Tarago. It’s a village a third of the way between Goulbourn and the Australian capital, Canberra, on the eastern side of a seasonal Lake George. Notable for being home to a massive windfarm, it also gifted its name to one of Toyota’s first people movers. Named for the Aussie market, the vehicle seemed to slowly fall off buyers radar until it looked like it’d been benched. But yes, it’s still available and A Wheel Thing gets reacquainted with the seven seater 2017 Toyota Tarago Ultima V6.Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The 3456 cc capacity engine is far, far, far too thirsty. The 65 litre tank takes premium unleaded and will feed the engine at a rate of 14.6L per 100 kilometres for the urban cycle, under ideal conditions. It’s somewhat more bearable for the highway, dropping by nearly half to a more acceptable 8.0L/100 kilometres.It has to be said a major contributor to the thirst is the surprisingly hefty kerb weight. There’s a starting point of 1930 kilograms. Load in passengers, fuel, cargo, and you’re well on your way to the quoted gross vehicle mass of 2500 kilos. Given the engine’s peak torque of 340 Nm comes in at 4700 rpm, it means a bit of effort is required to get the Tarago moving. Happily, the V6 is a ready and free spinner and will get the near 4.8 metre long machine to 100 kilometres per hour in around eight seconds from standstill. The smooth shifting six speed auto utterly belies the weight too, taking every torque and kilowatt it can, transferring them to forward motion easily and without fuss.The basic profile of the Tarago hasn’t varied since it first landed on our shores. A vaguely ovoid shape, longish snout, mid mounted sliding doors and a top hinged tail gate. Even the horizontally aligned headlights and rear lights apply. But standing 1750 mm high and on a 2950 mm wheelbase, the 17 inch alloys with 215/55 rubber look positively undersized. There’s a prominent snout and a pointy one at that to hide the V6, not that there’s much to see thanks to the silver shroud.Inside, the Tarago Ultima scores some nice extra gear over its lesser V6 and four cylinder brethren. Front, well, middle and centre is a fold down nine inch screen and blu-ray player complete with remote control and wireless headphones. Stylish cross stitched velour seats have leather highlights and the electrically powered third row seats fold completely into the floor via buttons located in the left rear corner. Although that seems like a luxury touch, they do take time to do so and there’s other cars around that utilise a simple, quick, and effective strap system to fold their seats flat and level with the floor. Total seating capacity in the Ultima is seven, in a 2/2/3 configuration.The side doors are powered and require the inside handle to be used in order to open or close. Other companies have a button inside to do so, much as the Ultima has for the seats at the rear. However, the tailgate is not powered and that’s an unusual oversight given the group this vehicle plays in. However, there is rear seat air conditioning a powered cover for the rear glass roof, bottle holders throughout, plus 12 V sockets. A point that either appeals or doesn’t is the wood trim look inlay for the doors and gear selector. The shade is just a bit too bright, too vibrant, in contrast to the rest of the interior trim. Audio is AM/FM/Bluetooth and CD but, again surprisingly at this level, doesn’t have DAB.Being a people mover the Tarago offers sliding mid row seats and this provides immense flexibility for usage. They also fold down flat which, along with the rear seats being stowed, allows for a huge 1780 litres of cargo space, up from an already decent 549L. This is a standout feature of the Tarago and one that leaves SUVs behind and certainly makes it handy if you’ve just bought a nice new large screen tv. Another feature is the fact it’s one of the few Toyotas to have a dash design that looks as if it’s part of a continuous sweep from the doors. The dash binnacle is unique as well, being a thing and deeply inlaid strip that houses the speedo in a sem-circle design and the tacho as a horizontal strip. It’s different and effective.Get the Tarago out and about and the weight really isn’t noticeable unless you’re barely off idle. Although peak torque is high up the rev range, give it a stab from a standing start and listen for the chirp from just ahead of you. It’s also a fairly neutral handler, with a steering ratio that tends towards understeer. Ride quality is also neutral, in that it’ll do nothing untoward but also never hints at anything resembling sportiness. It is, after all, a people mover and has the compromise between softness and being taut via the MacPherson struts and torsion beam suspension.
But there’s a lack of slow to go with the go, with the brakes needing more bite and more feedback through the pedal. Even in normal driving conditions it feels as if a heavier foot is required.Naturally there’s the standard warranty, which is three years or 100,000 kilometres, which compared to a certain Korean brand, has the Tarago left behind in this respect.
At The End Of The Drive.
The Tarago Ultima lands at a driveaway price of around $72K. When you look at the opposition and consider that price, consider it’s petrol only, consider some features and warranty don’t match up against the opposition, it comes as no surprise to think that the Tarago had, in fact, been dropped from the sales list. Although it has an energetic engine and bags of space, it’s too thirsty and doesn’t do anything else better than anyone else.
To check out the 2017 Toyota Tarago Ultima and the four other levels available, you can travel here:
2017 Toyota Tarago range