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It may not look any different from the outside, but the updated 2016 Toyota LandCruiser Prado range has brought a big change with it.
We’ve already filled you in with a launch review of the 2016 Prado on the major changes, but we thought it would be best to get to know the updated model with its new smaller diesel engine by taking ownership of one for three months.
The model we have is the VX, which sits one level below the flagship Kakadu and above the entry-level GX and GXL variants. As such, it’s priced at $73,990 plus on-road costs for the diesel version we’ve got, though there’s a 4.0-litre V6 petrol model for a grand less.
If you want a detailed rundown on all the equipment this specification comes with (there's a long list), check out our 2016 Toyota LandCruiser Prado pricing and specification story.
The engine is a new 2.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, which replaces the 3.0-litre engine in the old Prado range. It’s the same powerplant seen in the new-generation HiLux and the slightly-smaller-than-Prado Fortuner SUV.
That new engine has 130kW of power at 3400rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1600-2400rpm because it’s paired to a new six-speed automatic gearbox (the manual has 420Nm, but it isn’t available in VX guise).
Despite being smaller in capacity than the old 3.0-litre, the new engine pumps out 3kW and 40Nm more, while fuel use drops to a claimed 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres (was 8.5L/100km). We’ll be interested to see over the coming months if we can get near that claim, and with 150 litres of fuel tanks to contend with (87L main tank; 63L sub) there'll undoubtedly be some jostling to avoid the fuel bill, too.
The VX model – as with the GXL below and Kakadu above – comes with seven seats as standard, and while the majority of the time in our long-term Prado has been spent with one or two occupants on board, curiosity has got the better of some of the team, with a few calls of ‘backseat bandits’ seeing the third row occupied.
It’s big enough for smaller adults back there, though kneeroom is a little cramped for the bigger kids.
Second-row space is good, too, and while there haven’t been many changes in the cabin area compared with the models that have come before this one, there are still good stowage options for those in the rear. On that topic, the boot is big, and has the added bonus of electric folding seats in the third row to make the most of the space.
The front seats offer a commanding position – probably part of the reason why so many Prados are sold every month (usually 1100 or so) – and while the HiLux and Fortuner get a new media system with a flatscreen, tablet-style interface, the Prado continues with its inset display though the software is similar.
In the first couple of weeks in the office the connected Bluetooth devices list has already maxed out, though a common complaint is the fact you’ve got to be parked to connect.
Of those drivers who have taken the Prado home, many have commented on how quiet the diesel engine is compared with some rivals, and having personally spent a lot of time in the old version, the new one is a considerable improvement. It’s not just the noise, though, it’s also the vibrations that diesel engines typically throw into the cabin.
Further, the Prado VX (and Kakadu) have Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which was invented by a small company in Western Australia. That system adjusts the resistance on the front and rear stabiliser bars of the Prado to ensure better dynamic performance by controlling the tilt of the car, while it can also effectively disengage the stabiliser bars to allow better off-road performance.
The result is that around town and on the highway, it turns with more stability and the ride is greatly improved, too - it doesn’t wobble as much over bumps as it used to, and the ride is more assured, but not firm.
A primary reason people buy the Prado is towing, and it’s our intention to pull something behind the Toyota over the next few months. The vehicle’s claimed towing capacity isn’t as headline-grabbing as some of the dual-cab utes or hardcore SUV derivatives out there, which can haul 3.0 or 3.5 tonnes, as all Prados are good for 2.5 tonnes.
And of course, off-roading is the next big reason for buying a Prado, though most that you see trawling the outer suburbs of Australia’s biggest cities tend only to extend themselves to the nature strip rather than heading to the back of Bourke.
It isn’t our plan to put our Prado through the torture test – but having driven one through the middle of the country on a 10-day off-road adventure in the past, I can attest to the comfort and ability of the Toyota truck off the beaten track. Still, we won’t ignore the fact this is one of the most capable off-roaders around, so stay tuned for it to be included in an upcoming comparison test against some other beat-em-up buses.
Stay tuned for more on the 2016 Toyota Prado over the coming months.
2016 Toyota LandCruiser Prado VX
Date acquired – October 2015
Odometer reading – 3986km
Travel since previous update – N/A
Consumption since previous update – N/A
Click the Photos tab above for more images by Christian Barbeitos.