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Toyota Prado 2020 review: GX

The Toyota Prado remains one of the country's most popular vehicles - almost 20,000 sold in 2019.
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Toyota's Prado range hasn't seen many changes since its last update in 2018, but we're testing the entry-level GX five-seater which could be a fantastic option for customers who know they'll never use the third row seats that much.

I’ve often wondered who the Toyota Prado GX model appeals to. 

It’s the base model version of the Land Cruiser Prado line-up, but isn’t what most people would call cheap.

It offers a five-seat cabin rather than seven seats, so it lacks that “potential practicality” you might need or want if you’re buying an SUV of this size. 

And the spec on offer is a bit of a mixed bag. You can see why someone might instead choose a high-spec Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Isuzu MU-X.

Let’s go through what makes the 2020 Toyota Prado GX an appealing offering for some customers, and also what might mean it’s not quite right for others.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Toyota Prado has been around a while in its current “J150” generation - it first launched back in 2009 in Australia, and has been facelifted twice since then, the most recent of which being in late 2017. 

A few years on, the exterior still looks tough and pretty contemporary, for the most part. Even as a base model, the Prado has some presence, and in this Dusty Bronze colour it looks pretty smart, too. No doubt that’s helped by the 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Toyota Prado has been around a while in its current “J150” generation. The Toyota Prado has been around a while in its current “J150” generation.

It has LED daytime running lights with dull halogen headlights, and all the extremities are black plastic rather than colour-coded - bits like the door handles, mirrors and more. You got more blingy bits - including a chrome-trimmed grille and additional side steps and roof rails - if you opt for the next model up, the GXL. That’s another bit I don’t get about the GX…

You still get a rear spoiler, and yeah you could opt for a body kit if that was your persuasion, but that’d defeat the purpose if you wanted to go off-road

As for the interior dimensions, you get quite a lot of size for your money. The Prado measures 4995mm long (on a 2790mm wheelbase), 1885mm wide and 1845mm tall, and that’s a decent size considering this model is only a five-seater. Check out what I’m talking about by look at our interior images.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The cabin of the Prado is a practical place. In fact, in GX trim, it puts practicality at the forefront of the argument, with a five-seat layout meaning for a very big boot space.

According to Toyota, the luggage capacity for the GX five-seater is 640 litres with the second row seats in place, but Toyota doesn’t have a figure for the capacity with them folded down. If you need to keep things out of sight, there’s a cargo cover blind, and likewise, if you need to keep the stuff in the boot from flying forwards, Toyota offers the option of a cargo barrier (but only for the seven-seat variant - you might need to shop the aftermarket for one for a five-seat GX).

  • Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place. Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place.
  • Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place. Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place.
  • Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place. Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place.
  • Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place. Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place.
  • Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place. Boot space is rated at 640 litres with the second row seats in place.

If that boot capacity isn’t enough for you, there’s the option of roof racks and roof rails, too, plus a cargo box or even a roof tent.

And if you really want the seven-seat practicality you might expect from a Prado, you can option it in the GX automatic model at a cost of $2550. There is no seven-seat GX manual available, however.

  • The cabin of the Prado is a practical place. The cabin of the Prado is a practical place.
  • There’s a lot of space for adults and kids in the second row. There’s a lot of space for adults and kids in the second row.

Moving forward to the second row, there’s a lot of space for adults or kids. I’m six-feet tall (182cm) and was easily able to sit behind the driver’s seat with it set for myself. There was ample leg, head and toe room, no to mention plenty of shoulder room. There are dual ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether points for baby seats too. 

Amenities include mesh map pockets, a pair of cup holders and bottle holders in the doors, and there’s no doubt this would be a very comfortable SUV for a family of four. Especially considering the boot space.

Up front there’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, which is easy enough to operate but lacks the latest smartphone mirroring tech - meaning no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The buttons on screen can also be a little on the small side to try and operate when you’re driving.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with sat nav. The 8.0-inch touchscreen comes with sat nav.

There’s a neat little 4.2-inch colour screen between the instrument dials with a digital speedometer and trip computer, but you’re left to grip a horribly grainy plastic steering wheel if you buy the GX. Higher grade models have a nicer fake leather trimmed wheel.

The storage options up front are decent, with cup holders, bottle caddies in the doors, and an enormous centre console bin with cooling.

Things you might question? The cloth trim has a very peculiar feel to it, there is no auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and you don’t get auto lights or auto wipers. Also, the air-conditioning doesn’t have climate control, per se, despite having a digital display: it just has hotter or cooler graphics.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

How much is a Toyota Prado? Well, it depends on which model in the range you’re choosing. 

The GX tested here is at the bottom of the price list when it comes to cost, with a list price (RRP, before on-road costs) of $54,090 for the manual model or $56,990 for the auto tested in this review. Note, that’s not the drive away price - check Autotrader for driveaway deals.

We aren’t going to do a models comparison here, but it’s fair to say the GX feels like a base model vs the other trim levels above it - the GXL (from $60,690), VX (from $73,990) and the top of the range Kakadu (from $84,590). How many seats? Five, for the GX, but with the option of seven. All the others have seven as standard.

Of course, you might want to add accessories to your Prado - and there’s an extensive in-house catalogue of features for you to choose from, including: bullbar, nudge bar, snorkel, rims, floor mats, and more.

Even in this spec you get smart key and keyless entry, which is nice, not to mention the nine-speaker sound system with a GPS satellite navigation system integrated into the media unit. It also comprises radio and CD player, as well as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. There’s no DVD player or rear seat entertainment system, either.

The media unit used in the Prado misses out on Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The media unit used in the Prado misses out on Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

You’ll need to shop up to the GXL and then option the leather seats pack if you want that trim, while a sunroof is only available on the flagship Kakadu variant. Likewise, there’s no rear diff lock for the GX models (standard on GXL auto and above), and while you get LED daytime running lights, LED headlights and fog driving lights are reserved for GXL and above. 

So what do you get? Well, there’s adaptive cruise control as part of a big standard safety bundle on the GX auto, which is detailed below. And you get 17-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare alloy wheel and tool kit. 

The Prado has a full-size spare wheel. The Prado has a full-size spare wheel.

Wondering about Prado colours? There are a few to choose, including three different black hues (Eclipse Black, Peacock Black - which almost looks blue - and Ebony), as well as two white tones (Crystal Pearl and Glacier White), Wildfire red, Silver Pearl, Graphite Grey, Dusty Bronze (beige, almost gold). Only Ebony and Glacier White are available at no cost - the rest will add $600 to the bill.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

Let’s talk Toyota Prado diesel engine specs. 

Under the bonnet of the Prado is a Toyota-familiar 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which is also applied in the Fortuner and HiLux. It has 130kW of power (at 3400rpm), and 450Nm of torque (from 1600-2400rpm) with the six-speed automatic transmission. The six-speed manual transmission version has the same horsepower but a bit less thrust, with 130kW and 420Nm (1400-2600rpm). 

There is no step up available in terms of engine size - the only motor is the 2.8L turbo-diesel.

Specifications mightn’t be your thing, but I’ll tell you how it translates to the drive experience in the driving section below.

There’s no petrol vs diesel argument to be made any more, as the Prado petrol was dumped a few years back, and likewise you can’t get an LPG version. The entire Prado range - be it manual or auto - is permanent 4WD, meaning you high-range 4x4 or low-range 4x4. There is no 4x2 drive mode. 

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

One thing a lot of people will want to know is the towing capacity. It’s decent for the class, at 750kg unbraked and 3000kg braked. You’ll need to option a towbar, and our car didn’t have one, so there’s no towing review as part of this test. 

On the topic of weight, the GX auto model we’ve got tips the scales at 2240kg (kerb weight) and has a gross vehicle mass of 2990kg - meaning you’ve effectively only got a payload of 750kg. The gross combination mass (GCM) is 5990kg. 

Another potential concern is over diesel engine problems - more specifically, the diesel particulate filter issue that has plagued Toyota for a couple of years now. Rest assured, there is now a DPF burn-off switch in all Prados, meaning you shouldn’t see clouds of white smoke behind you. 

If you’re worried about other issues - manual gearbox, clutch, automatic transmission, suspension, cruise control or even injector complaints, dual battery system queries, or even oil capacity and oil type questions - make sure you read our Toyota Prado problems page

Timing belt or chain in the Prado? It’s a chain.  

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Diesel fuel consumption - according to Toyota’s combined cycle claim - averages out at 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres.

Our on-test fuel economy wasn’t quite that good. Across a mix of driving in traffic, open roads and highway, we saw 9.6L/100km. There was no off-road testing, though, and it was just me on board for the majority of the time.

If you’re concerned about mileage, you shouldn’t be. There is a main fuel tank capacity of 87 litres, with a 63L sub tank size - meaning, with 150L of fuel at the average we saw, you should be able to manage a long range distance of 1562km. 

There is no petrol Prado anymore, and nor is there a hybrid. Not yet, anyway. 

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Before we go any further, I want to tell you that this review had zero focus on off road ability. If you want an off road review, stay tuned.

But I will tell you some off road specs, because you might want to know that there’s 217mm of ground clearance, and that’s not adjustable because it doesn’t have air suspension. The front suspension is a double wishbone setup, while the rear is a coil-spring four-link setup

You might also want to know that the turning circle is 11.6 metres (no matter if you get the 17-inch alloy wheels like our tester or the bigger chrome wheels on the high-grade model) and that the important geometric measures include an approach angle of 30.4 degrees, a ramp-over/break-over angle of 21.1 degrees, and a departure angle of 23.5 degrees. 

The Prado GX wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The Prado GX wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

But my time was instead spent on-road, driving around Sydney, Wollongong and the coast between, taking the Prado in its stead as a family hauler.

It performed pretty darn well, too, with a comfortable and composed ride and suspension that dealt well with lumps and bumps in the road surface. As you’d expect. And it handled itself nicely when it came to speed humps and road joins at lower speeds, too.

The steering is predictable with decent weighting and response, though you need to be aware that there is some body roll in tighter corners, as this isn’t a low-riding, corner-hugging type of car.

The performance on offer from the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel is fine, but nothing to write home about. Sure, the 0-100 acceleration is adequate, and you won’t feel yourself struggling to get up to speed, but it’s hardly breathtaking in its response, nor its refinement. 

That said, the six-speed automatic is very smart, and shifts smoothly and smartly at all speeds, even counteracting a little bit of turbo-lag down low in the rev range.

As an on-road family SUV at this price point, the Prado GX is impressive. And we know it also excels off-road. 

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Toyota Prado was given a five-star ANCAP crash test rating way, way back in 2011, and it applied to all models sold from August 2013 onwards. That’s a long, long time ago.

Safety standards have changed a lot since then, so you might think - given how long the Prado has been around - that getting a reversing camera and airbags would be sufficient.

But the Toyota Safety Sense pack is standard on Prado automatic models. It comprises auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert (but no lane keeping assist), automatic high-beam lights and adaptive cruise control.

Higher grades (VX and up) have blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a surround view camera system.

The manual versions of the Prado lack the Toyota Safety Sense pack. So only buy one if you really really don’t need the added safety gear.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Toyota offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for all of its models, which may or may not impact your decision to buy a Prado. These vehicles are renowned for their reliability, after all, and the warranty also extends to seven years for the powertrain, if you have logbook servicing - it doesn’t even need to be Toyota’s own workshop, just so long as the owners manual has been stamped on the regular. 

Part of that may come down to the maintenance requirements - service intervals are every six months/10,000km, which is a lot more regular than some of the competitors (many of which are 12 month/15,000km intervals). At least the service costs are low, with $260 per visit for the first three years/60,000km.

There’s a lot of interest in the new vs used Prado value equation, and resale for the Prado is predicted to be very good. The resale prediction from Glass’s Guide after three years/50,000km is about $34,150, or about 60 per cent of the initial purchase price.

You can check our Prado problems page for any complaints about reliability issues, faults or common problems. 

Verdict

It isn’t getting any newer, but the Toyota Prado remains a competitive offering in the SUV segment. There’s good reason that Toyota still manages to sell tens of thousands of these vehicles year-in, year-out - it’s a more passenger-friendly experience than you’ll get in most ute-based SUVs, and in this trim is priced close to what you’re paying for lesser examples of that type of vehicle, too.

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership8
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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