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Toyota Prado GX manual 2018 review

Manual labour: You'd have to really love changing gears yourself to opt for the entry-level Toyota LandCruiser Prado GX
The entry point to the Toyota LandCruiser Prado 2018 range is this GX manual model, but while a strong starting price is attractive, some missing kit spoils the appeal of this budget offering.

The Toyota LandCruiser Prado 2018 update saw some big and important changes to the mass-selling diesel off-roader, including price cuts, a redesign, additional kit and better towing for the auto models.

But that’s not what we’ve got here. Instead, this is the base-model GX manual, the entry point to the 2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado line-up, which is now more affordable and more attractive than before, but has seen very little in the way of change, other than in the cosmetic department.

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2018: GX (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$51,800

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

It looks a lot less awkward now than it has over the life of this generation of Prado, which has been around since 2009. There was the original model that launched in 2009, then a facelift in 2013, and now this updated, restyled model has launched at the end of 2017. 

The new horizontal headlights certainly help broaden the look of the Prado in lieu of the old Praying Mantis-like lights of the pre-facelift model, but the GX misses out on the Bi-LED headlights that the rest of the range get. The heavily re-sculpted front bumper certainly helps to offset the vertical bars of the grille. It looks a lot more like its big brother, the 200 Series, at the front end, while the rear is still distinctly Prado, even though it has new tail-lights and a smaller garnish on the numberplate surround.

Ground clearance of the Prado is down by a millimetre, to 219mm. Ground clearance of the Prado is down by a millimetre, to 219mm.

It looks neater outside, for sure, and in the higher-spec versions (without the all-black grille) there’s definitely a bit to like about the redesign. But you need to bear in mind that the approach angle isn’t as good as it used to be - now 30.4 degrees, where it used to be 32deg, and the departure angle is less, too, now 23.5deg (was 25deg). Ground clearance is down by a millimetre, to 219mm.

It’s not just outside that has seen a spruce, though - the interior sees a new steering wheel, a redesigned dashboard with better button placement and controls, and the top of the dashboard is a slightly lower profile, which Toyota says makes it easier to see out of. I would have thought a Prado sits up high enough to make it easy to see out of anyway.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Prado GX is the only model in the range that comes with a five-seat layout as standard, with a seven-seat layout optional at a cost of $2550 - but only if you buy the automatic. If you’re happy without the third-row seats, you will enjoy extra cargo room - the boot is a huge, with 640 litres - the seven-seat version has 480L because of its higher load-in lip (with seven seats in use, the space is rated at 120L).

Without a third-row of seats, there is 640 litres of storage. Without a third-row of seats, there is 640 litres of storage.

The boot retains the same, possibly annoying, side-hinged tailgate with mounted full-size spare wheel, which is a bit heavy to open and close, and doesn’t have the most assuring shutting sound - it sort-of clunks shut, meaning you might think it hasn’t latched properly when, in fact, it has. 

If you lift up the seat bases and fold down the backrests of the second-row seats, there is a terrific amount of space - enough for a couple to sleep, should the need arise.

You can lift up the seat bases and fold down the backrests of the second-row seats for even more space. You can lift up the seat bases and fold down the backrests of the second-row seats for even more space.

The Prado has three top-tether points and dual outboard ISOFIX hooks, and loose-item storage is well considered: the back seat has map pockets, decent door pockets with bottle holders, a flip-down arm-rest with cupholders; while the front row has a pair of cupholders between the seats, a couple of other small storage bins, a good glovebox and nicely sized door pockets. Another great inclusion is the central console with cooling (it runs off the air-conditioning), which also pipes through to a pair of vents in the second row. If you get the seven-seat version, Toyota adds ventilation and airbag protection to the rear row. 

The central console has cooling that runs off the air-conditioning. The central console has cooling that runs off the air-conditioning.

Toyota’s 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Toyota Link connectivity, sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, CD player and nine speakers is easy enough to use, but bars you from pairing or dialling numbers on the move. The Japanese brand still doesn’t run Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone mirroring, either.

That said, it’s a hugely practical SUV, and if you’re only ever going to need four or five seats, it could make for the ideal option for you.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

The Prado GX manual is $600 cheaper than the previous model, with a new list point of $53,490.

The new price is a bit of a hat-tip to the smaller competitor models the Toyota is up against, like the Ford Everest and Jeep Grand Cherokee,  both of which have lower kick-off points. And you can get a helluva lot of Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Holden Trailblazer for the same money Toyota asks this much to get not a lot of standard equipment in the GX Prado.

While this variant is the stripped-out entry point to the range, you still get items including keyless entry and push-button start (which can be fiddly in the manual), 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a new 8.0-inch multimedia screen with reversing camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB connectivity (just one), CD player, and nine speakers. The sat-nav system has live traffic updates, too.

Inside there is a 8.0-inch touchscreen that does without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Inside there is a 8.0-inch touchscreen that does without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

You might get daytime running lights, but you miss out on auto headlights, auto wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Considering this update has seen some impressive gains in safety in the higher-spec models, it is strange that the GX manual still misses out on useful items you might expect in a hardcore four-wheel drive, like hill-descent control, hill-hold assist and a rear differential lock - you’ve got to go for the auto to get the hill-assist systems, and a rear diff lock is only fitted to auto models from GXL up. There is a centre diff lock, but that’s it.

The auto model gets extra bits of tech, like an ‘electroluminescent combimeter’ (aka colour driver information display) and electric folding/heated side mirrors. But you need to read the safety section below to see just what you’re really sacrificing by opting for the manual model…

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine in the Prado manual goes unchanged as part of this update, with retained power and torque outputs of 130kW and 420Nm respectively. That’s less than what you get when you option the automatic transmission, which bumps torque to 450Nm.

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine produces 130kW/420Nm. The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine produces 130kW/420Nm.

There are other SUVs out there with more torque, even ones a touch smaller in size, like the Holden Trailblazer (2.8-litre turbo diesel, 147kW/500Nm). 

As mentioned, there’s the choice of the six-speed manual tested here, and a six-speed automatic. The Prado runs a permanent four-wheel-drive setup with 4H and 4L modes.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Toyota claims fuel consumption of 7.9L/100km for the manual Prado GX (the auto uses 0.1L/100km more), but realistically you can expect to use around 9.5L/100km in most situations, or a tad higher if you’re running around with adults accompanying you in the other four seats.

Head off-road, or hook up something reasonably heavy behind it, and that may only jump to about 11.5L/100km, which is pretty good given the size of the Prado. 

The Prado’s massive 150-litre fuel capacity (with an 87L main tank and 63L sub) means your fuel bill will be big when you need to top it up, but at least it won’t be required as often as some competitors. 

What's it like to drive?   7/10

Better than you might think. I know in my mind I’ve always considered the Prado to be big and cumbersome, and there’s no doubting it’s got both of those qualities to a degree, but the way the Prado steers, rides and propels itself is certainly pretty good for its intended purpose. 

The 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine is certainly bolshie enough to see it keep up with traffic on the motorway, though you may need to row the gears for overtaking moves up hills if you’re loaded up. 

The shift action is nothing special - the plastic knob isn't the nicest thing to grip, but the clutch is well weighted and while the throw is a bit long, it’s not hard work. 

The shift action is nothing special - the plastic knob isn't the nicest thing to grip, but the clutch is well weighted.

While this big old bus tips the scales at 2230kg and there is some body roll in corners, the permanent four-wheel drive gives it very good traction. It steers more accurately than you might predict, with a nicely weighted action and good response, and the suspension copes very well with sharp edges at high and low speeds. It doesn’t set any new benchmarks, but it is better than adequate.

My biggest bugbear is the brakes. The pedal action has a strange metallic graunchiness to it, and while the stopping action is actually pretty good, the way the body pitches upon application of the pedal is disconcerting. Of course that has to do with the softness of the suspension, and it wouldn’t ride as well if it wasn’t soft, but it can take a bit of acclimatisation.

Another concern for some buyers could be the low (for its class) braked towing capacity of 2500kg (750kg un-braked). Another reason to go for the auto, perhaps?

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The facelifted Prado model hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP, but the existing model (tested all the way back in 2010) scored the maximum five stars. It is unlikely the facelifted version will get the crash-test treatment again.

The manual model misses out on the added safety gear that every automatic Prado gets as standard as part of the update, which is disappointing. That kit includes auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and automated high-beam headlights. 

All Prado models have seven airbags, stability and traction control, ABS, EBD, trailer-sway control and a reversing camera - but there are no parking sensors on this model.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Toyota may have an unbreakable reputation in the market, and there’s probably a very small chance you’ll experience a major issue with a LandCruiser Prado - and, even if you happen to, and you’re in the middle of nowhere, the company’s massive Australian dealer network will ensure easy access to repairs and parts.

It isn’t unbeatable for warranty cover, with a bare-minimum three-year/100,000km plan for all of its cars, utes and SUVs, and likewise the maintenance schedule remains annoyingly short - intervals are every six months or 10,000km, which could be painful if you do a lot of miles. At least the visits are affordable, capped at $240 each time for the first three years/60,000km.


The Toyota LandCruiser Prado GX manual is a low-volume seller in the range, and with good reason. It doesn’t have the towing capacity it should, and who would really want to deal with a manual shift, when the automatic is a proven performer?

If you simply need a super capable off-roader that is comfortable on-road as well, then the Prado GX could be for you. But there’s better value in an automatic, and it gets better again in the next spec up.

Would you consider a manual Prado? Or does the auto make more sense? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

Based on 170 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

GX (4x4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $51,800 – 52,990 2018 TOYOTA LANDCRUISER PRADO 2018 GX (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GX 7 SEAT (4x4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $51,920 – 59,730 2018 TOYOTA LANDCRUISER PRADO 2018 GX 7 SEAT (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GXL (4x4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $49,990 – 65,990 2018 TOYOTA LANDCRUISER PRADO 2018 GXL (4x4) Pricing and Specs
KAKADU (4x4) 2.8L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $69,988 – 81,980 2018 TOYOTA LANDCRUISER PRADO 2018 KAKADU (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Price and features6
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor