Before I start, I must inform you that I’m a 14 year old boy. No I’m not the one who wrote the BMW x5 review, I am the Sri Lankan counterpart who is also a massive car nut.
I’m writing this review because there aren’t much reviews on this exact varient of the Prado and because I have nothing else to do these school holidays. So I want to apologise in advance if this is a piece-of-crap review.
Now, some back story. We always owned six-cylinder Ford Falcons and a Territory ever since my parents migrated in 1994. Our 2005 Territory TS was getting old, unreliabe and my dad wanted to sell it before it loses all its value.
We started looking online, avoided all European cars because we’d always get told horror storiess by our trusty mechanic and family friend.
We wanted seven seats, a fuel efficent engine, reliability, off-road capability and features and items which made this off-road killing machine into a nice car to drive in the suburbs.
We came down to two cars: the Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL and Mitusubishi Pajero GLS.
Naturally, my dad like many other Sri Lankans, had a soft spot for the Prado because in Sri Lanka it’s the equivalent to $200,000-plus car due to high taxes and all the Sri Lankan politicians have one.
So we end up ordering a Prado GXL in graphite for $61,000 including tow bar (we negotiated, of course). A couple days later we went to the dealer to check how the order was going and there in front of us was a Prado Alitude model. Long story short, we ended up buying that for $72,000 drive-away, including tow bar.
Now to the review. Finally.
The Toyota LandCruiser Prado Altitude is a limited edition version of the Prado. It is based on the GXL and came with:
A $10,000 value for only $5000 (the rest was tax) and it still comes with all the features from the GXL.
I can honestly say that these features do make the Altitude feel more refined and more premium than the GXL. Dad says he loves the electro-chromatic rear-view mirror, which doesn’t reflect the headlight from cars behind.
The Prado Altitude only comes with the 1KD-FTV engine which is a 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine which first appeared in 2000. So naturally, the engine is quite unrefined and loud, especially coming from 4.0-litre petrol straight sixes.
The engine makes 127kW at 3400rpm and 410Nm at 1600-2800rpm. This may not sound like much but it is enough.
Once the turbo spools up, this two-tonne vehicle gets up and going. It’s not a 1000hp GT-R for sure, however it doesn’t take a year to get up to speed, either.
The Prado only has a five-speed automatic transmission and it doesn’t have the quickest and smoothest shifts, it’s a bit truck-like, however an ordinary person won’t even know. If I had to say the worst thing about this car, this is it, the engine. It’s just too unrefined.
The suspention is definitely made to go off-road. It’s very soft and there is plenty of body roll. However, it is very comfortable and goes over holes in the road like an S-Class. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it is very comfortable and is great for long journeys; hours go by in minutes.
The cabin is quite insulated, you can hardly hear the outside wind etc. But take note, it may seem insulated because of the loud rattle of the diesel engine taking over the outside sound.
The soft plastics are where you want them to be and the hards stuff is lower down into the cabin where it may get a beating from weekend adventures.
The boot is massive and is square so you can fit just about anything. It is quite high so for shorter people you may need help putting large and heavy items inside. The door on the back opens sideways, and takes up a lot of space, however there is a smaller window thing that opens.
The dash layout is intuitive, you don’t have to go though a million menus on the screen to get to the air con controls, the volume, the music track or station and the three-zone climate controls are all buttons, and simply laid out, so there is no fussing about.
A thing to note when buying a Prado, the fuel cap release and the bonnet release are close together and are the same shape and size!
One gripe I have is the dash trim; the GXL has beautiful piano black trim while the Altitude has fake carbon-fibre! On a two-tonne SUV, fake carbon-fibre! Toyota, what were you thinking?
Moving on, the cabin is very spacious, the seats are comfortable and have a bit of side bolstering. The middle seats recline and the third row has quite a lot of space for a third row, way more than in the Kluger. Even I can sit in the back with my fat ass, though not for very long (note: I am the tallest in the family but I’m only 5 foot 8).
One other gripe, which is minor, is it has no heated seats. Why? Both the VX and Kakadu have leather and heated seats so why can’t we? It wouldn’t have increased the price by a lot, but then again Toyota needs to sell the VX and Kakadu.
The visibility is quite good. The Prado has large windows and has extremely large side mirrors which are bigger than my hand fully spread apart. The rear view is better than the normal Prado as there is no spare tyre on the back which blocks half of the window. Also a rear-view camera and sensors come standard, which helps alot.
One other problem is the lights never turn off, becuase it doesn’t have LED daytime running lights, the normal lights are constantly on. Toyota says it is a low light high beam or some B.S. like that. Having LED lights would’ve been so much better.
When we intially bought the car, we thought parking this vehicle and maneuvering its would be hell. However we found that the turning circle was better than our Falcon. So if you’re used to driving larger vehicles this would be no problem for you.
If you’re a fan of high riding positions, this is for you. Driving around the suburbs, we feel like the king of the road, unless there is a LandCruiser next to you. Parked next to a Mazda CX-5, the Prado is at least a head taller than it.
The Prado is very cheap to run, too. For us it gets about 9L/100km, which is miles better than our Falcon which gets about 14 litres per hundred. However since the Altitude’s spare tyre is not on the rear door we didn’t get the 67-litre auxiliary tank, leaving us with 87L which is big enough.
Also we got two years capped price servicing at $220 per service, one every six months. There has been no problem whatsoever to date, and we are expecting none to come.
In conclusion, the Prado Altitude is a bit rough around the edges, but it’s expected to be for a car of this caliber. However the numerous features this model gets, distinguishes this model from its truck-like roots without breaking the bank for customers who were thinking of buying the GXL.
So if you’re thinking about a GXL variant, I highly reccommend you don’t buy this…
Buy the 2017 Altitude Prado which litterally came a week ago. It has the better, more refined 2.8-litre diesel engine (which was my biggest complaint about ours) and has a better six-speed transmission, no fake carbon-fibre, 19-inch wheels and has LED daytime running lights from the more expensive models!