Toyota LandCruiser Prado Review

Rating: 7.0
$16,840 $20,020 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
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CarAdvice put Toyota's fourth-generation LandCruiser Prado (the third-generation to be sold in Australia) through its paces yesterday at a lifestyle orientated launch in Orange, NSW.

The course was a grueling mixture of off- and on-road exercises aimed to outline just how capable, versatile and practical this successor to the segment leading Prado name has become.

The new Prado might be evolutionary in appearance, though doesn't share a single panel with that of its popular predecessor which first went on sale here in Australia back in 2003. Since that time the nameplate has sold almost 150,000 examples down under, a sales success that follows in the footsteps of LandCruiser predecessors dating back almost 50 years, and six million units, worldwide.

Joined for the first time by a rugged three-door, short wheelbase model - a model Toyota say will account for almost 10 per cent of sales - the new Prado range is now available in 14 variants that includes two body types, two engines, two transmissions, two seating capacities and six model grades, all of which are in addition to a heavily revised, and impressive range of equipment and technology certain to maintain the brand's popularity.

The revised styling sees new Prado grow slightly in length and width (80 and 10mm respectively), while losing a little in terms of height (15mm). The result is a wider stance that helps Prado appear more 'planted'.

A more streamlined body has also helped Prado achieve a slippery aerodynamic figure of just 0.35Cd, down from the previous model's rating of 0.37. Aerodynamic aids, including under-body panels, new front spats and integrated front and rear spoilers (either as part of the bumper or atop the rear window), have also helped in the vehicle's more efficient shape.

A three-dimensional vertical grille, revised headlamps and more outboard placement of the integrated turn signals aid further to Prado's more dominant facade.

From the side the beltline is higher and the cowl has been moved further forward to maximise interior space. More sharply trimmed lower sections of the bumpers make the overhangs appear shorter for a more 'agile' look.

LED taillamps and wing mirror repeaters are also included across the new Prado range while up the back, a colour-coded rear wheel cover (that incorporates the rear-view camera) is also standard across the range.

In keeping abreast of expectations, the new Prado not only boasts a more elegant appearance, but has absorbed many of its features in to the standard kit list in a bid to make the range even more competitive from a price standpoint. The recommended retail price of both three- and five-door entry-level models now sit well under the $60,000 ceiling defined by pre-sale customer interaction.

"LandCruiser Prado has taken a value stance," said Toyota's senior executive director for sales and marketing, Mr Dave Buttner. "Its entry-level vehicles present value beyond market expectation."

The new Prado model range now tops out at $88,990* for the top-of-the-range Kakadu turbo-diesel automatic.

As you'd expect with an all-new range, new model designations have appeared across the board to better accommodate the higher level of standard features now offered.

Five-door Prado now boasts four equipment grades: GX, GXL, VX and top-shelf Kakadu. GX is the only five-door model to be offered as a dedicated five-seater though is also available with a seven-seat option at cost.

All models are available with petrol and diesel engines though the choice of a manual gearbox is not offered on the range topping VX and Kakadu models.

Inside, and in addition to the extra space mentioned earlier, Prado's new "intelligent modern" themed cabin now offers an impressive feature list certain to sate the needs of even the most scrupulous family buyer.

Strong horizontal and vertical reference points divide the controls in to four zones: display, climate control, audio and 4WD, while larger apetures on both front and rear doors allow easier entry and egress.

Prado's large, side-hinged rear door now also comes standard with a lockable gas-strut to prevent accidental closing on slopes or on windy days.

Three-door Prado can accommodate up to 1.43m3 of cargo with the rear-seats stowed. On all new Prado models' third-row seats are now stowed beneath the floor (previously housed vertically in the outboard cargo area).

Climate control, cruise control (radar on some models), keyless entry with push-button start, tilt/reach adjustable steering column (electric on some models), 220V rear power outlet, Bluetooth capability, iPod integration, satellite navigation and alloy wheels are now included across the range.

Power windows, power mirrors, electric seat adjustment, leather upholstery, seat heaters, electrically operated rear folding seats, tilt/slide glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps (with HID and AFS on upper-spec models) are also offered depending the on model grade.

Varying levels of audio and entertainment systems are also availed across the range.

A welcomed addition to the kit list for anyone contemplating off-road sojourns is the availability of Toyota's MTM, or multi-terrain monitor. These four cameras (front, side and rear) are used to properly assess your surrounds when tackling difficult, and potentially damaging, surrounds.

The images are relayed either split or in whole to the 4.2-inch centre screen for a complete view of just what's happening outside. In using the cameras yesterday I found them most helpful when avoiding rocks or when cresting steep hills when usually all you can see is bonnet and sky.

The cameras join a capable off-road package that also includes electronic driver aids such as HAC (hill-start assist control), DAC (down-hill assist control), and CRAWL control on some models. AVS (adaptive variable suspension), MTS (multi-terrain selection) and electronically modulated KDSS (kinetic adaptive suspension system) with rear air suspension is also available on top-spec Kakadu.

All Prado models now include seven airbags (front, side, curtain and driver's knee), ESC, all-terrain Traction Control, ABS with EBA and EBD.

The new Prado, which saw more than 100,000 test kilometres clocked up right here in Australia, is well adapted to local conditions. The development work, carried out by chief engineer Makoto Arimoto and his team, was entirely intentional, with Australia the second most popular Prado market anywhere in the world, beaten only by China.

Prado's body-on-frame (ladder chassis) construction ensures longevity in off-road conditions while proving a stable platform for the heavily revised long-travel, all-coil suspension arrangement.

Prado features a double-wishbone front, and multi-link (five point) rear suspension set up plus VFC (variable flow control) power assisted rack and pinion steering to optimise ride, handling and stability - three points noted as 'highly impressive' on yesterdays drive.

On-road Prado is flat, confident and offers a ride far smoother and more quiet than expected from an SUV with such impressive off-road capabilities. Cruising is comfortable and Prado capable from a performance perspective, though perhaps not quite as sharp as AWD Kluger.

Of special note, the three-door model is surprisingly confident and settled on-road, two traits not usually associated with short-wheelbase offerings. Add this to the three-door's very impressive off-road abilities (video to follow) and it's no surprise the more compact Prado is bound to prove popular with buyers keen to find a true multi-purpose SUV.

With the availability of petrol and diesel powerplants, the Prado focuses its intentions squarely on market trends that have seen a shift in sales demands of 78:22 petrol/diesel back in 2003, to a near-mirrored number of 66:34 diesel/petrol in 2008.

Prado now offers a choice of 3.0-litre four-cylinder, turbo-diesel and 4.0-litre V6 petrol engines which are both available with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The automatic transmission is an is electronically controlled unit with two modes, normal and second gear start, and a lock-up torque converter.

The solid performing common-rail turbo-diesel is a great all-rounder and seems equally happy crawling over moguls as it does in full song on the open highway.

Managing 127kW of power at 3400rpm, the four-cylinder unit features new variable nozzle injectors and a front-mount intercooler (replacing the previous model's top-mounted unit) to not only deliver better performance, but also drive down fuel consumption, which is now as low as 8.3L/100km (combined) on three-door automatic variants. Five-door fuel economy figures start at just 8.5L/100km (combined) for the manual and 8.8L/100km (combined) for the automatic.

"The advantage of turbo-diesel LandCruiser Prado is that it is built to Toyota's off-road standrds," says Toyota senior executive director for sales and marketing, Mr Dave Buttner.

Turbo-diesel Prado offers a generous 410Nm of torque, available from 1,600 - 2,800rpm, that sees capable acceleration and low down pulling power offered right from the get go. CO2 output is now down to just 225g/km.

Diesel Prado also offers up to 3,000kg braked towing capacity.

"LandCruiser Prado is a standout as a rugged sports vehicle, given its ability to tow a variety of sporting equipment," says Toyota senior executive director for sales and marketing, Mr Dave Buttner."Equally, it is a perfect vehicle for a couple to travel Australia. It has substantial luggage capacity within the vehicle and the ability to tow a caravan."As a rugged four-wheel drive it can match the best of off-roaders. It is aruguable that all of its competitors in the three-door segment would truly qualify as medium ruggeds."Because of its shorter wheelbase and less rear overhang, in some circumstances it may even outperform the five-door version."

Prado's all-alloy petrol offering, available exclusively in five-door models, now features dual VVT-i, roller rockers and sequential port fuel-injection to deliver 23kW (or 13 per cent) more power than the out-going model. This revised engine sees new Prado petrol now offer 202kW at 5,600rpm, the first time Prado has cracked the 200kW barrier.

Also delivering 9Nm more torque, for a new total of 381Nm at 4,400rpm, the petrol offering provides ample performance both on- and off-road though seems to lack that extra low-down grunt found so happily in Prado's turbo-diesel sibling.

Fuel economy figures are however still relatively impressive with petrol Prado seeing a 12 per cent improvement on the old model to now score 11.5L/100km (combined) on automatic models and 13.0L/km (combined) for the six-speed manual. CO2 figures are now as low as 271g/km.

Petrol Prado offers up to 2,500kg braked towing capacity.

CarAdvice will be conducting a full review and road test of the all-new Prado in the not to distant future. Stay tuned!

Pricing (five-door):

  • GX turbo-diesel manual - $55,990*
  • GX turbo-diesel automatic - $58,490*
  • GXL petrol manual - $60,990*
  • GXL petrol automatic - $63,490*
  • GXL turbo-diesel manual - $61,990*
  • VX petrol automatic - $74,490*
  • VX turbo-diesel automatic - $75,490*
  • Kakadu petrol automatic - $87,990*
  • Kakadu turbo-diesel automatic - $88,990*

Pricing (three-door):

  • SX turbo-diesel automatic - $55,990*
  • ZR turbo-diesel automatic - $65,990*

Option Pricing:

  • Seven-seat option (GX) - $2,500*
  • Advanced Safety Pack (Kakadu, ZR) - $2,500*

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and do not include statutory charges and other on-road costs.

Specifications (Diesel):

  • Engine: 2,982cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
  • Power: 127kW @ 3,400rpm
  • Torque: 410Nm @ 1,600 - 2,800rpm
  • Induction: Direct-Injection Common-Rail & Turbocharged
  • Transmission: Six-speed (Man) / Five-speed (Auto)
  • Transfer Case: Two-speed with lockable centre Torsen LSD
  • Driven Wheels: All
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • CO2 Emissions: 225g/km
  • Fuel Consumption: 8.3L (3-door) / 8.8L - 9.2L (5-door)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 87L (Main) / 63L (Sub: 5-door only)
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • ANCAP Rating: TBC
  • Airbags: Front, Side, Curtain & Driver's Knee
  • Safety: ESC with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: Full-size Alloy
  • Suspension: Wishbone (F) / Multi-link (R)
  • Cargo Capacity: TBC
  • Tow Capacity: 3,000kg (3-door) / 2,500kg (5-door)
  • Turning Circle: 10.4m (3-door) / 11.6m (5-door)
  • Warranty: Three-Year / 100,000km
  • Weight: 2,095 - 2,145kg (3-door) / 2,205 - 2,435kg (5-door)
  • Wheels: Alloy

Specifications (Petrol):

  • Engine: 3,956cc DOHC six-cylinder (24 valve)
  • Power: 202kW @ 5,600rpm
  • Torque: 381Nm @ 4,400rpm
  • Induction: Electronic sequential port injection
  • Transmission: Six-speed (Man) / Five-speed (Auto)
  • Transfer Case: Two-speed with lockable centre Torsen LSD
  • Driven Wheels: All
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • CO2 Emissions: 271g/km
  • Fuel Consumption: 11.5L (Man) / 13.0L (Auto)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 87L (Main) / 63L (Sub)
  • Fuel Type: 91RON Unleaded Petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: TBC
  • Airbags: Front, Side, Curtain & Driver's Knee
  • Safety: ESC with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: Full-size Alloy
  • Suspension: Wishbone (F) / Multi-link (R)
  • Cargo Capacity: TBC
  • Tow Capacity: 2,500kg (Braked)
  • Turning Circle: 11.6m
  • Warranty: Three-Year / 100,000km
  • Weight: 2,240 - 2,355kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy

Dimensions (5-door / 3-door):

  • Length (mm): 4,930 / 4,485
  • Width (mm): 1,885 / 1,885
  • Height (mm): 1,890 / 1,875
  • Wheelbase (mm): 2,790 / 2,455
  • Front Track (mm): 1,605 / 1,585
  • Rear Track (mm): 1,605 / 1,585
  • Ground Clearance (mm): 220 / 210
  • Approach Angle (degrees): 32 / 32
  • Departure Angle (degrees): 25 / 26
  • Break-over Angle (degrees): 22 / 25
  • Wading Depth (mm): 700 / 700
  • Drag Co-effiecient (Cd): 0.35 / 0.35

Photos and footage courtesy of Toyota Australia.