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Toyota Prado | review

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    The Toyota Prado 4WD is a versatile suburban vehicle with serious off-road capabilities.

Alistair Kennedy road tests and reviews the Toyota Prado with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

2014 Toyota Prado 3

Back in July 1996 Sydney residents looking skywards would have seen a skywriting aeroplane spelling out the letters P-R-A-D-O. The name would no doubt have puzzled the vast majority of those who saw it, unaware that it was part of Toyota Australia’s launch of a new, slightly smaller version of its long-established LandCruiser 4WD.

Prado sales have been similarly flying high with more than 200,000 sold in the past 17 years including top spot in the Large SUV category for 2012. Toyota Prado is almost as capable in heavy-duty off-road work as the LandCruiser 200 it complements. It can certainly do a lot more than the typical SUV role of carting kids and shopping in the mundane suburban commuting runs.

There’s plenty of variety within the Prado range with both five-door and three-door variants and petrol and diesel engines. The short wheelbase three-door is only offered with the diesel powerplant while the diesel five-door comes with the choice of five or seven seats in the entry-level GX model.

ENGINES

Engine options are a 4.0-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. Our review Prado had the diesel, which is a modern common-rail unit that puts out 127kW of power. Diesel torque of 410 Newton metres is available at a very useful band that runs from 1600 to 2800 rpm, so most drivers will have the torque at its peak most of the time.

After a week in which we travelled over 400 kilometres the range indicator still showed another 900km available before we needed to refuel. That’s partly from impressive official usage of just 9.2 litres per hundred kilometres, but mainly due to 150 litres in twin fuel tanks. Drive is permanently to all four wheels with a two-speed transfer box that’s controlled by a dash mounted switch.

MODELS

The five-door Prado wagon is sold in four models: GX, GXL, VX and Kakadu. The sportier Prado three-door comes tagged as an XR or ZR. A limited edition variant called the Prado Altitude went on sale in May. Based on the GXL variant it added around $10,000 of features with a $5000 price surcharge. Production ceased at the end of June so you should hurry along to your local dealer if you want to grab one. Toyota Prado is covered by Toyota Service Advantage capped-price servicing at $210 per service.

DRIVING

Our most recent test car was the diesel Prado Kakadu five-door but we have tested the three-door previously and found it to be nimbler, lighter and more enjoyable to drive than its larger brother. It’s also more arguably stylish. We found the five-door Prado wagon to be rather too soft in the suspension and light in the steering for our liking, but it holds the road well enough. 

The average owner of a vehicle like this isn't looking for sporting dynamics. Ride comfort in the Prado is good and, despite its size, it’s easy to drive, with excellent outward visibility and a tight turning circle (for a large 4WD). Handling 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 although all but the GX variant now come with a reversing camera. Inside the Prado there’s excellent room all round with the rear seats able to slide back and forward. The third-row seats where fitted fold flat when they are not required to increase the already-good load area.

Off-road the suspension works brilliantly, virtually switching to a different mechanical mode to give much greater wheel travel. Complement that with advanced traction electronics, that are more and more complex as you pay extra for the high-end models, and the Prado upholds its reputation as being a real 4WD in a vehicle class that's mainly occupied by pretenders.

We were able to do some semi-serious off-road testing on some steepish slopes and thanks to our recent wet spell, over some slippery gravel. It coped well and is certainly the vehicle for someone who wants to do some real off-road work.

MODEL RANGE

GXL 4.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $62,635 (automatic)
VX 4.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $76,635 (automatic)
Kakadu 4.0-litre petrol five-door wagon: $90,135 (automatic)
GX 3.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $55,990 (manual), $58,254 (automatic)
GXL 3.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $61,135 (manual), $63,635 (automatic)
VX 3.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $77,635 (automatic)
Kakadu 3.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $91,135 (automatic)
SX 3.0-litre turbo-diesel three-door wagon: $56,090 (automatic)
ZR 3.0-litre turbo-diesel three-door wagon: $67,135 (automatic)

Toyota Prado Kakadu 4.0-litre petrol five-door wagon

Price: from $90,135
Warranty: three years/100,000km
Engine: 4.0-litre 6.0-cylinder, 202kW/381Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, no manual offered, 4WD
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 2240-2355 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 150 litres
Towing Ability: 750 kg (2500 kg with braked trailer)
Thirst: 11.5L/100km

RIVALS

Audi Q7 TFSI - see other verdicts

Price: from $95,200

Engine: 3.0L six-cylinder petrol, 245kW/440Nm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic, 4WD

Thirst: 10.7L/100km, 249g/km CO2

Mercedes-Benz ML350 - see other verdicts

Price: from $99,400

Engine: 3.5L six-cylinder petrol, 225kW/370Nm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic, 4WD

Thirst: 8.9L/100km, 208g/km CO2

Infiniti FX37 S - see other verdicts

Price: from $92,900

Engine: 3.7L six-cylinder petrol, 235kW/360Nm

Transmission: 7-speed automatic, 4WD

Thirst: 12.1L/100km, 282g/km CO2

 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 10 comments

  • Have a gx prado. It’s the wife’s city run around and our camping 4wding car. It’s fantastic. We have the 3ltr manual 6 speed. People can go on that they’re crap etc etc but at the end of the day they are the family car of choice by many Australians rural and metro. Ours is lifted, , 32 inch muddies, bullbar, light bar, roof racks etc and we get 12l/100kms around the city. Pretty good for a heavy car! A 100 series or 200 series gets 15-18 l/100kms around the city! Anyone reading this and complaining probably owns a rav 4, dualis or other soft roaders with’ heaps of torque’. Follow me on the tracks!

    Tommy of Top end Posted on 24 March 2014 10:43pm
  • Good luck with your Hyundai Robert, I’ll look out for you on my next trip up the Old Telegraph Track or heading into Arnhem Land, I will give you a middle finger salute on the way past

    Top end runner of Australia Posted on 08 March 2014 3:15pm
  • At the end of the day it’s still a slow farm cart

    Andrew G of Victoria Posted on 07 February 2014 11:51pm
  • If you read it properly Robert and weren’t so hellbent on putting crap on someone, you would see that it says 4.0 V6 petrol and 3.0 four cylinder turbo diesel. Get back to your Hyundai forum!

    KG of Australia Posted on 26 January 2014 11:03am
  • I believe that they have gotten rid of the the three door models.

    Sarah F Posted on 18 December 2013 5:20pm
  • “Engine options are a 4.0-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel V6.”  Come on Alistair,  say what you mean m8!! Is the Diesel a V6 or a 4 cylinder????????  You are confusing us all (and yourself as well). 
    And another thing… 410nm???  Hyundai get 440nm out of a 2.2litre diesel.
    And as far as comparisons;  what about the MY14 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0litre diesel…  570nm with 8 speed gearbox!!  and cheaper too with more equipment.
    So come on Alistair,  lets get some homework done m8!!———————————————————-Well spotted, thanks. Ed

    Robert Bradbery of Australia Posted on 12 November 2013 2:40pm
  • Test drove the GXl last weekend, and has to be the most “sewimg machine” like car I’ve ever driven. Constant engine wurr as you accelerate. Not impressed at all. And $70,000….

    TheRealist of W.A. Posted on 06 November 2013 10:02pm
  • Made me laugh, I clicked the picture under the heading ’ Large SUV” The one thing the Prado isn’t is large.

    Go to the US Lexus web page where the Prado is sold as a GX and check the prices.  then go cut your wrists as we are robbed again.

    Richard W of Sydney Posted on 13 September 2013 1:54pm
  • Shows you know nothing about 4WD’s Clancy. All prados have had front IFS and live rear axle since their release - 90, 120 and 150 series. Now that they have also got traction control, more gears in their gearboxes, more engine torque and better front IFS, how can their off road creds have reduced?

    Wayne of Welshpool Posted on 16 July 2013 4:47pm
  • The Prado’s off road performance has decreased with every new model released. The first Prado was a good off roader, the current model is more a Toorak tractor, a show pony for urban use.

    Clancy of The Overflow. Posted on 15 July 2013 2:38pm
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