Because the Kluger has really taken off in the land of the big, petrol-powered SUV – America – everything has been made bigger for the wide, open spaces that Americans aspire to travel everyday.
The upside of this is that Australians – who do travel wide, open spaces everyday – get a classy, spacious family wagon built for comfortable cruising.
This makes it perfect for families, coming standard with reverse parking sensors, reverse camera and automatic headlights, while mild revisions to the mid-range GXL gives the Kluger tri-zone climate control, smart entry, heated front seats and roof rails to fit optional roof racks.
The top-of-the line Grande we landed in scores all of the GXL’s gear plus a powered tailgate, ventilated front seats and even more safety gear, including autonomous emergency braking at speeds over 40km/h, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring. The flagship also cops a satellite navigation, roof-mounted BluRay player for the back rows and an upsized 8” touchscreen for the front dash.
So it’s not left wanting for equipment, but the real advantage the Kluger has over the competition is the space inside the cabin. The front two captains chairs can swallow you, while passengers in the second row can stretch out with acres of legroom and reclining seatbacks. The third row’s legroom relies on how reclined the middle row is; thankfully, you can easily slide the middle row fore and aft.
On the plus side for families, there are three child seat mounting points in the second row – but you can forget about getting into the third row easily without wrangling seatbelts and booster seats.
The good news is, though, that the boot is still practicable when you’ve got passengers in the third row and massive when you fold the rearmost seats into the floor. The new model is 150mm longer and 50mm wider than the previous Kluger, which may not sound like much in terms of absolute size but the smart use of the wheelbase increases actual dimensions inside to boost the daily practicality of the Kluger.
The Grande makes a strong case for families with a balance of safety, space and features that put it firmly up the top of the shopping list to check out - especially if you’ve got five or more regularly in the car.