2018 Toyota Kluger GX AWD SUV Review

Toyota Kluger GX Family Wagon Road Test Review

Toyota Kluger GX Overview

Toyota Kluger was first released to Australia in 2003 and the latest version of the Kluger was first introduced in 2014 with a significant upgrade in early 2017. We had on test the GX model which is the range entry version.

To say that the Kluger has been a successful model for Toyota is like saying Bradman was a good batter in cricket. It has been hugely successful and the reason is simply that it works for the family. Every time I drive the Toyota Kluger I can’t help but think that somehow they got inside a women’s mind and worked out what they want in a family SUV because they know what they want.

We have previously reviewed the Kluger a number of times so let’s just go with a quick overview to start. It is a 7 seat 2WD and AWD SUV featuring a 3.5L V6 engine (upgraded 2017) with practical versatility and amazing internal space.

In what is becoming a new sales trend, the Kluger is becoming more popular as a 2WD as well as its traditional AWD roots. Buyers are looking for the benefits of the SUV body style but don’t necessarily want or need the benefits of AWD.

17 Toyota Kluger GX Front

Toyota Kluger GX Exterior

The Kluger looks good for a family wagon, drives with almost car like handling and ride, has an abundance of standard comfort and safety features and sells in droves for Toyota.

The Kluger has an upright bold look with a high grill and sleek lights and bonnet. The Kluger had LED daytime running lights, auto dimming headlights and LED taillights. It runs on 18 inch alloy wheels with 245/60 R18 tyres.

Without having an abundance is styling, the Kluger manages to exude a distinctive presence.

Toyota Kluger GX

Toyota Kluger GX Interior

Jumping inside the Kluger GX produces an immediate feeling of space. The fabric seats are reasonably comfortable but lack adjustable lumbar support.

They do give you enough slide for taller drivers and the height and reach adjustable steering wheel every driver should be able to find their perfect driving position.

The dash is easy to read and simple to navigate. The centre stack houses the infotainment system that again is easy to read and use. Unlike a lot of the Toyota systems this looks integrated in to the dash. It also does look a little plastic though. Bluetooth connection is a breeze. Toyota’s insistence on not using Apple Car Play and Android Auto is a limiting factor in the range. Unfortunately there is no satellite navigation system.

For a fairly large SUV there is good visibility for the driver with good reversing camera, large external rear view mirrors and decent internal mirror.

Even for taller drivers such as myself there is ample head and shoulder room.  The second row of seats are again comfortable, even for three. Again ample head shoulder room. With the flat floor there is room for the middle passenger feet as well. With the driver’s seat fully back there is enough room for me to sit behind myself in comfort.

The third row of seats is amongst the best in class and both rear rows from air-conditioning vents. In line with the perfect SUV theory there are cup holders and storage bins everywhere. The centre console is probably the biggest and best designed in any vehicle. It serves as a great arm rest and is cavernous as well as practical.

Toyota Kluger GX

Toyota Kluger GX Features

The list of standard features on the GX is impressive even though it is the entry level model.

It includes electric power steering, six-speaker 6.1 inch display audio with Toyota Link5 connected mobility, illuminated vanity mirrors for both front occupants, front fog lamps, privacy glass and power-adjustable exterior mirrors, air-conditioning, keyless entry and ignition.


Toyota Kluger GX Drivetrain and Engine

Toyota has persisted with the V6 petrol engine. It obviously is what the market will accept but with so many efficient powerful diesel engines on the market today in competitors SUV’s I would have thought that they would have at least offered it as an option.

The 3.5L V6 petrol engine produces 218 kW @ 6,600 rpm of power and 350 Nm @ 4,700 rpm of torque. The Kluger, in an effort to improve driveability and economy, now has an 8 speed Automatic transmission.  It isn’t a powerhouse or exciting but neither does it lag the traffic or feel sluggish. It is adequate for the job.

Even though the Kluger 2WD sales are increasing it at heart is an AWD SUV and that is its roots I guess you could say. It has a ground clearance of 200 mm but doesn’t have good approach, ramp over or departure angles.

It is really an AWD SUV for forest trails, down to the snow for a weekend, some sand driving and towing the Jet Ski. The AWD system in the Kluger is the Dynamic Torque Control AWD. It really is a safety feature as much as anything.

The AWD system helps maximise traction, cornering stability and driver control while also saving fuel. The compact, lightweight system uses information on vehicle speed, yaw rate and steering and throttle angles to control torque distribution automatically between the front and rear axles.

It saves fuel by driving only the front wheels when the vehicle is cruising, switching to AWD when needed ensuring an ideal torque split – up to a maximum of 50 per cent

17 Toyota Kluger GX safety

Toyota Kluger GX Safety

The 2017 upgrade has seen the safety of the GX improved. The Kluger has an ANCAP 5 Star safety rating.

Toyota Safety Sense[S1] includes Pre-Collision Safety System with Pedestrian Detection, Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert and Automatic High Beam

Standard features include seven airbags, reversing camera, reverse-parking sensors, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Assist Control (DAC).

Toyota Kluger GX Summary

So to sum up the Toyota Kluger GX. It could be described as the perfect family wagon. It does everything with a minimum of fuss, isn’t fazed by anything in its daily life and transports the family in comfort and safety.

It is limited in some safety and comfort features and lacks sat nav. For the family it isn’t too expensive. It is however a little boring and still is a bit heavier on fuel than alternative diesel engine SUV’s.

However Toyota continue to sell heaps of the Kluger but not so many of the GX version.

17 Toyota Kluger GX rear

What’s Good:

  • Practicality
  • Internal space
  • Fit for purpose

 What’s Not So Good:

  • Needs diesel engine
  • Lack of character
  • Manual steering wheel adjustment

Model: Toyota Kluger GX Awd

Model Price:                      $53,266 RDAP

Engine:                                3.5L V6 Petrol Engine

Drivetrain:                           AWD 8 Sp AT

Power:                                218 kW @ 6,600 rpm

Torque:                               350 Nm @ 4,700 rpm

Safety:                                5 Star ANCAP

CO2 Emissions:                  221 g/km

Economy:                           9.5 L/100km (ADR comb)

Tow Capacity: Max              2000 kg

Tow Ball Rating:                  200 kg

Servicing: Capped Price      $180/service

Warranty:                            3yr/ 100,000 km with full roadside assist


Overall Rating     82/100

Behind the Wheel      8

Comfort                      8

Equipment                 8

Performance               8

Ride & Handling         8

Practicality                           9

Fit for Purpose                    10

Towing Ability                     7

Off Road Ability                  7

Value for Money                 9