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Toyota Prado 2020 review: GXL off-road

The Toyota LandCruiser Prado is hugely popular. It’s been around for donkey’s years but it’s still one of Australia’s top-selling large 4WD wagons.

It has a great reputation as an off-road touring platform, because it is so capable, so roomy (great for fitting all of your camping gear) and it is so robust, but it’s feeling more than a little old.

If you’re looking to buy a large 4WD wagon, is the Prado your best bet? Read on.

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

The Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL is the mid-spec Prado. It has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and a dual-range permanent 4WD system.

Standard GXL features include smart key (keyless entry), active cruise control, LED daytime running lights, three-zone climate control, and rear parking sensors.

Price is $63,690, plus on-road costs, but our Prado had premium paint ($600), and the premium interior pack ($3463). Price is $63,690, plus on-road costs, but our Prado had premium paint ($600), and the premium interior pack ($3463).

Price is $63,690, plus on-road costs, but our Prado had premium paint ($600), and the premium interior pack ($3463), which includes leather trim, heated/vented and electric front row, and heated second-row seats. Total price: $67,753.

This Prado also has the no-cost flat tailgate pack option, which moves the full-size spare from it’s usual rear-mounted position to the underbody.

That frees up your back door so access to the rear space is even more touring-friendly, but relocation of that spare reduces your total fuel capacity from 150 litres to 87 litres because you lose the 63-litre sub tank.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

In terms of dimensions, this Prado is 4825mm long, because its spare is mounted underneath the vehicle rather than on its rear which pushes out overall length to 4995mm.

The Prado looks like a 4WD wagon that has been well and truly punched into its final shape. The Prado looks like a 4WD wagon that has been well and truly punched into its final shape.

It has a 2790mm wheelbase, and it’s 1885mm wide, 1890mm high and it has a listed kerb weight of 2265kg.

The Prado looks like a 4WD wagon that has been well and truly punched into its final shape. It certainly has a bulky presence. I like it, you may not. That’s life.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The GXL’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2400rpm.

It's pairing with the six-speed auto is generally a good combination, but in real-world applications it tends to err on the side of sluggish rather than lively.

The GXL’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2400rpm. The GXL’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2400rpm.

How practical is the space inside?

In terms of dimensions, this Prado is 4825mm long (with a 2790mm wheelbase), 1885mm wide, 1890mm high and it has a listed kerb weight of 2265kg.

  • With the third-row seats in use, boot space is claimed to be 104 litres. With the third-row seats in use, boot space is claimed to be 104 litres.
  • With the third row down and out of the way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres on offer. With the third row down and out of the way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres on offer.
  • With the second and third rows down and out of the way, there’s 974 litres available. With the second and third rows down and out of the way, there’s 974 litres available.

With the third-row seats in use, boot space is claimed to be 104 litres. With the third row down and out of the way, there’s a claimed (combined) 553 litres on offer. With the second and third rows down and out of the way, there’s 974 litres available.

The third-row seats are on the wrong side of squeezy but if you're unlucky enough to be back there you at least get directional air vents, cup holders and a grab handle. 

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

The second-row seats are much better with plenty of head, knee and legroom across the row and there is a fold-down centre armrest with two cupholders.

As mentioned earlier, this Prado has the premium interior pack, which means the second-row seats are heated and there's also a three-zone climate control and directional air vents. 

And it’s comfortable. Sitting behind my driving position there’s a fair bit of head, leg and knee room.

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

Inside the Prado, that touring friendly theme carries over. It really is designed to be a long-distance off-road tourer. The cabin is set up so you have plenty of useable space. 

Overall, the cabin is starting to feel a bit dated, but that’s no deal-breaking characteristic. Overall, the cabin is starting to feel a bit dated, but that’s no deal-breaking characteristic.

Controls, dials and buttons are really big and placed well so they're easy to locate and operate on the go.

Overall, the cabin is starting to feel a bit dated, but that's the Prado’s general demeanour: it’s all feeling a bit old, but that’s no deal-breaking characteristic.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Steering is generally light and precise, which is welcome in such a large 4WD wagon. But it can take on a slower, heavier feel at lower speeds on urban streets.

The engine and auto are solid and dependable, but it’s not the liveliest combination around, and there is some lag under throttle. You really have to ‘sink the boot in’ to get this 2265kg mongrel moving along.

Overall, the Prado is a mostly refined drive. Overall, the Prado is a mostly refined drive.

It feels wide and sure-footed on the road but, one of my niggles with this Prado is that it still exhibits the body roll that Prados always have. It's not as pronounced, it’s a bit more controlled, but it is still there. 

Its turning circle is 11.6m, which is nowhere near as tight and city-suited as something like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport which can get around in 11.2m.

Overall, the Prado is a mostly refined drive. It's never a rough rider, but it's engine isn't as gutsy as it should be. 

What's it like for touring?

It's pretty good at on-road and gravel-track driving, but the Prado really kicks in when you're doing low-speed, four-wheel driving.

The Prado never feels like a cumbersome vehicle. It's easy to steer around in the bush and its suspension, that you always assume is so road-focused, is also adaptable at low speeds on undulating terrain.

The Prado’s engine and auto, that are really so well suited on road, work well off-road. The auto’s always level-headed in its approach to everything and that makes for a comfortable driving experience no matter how hard-core the terrain is.

The Prado’s engine and auto, that are really so well suited on road, work well off-road. The Prado’s engine and auto, that are really so well suited on road, work well off-road.

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

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.

Hill descent control, or 'Downhill Assist Control' as Toyota calls it, is a difficult thing to get right and car manufacturers tend to struggle with getting it spot-on.

Sometimes it’s too aggressive, and sometimes it’s too free and easy, not engaging quickly enough or aggressively enough. But the Prado’s system is very effective, you always feel in control, it’s never running away.

The 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine was strong and rarely stressed. The 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine was strong and rarely stressed.

Add to that mix plenty of wheel travel, a solid off-road traction control system and an all-round touring-friendly set-up, and you have a great 4WD that, even though it’s feeling a bit old, is more than capable of heavy off-road duties.

It’s always comfortably capable and that's crucial when you're tackling hard-core tracks like the steep, deep-rutted fire trail we tackled on this trip.

It had been washed-out recently by rain and posed a serious challenge for stock-standard vehicles, yet the Prado just gobbled it up with consummate ease.

It's a great 4WD that, even though it’s feeling a bit old, is more than capable of heavy off-road duties. It's a great 4WD that, even though it’s feeling a bit old, is more than capable of heavy off-road duties.

The Prado is one of the few standard 4WDs you can drive straight out of the showroom and up a steep and rutted dirt track in the bush, without any doubts about its ability to get you to the top. It’s one of the best ready-to-go 4WDs available. 

Note: There’s a bit of a trade-off with our test vehicle though. The Prado usually has a remote-area touring-friendly 150-litre fuel capacity, comprising two tanks (an 87-litre main and a 63-litre auxiliary). But because our tester featured the no-cost optional flat tailgate pack (which shifts the spare tyre from the back door to the underbody), it misses out on the auxiliary. Long story short? This Prado has 87-litre fuel tank capacity.

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

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is a claimed 8.0L/100km on a combined cycle. It was showing 8.3L/100km on our dash display, but our actual fuel consumption on test was 10.5L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

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

The Prado has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, extending to seven years for the drivetrain.

Servicing is recommended at six month/10,000km intervals at an annual cost of $520 (averaged out over three years).

Capped price servicing applies for three years/60,000km.

The Prado has a rock-solid and well-deserved reputation as a touring platform. It's roomy, offering real, functional space, it’s comfortable to drive on-road, and very capable off-road. 

With refined-enough on-road ride and handling, impressive off-road performance, and plenty of practicality, the Prado is a close to perfect all-around touring package.

$63,690

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'