up means the Kluger can still carry 241L as a seven-seater. With both the second and third rows down, the Kluger can be filled with a huge 1,909L.
Service & Warranty: 9/10
Like all Toyotas, the Kluger range comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with Toyota offering a further two years of engine and driveline warranty if your Kluger is serviced by a Toyota dealership.
Toyota consistently has some of the cheapest servicing in the market and the Kluger is no exception. Each service for the Kluger costs only $250 per visit for the first five services. Five years of servicing is just $1,250. The Toyota Kluger needs a service every 12-months or 15,000kms.
The Mazda CX-9’s first five servicing come in between $364 and $409, totalling $1910 over the first five years.
The 2022 Toyota Kluger DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.2/10
It’s clear that the 2022 Toyota Kluger Grande is now a quality SUV which has what it takes to challenge the class leaders. Toyota now has an excellent seven-seater SUV on offer, with cheap servicing costs and in the case of the Hybrid, unmatched running costs. All Klugers drive well, feel well built and will no doubt be reliable for years to come, with comfortable, roomy interiors for the whole family.
So how does the V6 variant of the Kluger sit? It doesn’t detract from the Kluger’s appeal and is certainly a worthwhile option if the Hybrid’s pricing is a tad too steep for you. It’s also faster than the Hybrid model. Ultimately, the Kluger offers something for everyone and with no weak links in the range, you really can’t go wrong with any model.
The Kluger Grande might be a tad overpriced considering the equipment it comes with as standard, thats why we would recommend sampling the Kluger GXL first before deciding whether the extra cash splash for the Kluger Grande is worth it.