Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado has been a dominant force on the Australian automotive landscape for many years now. Despite a constant onslaught of cheaper and newer competition, the Prado has remained an incredibly popular choice amongst Australian buyers.
And for the first time in six years, the 2021 Toyota LandCruiser Prado has been given an under-bonnet boost.
Just like the HiLux and Fortuner, the Prado now uses Toyota’s updated 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine. Still called the 1GD-FTV, it was recently given a birthday with a new turbocharger and updated fuel injection system. Along with a host of smaller tweaks, it has boosted outputs to 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm at 1600–2800rpm.
|2021 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL 150|
|Engine||2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder|
|Power and torque||150kW at 3400rpm, 500Nm at 1600–2800rpm|
|Drive type||Permanent 4x4, Torsen LSD centre diff, locking rear and centre differentials, low-range transfer case|
|Fuel consumption (claimed)||7.2L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||9.2L/100km|
|Boot size (five/seven seats)||620L/120L|
|ANCAP safety rating (year)||Five-star (2011)|
|Warranty (years / km)||Five years, unlimited kilometres|
|Main competitors||Ford Everest, Nissan Patrol, Kia Sorento|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||$70,610|
The choice of a manual transmission has gone the way of the petrol V6 (and Dodo), meaning all 2021 LandCruiser Prados will have the same diesel, automatic driveline.
Beyond under-bonnet tweaks, there are improvements inside comprising of a new 9.0-inch infotainment display (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) for the LandCruiser Prado. Otherwise, it’s mostly business as usual.
Autonomous emergency braking has been updated to include cyclist detection, and traffic sign recognition now works with the adaptive cruise control and variable speed limiter.
However, such goodies do not come for free. Pricing has risen across the board. Now starting from $66,540, the Prado is effectively $2850 more expensive than the previous year. And if you include the pre-update manual transmission, the cheapest GXL is now effectively $5850 more expensive.
While the range starts with the GX at $59,840, we’d argue that the public would be looking more closely at the GXL as a starting point. It gets a third row standard (a $2550 option in the GX), three-zone climate control, roof rails, LED fog lights, daytime running lights and rear parking sensors.
GXL keeps the same 17-inch alloy wheels – you’ll need to step up to VX ($76,380) if you want such luxuries. It also gets an upgraded sound system, digital radio, carpet floor mats, auto headlights, 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and multi-terrain select for off-roading.
Beyond that, there is a range-topping Kakadu ($87,030). For all of the details, check out the pricing and specifications guide here.
In the meantime, back to our GXL. In our case, we’re kind of having our cake and eating it, too. We have the premium interior option ($3470) ticked, which gives leather accents, as well as heating and venting up front.
So, our price as tested works out to be $70,610 before on-road costs, when you also account for the $600 dusty bronze colour.
While the LandCruiser Prado has never been accused of being a bargain, our seventy-grand asking price does line it up against a wide range of competition.
While we weren't able to take this jigger off-road to test it out, we do have plenty of previous experience with the LandCruiser Prado, and nothing has really changed to impact how it performs. Extra torque would no doubt be helpful in some situations, but the combination of coil springs all round, a supple live rear axle and locking rear and centre differentials makes for a formidable off-roader.
Throw in Toyota’s extremely good off-road traction-control system on top of a torquey diesel engine and painless automatic transmission, and the Prado is easy as well as capable.
Multi-Terrain Select in higher specifications is nice to have, but considering how easy this Prado is, it’s not necessarily needed for beginner off-roaders.
4WDers would probably prefer to stick with the standard rear-mounted spare wheel, which keeps the spare easily accessible and maintains the full 150L of fuel capacity. In our case, the no-cost option of shifting the spare below deck lightens the boot, whose glass section can now open separately. Overall length gets reduced, and so does fuel capacity: no sub-tank makes for 87L of fuel capacity.
With the third row folded flat, Toyota claims 620L of space available. This shrinks to only 120L as a seven-seater, or blows out to over 1800L in van mode.
Some four-wheel drivers might prefer the easier-to-remove third row in a LandCruiser 200 or Fortuner, which effectively comes out with four bolts and no subframe to worry about. However, the Prado’s third row is removable at home as well. It’s just a lot more work, and you’re best off checking with your local roads authority regarding legalities.
But, of course, most LandCruiser Prados will be primarily employed around town as a spacious family car. And in that sense, it certainly delivers. When you cast your eye over other large SUVs like the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe, and even the Kia Carnival, the Prado is left looking and feeling a bit dowdy.
However, none of those options have the off-road pedigree that the LandCruiser Prado has. So while other mainstream large SUVs are competitive, they also probably aren’t. You could argue that since the Mitsubishi Pajero has been left to wilt on the vine, Toyota’s LandCruiser Prado has enjoyed its time with little natural competition.
Yes, the Ford Everest is worth a mention. But it doesn't offer the same kind of interior space, and has largely failed to take a big chunk of sales away from Toyota. However, with a more modern interior and better on-road dynamics, it’s also worth a look in its own right.
The Land Rover Discovery used to be another form of natural competition for the Prado, but it has since moved too far upmarket to compete.
Although some big updates have been made along the way, the LandCruiser Prado you see here (150 Series) is effectively 12 years old. It’s likely to be updated some time after the 300 Series LandCruiser, but will soldier on for some years yet.
While fashion and modernity might not be in bountiful supply, space and comfort are. You can sense that the Prado doesn’t have the same outright width as the more expensive 200 Series LandCruiser, but when you include that rear-mounted spare wheel, the Prado is actually longer than a 200 Series.
The third row is surprisingly effective and comfortable, offering a decent dose of head room and leg room for adults to sit comfortably. Although you need to climb up and over that ladder chassis to get in, access is also decent.
The second row tilts a little and slides plenty, allowing you to apportion space when three rows are occupied. And that’s good, because there is plenty of leg room on offer in the middle row. It’s airy, spacious and comfortable.
Second-row occupants can control their own climate, but might start fighting over the single 12-volt power outlet. Best to pack in a double USB adapter, I reckon.
Up front, the Prado is old but effective. The seats are broad and comfortable, with enough basic electric adjustments to dial yourself in. Controls are also easy, and the added tech of the new infotainment display helps you forget about the aging ambience.
No Multi-Terrain Select to worry about means you’ve got some additional storage space in the centre stack, lidded cupholders and a generously sized centre console.
One big complaint about the old Prado was a down-right lack of grunt. While 130kW and 450Nm does a decent job in something like a HiLux or Fortuner, it did seem to struggle pushing something heavier and dimensionally bigger through the air. And towing? Well, anything beyond a box trailer or small camper trailer could get tiresome.
The additional 50Nm does make a noticeable difference, and is best felt through gentle in-gear acceleration. The Prado doesn't need to downshift as often to punch forward. But when it does, the extra little dose of urgency is welcome. Although, hard work can see the gearbox shift around haphazardly at times.
It still feels a little paltry in comparison to bigger brethren like the Nissan Patrol and 200 Series LandCruiser, but it’s now a bit more acceptable.
While Toyota quotes 7.9 litres per 100km in terms of fuel economy, we weren’t able to match that number. With a few long highway runs included, we averaged out at 9.3L/100km. With more heavy town usage, I would expect that number to go somewhere just north of 10.0L/100km.
And just like the previous-generation Prado, the ride comfort is quite exemplary. Without the flash kinetic swaybars of higher specifications, you’ve got a fair dose of body roll to contend with, which kind of suits the slow steering feel.
It’s 100 per cent four-wheel drive, in other words. But it cancels out bumps very nicely. And with four permanently driven wheels, you’re never at risk of spinning a wheel on the blacktop.
Six-month servicing intervals are likely a good idea for those of us using a Prado hard off-road, towing or in constantly wet and/or dusty conditions. However, for the rest of us, it’s likely overkill and makes Prado ownership more expensive and time-consuming.
Over five years you’ll make 10 visits to the dealership accruing a maximum of 100,000km and costing $3798.21. That’s a bit more expensive than other large SUVs out there, and the 48-month visit in particular is a big one.
Toyota’s warranty is a good one: five years and unlimited kilometres. And if you stick to the service schedule, Toyota will throw in an extra two years of coverage for the engine and driveline.
While it lives under the popular shadow of big-brother 200 Series LandCruiser, the Prado is a big volume seller for a reason: it’s spacious, comfortable and solidly put together.
While other large SUVs can offer more in terms of interior, technology and on-road dynamics, none can hold a candle to the Prado off-road. And regardless of how many might or might not go off-road, that’s a huge part of the LandCruiser Prado’s appeal.