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

The Prado has a solid reputation as an off-road tourer, especially in terms of capability and functionality, and now Toyota has added a premium variant to its popular range of mid-sized 4WD wagons with a special edition Kakadu Horizon. 

This top-shelf Prado sports a variety of exterior styling enhancements, but not a lot of anything else that should really justify a price-tag $5000 heftier than the standard Prado Kakadu’s.

But perhaps, beyond the style tweaks and add-ons, it might actually be worth the extra cash. Read on.

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

Price as tested for this Prado Kakadu Horizon is $88,990. A standard Kakadu is priced from $84,590 plus on-road costs.

The Horizon is based on the standard Kakadu variant and it has seven seats (front seats are leather-accented, heated and ventilated), electrically adjustable steering column, a 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission, dual-range 4WD, as well as driver-assist systems, such as crawl control and multi-terrain select (both for off-roading), adaptive variable suspension, rear air suspension and Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS).

It also gets 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control air conditioning, panoramic-view monitor, Toyota Safety Sense (including Pre-Collision Safety System with Pedestrian Detection, High Speed Active Cruise Control, and more), JBL audio system, a rear-seat entertainment system (DVD player) with 9.0-inch screen and three wireless headphones, as well as two rear USB chargers. Don’t forget its powered third-row folding seats.

The Kakadu Horizon wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The Kakadu Horizon wears 18-inch alloy wheels.

Then, to further distinguish it as the ‘Horizon’, it gets exclusive Horizon badging, front bumper spoiler, rear bumper step guard, rear bumper spats, chrome side mouldings with chrome accented exterior mirrors, illuminated front scuff plates and clear rear combination lamps. 

So, there’s a lot of stuff in the Horizon. However, there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – or, if there is, I couldn’t get it working.

The Prado misses out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Prado misses out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A flat tailgate pack (which moves the full-size spare wheel from the rear door to the Prado’s underbody) is available for the Horizon. Our test vehicle had it. (Note: choosing this option reduces your fuel capacity from 150 litres to 87 litres, because you sacrifice the 63-litre sub tank so the spare tyre can be fitted underneath the vehicle.)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It looks like a Prado, enough said. But it does get Kakadu Horizon enhancements including Horizon badging, front bumper spoiler, rear bumper step-guard, rear bumper spats, chrome side mouldings, chrome-accented exterior mirrors, and illuminated front scuff plates.

This top-shelf Prado sports a variety of exterior styling enhancements. This top-shelf Prado sports a variety of exterior styling enhancements.

The Kakadu Horizon’s interior – with its multi-tone colour scheme, peppered with wood-look segments and darker expanses – is visually quite striking. As always, my advice to you is: look at the photos and make up your own mind.

The Prado's interior is comfortable, spacious and nicely suited to functional use with plenty of useable space. The Prado's interior is comfortable, spacious and nicely suited to functional use with plenty of useable space.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Kakadu Horizon has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – producing 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm – and that’s matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s that same standard Prado donk-and-box combo that works well in the lower-spec variants, so there’s no reason for it to suddenly perform poorly just because the vehicle it’s powering has some frippery on it.

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine makes 130kW/450Nm. The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine makes 130kW/450Nm.

I’ve said it before: this pairing is a solid, if unspectacular, combination, and generally tends to be sluggish rather than zippy. But – you know what? – I’m fine with that. It makes for relaxed open-road cruising, once the Prado is gently wound up to speed, and it’s also a very assured off-roader, but it’ll never ‘wow’ you with off-the-mark speed or tractor-pulling torque.

Please note: the Prado has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and issues linked to those systems have been well documented, so head to our Toyota Prado problems page to stay up to date with any DPF details.

How practical is the space inside?

The Prado is a well-regarded touring vehicle and for good reason. Its interior is comfortable, spacious and nicely suited to functional use with plenty of useable space, seemingly able to swallow all of your family and/or friends, as well as groceries, sports or camping gear, and more.

Cabin layout, in the best Prado tradition, is open and spacious, with instruments that are easy to locate and operate, and it’s never too busy anywhere you look inside. 

A standard lower-spec Prado cabin feels a bit dated, but at least the Horizon’s multi-tone interior, with its easy-on-the-eyes appearance and soft-touch surfaces everywhere, does away with that impression here.

The driver and front passenger are well looked after with nicely cushioned and supportive, heated, power-adjustable seats. The driver and front passenger are well looked after with nicely cushioned and supportive, heated, power-adjustable seats.

Storage spaces include two cup-holders (with a flip-open lid) in front of the shifter, a shallow slot (with a flip-open lid) in front and above the cup-holders, one small, shallow L-shaped space (for keys and pocket rubbish) behind the shifter, a refrigerated ‘cool box’ centre console, door pockets with bottle holders, seat-back net pockets for second-row passengers, a fold-down centre arm-rest with cup-holders in the second row, and a cup-holder each for third-row occupants.

In terms of comfort, the driver and front passenger are well looked after with nicely cushioned and supportive, heated, power-adjustable seats.

The 40:20:40 split sliding second-row seats offer plenty of head, knee and legroom across the row and there are charge points, and controls for everything, including climate control, seat-heating temp (outer seats only), directional air vents, as well as the DVD player, at passengers’ fingertips. 

The second-row seats offer plenty of head, knee and legroom across the row. The second-row seats offer plenty of head, knee and legroom across the row.

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

The 50:50 split-fold flat third-row seats (electrically deployed and stowed at the push of a button) are a tad less comfy than any other pews in the Prado, but that’s to be expected. There are directional air vents, cup holders and a grab handle for those rear-most passengers. 

With the third-row seats in use, boot space is listed as 104 litres and there is a sliding cargo cover to conceal your gear. 

  • With the third-row seats in use, boot space is listed as 104 litres. With the third-row seats in use, boot space is listed as 104 litres.
  • Fold the third row flat, boot space grows to 553 litres. Fold the third row flat, boot space grows to 553 litres.

With the third row stowed, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres on offer. With the second and third rows down and out of the way, there’s a claimed 974 litres available.

The Kakadu Horizon also has roof rails.

Access to the third row, via the left-hand side, with the door wide open and the second-row seat moved forward, is pretty good.

The third-row seats are a tad less comfy than any other pews in the Prado. The third-row seats are a tad less comfy than any other pews in the Prado.

As mentioned, our test vehicle had the flat tailgate pack (which moves the full-size spare wheel from the rear vertical-opening door to the Prado’s underbody) and so its split-tailgate design means you’re able to open the rear-door glass without having to open the whole door.

What's it like as a daily driver?

The Prado Kakadu Horizon is 4825mm* long with a 2790mm wheelbase, and it’s 1885mm wide, 1890mm high and it has a claimed kerb weight of 2395kg (with the last tailgate pack). (* A Prado with a rear-door-mounted spare tyre is 4995mm long.)

An electrically-adjustable steering column (for tilt and rake) and power-adjustable seat make it easy for the driver to get the driving position spot-on. And the hydraulic steering is generally precise, but with some understeer creeping in on tighter corners.

The Prado is a chunky, bulky unit but quite nimble around town, even though its turning circle is 11.6m. 

Its width and 1585mm wheel track give the Prado a surefooted feel on all surfaces and at all speeds. Its permanent four-wheel drive system adds to that all-pervasive spirit.

The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine isn’t as gutsy as it should be, but it and the six-speed auto are a dependable match-up, however, it’s a pairing that will never blow you away with its zestiness, and there is noticeable lag under throttle. 

The Prado’s suspension is generally smooth and well sorted. The driver has the added benefit of being able to determine the vehicle’s height by way of the adaptive air suspension which can be adjusted with an in-cabin up/down switch.

The Kakadu Horizon’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System – basically a system in which hydraulic cylinders vary tension in the Prado’s sway bars to suit the driving conditions, that is firmer for on-road driving, and softer for off-roading – works to better control the Prado’s overall driving feel. There’s little in the way of body roll in this KDSS-equipped Kakadu Horizon that was evident in the GXL we tested a few months ago.

The Kakadu Horizon rides on Dunlop Grandtrek AT22 tyres (265/60R18 110H), which did an adequate job on road.

Noise levels inside are well subdued.

Overall, this top-shelf Prado is a refined drive. 

What's it like for touring?

Spoiler alert: yep, it’s pretty good.

Overnight rain had made the tricky bush tracks that lead to our off-road course even trickier and the wet stuff had made some of our set-piece hills bloody treacherous.

KDSS – which, when the Prado is driven off-road, aims to deliver unrestricted suspension movement and maximum wheel travel – was very effective through the severely rutted tracks and undulating terrain that we had to traverse closer to our unofficial 4WD testing ground. Wheel travel in a standard Prado is okay and the KDSS-equipped Kakadu Horizon manages to get even more flex on the move, dropping a tyre to the dirt, or as near as is possible, most times.

For something that feels so road-focused, the Prado is easy to steer around in the bush and it’s very adaptable at low speeds on less-than-ideal surfaces.

The Prado has always been comfortably capable when it comes to tackling low-range 4WDing. The Prado has always been comfortably capable when it comes to tackling low-range 4WDing.

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 engine and auto, a pairing so well suited to lazy open-road cruising, are rarely stressed and the Prado never fails to get the most out of its 450Nm of torque when it’s most needed.

As well as a dual-range transfer case, and centre and rear diff locks, the Kakadu Horizon has a veritable smorgasbord of driver-assist aids from which to choose, all developed to help produce supreme driver control in hard-core low-speed 4WD scenarios. 

There are the usual suspects, such as traction control and hill descent control, but there’s also everything from multi-terrain select (so you can dial in different drive modes – mud & sand, loose rock, mogul, rock & dirt, and rock – to suit the conditions), a multi-terrain monitor (which shows a selectable screen-depicted range of views from around the vehicle) to crawl control (which enables the Prado to be driven at five different, very low, selectable set speeds, via automatic accelerator and traction control operation, so doing away with the need for driver input on the throttle or brake during severe up- or down-hills). 

The Prado is easy to steer around in the bush and it’s very adaptable at low speeds on less-than-ideal surfaces. The Prado is easy to steer around in the bush and it’s very adaptable at low speeds on less-than-ideal surfaces.

We used all of the different systems and they all work effectively and deliver an extra welcome dimension of vehicle control. We did have some strife with the multi-terrain monitor though as the forward-view image would not remain on the screen when we driving forward with all low-speed off-road systems enabled.

Driver-assist aids and tech wizardry are great, but none of them, or even the sum total of them, are a substitute for safe, considered driving. The key is not to rely solely on them to get you through anything, because often other factors come into play.

Case in point: we struggled to get up a short steep incline that had been made very greasy and washed-out by the recent rain. Even with all systems engaged, the Prado could not get up that incline. The problem? Our tyre pressures were too high. With a drop down to 18 psi (pounds per square inch) all-round, we were able to conquer that climb/downhill and others nearby – with more than a little credit due to the application of old-school 4WD thinking. 

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 approach, ramp-over and departure angles of 30.4, 21.1 and 23.5 respectively.

The Prado has always been comfortably capable when it comes to tackling low-range 4WDing, but KDSS is the telling point of difference between a Kakadu- or Kakadu Horizon-spec Prado and the rest of the range.

Unbraked towing capacity is 750kg and braked towing capacity is 3000kg.

It’s worth noting here that there are plenty of aftermarket accessories available to help Prado owners turn their pride and joy into even more of a touring beast.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is listed as 8.0L/100km. We recorded an actual fuel-use figure of 10.3L/100km and that was after more than 300km, including a few hours of low-range 4WDing.

The fuel tank on a Prado with the flat tailgate pack (which moves the full-size spare tyre from the rear to the underbody) is 87 litres, because the 63-litre sub tank has to be sacrificed to make room for the spare tyre. Keep that in mind, if driving range features heavily on your vehicle check-list.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Prado has a five-star ANCAP rating from testing in 2011. The Prado Kakadu Horizon gets everything on the Prado safety menu.

It has seven SRS airbags, and a bunch of driver-assist tech which includes Toyota Safety Sense (incorporating lane departure alert, and pre-collision safety with pedestrian detection), automatic high beam and active cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, panoramic and multi-terrain monitor, adaptive variable suspension system, KDSS and Trailer Sway Control.

Don’t forget the reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, multi-terrain select system and diff locks.

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

The Prado has a five-years/unlimited km warranty; seven years for the drivetrain, as long as the vehicle is logbook serviced. 

Service intervals are set at every six months/10,000km, with annual service costs averaging out over three years to $520.

The capped service pricing plan is three years/60,000km.

The Toyota Prado Kakadu Horizon adds a nice touch of elegance to what is already a great off-roader that also just happens to be pretty good on-road.

The standard Prado platform is already roomy, comfortable and functional enough without the Kakadu Horizon frippery, but KDSS is a worthwhile addition, although you get that in the Kakadu, which is $5000 cheaper than the Kakadu Horizon.

The Prado is already a rugged seven-seater 4WD touring package without the Kakadu Horizon branding and the styling tweaks, but at least this new variant is more substantial than a mere sticker pack.

$88,990

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'