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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2020 review: GX off-road test

The Toyota Prado is very popular with surburbanites and adventurers, because it manages to strike a decent balance between being a nice-driving and practical family mover and a very capable 4WD.

The entry-level Prado, the GX, lacks many of the additions, substantial and otherwise, that are in the higher-spec Prados, but it is a robust touring-friendly platform.

It’s not the cheapest base-spec 4WD wagon around, not by a long shot, but it is a Toyota and many people reckon that means a lot. Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The five-door five-seater* 2.8-litre four-cylinder GX auto has a MSRP of $56,990, but, as tested, our Prado was $57,590, because it had the premium paint (dusty bronze) costing $600. (* The Prado GX auto does also comes in the seven-seat option, which would be an additional $2550.)

The GX is a bare bones set-up when compared to its upper-spec stablemates, but there’s still plenty of gear here to satisfy most people.

The GX is a bare bones set-up when compared to its upper-spec stablemates. The GX is a bare bones set-up when compared to its upper-spec stablemates.

It has smart entry and start system, an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen multimedia unit (with satnav, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), Toyota Safety Sense with Pre-Collision Safety System with Pedestrian Detection, High Speed Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert and Auto High Beam, LED daytime running lights, electrically retractable and heated side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels (and full-size spare), a 150L fuel tank (87L main and 63L sub tank), and a five-star 2011 ANCAP safety rating.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Prado looks formidable enough, with a blocky presence.

In terms of physical dimensions, it is 4995mm long, because its spare is mounted on the rear door of the vehicle rather than on the underbody which would reduce overall vehicle length to 4825mm. It is 1885mm, and 1845mm high. 

The Prado looks formidable enough, with a blocky presence. The Prado looks formidable enough, with a blocky presence.

It has a listed kerb weight of 2240kg, because it’s a five-seater; a seven-seater GX weighs 2300kg.

The GX does not get roof rails or side steps, so don’t go looking for them on this Prado.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The GX has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2400rpm.

It's paired with the six-speed auto and that’s generally a good combination, but in real-world applications it errs on the side of sluggish, rather than any sense of liveliness.

The GX has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. The GX has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

And that engine, while effective enough off-road, could do with more power and torque.

How practical is the space inside?

The Prado’s interior is plain but functional with very impressive build quality. It’s also a very roomy and well laid-out cabin, with an easy-to-use feel to it: all controls, dials and buttons on the centre console are big and placed well, so they're easy to locate and operate on the go. 

Having said that, the 8.0-inch colour touchscreen is a bit difficult to operate with precision when you’re on the move.

The cloth seats are comfortable all-round, with plenty of head, knee and legroom – even in the second row (40:20:40 split, sliding). 

The Prado’s interior is plain but functional with very impressive build quality. The Prado’s interior is plain but functional with very impressive build quality.

Second-row passengers also get a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders, air vent controls and a 12V power socket (both in the rear of the cool box), as well as hard-plastic bottle holders in the doors, and driver and front passenger seat-back map pockets.

The second-row seats have three top-tether points and two ISOFIX locations.

Upfront, driver and front passenger have access to a few storage spaces: glove box, door pockets, an air-conditioned (not refrigerated) cool box (in between driver and front passenger), and cup holders. There’s also USB charge points, as well as a 12V power socket.

The second-row seats have three top-tether points and two ISOFIX locations. The second-row seats have three top-tether points and two ISOFIX locations.

The driver also gets the 4.2-inch multi information display – between the instrument dials – so you can monitor your speed on a digital display.

With all five seats in use, cargo capacity is listed as 640 litres. No figures were listed for the total space made available when those seats are stowed away.

The rear cargo area has a retractable cargo blind so you’re able to conceal your luggage from prying eyes. There are also tie-down points and a 220V outlet.

  • With all five seats in use, cargo capacity is listed as 640 litres. With all five seats in use, cargo capacity is listed as 640 litres.
  • No figures were listed for the total space made available when those seats are stowed away. No figures were listed for the total space made available when those seats are stowed away.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Pretty bloody nice, actually.

The seats are very comfortable with a plush feel about them.

Steering is mostly light and precise, always a welcome attribute in a 4WD wagon, but it exhibits a slower, heavier feel at lower speeds on urban streets.

The engine and auto are dependable, but, as mentioned earlier, that match-up definitely errs on the side of sluggish, rather than lively, with noticeable lag under throttle.

The Prado feels wide and sure-footed on the road but it still exhibits that ol’ Prado body roll. The Prado feels wide and sure-footed on the road but it still exhibits that ol’ Prado body roll.

But it is very quiet inside.

The Prado feels wide and sure-footed on the road but it still exhibits that ol’ Prado body roll. It's not as pronounced as in previous iterations, but it is definitely still there. 

Turning circle is listed as 11.6m, which is nowhere near as tight and city-friendly as some of its rivals, such as the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, which can get around in 11.2m.

Be aware that it doesn’t have any parking sensors, front or rear. There you go, I’ve just prevented you from touch-parking your GX into a concrete something, or another car.

What's it like for touring?

Pretty blood good, actually.

It's nice to drive on-road – that’s covered off in the above section if you hadn’t noticed – and it’s settled and composed on gravel tracks, no matter how severe the corrugations become.

With its coil-spring suspension set-up – independent double wishbones at the front, and four-link live axle at the rear – soaking up the lumps and bumps, the Prado feels like it might even be too soft a ride, but it is comfy nonetheless.

However, the Prado does even better at low-speed four-wheel driving.

It's easy to steer around in the bush and its suspension, that you assume is so road-focused, is also adaptable at low speeds on undulating terrain.

The 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine was strong and rarely stressed, and the Prado’s clever six-speed auto was a good, effective fit here. This is as effective a pairing, if not more so, during low-speed 4WDing than it is when the Prado is driven at higher speeds on a uniform surface.

It's settled and composed on gravel tracks, no matter how severe the corrugations become. It's settled and composed on gravel tracks, no matter how severe the corrugations become.

The Prado felt like it consistently got all of its 450Nm of torque to the dirt effectively, while maintaining an active driver-direct sense to it. 

Low-range gearing is good as is engine braking (when needed on steep downhills), and the Prado also has a well-tuned traction control system, very smooth and effective hill descent control (Toyota calls it 'Downhill Assist Control’) and hill start assist, which seemed to work fine.

The base-spec GX does miss out on a rear differential lock (which the GXL, VX and Kakadu get), as well as five-speed crawl control, adaptive variable suspension system, multi-terrain select system, and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (which only the Kakadu gets anyway). 

But the 4WD essentials are so well sorted in the Prado that you needn’t worry about the GX being denied the high-tech wizardry of its more expensive stablemates.

Decent wheel travel helped to maintain steady momentum through serious terrain as well.

The Prado drives on Dunlop Grandtrek AT20s (265/65R17 112S) as standard original equipment. The Prado drives on Dunlop Grandtrek AT20s (265/65R17 112S) as standard original equipment.

For those who are interested (and you should be), the Prado has 219mm of ground clearance and approach, ramp-over and departure angles of 30.4, 21.1 and 23.5 respectively.

The Prado has 219mm of ground clearance and a 700mm wading depth, according to Toyota, and approach, ramp break-over and departure angles of 30.4, 21.1 and 23.5 respectively and while those figures mean little if you’re unfamiliar with their relevance, rest assured those measures are pretty off-road reasonable, especially for a 4WD that is also so city- and suburbia-friendly.

On the negative side, the Prado drives on Dunlop Grandtrek AT20s (265/65R17 112S) as standard original equipment, and those tyres aren’t up to scratch for anything more than light off-roading. On the positive side, the Prado does have a full-size spare mounted on the rear door.

Towing capacities are listed as 750kg (unbraked) and 3000kg (braked).

Bonus: because the Prado is such a popular vehicle, there are a ton of accessories available for it, either Genuine Toyota or from Australia’s aftermarket suppliers, such as ARB, Ironman 4x4 and others.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is listed as 7.9L/100km (combined). 

We recorded 8.5L/100km over more than 250km of driving, including about 10km of low-range 4WDing.

The GX has a 150L fuel tank (87L main and 63L sub tank). Buyers of higher-grade Prados can opt for the no-cost tailgate pack option (which moves the full-size spare from it’s usual rear-mounted position to the underbody) it’s worth noting that, by doing so, does free up your back door so access to the rear space is even more touring-friendly, but that spare-tyre relocation reduces your total fuel capacity from 150 litres to 87 litres because you lose the 63-litre sub tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Prado GX has a five-star ANCAP safety rating from testing in 2011.

It has seven airbags, and the Toyota Safety Sense suite of safety tech, which includes Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety system (PCS) with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam and Active Cruise Control. It does have a reversing camera, but no front or rear parking sensors.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Prado is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Service intervals are scheduled for every six months/10,000km, with service costs set at $260 per visit for the first three years/60,000km.

The Prado is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The Prado is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Toyota states: The warranty period for any new vehicle bought after 1 January 2019 is a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty that covers any part, panel and accessory made by Toyota. 

In addition to this, Toyota will extend your engine and driveline warranty from five to seven years if the annual service schedule is adhered to.

It’s basic, sure, and it feels a bit dated, but the Prado, even in entry-level GX form, tackles everything you throw it at – and that includes quite hard-core 4WDing – without ever breaking a (mechanical) sweat.

The Prado is a relaxed and comfortable on-road cruiser and a very capable off-roader, but it feels a bit old and the engine just isn’t quite as gutsy as it should be. 

However, this Toyota tourer remains a genuine all-purpose vehicle and one of the best ready-to-go 4WDs available.

$56,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Adventure score

4/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'