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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2021 review: GXL

2021 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GXL driven for a week as a family car around the inner suburbs.

If there’s one word to describe this car it’s BIG, in every sense of the word. Compared to most seven-seat SUVs, the Prado is big outside, it is big on the inside, and has the promise of real off-road ability. This is a real beast of a car. 

This week I’ve been driving the latest version of the 2021 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL, which sits above the base GX model. I’ve put it through some city and freeway driving with my family of four, and can give you the heads-up as to how it functioned as a family car. Being a large sized SUV comes with some pros and cons, so let’s see how it went.

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What does it look like?

Well, as I said, it looks big! It is handsome, but doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of a LandCruiser 200 Series, Land Rover Discovery HSE or other similar sized cars, But hey, it’s not all about looks!

  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.
  • The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers. The Prado GXL is handsome, but it doesn’t have some of the visual appeal of other LandCruisers.

It has a thick, chunky front grille, which looks more modern than its predecessors. Along the side there is a handy step to help get into the seat, which the kids and I certainly needed (plus it’s a bit of fun). The 17-inch alloy wheels come as standard and take the look of this car up a notch.

Along the side there is a handy step to help get into the seat. Along the side there is a handy step to help get into the seat.

How does it drive?

The turbo-diesel engine has no shortage of grunt. It is certainly not a zippy little runabout, but that’s not why you’d buy a Prado. It is very steady on the road, and doesn’t roll around like some of the older four-wheel drives.

The steering responds well and is appropriately weighted for the size of the vehicle, though the suspension is a little hard over the bumps.

The turbo-diesel engine has no shortage of grunt. The turbo-diesel engine has no shortage of grunt.

Visibility to the front and sides takes some getting used to, but once you have a feel for the space the car occupies, you can confidently navigate city traffic, or open roads.

Visibility to the front and sides takes some getting used to. Visibility to the front and sides takes some getting used to.

The turning circle isn’t as tight as I’d like when driving in town, and there aren't the guidelines when the reversing camera is in use.

The six-speed automatic transmission gear shifter has a nice, elegant feel, and is easy to use. The Prado is famous for its off-road ability, but I only drove it on sealed surfaces as a family car, so didn’t give the 4WD the full work out.

How spacious is it?

You won’t be surprised to hear that inside the car is... big! The front seats, with optional leather trim, are extremely comfortable and roomy, and there are lots of bottle holders and storage spots for keys and phones.

The front seats, with optional leather trim, are extremely comfortable and roomy. The front seats, with optional leather trim, are extremely comfortable and roomy.

The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench with cupholders for the back seat crew. The glove box is so large you could fit a small puppy in there (no puppies were harmed in this assessment, nor is it recommended for puppies).

  • The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench. The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench.
  • The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench. The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench.
  • The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench. The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench.
  • The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench. The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench.
  • The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench. The rear is also very spacious, with a nice fold-down middle bench.

There is also a third row as standard on the GXL, which can be folded flat when not in use. The back row is better suited to the littlies (or a flexible shorty), but when in use it really takes away from the boot space.

The third row is standard on the GXL, and can be folded flat when not in use. The third row is standard on the GXL, and can be folded flat when not in use.

The boot space is 553 litres (again, pretty big! More than enough for a week away), which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use. It comes with a tow bar as standard, so watch your shins.

  • The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use. The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use.
  • The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use. The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use.
  • The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use. The boot space is 553 litres, which crunches down to just 104 litres when the third row is in use.

The boot opening has an optional flat tailgate (the spare tyre is usually on the back, but in this car it is mounted under the floor).

There is a handy top window which lifts up for easy access (though I’m 165cm (5’4”) tall, and I could only really toss things through the window, I couldn’t reach up to get anything out).

The whole boot door does swing open to the side, like a regular car door, which is good for full access, but not if you’ve got someone parked behind you, as there simply isn’t the room to open it all the way out.

The door itself is also quite heavy, so if you only want to open it part way and not bump into anything it can be a bit tricky.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Prado is very simple to drive, and would probably be most useful if you live in the country, do some serious off-roading, or need to tow or carry heavy things.

The Prado is very simple to drive, and would probably be most useful if you live in the country. The Prado is very simple to drive, and would probably be most useful if you live in the country.

The sheer size of it doesn’t lend itself to practical city or inner-suburb driving, but it’s certainly not prohibitive. So if you’re a larger stature person, or like to feel very high on the road, this is certainly a good option for you.

The optional leather seats are heated and ventilated in the front and heated in the back. The cooling ventilation is a nice addition, especially in the Aussie summer when leather can get a bit warm.

The optional leather seats are heated and ventilated in the front and heated in the back. The optional leather seats are heated and ventilated in the front and heated in the back.

The back seat has loads of space, directional air vents, pockets and cupholders, meaning the rear accommodation isn’t just for kids, adults could happily take a road trip in the back seat and be in real comfort.

I have two harnessed child seats, and getting them in and out was easy enough, but climbing into the boot to anchor them properly was... interesting.

Not something to try in a skirt. But once they’re in, clipping in my little one (who is in a five-point harness), was quite easy with the side step for access. The kids loved jumping in and out, and being so high up on the road gave them a new perspective.

How safe is it?

The Prado has a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating as a result of testing in 2011, but be mindful that this is 10 years ago, which is a long time in car years.

Safety gear includes seven airbags, and those in the third row are also protected by side curtain airbags.

The second row has two ISOFIX child seat anchor points (one on each outer seat) and three top-tether points allowing for three kids seats.

On board the safety is bolstered by 'Toyota Safety Sense', incorporating AEB with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only), high-speed active cruise control and lane departure alert (with steering assistance via braking) plus trailer sway control.

There are audio reminders for things like school zones, and dashboard reminders for speed zones. There’s a lot to keep you and the family safe.

What’s the tech like?

The multimedia tech is delivered via a big 9.0-inch touchscreen. This is really best utilised with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, giving you much of the functionality from your phone, and needs to be connected via a USB cord.

The multimedia tech is delivered via a big 9.0-inch touchscreen. The multimedia tech is delivered via a big 9.0-inch touchscreen.

Without this is it actually a little clunky and doesn’t look super modern, and the GPS navigation in particular isn’t very user-friendly.

How much does it cost to own?

The Prado GXL currently starts at $63,690, plus on-road costs, but our particular example 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. This brings the total price, before on-road costs, to $67,753.

Toyota offers a five year/unlimited km warranty, and capped price servicing under its ‘Service Advantage’ banner for $260 per service every six months/10,000km for the first four services.

Fuel consumption from my test drive was at 15.5L/100km, compared to the official combined number of 7.9L/100km. The majority of the driving I did was short trips in town, often in a lot of traffic, and a small amount of highway driving.


The Wrap

The 2021 Toyota Prado GXL is big on comfort and safety, despite being based on a design that’s been around for more than a decade. We enjoyed it for the driving we did, but it is probably best suited to families who plan to use the full spectrum of its capabilities.

For my time in the inner-city it wasn’t as nimble as I would prefer, but it’s really not what this car is for. There is loads of space and the flexibility on the third row gives families lots of space for driving around extra shorties, or young-at-heart grandparents.

Likes

Height on the road (great for visibility)
Safety (you feel protected)
Aesthetics (this is a good looking large SUV)

Dislikes

Suitability to inner city (admittedly, not what it's primarily designed for)
Turning circle (large)
Boot accessibility (tricky for child seat tethers)

Scores

Kate:

3.5

The Kids:

4

$66,540

Based on new car retail price

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.