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New 2012 Toyota Prado Altitude review | first drive

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    The limited edition Toyota Prado Altitude aims to offer excellent value.

Alistair Kennedy road tests and reviews the new 2012 Toyota Prado Altitude.

Toyota has added a special limited edition Altitude version of its Prado with more than $10,000 of added features at a cost of just over $5000.

The limited edition Toyota Prado Altitude will only be in production until the end of April 2012. The current (fourth generation, but third in Australia) Prado has been on the market since late 2009 so is about midway through its life cycle. 

A medium-to-large 4WD that’s all too often used as an under-achieving suburban family wagon, it’s almost as capable in heavy-duty off-road work as its big brother LandCruiser. Indeed the vehicle’s full name is the Toyota LandCruiser Prado.


The limited edition model, called the Prado Altitude, is based on the mid-spec Prado GXL and comes with the same engine choices of 4.0-litre V6 petrol or 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines. While the GXL has the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, the Altitude is only available with a five-speed automatic transmission. Drive is permanently to all four wheels with a two-speed transfer box that’s controlled by a dash mounted switch.

The 4.0-litre petrol V6 produces 202 kW, and 381 Nm at 4400 rpm. That torque peak is at high revs but a lot of work has gone into fattening out the torque graph in the low to mid end of the scale. The 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel is likely to be the bigger seller.

A modern common-rail unit, it puts out 127 kW at just 3400 revs. Diesel torque of 410 Newton metres is available at a very useful band that runs from 1600 to 2800 rpm, in other words most drivers will have the torque at its peak most of the time.


The $5000 premier on the price of the GXL provides the Altitude with additional equipment that includes satellite navigation, a seven-inch touch-screen display, 14 speakers (GXL has six), six-disc in-dash CD/DVD changer with remote control , tilt-and-slide moonroof, leather-accented seat trim, privacy glass, Optitron instruments and Altiutude badging on the rear.

There’s also a rear-seat entertainment system, including a DVD player, that can be operated either from the touch-screen display in the front seats or by remote control from the rear seats. The system uses a nine-inch monitor mounted from the ceiling and has three wireless headphones.

Reversing is made even easier with a back-guide monitor that links with the reversing camera while four sonar parking sensors have been added at the front to the four already fitted to the rear in the GXL.

Other features that are also standard on the GXL include seven airbags, stability and traction control, anti-skid brakes, hill-assist control and downhill assist control, three-zone climate-controlled air-conditioning, audio controls on the steering wheel, smart entry and start, cruise control and long-range fuel tanks (87-litre main and 63-litre sub).


Prado is a seven-seater with excellent interior space that can be shared amongst the occupants because of the centre row seats can slide back and forward. The back seats fold flat when they are not required to increase the already-good load area.

Ride comfort is good and the Prado is easy to drive thanks to plenty of outwards visibility and a tight turning circle (for a 4WD). Handing is nothing special, with the suspension leaning in the direction of providing a good ride. However, road grip and overall dynamics are fine for the typical buyers in this SUV market segment. Parking can be a problem until you get used to the bulk of the vehicle so people moving from cars to a big SUV may struggle at first.

The Toyota Prado Altitude limited edition range is:

Altitude 4.0-litre V6 petrol: from $68,490

Altitude 3.0-litre turbo-diesel: from $69,490

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 20 comments

  • nice car is so beautiful and i wish i bougth this ca

    mir mohammad mohsin abbas of karachi Posted on 10 March 2013 12:22am
  • nice car…................

    mir mohammad mohsin abbas of karachi Posted on 10 March 2013 12:20am
  • Great vehicle driving it is a dream. Can go anywhere, great economy 7.5 - 8.5 lts per 100. Can’t beat it. Had the D Altitude for 7 months much bigger than the Paj and a lot more comfortable.

    Tarp Alan of Maribyrnong Vic Posted on 07 February 2013 10:11pm
  • slight whine from altitude petrol engine at 120k/hr no otherspeed

    phillip scar of South Australia Posted on 26 November 2012 11:29am
  • I get a slight whine from the petrol engine at 120 k/hr no other speed toyota dont know why shouldnt happen overall pleased with the altitude slight tyre noise/ wind

    phillip scarborough of South Australia Posted on 26 November 2012 11:27am
  • piece of overpriced junk. Go with the original - the Pajero. Prado is just an imitation.

    this is why the prado sucks: the engine is gutless. the rear axle sags and hangs. the auto gearbox overheats and shuts down rendering the vehicle disabled. the ride will make you sea-sick. the traction control is useless and leaves your wheels spinning. the thing looks plain ugly. this is a 4wd never meant for the bush, for soccor moms and shopping centre car parks only thanks.

    Jay Westerfield of bunbury Posted on 17 November 2012 12:18am
  • Our new 2012 Prado Altitude Diesel has disappointed us immensely, as with the dealership and Technician from Melb. The car has a very prominent air vibration within the cabin which pounds in your head and ears, fluctuating and reacting to the road surface.  On a couple of occasions we had to stop the car, as my wife felt she was going to be sick, this has happened to other people as well.  On the other hand the mechanics at the dealership say they can`t hear anything, so they can`t fix it.  The Technician from Melb. says he can hear it, and it`s the air box sucking so hard that it`s vibrating the wheel guard, and quote `Toyota in Japan are working on it, but it`s within the tolerances that they allow` unquote.  Our Prado is supposed to be not as bad as some others.  Well Toyota we will think twice before we look at any Toyota vehicle again. Be responsible, we expected an A1 product for the price. We had to bite the bullet, the sound was so disturbing especially on long trips, we traded in our Prado for a new Pajero which we are extremely happy with. If it`s recognised as a fault and they don`t know how to fix or resolve the problem Toyota don`t deserve our business.

    John Glass of Bairnsdale. Victoria. Posted on 03 October 2012 11:16pm
  • Bought a 2012 Prado Altitude Diesel in June. Great vehicle both on and off road. Before the purchase I explored the Pajero and Jeep. The Prado won it in on looks, interior space, leg room, reliability and longevity of earlier models. History will show Toyota Diesel resale is better than others. A recent 2000 klm round trip returned 7.5 lts per 100. Friend with a Pajero gets around 11 klms per 100 on a similar trip

    Tarp Alan of Melbourne, Victoria Posted on 18 September 2012 12:18am
  • I have bought the 150 series Diesel Altitude version. So far I am loving it. The GPS have no problems and its integration is great but you have to get used it. The rear entertainment unit is very handy as I have 2 kids. I took it off road few times already and no problems handled beautifully. Having sunroof is breezy. The only issue I have faced so far negative was when reversing and turning the steering wheel above certain level the the guide disappears which the Toyota dealer unable to fix it the other issue is that it beeps a lot when parking with ample space. Overall I am very satisfied with the vehicle.

    Kumaran K of Denistone NSW Posted on 09 September 2012 8:28am
  • I bought a diesel altitude 2012. It’s one of the excellent 4WD I experienced. Did a road trip close to 4000 km going from Victoria to south Australia tested all types of conditions excellent performance. Extremely comfort I would recommend any one looking for a good 4WD to buy this without any fear. Didn’t experience any vibrations or problems with ABS brakes. my prado endured lot of battering and came up very good.

    Sachi Patabendige of Point Cook, Vic, AU Posted on 07 September 2012 2:54pm
  • Well i was in the pros and cons on upgrading my 120 updated 2007 gxl with 60k on the clock with the 150 series but will wait now i think thanks guys will do some more research…..

    JIM WILSON of Australia Posted on 27 August 2012 5:18pm
  • Totally agree with Allan Glen of Brisbane, my brand new Prado GXL diesel has the exact same problems. Vibration in the steering wheel and through out the entire car for that matter. Once hitting 1500kpms it becomes unbareble and even dangerous. Apart from that, there is also corrosion in the welds on the chassy, obviously water damage. The warranty covers only 3 years not a lifetime warranty, something that came as a bit of a shock. The Toyota “technicians” also telling me that all of the above problems are normal.
    I strongly reccomend that all those thinking of purchasing this model should reconsider or at least take it for a long test drive on the freeway and hitting speeds of 100kms, ensuring a full vibrating experience. Don’t just take the dealers word for it.

    Mercedes of Melbourne Posted on 09 August 2012 10:57pm
  • I have just bought a 150 series Prado Altitude (upgrading from a 120 series).  So far, it is not living up to my expectations.  The suspension is much softer than the 120 series and because of that the 4WD ability (especially when towing a camper trailer) has been greatly reduced.  The 150 series beeps at you for everything and drives me crazy.  The satellite navigation system and not as intelligent as it should be and is no where near as accurate or powerful as a portable GPS.  The Sat Nav and hands free is also locked down when the car is moving even when someone is in the passenger seat.  The Ipod connection interface is totally useless as finding and choosing music is very slow and cumbersome.  The ABS brakes seem to become confused sometimes if braking hard and stay on for a second or two after your foot is actually off the brake pedal - very dangerous. All up, I wish I could go back to my 120 series.  It was a much better offering.

    Recent Prado purchaser of Brisbane Posted on 19 July 2012 10:33pm
  • i have read all these reviews on the 150 Prado and there has been no comment on a very distinct vibration at approx 1500 rpm.

    I tested a Kakadu prior to purchase and felt the vibration, i was told it was normal by the salesman, i then purchased my prado, yes there was the vibration.

    I then went back to Toyota on the 100 km service and it was taken for a drive and the vibration was obvious to the service manager.

    We then took a new Altitude for a drive and yes the vibration was again obvious, the service manager apologised and said it seems to be a factory fault, and i wasn’t to worry as it would be noted in the records and if anything went wrong in the warranty period it would be repaired under the warranty!

    I would like to hear what Alistair Kennedy has to say about this observation.

    Allan Glen of Brisbane Posted on 06 June 2012 12:45am
  • Love my Toyota Prado Altitude diesel. Easy to drive, park, not sluggish compared to most other diesels I have driven, smooth gear changes in auto can’t even feel them and has enough power to overtake and drive anywhere I want to take it. Do agree with the hidey hole comment, could use more little storage areas in some of the empty places like above the wheel rims where the third row seats are. Best car I have owned yet !!

    Neesey of Western Australia Posted on 31 May 2012 5:55pm
  • Other down falls of the Prado is the lack of hidey holes for your bits and pieces despite plenty of cabin space. The Diesel engine whilst built with quality is a little sluggish… My only hopes that this quality shines through and last many many years to come…

    notquite of Queensland Posted on 20 April 2012 9:10pm
  • Just picked up our Prado Altitude. This is our first Prado and my initial test drive was extremely impressive.. However I think the Prado Altitude falls short of being a spectacular M/V.. Firstly the toyota dealers need to go back to school and understand their product..  For 70k we expected there to be dusk sensing auto headlights.. NOPE!!! The rear entertainment package whilst impressive has many if only’s.. For one the control from the front seat is just not good enough and the vast majority of control is done from through the pretty impressive remote. Not much good if like us your children are under the age of 10. Secondly because the DVD player for rear entertainment unit shares front unit you can not play multi disks at the same time (despite the sticker saying it is a multiplayer). Why is this important try driving long distance with either no music or the sound of Walt Disney over and over again because you cant listen to your CD while the kids watch their DVD..However thank good you can listen to the Radio and the AUX/MP3/Ipod while this kids have their head phones on(Cheap). But you have to figure this out with the remote control from the back seat before you leave…

    Almostbutnotquite of Queensland Posted on 20 April 2012 9:05pm
  • While not in the same 4WD (AWD) league as the Prado, the BMW X1 diesels develop 138kw and 380nm of torque for the 2.0l single turbo motor and 150kw and 410nm for the twin turbo model, these engines are just magnificent (we own both models). Granted they are not 4WDs and the lack of a spare tyres means their use is limited. Having owned a 6 cyl Prado VX - it needed two fuel tanks with 170l to get anywhere decent - a gas guzzler for sure.

    Shipo of Sydney Posted on 12 April 2012 5:42pm
  • Oh dear, what were they thinking?  A flashier model with most of the fruit, yet it is downgraded to a 5 speed auto.  Is this really correct?The Prado is already behind in the performance stakes, at least in diesel form, and not as good on fuel as itscompetitors - the modest torque figure gives a clue - but saddling it with a lesser transmission just makes no sense.  In a vehicle costing $70k that is just crazy. Bad move, Toyota.  I did have a quick look at the dealer, but apart from the Altitude I thought the Prados were poor value against other 4WDs.  Now that is ruled out.

    Foresooth of Canberra Posted on 09 April 2012 9:22am
  • Love the Prado, definitely one of the worlds most capable & reliable 4WD’s however in Europe the 3.0 Diesel Prado (known as the Landcruiser) develops 140kw / 420nm however in this vast, open and often very remote countryside of ours the same unit is tuned to a lower output ... why ?

    Crikey of Central Queensland Posted on 09 April 2012 8:07am
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