Subaru vs Kluger?

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 14:19
ThreadID: 75610 Views:9904 Replies:16 FollowUps:17
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We are looking at doing a round oz trip with kids. Currently we have a '98 Forester which has does us well. However we are specifying a new camper, slightly heavier than our previous on road, but still under a tonne fully loaded with fuel and water etc, but mostly sitting at about 850kg for the trip.

Feedback fromt he Subaru forum site indicated that we should be ok, although there wasn't much information about towing issues. Recently we headed south of WA to walpole and found we were changing down gears regularly and still losing speed up the hills. with a slightly lighter camper. Very stressful, especially with impatient drivers behind us.

Hence we are possibly looking at upgrading slightly to a Kluger (recent model). This is slightly larger, bigger engine, more fuel :-(, but larger towing capacity. We would have to go auto (only ever driven a manual) for the 7 seater option (so kids can bring a friend each camping) and it doesn't have a low range gearing option like the Forester (which we do use, if only infrequently).

I don't have a good feel for how the auto AWD will compare to the forester, and am concerned the absence of low range might be an issue. Trying to avoid going 4WD mainly from and size and fuel perspective, and the Kluger seemed to be inbetween.

What are peoples opinions / recent experiences? We would be sticking to the main roads mainly, but accessding national parks etc.

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Reply By: D200Dug- Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 14:35

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 14:35
Based on no real experience with either car I would probably go the Subaru option.

Just personal bias rather than any hard facts
AnswerID: 401740

Reply By: oldfart1953 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 14:55

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 14:55
Hi Pug8
Your current Subaru is it a 2 litre or a 2.5 litre?
Your thinking of 'upgrading' why not get a later model 2.5 litre Forester.
In the smaller range of 4wd's/AWD you have to go a very long way to beat the Subaru. Low range in the Forester is a little bit of a joke, its only about half a gear great advantage, but it is a lower range.
Have a fantastic time which ever way you go, SWMBO, the kids & you will gain a lifetime of memories

CU down the road
Tony H
Insanity doesnt run in my family.... it gallops!

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AnswerID: 401742

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:04

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:04
Yep, the '98 Forester is only a 2L.

So will the 2.5L Forester give significantly more grunt when towing up hills compared to the 2L?

Yes we are very excited about the trip ... doing a test run up to Exmouth later in the year. Hoping to be on the road for 4mths from next Feb.
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:08

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:08
Why not do a test drive in each type of vehicle.
I would think that with a growing family, as kids do get larger and taller the Kluger would be a better choice.
As for 4wd the Kluger can handle moderate off road situations and should have more room plus better ground clearance.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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AnswerID: 401743

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:29

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 15:29
Unfortunately the test drive doesn't let me take either off-road with my trailer! :-) Which is what I am trying to get a feel for. Mind you I am going to look into the possibility of hiring a Kluger (not sure if thats an option).

Yes the growing family is a big consideration ... 2 boys currently mid primary and only getting bigger. Not sure if we'll be able to carry enough food based on their current eating habits! :-)

Interestingly the ground clearance is higher on the Forester (new model 220mm) vs Kluger (new model 206mm). Although really we're only talking 1.4cm! Our current forester is 200mm and that has been fine for us so far.
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 17:02

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 17:02
Pug 8

Personally I find the Kluger a most unappealing proposition.

Friends took one on a Central Oz trip and it earned the nick name "The Klanger".

For similar money you could get a Pajero.

AnswerID: 401750

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 17:35

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 17:35
Thanks Bob. Your kind of practical experience feedback is what I was chasing. What points exactly were troublesome? (Also central Oz we will be missing this time round for us - not enough time).

I guess if I was to look at the Pajero, then I am moving into the Prado too. Another option was the Mitsubishi Challenger which like the Pajero has the super select 4WD features. Also much less fuel consumption than the Kluger.

ps. just re-read the articles attached to this post. Probably looking more for practical experiences information.
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Follow Up By: GQueue - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 19:00

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 19:00
Friends of mine took a current model Kluger with Jayco Swan (onroad version, not Outback - weighed well over 1t) in tow to do the west coast last year. Took four months doing WA and up to the NT, even taking in sections of the Gibb River Road. Thing never missed a beat, driven sensibly and within its limits. Did plenty of Nation Parks, dirt and backroads as well. Wouldn't be my first choice either, but for what you require....
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Follow Up By: Pug8 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 19:08

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 19:08
Ok. Starting with a blank page ... We want:
- something bigger and more capable than a forester.
- tow comfortaly max 1 tonne camper trailer.
- do light off road driving (National Parks).
? maybe have a 7 seater option.
- Grow with the family to last us until the kids drive themselves (10-15 yrs life).
- Not pay the earth for the car
- Economical fuel user.

Not that we want much ... recommendations?
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Follow Up By: disco driver - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 22:21

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 22:21
The 6th and 7th seats are only suitable for people under 1.2m in height due to the lack of legroom in a Kluger (probably the same in most other socalled 7 seaters.
If you have 7 people in the vehicle there is almost no luggage room either.

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Reply By: garrycol - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:06

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:06
If you are going to upgrade to a new Kluger why not consider the new diesel outback - about the same price and a much better vehicle - with diesel economy.

AnswerID: 401761

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:50

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:50
Thanks Garry.

We were thinking if we were upgrading then we would like the option of a 7 seater. Saying that we have been very happy with our Forester and the Outback is a great car and bigger. MIght have another look at the Outback and give up on the 7 seater option.
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Reply By: craig2 - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:48

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 18:48
Better watch out for your tyres i've heard that the tyres for the Kluger are about $600.00 ea because of the size.
AnswerID: 401765

Reply By: Member - Andrew L (WA) - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 20:04

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 20:04
I'd would suggest that with a growing family and towing the best option would be an Diesel/Auto Prado or Pajero.
Better towing, better fuel economy, greater off road ability than either a Subaru or a Kluger.

AnswerID: 401782

Reply By: Shaker - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 20:13

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 20:13
You should also look at Pathfinder, one of the best 2.5 litre diesels for towing.
AnswerID: 401785

Reply By: Ballfyboy - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 21:49

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 21:49
Ahrrr the perfect car question....

We have just taken delivery of the new Challenger. We will be towing our camper (have not completed the run in period yet) and after driving it for a couple of days now, the performance will be more than enough. They are available as a 7 seater and represent fantastic value for money IMO. Test drive one and you will not be disappointed. We will be doing Cape York in Aug with a round Aus trip in 2011. The only neg is that there is not really any aftermarket stuff out yet. Hopefully that should change shortly.
AnswerID: 401812

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 15:13

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 15:13
Thanks Ballfyboy.

Been looking at the Challenger reviews ...

What do you think about the following comments (from car reviews, mostly very good):
- low-range gearlever fouls driver’s knee,
- noisy diesel engine,
- cramped rear seat,

Also I note that to get the 7 seater option you are restricted to auto and higher fuel consumption!
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Follow Up By: Ballfyboy - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 16:30

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 16:30

- low-range gearlever fouls driver’s knee, *Not at all. I am 5'10
- noisy diesel engine, * noiser than a prado but min 15K cheaper. I don't mind the noise at all. it seems to be between 1400 & 1800 rpm. The Mickey Thomson ATZ make more noise I think ;-)
- cramped rear seat, Do you mean 3rd row? I have not sat in a 3rd row as of yet. Middle row has lots of room.

They are a mid sized family car not a D4 or Cruiser which are both 40k more in price, and it comes with super select as well as rear diff lock std. You get a 5 10 warrenty as well.

In regards to fuel consumption that is a academic figure, real life driving will be quite a bit different I think. There is more info on the Pajero club of Vic forum. I am still on my first tank but I am more than happy to spend $1 / 100k for somebody to change gears for me. Far bigger things to worry about in life :-)

IMO Forester/Kluger has nothing on it. Go for a test drive and make your own decision.
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Follow Up By: Pug8 - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 17:49

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 17:49
Thanks Ballfyboy.

I think you have turned my thinking around. Glad to hear your comments too ... note most of the reviews I read were very positive, they were the only negatives I found (above). Will check out the Pajero club info too.

Based on the use of the low range on the Forester (even used it through a bog parking at a SW winery) I like the comfort of minor off road capability and the Challenger seems to provide the best of both worlds.

Looks like I'll be heading for a test drive next week of the Challenger! :-)

Thanks again - it was the real life experiences I was chasing.
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Follow Up By: Ballfyboy - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 20:29

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 20:29
Good luck, I hope you find the vehicle that will suit your families needs.
FollowupID: 671383

Reply By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 22:32

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 22:32
We have had a lot of Subaru Foresters at work. Currently have a manual and an auto in the current model and an auto in the previous model. We have had manual and auto Foresters in the past going back a long way. We don't tow.

I am in charge of the fleet and get to drive them and get lumped with their repairs too. The Subarus have been exceptionally reliable and have excellent traction in the icy winter conditions we encounter on the Northern Tablelands of NSW.

The current body shape vehicles I have found a little disappointing. In some ways I prefer the previous model. The older model seems more responsive. Possibly the new body has just grown a bit big and heavy for the engine. Found in the manual I need to select a gear two gears lower than what I expect and the auto is a bit gutless as well. The manual Foresters have low range. The autos don't. Have only used the low range mucking around.

Doubt you would gain any real towing advantage upgrading to the current model Forester. If you are in need of upgrading a good second hand previous model could be better and cheaper. If you need more towing capacity than what you have I would look to at least a size larger vehicle but not a Kluger.

Why not see how your Forester handles the heavier load before making any decisions?

Possibly something like an AWD Territory is a closer fit to your needs than a Kluger. We have one of those at work too. Better going up hills than the Forester but the Forester is miles ahead on corners and dirt. They are quite different vehicles, each good in its own way.

AnswerID: 401821

Reply By: Gronk - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:30

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:30
Sorry I don't own one, but if I was buying a soft do towing....and good on fuel....and cheaper than a Kluger...5 yr would be a Hyundai Sante Fe....

Kills the opposition for torque ...436Nm.....and even towing, will probably return approx 10 l/hk...or better..

Have seen a few go offroad and surprising how far they will go, and by the look of where you go they will handle it with ease !!
AnswerID: 401835

Reply By: Member - Cantiva Clay (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:48

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:48
Hi Pug8, I reckon forget what vehicle you want for a moment and make a detailed ranked list of needs and how those needs can be met - then take that list and find that "most perfect vehicle" ie the one that most ticks the boxes highest ranks and do a fiddle on the rest on trade-off's. eg. towing a fold down camper is frustrating, that's easy, you want a 2.5~3.2l diesel. Similarly economy is vip, again diesel. Lots of kids, so 7 seats, lots of kids over long distance - air con vents in the back (lots of seven even 5 seaters don't have this) and possibly dvd or similar. Long distances chews up tyres, affordable replacement tyres, so 16~17" rims not 18~20inchers. I reckon you'll find that you have surprisingly little choice at the end and it might not be what you expect. Also on your next trip take the time to talk to other happy campers and see what they reckon.
AnswerID: 401836

Reply By: mikehzz - Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:57

Saturday, Jan 30, 2010 at 23:57
The new Kia Sorrento? Great fuel economy and 430 torques it will pull the Queen Mary. All wheel drive it ticks a lot of boxes.
AnswerID: 401837

Reply By: Outbacktourer - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 08:43

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 08:43
We are on our second Kluger (first and now current model)

It's really just a Mum's taxi for us but I can say that it is a very high quality motor vehicle. You will find it is actually a very big vehicle and probably has more interior space than a Prado. I would doubt that there was a smoother and more comfortable vehicle around in the class.

Clearance is good and I have towed my 1500Kg race car/trailer combo with it a couple of times and it towed like a dream and the Auto was great.

It chews the juice around town like all petrol v6's but is quite economical on the open road. I doubt that with the Auto and traction/hill descent control you will lose anything by not having low range if you are only doing national parks.

One thing is the tyres, I''m not sure which model you are looking at but the one we have has 19's of the Bridgestone variety. We have only got 43K out of the first set and the bloke from Jax reckoned that was "pretty good" and that Toyo are the only other ones that make that size (245/55-19) and they are even softer.

let me know if you want to know anything more specific.

AnswerID: 401866

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 10:28

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 10:28

Looks like tyres might be a killer. I note someone else said I was looking at $600 each! Is that your experience?

I also note based on your profile you have done the GRR and crossed the pentacost river. Several articles I've read, and information I received, has indicated given good conditions and low water level we would be able to do this (staying on the main track) with the Forester. What are your thoughts? How would the Kluger handle it.

Also we live in regional WA - Bunbury, so we mainly do hwy driving (its just the school drive that is at 50kph). And there's only a handful of traffic lights in town.

Saying that ... I am starting to sway towards the Mitsubishi's - although I understand there may still be financial difficulties with the company .. hence why we were looking elsewhere.

I had done what a previous post had suggested initially ... ie. identify all the need tos and then pick the car that fitted the specs best - that was the Kluger. Now I'm just confused.

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Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 11:50

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 11:50
I just paid $369 for the Bridgestones ringing around. RRP is $470 or something. Not cheap but not the end of the world.

To be frank I would not want to try the GRR on that rubber. Perhaps I mis-read your post but I would not want to do extended off sealed road touring on them.

You would definitely need to explore other tyre options. I know Pirelli make a Scorpion ATR which is much more suitable that is slightly wider (255/55-19) but would probably fit OK. Either that or look at a swap to a set of 18's (if they will fit, probably) and a set of more appropriate rubber.

When we did the Kimberley the deepest crossing was the King Edward up near Mitchell Falls and it was up to the top of the wheels on the Patrol. There was a guy in there in a Forrester who used a bra and got in OK. Water crossings will not be a problem for you in the dry season with appropriate caution and preparation in either vehicle.

I'm not sure if I'm helping with your decision but I think the Kluger could probably do what you want in style and comfort (particularly on good gravel and the blacktop) but it is really a lifted car chassis and suspension and primarily designed for sealed road use and snow. Prolonged use on tracks like GRR will definitely result in wear and tear that you would not get on a Pajer/Prado for instance.

You may not necessarily need the extra durability of a Pajero/Prado and the like all the time but it would be handy to have it up your sleave in case it's needed.

If I were you I would be looking up the chain a little bit in terms of capability and at the Pajero/Prado et al brigade. If you want 7 seats the list will shorten I suspect.

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Follow Up By: Pug8 - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 14:16

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 14:16
Thanks ... I think you are convincing me the Kluger is not my option.

STill resisting the Pajero Prado options ... cost mainly and size.

What about the Mitsubishi Challenger. Good towing 2.5 tonne, 7 seater option, reasonable fuel economy, 220 clearance, 17 inch tyres and its got the super select 4WD option like the Paj. Give us a bit more versatility on dirt.
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Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 14:47

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 14:47
I don't know much about the Challenger but one of the blokes above posted he just bought one, could be a compromise option.

The Kluger is not cheap and it is pretty big so I would let cost and size prevent you from looking at some others!!


FollowupID: 671343

Reply By: ian - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 18:37

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 18:37
We have a L/criuser for bush work, but I recently looked for a "lighter" 4x4 for our family car. I hired a Kluger for 6 weeks for a family touring holiday, and we really liked it. However, when it came to buying a low kms recent model for ourselves, I thought they were over-priced, and got an excellent BMW X5 for less, and I believe it is a better vehicle and much more economical. Best car purchase I have made for a long time. You should look at this option. It has been a big change, but a great move for us.
AnswerID: 401949

Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 20:52

Sunday, Jan 31, 2010 at 20:52
Good luck to you Ian, but I would not want to have been the first owner of your X5, when I last did the sums an X5 optioned to the same level as a Grande was almost double the price! I was keen but the kids did not like the hard rear seat and the missus wanted 7 of them!

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Reply By: Tapdogs1 - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 11:59

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 11:59
Hi, we've just done an 8000km outback QLD trip in our '98 Outback, not towing but with a full load of camping gear, food, fuel, water etc in the car plus roof pod with tent etc. It was mostly on the bitumen but we have gone offraod on other trips with no problems. We are looking at upgrading to either a newer subaru or perhaps a Kia Sorento. The Kia apparently is pretty good at towing, is available in a V6, has ample room inside, and has low range 4x4. We looked at other "SUV" options such as Ford Escape, Rav 4, Mazda Tribute, Outlander, etc but none of these could beat a Subaru. I'll be posting a thread on this issue, some of the answers might help you decide. Good luck, Lauren.
AnswerID: 405729

Follow Up By: Pug8 - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 12:15

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 12:15
Thanks Lauren.

Well we are still trying to make a decision. I feel like a dog chasing my tail at the moment. The problem is that we would like a 7 seater - otherwise the Suburu OUtback would be the easy choice.

I have just been looking at the Hyundai Sante Fe specs (2010 model) and it just seems to be ticking all the boxed and is better than the 4wd in many aspects - except it is only a soft roader. Its torque, power, fuel consumption, size, towing capability (we're only towing 1 tonne) etc. Considering we don't really go serious 4wdriving I wonder how important 4wd is. I'm just not very sure about the hyundai brand.

Look forward to seeing your thread - it seems the major limitation in our decision is the 7 seater option. Perhaps I should just let this go and stick with subaru??? The new diesel option is awesome!
FollowupID: 675459

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