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Toyota Prado 2019 review: GXL

Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

7 Jan 2019 • 12 min read

I got a fair few comments driving the Prado this week. Mostly about the size. From, “Gosh it’s big!” and “How can you park it?” to “I love big cars!” and “I can’t stand big cars.” It’s a personal thing, right? You either want/need a large car or you don’t. And you’re clearly on this page because you do. 

The Toyota LandCruiser Prado is a seven-seat SUV that is quite high, you can tell by the height of the wheels that’s it’s going to be a great off-roader. Plus it only comes in 4WD diesel. You don’t need any more proof than that.  

I drove the Prado GXL, which is second from the bottom of the range, for seven days with my family to see how it worked in everyday life. 

How spacious is it?

Up front it’s huge, and almost feels like you’re sitting in a truck. It’s high off the road so you can see all around you and there is a lot of leg and head space, both me and my taller husband had plenty of space. 

Inside, the Prado is huge, and almost feels like you’re sitting in a truck. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Inside, the Prado is huge, and almost feels like you’re sitting in a truck. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The second row is also large. My kids climbed up into their seats and had loads of room to really make it their own. Back there I felt quite little - I’m 161cm and could literally lie around in there like it was my lounge room. BYO tea. 

Even in the third row I could fit, sitting straight ahead, quite comfortably. It’s like a normal car seat back there which is not the usual seven-seater arrangement, this is definitely bigger (in terms of seating) than a Mazda CX-9 or a Toyota Kluger. There’s enough leg and headroom so even taller kids and adults shouldn’t find it difficult. 

In the third row there’s enough leg and headroom for tall kids and even adults. (image credit: Dean McCartney) In the third row there’s enough leg and headroom for tall kids and even adults. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The confusing bit is the boot space, because while it’s a really big car, when all seven seats are in use, the boot space is actually tiny - 120L. Now, normally with seven-seaters, the boot space is small when all seven seats are in use. But you can fit groceries back there. I couldn’t fit groceries in at all, they would have fallen out the moment I opened the boot. So it was useless. I guess there’s so much room inside the car they can go on the floor. 

With all seven seats in place, there's only 120-litres of boot space. (image credit: Dean McCartney) With all seven seats in place, there's only 120-litres of boot space. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

When you put the third row down, boot space grows to 480L, still not huge but enough for sure. 

How does it drive?

Driving is good in the Prado. There’s a lot of power behind the 2.8-litre engine, it had no trouble zooming up hills, past trucks on the highways and around town. It definitely feels large on the road and you can feel the size of it while driving, but it’s not too heavy. 

It only comes in 4WD which means you get improved traction on all roads - dirt, gravel or snow, but I live in a suburb with a lot of little streets where I’m often trying to squeeze into tight parks, so the size of the Prado really made me struggle this week. 

I found myself driving past spots I would normally be able to fit into, and there is a pull on the steering wheel so things like three point turns can be a bit of a workout. If I lived in a suburb with wide, open streets where I could just cruise into parks, I’m sure I would have had a better time in the Prado this week. 

How does it look?

This 2019 model has the option of no spare tyre on the back door (it hangs under the car), so it definitely looks sleeker than previous versions, but it’s still a rugged, tough looking car with a giant grille on the front, a big square nose and large wheels. It definitely has a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude about it.

  • The Prado has a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude about it. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Prado has a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude about it. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The 2019 Prado has no spare tyre on the back door making it look sleeker than the previous model. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 2019 Prado has no spare tyre on the back door making it look sleeker than the previous model. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The Prado GXL normally comes with fabric seats however mine was fitted with the 'Premium Interior' pack ($3500) which meant a leather steering wheel, plus leather accented seats that are heated and ventilated up front, and heated in the second row. I think it’s worth it - the leather seats make a big difference in this car and really lifts the interior up a notch. 

There’s a nice matt silver finish around the centre console but apart from that, it’s not too flash or fancy which I think suits the car. You wouldn’t want a super luxurious interior here, it would ruin its tough reputation.

Despite the matte silver finish around the centre console, it’s not too flash inside. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Despite the matte silver finish around the centre console, it’s not too flash inside. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How easy is it to use every day?

There’s a side step to get up into the car which was great for me and the children. Two cupholders in each row, a bottle holder in each door, a giant centre storage bin plus a hidey-hole in front of the gearshift rounds up the storage. 

The boot opens with a side door, which is not so bad actually, and the back window pops out all the way for easy access which is handy. 

To get the third row up, you’ll need to go in via the middle row, which is a bit of a pain. I like to configure my car from the boot - get the kids sorted out and put stuff into the boot. So with the Prado you have to do the left seat from the left side, then run around to the other side to do the right. Then to put them back down it’s the same thing. They’re also quite heavy to get up. 

To get the third row up, you’ll need to go in via the middle row. (image credit: Dean McCartney) To get the third row up, you’ll need to go in via the middle row. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There are air vents in the second and third rows which is great, nobody will be complaining about the air flow through the car, plus tri-zone climate control. There’s only one USB port in the entire car and it’s up the front, so if you’re going on long trips it won’t be easy to recharge devices.

The second and third rows score air vents plus there's tri-zone climate control. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The second and third rows score air vents plus there's tri-zone climate control. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

What’s the tech like?

Toyota relies on its own multimedia system which easily syncs via Bluetooth with your phone, so you can listen to music through the 8.0-inch touchscreen. It doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so using the sat nav is still a bit clunky and it’s not the latest tech or high screen resolution we’re used to with our phones. There’s a bit of work to be done here.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and it feels a bit clunky. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 8.0-inch touchscreen doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and it feels a bit clunky. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How safe is it?

The Prado GXL scores a maximum five ANCAP stars and comes with new fancy safety tech like auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and active cruise control. You’ll get a reverse parking camera which is quite good and front collision warning, but no rear collision warning, which is really where you need it. Higher models do come with those though. 

You’ll also get front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points in the middle row, but none in the back row, which is odd for a car this size.

How much does it cost to own?

The Prado GXL with the premium interior that I test-drove comes in at $67,040, before on-road costs. Because it’s a diesel, fuel consumption even for a car this size is quite good, using a claimed 7.9L/100km. And if you have the cash-flow required to fill the giant 150-litre tank, that equates to a driving range of nearly 1900km!

It’s covered by Toyota’s three-year/100,000km warranty and servicing will be required every six months or 10,000km. 


The Wrap

The Toyota LandCruiser Prado is a good car to drive, but I was a bit confused by the purpose. If you just want a seven-seat SUV, there are other, more conveniently sized cars to drive around.  

But if you want an off-road seven-seat SUV, the Prado is definitely better suited to that purpose, however you’ll have to jump two specs to the Prado Kakadu to get all the off-road tech tweaks. So the Prado GXL is a bit big for not much else than… to be big. If that’s your thing, fantastic, you’ve found your match.

I gave it a family rating of seven out of 10, because it really did fit all of us so comfortably, even if I did have to put the third row down to use the boot. My children gave it an eight, they love really big cars, riding in the back row and especially that the back window popped open!

Likes

Interior space
Powerful engine
Fuel consumption

Dislikes

Overall bulk
Boot space with 7 seats in use

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

4

$67,040 - $88,300

Based on new car retail price

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