A versatile all-rounder with a generous feature list, Prado is certain to satisfy
- 2010 Toyota GRJ150R LandCruiser Prado GXL; 4.0-litre V6 petrol; six-speed manual; wagon - $60,990*
- Metallic Paint $520
Words by Matt Brogan Photos by Brendan Nish
The ever-popular Toyota Prado is the vehicle of a dozen uses that seems only to grow in popularity each time a new model is launched, and there's good reason for that, for the more you look around, the more you seem to discover that, when it comes to attracting a diverse spectrum of buyers, Prado spans the great divide.
Our petrol-powered GXL on test this week sits one peg from the bottom in the current Prado line-up, just above the base-model GX, and considering its lower-shelf orientation, still provides buyers with a generous amount of standard equipment, more than suitable for the Toorak Tractor or Grey Nomad set alike.
The ride is pliant and reasonably quiet registering just under 77dB at 100km/h while the dashboard layout is simple and effective, its large, easy-to-read buttons and dials a cinch to find when you're on the go.
Above average visibility makes even the most painful of parking experiences a breeze, and with added inclusions of a standard colour reversing camera and rear parking sensors, Prado is one large SUV that, despite its considerable bulk, is as easy to manage as a regular station wagon.
The comfortable cloth-trimmed upholstery offers manual adjustment in all the usual directions and is, on the driver's seat, also joined by electronic lumbar support. With seating for seven, three point belts all-round, plus the added protection of full-house airbags, ABS, EBA, EBD, ESC and Traction Control, the Prado is also safe enough for ferrying the kids to school, even if the centre (second row) seat is too firm and too narrow to be comfortable on long trips.
Getting in-and-out of the third row isn't too much of a gymnastic feat, and for anyone under six-foot the third-row is actually quite comfortable. Ventilation is excellent with roof mounted outlets provided for both second- and third-row occupants.
What is a pain however is the two-stage seat deployment of the third-row seat, that not only takes a little muscle, but is also a fair stretch when standing at the boot and outside the rear door - both of which are necessary when folding and unfolding the rear seats.
The other slight annoyance is that when the third-row seats are deployed there is no where to stow the retractable cargo blind, annoying if you so happen to find yourself out and about when the seats are requried. The only option I found in this instance was to place the blind on the second row floor, hardly ideal from a safety perspective.
The third-row seats also make for a higher than ideal cargo load height with Prado's 87-litre fuel tank using the underfloor space some rival SUVs manage to place their stowed seats in to. The large side-hinged door also means you'll need a fair whack of space behind you when loading the groceries. The door is now fitted with a lockable strut which prevents accidental closing on inclines or in high wind.
With 742-litres of storage space the Prado's cargo area is very generous and even offers a 220-volt outlet for small domestic appliances - great when you're away camping. The cargo blind is also great for security, or simply keeping the sun off your groceries.
Powering the Prado in this instance is Toyota's 4.0-litre V6, and although a more frugal turbo-diesel unit is also available, this petrol-powered still managed very good fuel economy this week with a combined average figure of just 13.4L/100km, or just 0.4L/100km more than the ADR combined figure.
The engine is very flexible and quite strong offering 202kW of power at 5,600rpm, and though a little lacking in the torque department - with just 381NM at 4,400rpm, Prado still manages impressive performance thanks to its smooth shifting six-speed gearbox.
Around town the Prado is easy to manage and quite easy to drive. The steering is light and offers an impressive 11.6-metre turning circle which is great when battling your way through the car park.
What is a bother though is that the steering doesn't firm up when you're out on the open road and is rather uncommunicative through the bends, an issue certain to prove a challenge for those wanting to capitalise on Prado's 2,500kg (braked) towing capacity.
The ride too is a little soft with body roll in the corners noticeable at even modest speeds, perhaps the result of a compromise between the Prado's on-road function and off-road capability which, as seen at the launch, is impressive to say the least (more on this when we road test the diesel model off-road in just over a week's time).
As good as the Prado is to drive, manage, live with and look at we did experience a couple of trivial quality issues on our press vehicle that, as small as they were, did show a chink in the armour of a brand that has otherwise proven itself to be a world-beater in terms of both build quality and reliability.
The passenger door release had its inner dress shroud part company when closing the door (on several occasions) and was unwilling to be clicked back in to place. The cover over the cup holders also seemed to be coming apart at the seams, though once clicked back in place this issue did not recur.
Small issues aside I enjoyed my week with the Prado and can understand the car's far reaching appeal. It's a versatile all-rounder with a generous standard feature list certain to satisfy even the most frugal of buyers.
At $60K the Prado is on the cheeky side of what you'd expect for the money, but with a great track record in reliability and servicing costs it's one vehicle certain to hold its own over the course of time.
CarAdvice will be road testing the SWB & LWB turbo-diesel Prado models over the coming weeks - stay tuned!
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