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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Joshua Dowling reviews the updated LandCruiser Prado with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

The Toyota Prado's 2.8-litre diesel engine previews what's under the bonnet of the new generation HiLux ute due next month.

Australians may be gorging themselves on soft-roaders and faux-wheel-drives but you may be stumped to learn the heavy duty Toyota Prado is still our top-selling recreational wagon.

More Australians have bought a Toyota Prado since it went on sale almost 20 years ago than any other SUV over the same period.

While its winning margin is slipping away as more buyers embrace car-like vehicles, Toyota is banking on people wanting to experience more of the great outdoors.

The Prado is not for pretenders

With its rugged body-on-frame construction, heavy duty hardware and new-age technology that enable it to crawl over obstacles, the Prado is not for pretenders.

It truly can get off the beaten track. Two fuel tanks with a combined capacity of 150 litres are enough to make it from Melbourne to Brisbane -- and then on to Noosa -- between refills.

There is no guarantee the kids or the rest of the family will make it that long between toilet stops, however.

There is no visual change to this updated model; the big news is under the bonnet.

The Prado's aging rat-a-tat 3.0-litre turbodiesel and five-speed auto have been replaced by an all-new 2.8-litre turbodiesel and six-speed auto.

Although smaller in capacity, the engine has a modest increase in power (130kW) and decent shove of 40Nm more torque (to 450Nm).

It's also quieter than before, although during our preview drive this week it was still apparent this is a diesel engine.

Hardcore Prado buyers may like to know the timing belt in the 3.0-litre turbo diesel (which needed to be changed at 150,000km intervals) has been replaced by a timing chain that is said to last the life of the vehicle.

The new diesel engine is a big deal now that it represents 98.8 per cent of Prado sales (the V6 petrol is still an option on certain models).

It's also the same engine that will be used to power the new generation Toyota HiLux ute and Toyota Fortuner SUV, both of which are due in local showrooms in the next two months.

The Prado's towing capacity is unchanged from the current model's 2500kg, which is 1000kg less than the class-leading Jeep Grand Cherokee and most workhorse utes.

A rear camera remains standard on all Prado models but navigation is now standard on all but the most basic offering.

The flagship Kakadu model now comes with radar cruise control, heated seats, electric steering adjustment and heated side mirrors. All models with come a sensor key and start button.

Suspension is also unchanged from the previous model even though the engine weighs approximately 5kg less than before.

The Prado still drives more like a heavy duty four-wheel-drive rather than a car-derived SUV.

That's the trade-off for genuine off-road ability.

At least buyers know they can go anywhere they dare

To be fair, the Prado is far from rudimentary. It feels solid on the road at highway speeds and around town, although you quickly learn to take roundabouts a little more gingerly because of the tendency for big, tall and heavy 4WDs like this to lean in corners.

The new engine is a worthwhile freshen-up for the Prado but doesn't suddenly transform the vehicle.

Although 80 per cent of peak pulling power is available from a low 1200rpm, it's fair to say the Prado is better suited to hauling heavy loads rather than delivering strong acceleration, which felt average even by class standards.

On a 300 acre property near Canberra, owned by the LandCruiser Club of Australia, we were able to get reacquainted with the Prado's incredible breadth of ability, including negotiating steep descents and ironing out deep moguls that could swallow a small car.

Verdict

The tragedy is that in the same way few Ferraris and Porsches ever hit the track, a relatively small percentage of Prados will get off the beaten track. But at least buyers know they can go anywhere they dare.

Pricing Guides

$46,600
Based on 650 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$29,950
Highest Price
$64,895

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
ALTITUDE (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP SEQ AUTO $39,990 – 59,990 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2015 ALTITUDE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GX (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP SEQ AUTO $31,890 – 41,990 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2015 GX (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GXL (4x4) 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $39,800 – 49,999 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2015 GXL (4x4) Pricing and Specs
KAKADU (4x4) 4.0L, ULP, 5 SP SEQ AUTO $46,990 – 62,999 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2015 KAKADU (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7