The updated Toyota Prado has gone back in time, with the starting price for the facelifted four-wheel-drive the same as it was at launch in 2009.
The Prado GX is $55,990 plus on-road costs, while the rest of the range increases by less than $500 (see below) even though new technology and equipment have been added.
As before, all Prado variants are covered by Toyota’s fixed price servicing: $210 for each of the first six services (intervals 6 months/10,000km, whichever comes first).
GX gains a rear view camera, new 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels, audio controls on the steering wheel and a new six-speaker display audio system. GXL gets a new six-speaker display audio, new 17-inch alloy wheels, plus heated and power-retractable exterior mirrors.
VX gets new 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, radar cruise control, blind zone warning, and an updated KDSS system (which adjusts the suspension to better clamber of obstacles). Inside, the VX gains a new touch-screen 17-speaker JBL premium multimedia audio system and digital radio, and heated second-row seats.
Kakadu gains rear differential lock, radar cruise control, blind zone warning, and a nine-inch Blue-ray screen with three wireless headphones.
In addition to the unusually-styled nose -- with a new, over-sized grille that appears to be inspired by Mahindra of India, and elephant-ear-style headlights -- the Prado has a range of updates including trailer-sway control, a new audio and infotainment system and a digital speed display between the analogue instruments.
The big news for families: third-row seat access has been improved with a wider-opening second row seat. The option for the additional two seats on the GX is $2,500 (the same as 2009), but it’s standard on the rest of the range.
But, as before, most of the heavy-duty four-wheel-drive hardware (suspension and rear diff lock) and technology (hill crawl modes and a front view camera) are only available on the most expensive models -- the dearest of which stretches beyond $90,000 -- which buyers are presumably loathe to scratch, let alone take off-road.
The 4.0-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engines are unchanged from before, but are among the most frugal in the large 4WD class (11.5L/100km petrol, 8.5L/100km diesel).
The new Prado range is much quieter than before thanks to the addition of noise deadening between the cabin and the engine bay. But it still drives the same as the previous model. There are no changes to the steering and suspension on the more affordable versions of the new Prado range.
Only the top two grades came in for some attention to their high-tech suspension system called KDSS, which is designed to smooth out the bumps off-road. The Prado may be able to conquer mountains but caution is still required for anyone considering making the leap -- literally -- from a regular car and into the driver’s seat of one of these.
Its tall narrow body can make the Prado feel nervous in corners. The chunky tyres are designed to avoid punctures in the desert, so they don’t have as much grip on regular roads or, for instance, roundabouts or slippery bends.
Make no mistake: this is a go-anywhere heavy duty four-wheel-drive that happens to be available with seven seats. Enthusiasts only should apply.
If you want a large seven-seater for the school run, buy something else, like a Toyota Kluger or Mazda CX-9. They’re nicer to drive and cheaper to buy.
2014 Toyota Prado Range
GX manual five-seat: from $55,990
GX manual seven-seat: from $58,490
GXL manual turbo diesel: from $61,490
Auto adds $2700 to the above three models
GXL auto petrol: from $63,190
VX auto petrol: from $77,990
Kakadu auto petrol: from $91,590
Diesel adds $1000 to the above three models
2014 Toyota Prado
Engines: 4.0-litre V6 (200kW and 380Nm), 3.0-litre turbo diesel (127kW and 410Nm)
Thirst: 11.5L/100km (petrol), 8.5L/100km (diesel)
Emissions: 271g/km (petrol), 225g/km (diesel)