Last year I tested the Toyota Kluger Grande which was the top spec version, this time I had the cheapest Kluger, the GX, in which things were still super-sized but just not quite as fancy!!
Storage in the Kluger was really good; there is a shelf running around the dashboard that I LOVED! Over time I am sure it just collects child stuff and receipts but to start with it is quite clear and nice!
It even has a hole so you could pass a USB wire through to the sockets below for charging your phone and keeping the wire out of the footwell. The central console storage box is enormous and the front cup holders and glove box are all very generously sized but the door pockets I found shallow and impractical, I couldn't get my large refillable water bottle in them and 600ml bottles rattled in the plastic.
With eight cup holders throughout the car (two for the second row of seats and four in the third row), everyone would stay well refreshed! I actually found when the third-row seats were folded down that having cup holders in the boot was so useful! When I got to the car with all my child, bags and tea, I had somewhere to put my hot tea that was safe while I dealt with child and bags in the knowledge that it wouldn’t spill or fall over.
When all three rows of seats were in use I could get eight shopping bags in the boot, that's one more than the Mazda CX-9 and three more than the Kia Sorento (which could only hold five shopping bags when using all seven seats and I could only get the compact stroller in the boot). I was surprised to find that all types of stroller fitted in the boot of the Toyota Kluger with shopping! There was enough space for a Mountain Buggy Duet twin stroller (I did have to remove the wheels) and two shopping bags.
Using the Kluger as a five-seater car with an enormous boot, it held nineteen shopping bags, compared to the Kia Sorento which held 16 and the Mazda CX-9 which held 18. All types of stroller fitted easily in the boot of the Kluger with good amounts of shopping, the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle single stroller fitted with eleven shopping bags.
The boot door of the Kluger Grande had an extra window opening that I found a fantastic feature because it made popping a bag into the boot a simple thing rather than opening the full boot door. This more basic GX model did not have that and I really missed it, I think it is one of the Kluger Grande's best BabyDrive features.
The doors and the windows were quiet in the Kluger and you could use them without disturbing a sleeping baby! The road and engine noise are quite good for a car of this size but it grunts like a teenager when accelerating uphill!
The media system in the Kluger GX is very small, basic and minimal. It doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto or even sat-nav.
There are plenty of baby-waking and driver-harassing beeps in the Kluger!! The rear parking sensors could not be muted they could only be turned off with a button by your right knee and you get a visual for the rear sensors in the screen in front of the steering wheel too. The reversing camera image is very milky and the screen is small for a vehicle of this size.
There are seven seats in the Kluger; the third-row seats are very spacious and you could put two teenagers back there! The third-row seats were actually the most comfortable in the car!! Very spacious and supporting.
The second-row seats have ISOFix points in the two outer seats that are not within plastic guides but are easy to connect. There are top tethers for all three seats, within plastic guides on the seat backs and easy to connect. There was just enough room for three child seats to fit across the second-row seats but it was a squeeze and I had to use the seat belts rather than ISOFix because there wasn't enough space.
I fit two big forward-facing child seats and a rear-facing capsule in one of the outside seats and installation was relatively simple.
The second-row seats slide forward and back on a 60:40 split. When you only have two child seats installed in the second row and are using the ISOFix rather than the seatbelt, you can slide one of the seats forward far enough with a child seat still installed and climb through to the third-row seats.
Because of the 60:40 split second-row seats, legroom can be well distributed throughout the Kluger which helps in the third row, so if you have a forward facing child seat in the second row then you can move the seat forward slightly allowing for taller passengers in the third-row seats.
The seats are comfier in this more basic Kluger GX than I found in the Grande because the leather seats in the Grande were extremely slippery and passengers and child seats seemed to slide around, but that is not the case on the woven upholstered seats of the GX.
There are air conditioning vents throughout the Kluger and the rear passengers have individual controls on them, as well as master controls on the dashboard for the driver to set them. This is a FANTASTIC BabyDrive feature, so you can keep each of your little passengers happy, in theory!!
In reality, I did find there was too much custom ability on the dashboard, a spattering of different buttons, dials and digital displays. As a Mum, I just find I need simplicity, as there is sooo much else to deal with.
The conversation mirror has to be a favourite BabyDrive feature for me, being able to keep an eye on, interact and converse with the rear passengers without turning my head away from the road is fantastic.
The Kluger is enormous and it pitched and rolled while driving, which caused the people on board to bob about.
The Toyota Kluger was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2014 and has seven airbags as standard. The side head curtain airbags do extend to the third-row occupants but the seatbelt reminder does not extend to third-row seats.