DON’T be swayed by the gorgeous 19-inch alloys.
Until you drive it, the latest Toyota Kluger in mid-range, front-wheel drive KX-S guise seems virtually unbeatable, thanks to a combination of excellent seven-seater packaging, a powerful and smooth V6 drivetrain and impressively high equipment levels for the money.
But something has been lost in the way this SUV steers and rides compared to its dynamic AWD predecessor.
So, while the vast majority of buyers are likely to appreciate this Toyota for the way it transports their family and friends, there is very little for the keen driver to sink his or her teeth into.
Here lies the crucial difference between the Kluger II and Ford’s terrific Territory.
Model release dates: August 2007 - November 2010
TOYOTA’S original Kluger – released overseas in 2001 as the Highlander – was based on the previous-shape Camry, but not its 2002—2006 380N Camry underpinnings we saw in Australia, which was a development of the 1997 Camry/2000 Avalon front-wheel drive chassis.
Well, the Kluger 1’s platform also lurks beneath the 2003—2008 Lexus RX.
The Toyota was always preferred because it is a far sportier and more dynamic drive than the soft, luxury focussed RX.
Yet the athletic Kluger is virtually as comfortable and refined inside.
Available only in AWD guise (and aided by a viscous-coupled centre limited slip differential and limited slip rear differential), the well-equipped mid-range, seven-seater CVX also adds smooth performance from a powerful 172kW/328Nm 3.3-litre DOHC 24V V6 petrol engine, mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox, to its string of plusses.
Not at all a bad SUV, but not one for off-roading either.
A minor cosmetic and mechanical update occurred in October 2005.