The Toyota Kluger is a key example of the butch, functional family-sized SUVs which have become so popular over the last few years. The kind of SUV that focuses on the utility rather than the sport-and makes no excuses for doing so. Also known as the Highlander, it has been an important car for Toyota, grabbing them a large slice of the incredibly competitive large family car market. Car news websites are reporting an updated version for some point late in 2020 but in the meantime the current iteration still has plenty to offer.
Some big cars, especially SUVs, pretend to be something they are not. A sloped roof, a fancy grill, a flared bonnet- just some hint that there is more to them than their bulky frame suggests. The Kluger is having none of this. It’s not winning any beauty contests because it’s not entering any- this car is built to work not pose. Any doubts about this are quashed with a quick look under the bonnet. The 3.5 litre V6 Petrol engine is an absolute triumph. The Kluger is a big car and yet it will happily get from 0-100km in just over 8 seconds- not bad for a car of this weight. You might presume that such power would be coupled with a lot of engine noise but not so- Toyota have managed to produce a V6 which is positively serene. Admittedly not one for the purists!
Whilst we were relatively impressed by its handling, many a Toyota Kluger review has highlighted this as a weakness. Admittedly it’s not as agile as some of the smaller SUVs but it compares favourably to those of a similar size- certainly on a par with its main competitor the Ford Territory. The ride is not great when the roads get a little bumpy but in the town and on the motorway it is incredibly smooth- and in all honesty, how often do any of these new SUVs get anywhere near a bumpy road?
The Kluger knows its target market well. It’s a large family car built to deal with all the demands which family life can throw at it. It offers three rows of seats- all with amble leg room- which can be cleverly folded to provide a wealth of space. With both back rows reclined it can happily be used to transport van-sized proportions of load. The interior is on the luxurious side of functional with leather seats as standard. There are a seemingly endless number of storage compartments- great for hiding away clutter but making it all too easy to lose that map! It comes complete with all the extra ‘bits and bobs’ which you would expect from a Toyota in this price range including heated front seats, climate control, rear view camera, touch screen sat nav and seven airbags.
In an age when so many cars attempt to be everything to everybody the Kluger excels because it knows exactly what it is. A spacious, well-built family car that is surprisingly economical for its size. The Kruger has been something of a surprise hit for Toyota- it will be interesting to see just what changes the 2032 edition will bring.