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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2021 review: GXL off-road test

Toyota’s 4WDs have a sterling reputation as off-road touring vehicles. But while the brand’s top-sellers like the 200 Series LandCruiser and the HiLux get all the adulation, the mid-size Prado simply goes about its business of being a decent all-rounder with little fuss or fanfare. 

However, it’s been looking and feeling a little bit aged in recent years … but Toyota is hoping that a bit of a range refresh has sorted that out.

The new Prado has more power and torque than the previous version, but the price has gone up across the range – almost $3000 extra for this mid-spec GXL, as an example. 

But it does now have a bigger multimedia screen, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so it’s up to speed there at least.

So, is the new Prado worth your consideration? Read on.

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

The GXL as standard has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $66,540 (before on-road costs). It has the line-up’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – shared with the HiLux and Fortuner – and that has been upgraded to produce 150kW (an increase of 20kW over the previous Prado) and 500Nm (an increase of 50Nm).

The GXL as standard has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $66,540 (before on-road costs). The GXL as standard has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $66,540 (before on-road costs).

It has a six-speed automatic transmission, and a full-time four-wheel drive system with high- and low-range. 

Standard features on this seven-seater include 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smart entry and start, active cruise control, three-zone climate control, bi-LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and foglights, side steps, roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels and rear parking sensors.

Standard features on this seven-seater include 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard features on this seven-seater include 9.0-inch touchscreen multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also has a comprehensive suite of driver-assist tech – Toyota Safety Sense – with AEB with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only), high-speed active cruise control, lane departure alert (with steering assistance via braking), and road sign assist.

As well as that, our test vehicle had the $600 premium paint (bronze) and it has the $3470 premium interior pack, which includes leather accents, power-adjustable front seats with heating and cooling, as well as heated second-row seats. It also has a $1150.73 wiring set-up with towbar, tow ball and wiring harness.

Our test vehicle had a $1150.73 wiring set-up with towbar, tow ball and wiring harness. Our test vehicle had a $1150.73 wiring set-up with towbar, tow ball and wiring harness.

All of those options push this GXL’s price to $71,760.73.

The test vehicle had the no-cost flat tailgate pack, which moves the spare tyre from the rear door to the Prado’s underbody – that allows you, among other things, a bit more easy access to the rear cargo area via the glass hatch/window. There is a trade-off though – by moving the spare tyre to the undercarriage, you lose the 63-litre sub tank, reducing your total fuel capacity from 150 litres to 87 litres and that reduces your driving range. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Prado’s appearance will never elicit manly grunts of admiration the way the LandCruiser or HiLux do, but that’s beside the point. It has an inoffensive, easy-to-like visage.

It’s a chunky machine with real on-road presence, but make up your own mind. You might hate it. Each to their own.

It’s a chunky machine with real on-road presence. It’s a chunky machine with real on-road presence.

 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm at 1600-2800rpm. Its pairing with the six-speed auto is a low-key but effective combination.

The Prado is rarely stressed, even during difficult low-range 4WDing, but it’s also never the liveliest match-up on the road or track.

The Prado has a full-time four-wheel drive system with high- and low-range.

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm at 1600-2800rpm. The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm at 1600-2800rpm.

How practical is the space inside?

In terms of dimensions, the Prado is 4825mm long, with 2790mm-long wheelbase. It is 1995mm wide, 1819mm high, and it has a listed kerb weight of 2265kg.

From front to back the Prado’s cabin is quite an open, functional and family-friendly space. Though not a lot has changed, the interior does look a little better than it did before and the new bigger media screen – at nine inches, it’s now a full inch bigger than the previous version – is largely to thank for that. That screen is easy enough to operate and now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and that functionality has quite a lot of appeal for many people, apparently.

From front to back the Prado’s cabin is quite an open, functional and family-friendly space. From front to back the Prado’s cabin is quite an open, functional and family-friendly space.

A good mix of durable hard plastics and leather accents (included in the premium interior pack option) There are plenty of storage spaces – including cupholders, door pockets, and a deep centre console bin – as well as a USB port to charge up your smartphone and other devices. 

Front seats, as well as being rather comfortable, are power-adjustable, heated and ventilated (again, as part of the premium interior pack).

Front seats, as well as being rather comfortable, are power-adjustable, heated and ventilated. Front seats, as well as being rather comfortable, are power-adjustable, heated and ventilated.

Second-row passengers get plenty of head, knee and leg room across the row. These seats are heated (a premium interior pack inclusion) and there is a fold-down centre arm-rest with two cup-holders, as well as climate control, directional air vents, grab handles above the doors, and pockets in the doors, incorporating a bottle holder. 

Second-row passengers get plenty of head, knee and leg room across the row. Second-row passengers get plenty of head, knee and leg room across the row.

The second-row seats are a 40:20:40 split-sliding configuration and have three top tether points and two ISOFIX points.

The third row seats are squeezy – but that’s never unusual in a seven-seater – and this row is a 50:50 split-fold-flat configuration

The third row seats are squeezy – but that’s never unusual in a seven-seater. The third row seats are squeezy – but that’s never unusual in a seven-seater.

There are a cup-holder for each passenger and directional air vents.

Nothing has changed much in terms of cargo capacity since the last time we tested a Prado a few months back.

With the third-row seats in use, boot space is a claimed 104 litres. With the third-row seats in use, boot space is a claimed 104 litres.

With the third-row seats in use, boot space is a claimed 104 litres; with the third row stowed way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres; and with the second and third rows stowed way, there’s 974 litres.

With the third row stowed way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres of boot space. With the third row stowed way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres of boot space.

The Prado interior had been feeling a bit dated prior to this, but that’s less of a case now.

What's it like as a daily driver?

It’s pretty decent for a large 4WD.

On road, there are no surprises: the Prado is a comfortable blacktop cruiser and gets the job done with very little stress. 

Steering is well-weighted, the engine and auto is a quietly dependable combination, without ever being actually exciting, and there’s still some discernible acceleration lag under throttle. It’s not exactly as sluggish as it was, but it’s not terribly dynamic either. (Don’t be too critical of it – I reckon you’d need a bit of encouragement to get moving as well if you tipped the scales at 2265kg.)

Ride and handling are pretty well sorted, and the Prado body roll of old has been mostly ironed out and only ever creeps in on bendier stretches.

Overall, it’s a very comfortable daily driver. Overall, it’s a very comfortable daily driver.

The suspension set-up – double wishbone, independent and coils all-round – is aimed at maximising comfort but the Prado’s ride can tend towards firm at times, although maybe some of that can be attributed to too-high tyre pressures.

The Prado rarely feels cumbersome on busy city streets and with a turning circle is 11.6m, it’s no go-kart to steer around, but it’s not a school bus either.

Overall, it’s a very comfortable daily driver.

What's it like for touring?

The Prado is a very good 4WD straight out of the showroom – we’ve tested it off-road extensively many times – and nothing much has been changed over previous versions, beyond those upticks in power and torque.

So, there are few surprises in terms of the Prado’s efficacy off-road.

The Prado is a very good 4WD straight out of the showroom. The Prado is a very good 4WD straight out of the showroom.

All the elements for an effective 4WD are here: it has good low-range gearing, heaps of usable, torque at low revs, a robust 4WD set-up, as well as a centre and rear diff lock.

Engine braking is great, its off-road traction control system is very effective, and those extra kilowatts and newton metres, while not massive, surely add some oomph during off-road driving.

In terms of off-road-relevant measurements, the Prado has 219mm of ground clearance, and approach, departure and ramp-over angles of 30.4 degrees, 23.5 degrees, and 21.1 degrees, respectively. Wading depth is listed as 700mm.

It is hamstrung by a couple of factors though: it tends to belly out through deeper wheel ruts those with a higher crest, that bit of earth in the middle – and it always feels lower than its claimed measures suggest. Also, its Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 tyres (265/65R17) are not up to scratch because they’re nowhere near aggressively fortified enough for off-road work.

The Prado has 219mm of ground clearance. The Prado has 219mm of ground clearance.

The GXL misses out on some of the pricier Prado variants’ 4WD wizardry, such as five-speed crawl control, multi-terrain select, and KDSS (Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System), but it’s still more than capable off-road.

The Prado has an unbraked towing capacity of 750kg and a braked towing capacity of 3000kg. 

The bonus? There are plenty of accessories for it so you can it out exactly to your touring specifications; and spare parts availability is extensive, which is comforting if you’re planning remote-area expeditions.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.9L/100km on a combined cycle. 

It was showing 9.4L/100km on our dash, but our actual fuel consumption on test, after more than 300km of driving (including four hours of 4WDing), was 10.9L/100km. 

This Prado has an 87-litre fuel tank – because it has the flat tailgate pack and so loses the 63-litre sub tank. Remember?
 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

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

All in all, the Prado is a very functional and comfortable daily driver and a very capable 4WD tourer.

The increases in power and torque and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and driver-driver-assist tech to the range have simply added even more appeal to what is one of the market’s most popular quiet achievers.

It's good in the city and more than capable in the country and, when all is said and done, it may not be the most exciting 4WD available, but it’s certainly one of the best all-rounders.

$70,010

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'