Why did I buy a Toyota Prado? Let’s address the elephant in the room to begin: it wasn’t for the badge or the price. Everyone knows that Toyotas by nature are overpriced. So why did I buy it then? Seven seats, lots of cabin space, comfy seats, economical engine and reliable off-road abilities. It is obvious when you drive country roads why there are so many LandCruisers, Prados and HiLuxes, and it was for this reason and a few others that we chose a Prado.
What else is there to like? The build quality is good, everything lines up and there are no squeaks or rattles on the inside. The materials are durable and handle a bit of wear and tear from the bin lids. If your children are like mine, then you'd want to consider some extra protection in the form of floor mats and seat covers. Take your pick on this one, as there are many to choose from.
The interior of our Prado is well appointed with comfortable cloth seats, the driver has adjustable lumbar support, and all rows have tilt and fold abilities. The stereo inclusion in this model is sufficient to be able to rock out to your favourite FM tunes with the family, and the supplied speakers throw out enough bass to be able to pretend that you have more than just the factory unit.
If you live anywhere but Antarctica, you will more than likely use the air-con at some time, and the Prado does not disappoint here either. Dual-zone climate control and air-con outlets for all three rows mean you can hide from even the warmest of weather as you go about your day.
On the outside, the paint is pretty good too. After years of punting our Prado around on long drives through the NT and beyond, the paint has stood up well.
Under the car is well sorted too. The driveline is well tucked away, but can, like always, do with extra protection. The suspension does a good job of soaking up the miles and will get you off-road without too many hassles. If venturing further afield is your forte, then there is a plethora of aftermarket suspension kits to help get the belly up and out of the way.
On the topic of aftermarket parts, Toyota as a brand is well looked after by the aftermarket industry, and the Prados are no different. You have your choice of everything from frontal protection to suspension and interior mod-cons.
If adding things yourself is more your style, working on the car and fitting it out with accessories and electrical wizardry is easy too. There is space under the bonnet to do 12V wiring with outlets, nooks and crannies spread around the car.
Reliability-wise, as I said before, there are so many Toyotas around and dealers everywhere that if you ever did have problems, then there is going to be a dealer somewhere around. So have I had any problems? Well, after doing 160,000km on trips across and halfway around the country, on and off-road, the only thing that I have had to get fixed has been one shock absorber. Keep the servicing up to scratch and these cars will drive for thousands of kilometres.
Does it tow okay? One gripe that I have with the engine is that sometimes it needs more oomph – maybe that’s just me. I do like to drive for economy and it seems that sometimes you need to bury the foot to get it to go anywhere.
Handling-wise, mine is far from stock now so it handles differently to a standard 4WD, but it tows well. Sometimes I forget I’m even towing and get a shock when I look in the mirror and think someone is tailgating me.
So, anyone would be thinking, 'what is not good about the car?'. The one thing after all this time that I don’t like about the 4WD is the transmission. For our year model it is only a five-speed and could definitely do with an extra gear at least. Calibration-wise, the transmission likes to hold gears for a bit long rather than lock up and change gears, to the point that even around town I use a switch to manually lock up the transmission.
If you go into low range often enough, you will find yourself being stuck in low-range first gear longer than you ever want to. For some reason, despite what you do or want to do, you can’t change the transmission's mind about changing out of first gear until it is ready to. Sometimes this has even caused me trouble off-road when it eventually changes up to second and you lurch forward with a sudden change of speed.
There, so it’s not all roses, rainbows and butterflies. But the 2013 year models are a pretty good 4WD, and you won’t do too wrong in picking one up if you are after a family 4WD wagon. After this, they start to get a bit more complicated with the electrics and the diesel engine emissions gear.
If you are in the market to sell as well, Toyotas hold their value well if you look after them. For a good medium-kilometre model, expect to pay in the mid to high $30K range dependent on accessories.
Would I buy one again if I was in the same boat? Yep, without a second thought. I'm happy that I bought this one as our family wagon.