2004 Toyota Kluger CVX 3.3L V6 from Australia and New Zealand


An otherwise wonderful car totally ruined by an appalling transmission


Before the first service, the car was missing badly, had a dreadful transmission hesitation lasting 2 seconds on occasions, surged badly, and was impossible to drive smoothly.

A complete new wiring harness was fitted, following a Technical Service Bulletin from Toyota. This fixed the engine miss, but all the other problems remain to this day.

Toyota is unable to fix any of these other problems, all of which are transmission related. To make matters worse, they refuse to acknowledge these are problems, calling them a "normal operational characteristic". I was then told that a fix was being worked on. I have learned that they have been trying to find a fix since 2002. This problem is seen in a small, but significant number of Toyotas and Lexus with the 3.0 or 3.3L engine and 5 speed auto.

General Comments:

I really want to like this car, but the problems with the transmission are so bad, and Toyota Australia's attitude so abysmal that I would get rid of it today if only I could avoid the huge hit on my lease.

At certain speeds when I give the accelerator about 50% or more pressure, the transmission just sits there for 2 seconds. The engine then revs to over 5000 rpm, and then suddenly bangs into gear with an almighty jolt. The problem is unpredictable, and very unsettling. I consider it to be a major safety issue, and it has caused me to have 3 near misses in 5 months. My wife simply refuses to drive the car, and I have had to totally modify how I drive to allow for the dreadful lack of responsiveness.

In addition to the transmission lag on moderate to hard acceleration, it is almost impossible to drive the car smoothly when slowing down and speeding up at speed humps, traffic lights, tight corners etc, as the car can't work out which gear it should be in. This car is supposed to have class-leading smoothness. My particular car is simply appalling.

Toyota claims that the car falls within normal operational parameters; I have driven 10 year old Korean cars with better transmissions than this.

In the US, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Authority is currently deciding whether to mount a full investigation into this problem. This follows hundreds of reports of similar problems on various Toyota and Lexus user web boards. Several cars have been replaced under lemon laws or arbitration due to this problem.

I stress that most Klugers (and Camrys and Lexus RX330s) do not seem to have this problem, or if they do, it is only mild. I have driven several of these cars and only one other was affected like mine. Be aware however that if you are unlucky enough to get a lemon like mine, Toyota will not want to know you.

Transmission aside, the car is almost perfect. It has a fabulous ride, is very quiet, and is reasonably comfortable, although someone taller than 180cm might be a bit cramped as the driver's seat doesn't move back very far.

It handles better than other similar priced crossover 4WDs apart from perhaps the Ford Territory. It is quite roomy without being too huge on the outside. Economy is OK - about 14L/100 km in mixed driving, and when the transmission behaves itself, it is surprisingly quick.

I think the sound system is a bit ordinary, and I'm not a big fan of the dash or front grille, but overall it is a sensible, practical design.

But oh, the transmission in my car is a shocker. Until Toyota acknowledge and fix this potentially dangerous problem, I cannot recommend this otherwise very good car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st February, 2005

26th Feb 2005, 15:57

This is the best automatic I have had any experience with. Very smooth in both up shifts and downshifts. No drag and no clunk as it goes into gear after being in Neutral.

The fact that you have this problem points to something different in your vehicle that must be fixable. It is a pity that Toyota/Lexus does not appear to take responsibility. The fact is that they are not alone - just check out horror stories from other manufacturers. When you get a lemon you are in trouble. The sooner that Australia has anti-lemon consumer laws like the US (surprise on this) the better for consumers.

2004 Toyota Kluger Grande 3.3 V6 from Australia and New Zealand


Am really looking forward to when it is run in



General Comments:

This is meant to be a first impressions as I have only had it four days.

Seems to have much performance potential. I have been running it in and being gentle to it, but it seems to want to get up and go.

Initial criticism only relate to the instrument panel. The odometer characters are really small and it is not lit in the daytime which I think it needs. In fact, with the privacy glass and tinted front windows I would suggest that Toyota have the dials illuminated full time.

The centre control screen for audio, air, trip computer and navigation systems is fantastic and easy to use.

Now I have it I find lots of features that were never mentioned in the extensive research I made of automotive magazines, newspapers and the web.

I even saw some criticism that its trip computer does not have a distance to empty function. Mine does, though Toyota calls it cruising range.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th February, 2005

19th Jan 2010, 05:35

I have a 2005 CV Sport and I can seem to find the "Cruising range" distance to empty anywhere. That is about the only thing that I could possibly not be happy with about this vehicle. Previous car was a 2004 Holden Commodore, and I had the distance to empty on permanently.

17th Apr 2011, 06:47

Cruising range was only available on Grande models in 2003-2007.

2004 Toyota Kluger CVX 3.3L V6 from Australia and New Zealand


A worthwhile buy


At around 1900 RPM engine speed, there is a resonating noise in the cabin that is about twice as loud as the normal engine sound. This is probably a design flaw rather than fault. The dealer said there is nothing they can do except report it.

General Comments:

The car has good power, but quick kick down acceleration response is rather clumsy (slow). Not for aggressive drivers, otherwise a very pleasant and comfortable car.

Cabin is roomy and beautifully finished, the car feels luxurious.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th May, 2004

1st Jan 2009, 03:09

I totally agree with this review as our Kluger is somewhat 'clumsy' in reacting to the accelerator pedal, take your time and it is a great cruiser.

Have not noticed the noise above a certain engine revs - but all in all a great car from Toyota.

2004 Toyota Kluger Grande 3.3 V6 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Good Value Crossover


Third row seat belts do not tucked in properly into its housing.

General Comments:

It is excellent car. Fuel consumption is 16L/100Km in town around average.

There are some wind noise comments from US consumers, but I found this car is dead quiet. The only noise that I can hear is the tyre noise, which is common for SUV.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th March, 2004