Should I Buy the Toyota Kluger, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento?

2015 Toyota Kluger

2015 Toyota Kluger

QUESTION

My wife and I are expecting a third child (all will be six years of age and under) early next year. We currently have a Camry but will need a second car - an SUV this time. My wife is keen on a Toyota Kluger but I don't like the fact that there is no diesel option. I like the look of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and I have visions of taking the kids camping and fishing in the years to come. There are however mixed reports on the Jeep, and Toyota certainly seems to have reliability on its side. We have had the Camry for seven years, and will most likely keep whatever we buy for around 7-10 years. What would you recommend from the above, and should we consider the Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento as a better option? Please let me know what you think.

Regards,
Shane

ANSWER

All four SUVs will do what you want - but there are major differences. In a nutshell:

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

TOYOTA KLUGER

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2015 Toyota Kluger
  • RRP: $44,000-$80,000
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Preferred engine: 3.0 diesel
  • Power: 184kW @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 570Nm @ 2000rpm
  • Trans: 8sp auto
  • Seats: 5
  • Fuel (combined): 7.5L/100km
  • Towing: 3500kg
  • Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 km
  • ANCAP safety: 4-star

Jeep Grand Cherokee has unbeatable style - it screams 'serious Jeep' from every angle. The 3.0-litre diesel is amazing, as is the tow capacity and the fuel efficiency. Massive luggage space too. But four-star safety is a huge disappointment, as is the three-year warranty - especially considering Jeep's anecdotally poor reliability track record. This vehicle is also great to drive, and is the only one in this set with really serious off-road ability. It's a real alternative to a German SUV. 

  • RRP: $40,990-$67,520
  • Manufactured: USA
  • Preferred engine: 3.5 V6 petrol
  • Power: 201kW @ 6200rpm
  • Torque: 337Nm @ 4700rpm
  • Trans: 6sp auto
  • Seats: 7
  • Fuel (combined): 10.4L/100km
  • Towing: 2000kg
  • Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 km
  • ANCAP safety: 5-star

This is a made-for-the-USA SUV adapted for other markets (hence, no diesel engine available). Toyota has the reputation for reliability, and is pretty good at customer service, but the Kluger is comparatively expensive (for the one you'd want). It's safe, but only offers a three-year warranty, and will drink about 33 per cent more fuel than the others in this quartet. If driving to remote areas, it's comforting to know there's a Toyota dealer in just about every country town.

2015 HYUNDAI SANTA FE

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • RRP: $38,490-$53,240
  • Manufactured: South Korea
  • Preferred engine: 2.2 diesel
  • Power: 145kW @ 3800rpm
  • Torque: 436Nm @ 1800-2500rpm
  • Trans: 6sp auto
  • Seats: 7
  • Fuel (combined): 7.3L/100km
  • Towing: 2000kg
  • Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited km
  • ANCAP safety: 5-star

Santa Fe is without doubt the best vehicle in the Hyundai lineup. It's not a cheap SUV - but it is great value. The diesel is sensational - very advanced on the tech front, and great to drive in the city (no particle filter means no requirement to drive on the highway once a fortnight). Five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres blows the Jeep and Toyota into the weeds (but not Sorento) and the vehicle also offers capped price service for life, and 10yrs free roadside assist. The 3rd row seating arrangement is brilliant, too.

2015 KIA SORENTO

2015 Kia Sorento
  • RRP: $38,990-$51,490
  • Manufactured: South Korea
  • Preferred engine: 2.2 diesel
  • Power: 145kW @ 3800rpm
  • Torque: 436Nm @ 1800-2500rpm
  • Trans: 6sp auto
  • Seats: 7
  • Fuel (combined): 7.3L/100km
  • Towing: 2000kg
  • Warranty: 7yrs/unlimited km
  • ANCAP safety: 5-star

The Kia Sorento is basically very similar to the Santa Fe- the two vehicles share the same fundamental architecture. Santa Fe had its 2015 model upgrade late in 2014 - but Sorento is still awaiting its update at the time of writing. (It's a huge step forward visually.) The upgrade is imminent, and overseas reports are very positive. Kia's headline act, however, is the seven-year warranty - which is a huge plus for private buyers who intend to hang on to the vehicle for a long period. I'll certainly give Santa Fe a run for its money.

All four vehicles will take the kids camping. Santa Fe, Sorento and Kluger (AWD) will do moderate 4WD work: as in, drive down a dirt track and moderate obstacles. Grand Cherokee will in comparison do extreme 4WD work (it'll scare the kids, and probably the parents as well).

If you're wondering why the Jeep Grand Cherokee has only four stars on safety, it's because it performed poorly in one of the three ANCAP crash tests. It did very well on the side impacts but poorly in the offset frontal crash test. This is a 60:40 offset barrier impact at 64km/h, which is designed to simulate a head-on collision. In that test, which sounds slow but is in fact a very severe impact, protection for the driver's chest and upper legs was rated at 'marginal'. Basically it means if there were a human driver and not a dummy at the wheel, the risk of death was pretty high. (Blood vessel damage from high-mechanism impacts to the chest and/or legs can kill you quickly.) As such the Grand Cherokee scored 9.5 out of 16 for the offset front crash test. That made it ineligible for the five-star rating because a minimum of 12.5 is required in that test to be awarded five stars. (This is the reason I wouldn't buy a Grand Cherokee - I would roll the dice on its reliability, but there's nothing uncertain about the outcome in a frontal crash.)

USEFUL LINKS

CONCLUSION

Obviously there is more than one right answer to which vehicle will do the job for you and your family into the future. Go out and test drive the three (because the 2015 update on Sorento is still in the pending tray). Personal preference is a major factor. Let me get the brokerage to call you ASAP. They'll help you achieve the best price on your new SUV.

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