Toyota Kluger KX-R (2010)

In brief

For the Kluger's mid-life facelift Toyota has taken a scalpel to both the car's exterior and its price tag.

The most obvious changes are the slimmer headlights with projector headlamps and the smarter looking grille. There's also a refreshed set of tail-lights, new alloy wheels, extra splashes of chrome and wing mirror puddle lamps.

On the inside, Toyota has tweaked some of the dashboard trim for a slightly classier feel, but the big news is that the stereos in both KX-R and KX-S grades now feature Bluetooth hands-free and music streaming, an auxiliary jack, steering wheel controls, an iPod-compatible USB port and six speakers.

Other standard features on the entry-level KX-R include 17-inch alloy wheels, a 3.5-inch information and reversing camera display, cruise control, stability control, seven airbags and air conditioning. The mid-range KX-S up the ante with 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, leather interior bits, heated electric front seats, three-zone climate control, six-CD stacker and 4.3-inch stereo display.

Step up to the top-of-the-range Grande and there's a tilt-and-slide sunroof, plenty of faux wood trim, keyless entry and start, powered tail-gate, automatic headlights and self-dimming rear-view mirror to greet you. The Grande's audio system is driven by an 8-inch touchscreen with DVD-based sat nav, four-disc CD stacker, Bluetooth hands-free and auxiliary jack, but no USB port. A 9-inch flip-down screen, DVD drive and three wireless (infrared) headphones should keep munchkins in the rear seat occupied.

Drive impressions

Although a V6 hybrid and four-cylinder petrol are available overseas, the one and only engine on offer in Australia is a 3.5-litre V6. Despite the V6's 201kW of power and 337Nm of torque, the Kluger's 1.8-tonne weight means that it never threatens to transform into a rocket ship. That said, the engine is muted and refined, with plenty of poke for overtaking manoeuvres.

Both a five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive is standard across the range, but buyers can opt for a full-time all-wheel drive system if they plan to do some light off-roading. Fuel economy is rated at 11L/100km for front-wheel drive models or 11.6L/100km for the all-wheel drive Grande.

During our drive program the Kluger was stable out on the highway. Body roll felt well controlled until we started driving with a bit venom. So, at first blush it seems to be safe and dependable, but not anything to get the blood rushing, although we'll reserve our judgement until we have the Kluger around for a full review.

Outlook

In spite of the extra equipment, prices have fallen across the board with the entry-level KX-R receiving the biggest cut. The five-seat KX-R is now AU$1000 cheaper at AU$39,990, with the seven-seat version priced at AU$42,690. Both the mid-range KX-S and high-end Grande come standard with seven seats, and will retail for AU$50,990 and AU$60,990 respectively.

All the aforementioned prices are for the front-wheel drive iterations; those wanting all-wheel drive traction should tack on an extra AU$4500. Naturally, all the quoted prices include GST, but exclude dealer and statutory charges.

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