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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado


BMW X4

Summary

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

The heavily updated Toyota LandCruiser Prado range sees some big changes for 2018, with a new look, updated interior and added equipment across most models in the range.

The good news for buyers is that prices are lower across the line-up, with reductions of between $600 and $1200 depending on the variant. That should be enough to see it retain its spot at the top of many customers’ shopping lists – it sure as hell can’t do much wrong on the sales charts, where its easily the best-seller in the large SUV segment. 

And with four trim levels available to choose from, each offering new kit and lower pricing, buyers are undoubtedly better off with the Toyota Prado 2018 model range. But has it improved over the previous model? And which is the one you should be looking at?

Read on, and we’ll figure it out together.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating5 seats

BMW X4

Launching new cars must be an endlessly repetitive job, and trying to keep over-fed, overly feted and ostentatious motoring journalists entertained would strain the will to live of any human being, or even a house elf. So it’s easy to see why the people at BMW tried something different when it came time to launch its new X4 M Competition. 

They were also dealing with a very strange car; not just an M version, but a Competition variant of a mid-size SUV (or SAV, as they prefer) with a kind of quirky coupe roofline that makes it look like it would prefer not be an SUV (or SAV) at all.

While the idea that someone might use this car for any kind of motorsport “Competition” seems as likely as Clive Palmer running for the bus, what it means is that this X4 gets an absolute rocket of an engine and all kinds of go-faster bits.

So, BMW decided to create a place called M Town - “a place where too much is just right”, as they put it - where we could experience this car in what you would have to call its unnatural environment.

M Town, in this case, was a giant clay pan hidden in the middle of the South Australian outback, with a rally circuit laid out on it, where we would be invited to drive the X4 M Competition as no one intended.

Cue much hilarity, and a highly unconventional non-road test.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency—L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado7.5/10

The updated 2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado might not have needed to see changes in order to remain the biggest-selling large SUV on the Australian market, but the facelifted model has seen the Prado take some steps forward to keep it on the shopping lists of buyers looking for family-focused SUVs with a breadth of ability. 

It looks better and is better value – and there is one model that seemingly stands apart as the best buy of the bunch: the GXL. It’s just a shame it can’t be had with the extra safety kit of the VX and Kakadu models.

What spec Prado would you buy? Let us know in the comments section below.


BMW X47.6/10

Clearly it is hard to give a verdict on what car generally bought to be driven on public roads 99.9 per cent of the time is like to drive when you've only smashed it around a clay pan like a (very) amateur rally drive.

What we can tell you is that the X4 M Competition is a far more serious, exciting version of the (small) family friendly/cool and trendy young couple mid-size SUV, the basic X4. It also has a very exciting engine, and lots of polished gloss black bits on it and, for some reason, seems slightly more fun than the X3 it is closely twinned with. 

It is not a car that will attract, or makes sense to, everyone, and its high price will scare a lot of sensible people away. But clearly BMW believes there is a niche market of people who will want one, and will pay top dollar for one. There's no doubt Aussie buyers do love an M badge, and they may well warm to this one.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Design

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado8/10

The facelifted version of the Toyota LandCruiser Prado undoubtedly takes the boxy off-roader and makes it more appealing to the majority of consumers. It is, dare I say it, good looking now.

 

That certainly is the case for the exterior of the Kakadu model you see here, with its brilliant LED headlights and DRLs, which look so much better than the old dot-matrix numbers in the pre-facelift car. The new shape of the headlights accentuates the width of the Prado, as does the new grille treatment.

And while nothing has changed if you look at it from side-on (aside from different wheel designs), the Prado somehow looks more muscular than it did. The tail-lights have black surrounds which helps, and the rear door has been neatened up a touch, too. 

While you get a rear spoiler on all Prado models, you have to spend up on the VX or Kakadu to get side steps. And if you want a body kit, you’ll have to look up eBay’s UAE sellers.

The interior design has seen a big workover, with a new centre stack and media interface, new steering wheels and other refinements. But the interior dimensions haven’t changed, because the size hasn’t either: check out our interior images to get a better idea.

This is a facelift done right. And this writer in particular thinks the flat tailgate version looks even smarter again.


BMW X47/10

It only seems reasonable to give the X4 M one more point out of 10 for deign than its X3 non-identical twin sister, because at least the designers have had a bit of a go at the rear.

The idea of a coupe SUV has always seemed like something a hunchback came up with so that people wouldn’t only stare at him, but it obviously appeals to some people.

And yes, parked next to an X3, this version looks better, with sleeker tail lights and a more stylish rear altogether. The more pronounced swoop of the roofline is also an improvement.

But my argument remains that BMW calls this X4 M Competition “bold and functional”, which tells you all you need to know. When a marketing department can’t come up with a better term than “functional” when talking about design, for a BMW, it’s just not hat exciting to look at. 

In fact, it looks like a shopping trolley with bigger wheels and go-faster stripes.

The non-M X4 is not exciting to look at it, either, it’s even more… functional, and this version is delineated as being M special by covering as many things as possible with “black high-gloss bits”, so black mirrors, black side gills, black chrome tail pipes, you get the picture.

BMW might have also used the word “tough” to describe this X4, and they did keep talking about how people might track it, which seems as likely as me entering a rocking horse in the Melbourne Cup, but I think they’re having a lend of themselves.

The interior feels like a proper M car, though, with the big red, programmable M buttons on the chunky steering wheel particularly eye catching, and a very cool looking gear stick. The M Sport seats also both look and feel fantastic, and the Merino Leather is lovely. 

Practicality

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado7/10

The revisions to the dashboard are really quite nice. In the lower-spec versions there is more storage space in front of the shifter, while higher-spec models, like the Kakadu you see here, have a smaller little caddy (big enough for a wallet) because the stack has all the serious off-road controls – check out the Prado interior pictures attached for a better idea.

Even so, every Prado has good storage options on offer: you will find more than one cupholder to suffice – in fact, there are cupholders in the first, second and third rows, and holsters for bottles in all four doors. The higher-spec models have a cooled/refrigerated centre console area, which is great to keep your drinks chilled on longer trips. 

Of course the entry-grade GX with five seats is a better bet if you need the ultimate in luggage capacity, rated at 640 litres, and there’s a cargo cover (plus you could fit a cargo barrier if you wanted to) – well and truly better than the 480L in the seven-seat model.

Because the vast majority of Prado models are seven-seaters, the measurement with seven seats in use is 120L – small by class standards. If you need more boot space, you could consider adding roof racks to the rails on GXL, VX and Kakadu models. The flat tailgate setup available on those variants includes a very practical opening tailgate glass, which makes putting shopping bags in even easier, especially in tight parking spaces.

While the GXL and VX feature very simple third-row seat operation, the electric seats in the Kakadu are daft. They take more than 10 seconds to raise or lower completely, and – like many of the Prado’s electronic items – the controller beeps every time you use it. And that’s really, really annoying. One nice counterpoint is a 220-volt powerpoint in the boot in high-spec models.

In terms of space, adults will be able to comfortably slot in the second row seating and allow enough space behind them for smaller adults or children. The back row isn’t the roomiest place, but for adults – even taller ones – it is definitely bearable for short trips. Headroom is good throughout the cabin, and legroom in the second row is pretty good, too.

For customers with kids, there are dual ISOFIX seats in the second row, and three top-tether points as well. There are air-vents to all three rows (in seven-seat models) but entry-grade models will need those up front to control the climate for those in the back.

The 8.0-inch media system is typical Toyota – that is to say, it’s reasonably easy to use but the on-screen buttons are a bit small, and it certainly doesn’t set any new standards. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, and the Bluetooth system – while easy to connect and reasonably clever at reconnecting – requires the car to be at a standstill to search contact lists and operate the pairing function: that may sound like a safety feature, but what if your child or partner wants to connect their phone on the move? It’s a fail.

It may also be worth noting for those parents out there with device-addicted children that the Prado only has one USB Port. I reckon it’s a bit of a miss, especially for the Kakadu: I mean a Blu-ray player might have been okay five years ago, but times have changed, and kids are very much about BYO device, these days.


BMW X47/10

In practicality terms, the X4 loses the gains it made on looks against the X3, because you’re obviously getting less headroom in the rear, and slightly less boot space as well.

For a vehicle of its mid-size, the X4 isn’t too badly sorted for interior space, however. The rear seats, in particular, are impressive, in terms of knee room at least, although headroom is not fabulous.

I’m 176cm tall, and I could comfortably sit behind my own seating position without my knees even touching the seat in front, and headroom is also excellent, front and rear.

Those sporty front seats do make things feel slightly squeezed in the front, and the width of the headrests effects forward visibility for those in the rear, but they’re so great to sit in that you’d put up with that.

The rear seat splits 40:20:40, giving you access to the boot, which is 525 litres in the X4 M with the seats up, because you’ve chosen the more practical option (the X3 gets 25 litres more).

Drop the rear seats and you’ve got a useful 1430 litres of loadspace when you’re driving two-up, although you’d have 1600 litres if you’d chosen the cheaper X3 M.

There’s plenty of space for your phone, on its wireless charging pad, and you also get two cupholders for the front chairs, with another two in the rear armrest.

Price and features

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado8/10

Yes, there have been price drops across the model line-up, but there are also much more affordable alternatives to the Prado if what you want is a rugged, off-roadable seven-seat SUV with a diesel engine and good towing ability.

Those competitors, clearly, are the likes of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Isuzu MU-X, Holden Trailblazer and – to a lesser extent because it’s a bit expensive – the Ford Everest. Even the Toyota Fortuner could be considered a more affordable alternative.

But the Prado is bigger than those models, and some would argue more comfort-focused, too. For the most part, I’d be one of those people – the Prado can be surprisingly comfortable, depending on the spec you choose – but we’ll get to that later.

Let’s run through the variants: GX vs GXL vs VX vs Kakadu, a sort of models comparison. I don’t just put a price list with how much each will cost, but rather run through the recommended retail price (plus on-road costs) of the models in the range. You can check out the Toyota site for a drive-away price

The GX model is the entry-grade variant with a manufacturer’s list price of $53,490 – that’s before on-road costs, and that’s $600 less than before. 

How many seats in the GX? It’s a five-seat model, but if you choose the automatic version (priced at $56,490) you also get the option of a seven-seat layout, but that adds a further $2550 to the price. 

Standard inclusions: lane departure warning, a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection, auto high-beam lights, and automatic cruise control – that’s only on the auto model, though - the manual misses out. The manual also misses out on the 'electroluminescent combimeter with colour multi-information display', or driver info screen. You do get cruise control, even on the manual.

The GX comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry (smart key) and push-button start, an 8.0-inch touch screen media system with reversing camera and satellite navigation/GPS  (with live traffic updates for the navigation system), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB connectivity and a nine-speaker sound system. It has radio and a CD player, too. There’s no DVD player, and you can’t get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, either. 

The next model up the range is the GXL, which comes with seven seats as standard, but can be had as a manual (from $59,990) or automatic ($62,990). Price drops for the GXL model equate to $1200. 

It gets a bunch of worthwhile extra equipment over the base model, including LED headlights (a big improvement), LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, and lamps in the sun-visors. There’s also the addition of privacy glass, roof rails, side steps, a leather-lined steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, and a rear diff lock (auto only).

The GXL can be had with what Toyota is labelling a 'premium interior', which adds $3500 to the price and includes leather-accented seat trim, ventilated front seats with power adjustment, and heated front and second-row seats. Sounds like money well spent to me.

The third rung up the ladder in the 2018 Toyota Prado range is the VX, which is only available as an automatic and sees a considerable price jump over the GXL auto – it lists at $73,990 plus on-road costs, but that’s $911 less than 2017.

The VX brings additional items such as 18-inch alloy wheels, panoramic/surround-view camera monitor with low-speed forward view setting, ventilated front seats, heated seats front and rear, a cool box between the front seats and LED fog lamps. It also sports leather seats, and a 14-speaker JBL sound system.

And if you spend this much you also secure more safety equipment: blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. 

The top-of-the-range variant in the Toyota Prado 2018 model range is the Kakadu, which is auto only, and lists at $84,490, representing a drop of $1121 compared with the model it succeeds. It’s the model you see in the images here.  

You certainly get plenty of additional equipment over the VX for your $10,500 extra expenditure – the Kakadu is the only model in the range with Toyota’s 'Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System' (KDSS) – a high-tech set-up that reacts to forces felt by the suspension that can modulate or disable the anti-roll bars. 

Further additions to the Kakadu include 'Crawl Control' (Toyota’s advanced traction system that monitors slippage at each wheel and works to ensure optimal traction), 'Multi-Terrain Select' (with rock, rock & dirt, mogul, loose rock, mud & sand settings), a new drive mode select system that changes the settings of the drivetrain, chassis and air-conditioning (with Comfort, Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings). There’s no denying the Kakadu seems like the one you’d pick if you want to go off-road – like, to Kakadu, for instance…

Other additions for this spec include a sunroof, woodgrain trim, power folding third-row seats, and a rear seat entertainment system with a Blu-ray entertainment screen, plus three wireless headsets.

A newly added no-cost option for August-onward 2018 Toyota Prado models is a flat tailgate setup, which was previously reserved for the Prado Altitude limited edition models. Available for GXL, VX and Kakadu grades, the  sees the removal of the tailgate-mounted spare wheel and cover, with the spare wheel instead mounted under the boot floor. There is an impact on fuel tank size, with the 63L reserve tank removed to make room for the spare wheel (leaving an 87-litre capacity). But flat-back Prado buyers will get an opening tailgate window, making quick access to the boot even easier. 

No matter which model you choose, if you want one of Toyota’s ‘premium paint’ finishes you’ll have to pay $550 (only one of the black options and white are exempt from extra cost). The colours include three different black hues, a dusty bronze/gold/beige/orange/brown finish, grey, red, two choices of silver, and white – no green, blue or yellow here. 

Of course if you want to further customise your Prado, there are plenty of accessories you can choose beyond rims and floor mats in each of the trim levels.

The genuine accessories list features two options for your choice of bullbar, a nudge bar, snorkel, and you’ll want the cargo barrier if you need to haul your tool kit with you.


BMW X47/10

It’s a tricky thing to evaluate such a weird beard of a car as this in terms of value, because normally when you’re being asked to spend $164,900 for a BMW you’re getting something that’s all sports car, wrapped in sexiness.

In the case of the X4 M Competition, you’re getting a mid-size SUV that’s not exactly capacious but goes like the clappers, and looks… like a mid-size SUV. And that's a lot of money for one of those.

To be fair, the X4 M has a more coupe-shaped roofline than the X3 version it shares its M Competition badging with, but this is a case of being less unattractive rather than better looking.

And, on the downside, you’re paying $7000 more than you would for the ever-so-slightly more practical X3 version, which would be hard to justify even if the X3 M wasn’t already very expensive.

What you are getting for the money is an engine that will blow you away, so that’s worth a bit. 

The car only comes with the Standard Competition Package in Australia (it’s the top option elsewhere), due to the popularity of that kind of thing in our market, apparently.

That gets you the amazing engine plus a standard M Sport Exhaust, connected to four, black-tipped tailpipes, an eight-speed sports automatic, xDrive with 4WD and 4WD Sport modes, and an Active M Differential.

You’ll also score “Professional” satellite navigation, Comfort Access, a Panorama sunroof, M Head Up Display, Driving Assistant Plus with semi-autonomous functionality including Active Cruise Control and Parking Assistant Plus, plus Hill Descent Control.

And don’t forget 21-inch light alloy wheels, Adaptive LED headlights, ambient interior lighting with six colour options, and alarm system, very sexy M Sport seats (the M logo on the headrests even glows at night when you open the door) with Extended Leather Merino trim, a 16-speaker harman/kardon stereo system, tyre-pressure monitoring, lane-keeping assistant, wireless charging, individual roof rails, rear roller sunblinds and BMW Connected Drive. 

Are there any options you could even want on top of all that? Have you ever seen a BMW offered without them? 

Strangely and uniquely, BMW asks you to pay for Apple CarPlay, which everyone will, at $623, and you can have your seats ($700), or steering wheel ($500) heated for winter mornings. Active seat ventilation is $1600 more, and metallic paint will sock you $2000, or $2350 for Individual Metallic (you can have Alpine White, non-metallic, for free).

Engine & trans

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado7/10

Every variant in the Prado range is powered the same engine, with the same size - a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. The entry-grade models (GX and GXL) have the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed auto, while the top two grades (VX and Kakadu) are auto only.

There are no changes to specifications for power outputs of the diesel drivetrain, be it the manual gearbox with retained power and torque outputs of 130kW/420Nm, or an automatic transmission, which bumps the torque spec up to 450Nm. 

Competitor SUVs out there can be had with more power and torque – even some that are smaller, like the Holden Trailblazer (2.8-litre turbo-diesel, 147kW/500Nm). 

Unlike a lot of those other competitors, though, the Prado runs a permanent four-wheel drive (4WD or 4x4) set-up with 4H and 4L modes – there’s no 4x2 mode. You need to get an automatic to be able to get a rear diff lock, and even then it’s not available on the base model GX. So, manual gearbox enthusiasts need to think twice.

Some buyers may not be too impressed by the Prado’s comparatively low braked towing capacity weight of 2500kg (750kg un-braked) for manual models – but the automatic pushes that braked capacity to 3000kg, which is what you’ll likely need for a big off-road caravan. Our test vehicles didn’t have a towbar, so there’s no towing review here. 

And there’s no argument for petrol vs diesel, as the 4.0-litre V6 has been axed. And there’s never been an LPG model here. 

You might want to check out our Prado problems page for any relevant information on potential diesel engine problems or issues with injector performance, automatic transmission or clutch / gearbox problems, suspension issues or cruise control complaints. And any concerns over diesel particulate filter problems should be allayed by the addition of a new DPF forced burn-off switch, to give a manual override control to the owner.

Timing belt or chain? The 2.8-litre engine has a chain, thank you very much.


BMW X49/10

No matter what you think of the X4 M Competition - its looks, its very existence - there’s no denying that its engine is something to be very excited about.

The 3.0-litre in-line six with M TwinPower Turbo technology is 90 per cent new, according to BMW, and will soon see action in the new BMW M3 and M4, and it is a rip snorter. The folks at M have thrown everything at it, using 3D printing to make the cylinder head, a forged crankshaft, and two new mono-scroll turbochargers, which are obviously different from the twin-scroll versions in the M5, and lift direct fuel-injection pressure from 200 bar to 350 bar. Apparently they’re even better. It also gets an electrically controlled wastegate for maximum efficiency.

The goal was an impressive 500 horsepower, or 375kW in our lingo, and they’ve achieved it. They’ve also made magic by combining both traditional BMW free-revvingness and savage turbo torque. With all of its maximum 600Nm available from 2600rpm to 5950rpm, it has the highest torque bandwidth of any BMW engine.

The screaming six can rev all the way to 7200rpm, at which point it sounds truly Wagnerian in its magnificence, and that 375kW peak point arrives at a dizzying 6250rpm.

This really is an engine that wants you to belt the hell out of it, and when you choose its most aggressive modes, and turn the adjustable M exhaust to its noisiest setting, it’s a joyful experience.

It’s also a weird one, because there’s just something so out of place about an engine like this in a car like this - it’s like finding out that your mum has secretly been cage fighting - but still, in pure engine terms, it’s a cracker.

The ZF eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission is also silky smooth and seamless, as you’d expect.

Fuel consumption

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado8/10

Toyota claims diesel fuel consumption of 7.9L/100km for the manual Prado, while the automatic model uses 0.1L/100km more, claiming 8.0L/100km. 

Realistically you can expect fuel economy around 9.5L/100km in most situations, or a tad more if you’re running around with adults accompanying you in the other four seats.

If you venture off-road the fuel use number will probably rise to about 11.5L/100km, which is pretty good given the size of the Prado. Towing will likely see that figure jump a tad, but not to excessively high levels (depending on the weight of what you’re towing, of course!).

The Prado’s huge 150-litre fuel tank capacity (with an 87L main tank size and 63L sub) will assure long range mileage between visits to the pump, but expect a big bill if you run it to empty. If you get the flat tailgate version of the GXL, VX or Kakadu, you will only get the 87-litre capacity, which will still be able to get you plenty far. And it's a little bit smaller (length is down from 4995mm to 4825mm) and lighter (reduced about 60kg across the range), so you may even see better fuel consumption, not to mention easier parking in small spots.

As mentioned above, there’s no petrol option anymore.


BMW X48/10

There’s no official Australian figure as yet, and we certainly didn’t do any testing that would be helpful, so all we can tell you is that the claimed figure is 10.6 litres per 100km. Which would be good, if you could actually achieve it. Good luck with all this temptation on board.

Driving

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado8/10

If you plan on spending the vast majority of your time on paved surfaces – be that running around town or cruising country highways – you ought to choose the GX, GXL or VX models.

Why? It all comes down to the Kakadu’s suspension system. It’s undeniably brilliant when it comes to scrambling up craggy hills, especially if there are heaps of offset bumpy sections because of the way it can adjust the anti-roll bars. Admittedly there is adaptive front and rear variable suspension (not air suspension) on the Kakadu, but even in the most passenger-friendly Comfort setting it isn’t as comfy as it should be, with the four-link rear suspension abruptly rebounding over bumps. The front suspension is a trailing arm double-wishbone type, and it is more resolved over bumps.

It is ridiculously capable when it comes to off road ability, with the permanent 4WD system (with 4H high range and 4L low range), a locking rear diff, and the brand’s dependable drive-mode selector system allowing for assured progress on gnarly surfaces.

That said, it mightn’t be quite as terrific as it once was: we didn’t get the pre-facelift model and the new model together for a head-to-head, but the numbers don’t lie: the new-look Prado has worse approach and departure angles vs the old one. The approach angle is now 30.4 degrees, where it used to be 32.0deg, and the departure angle is now 23.5deg (was 25.0deg). Ground clearance is down by a millimetre, to 219mm.

And while that anti-roll bar adjustment certainly makes the Prado Kakadu hold itself flatter through a series of sharp corners, that’s not what this SUV is all about. Nor what this review is about. 

In the lower-spec models there is better bump absorption – the smaller alloy wheels help, though we know some buyers will be tempted to upsize to 22-inch chrome wheels…The steering response largely remains the same between the four variants – the wheel action is light and easy to twirl at lower speeds with a decent turning circle of 11.6m, and it has good weighting at highway pace, too. 

And no matter which model you choose, you’ll be getting a diesel engine that feels suited to day-to-day life: the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo unit isn’t excessively grunty, but with the clever six-speed automatic the Prado definitely offers enough punch to jump a gap or two in traffic. 

Even so, I have often thought to myself ‘there is no faster car on the road than a Prado driver who is late to drop the kids at school’ – and the performance lives up to that expectation. There’s some turbo lag to contend with from stand-still, but its roll-on acceleration is convincing below 70km/h. 

It isn’t quite as sprightly once you get above that, presumably because aerodynamics starts to play a more integral role in forward progress. But realistically if you want to know what 0-100km/h acceleration it’ll do, or what top speed it’ll hit, maybe you shouldn’t be looking at a Prado.

My biggest annoyance with the Prado is its brake pedal feel. While the response from the stoppers is good, the squelchy feel of the pedal and the fingernails-on-a-blackboard screechiness as you apply pressure is frustrating. The body of the Prado can pitch forward when you apply the brakes, too. 


BMW X48/10

In theory, the X4 M Competition shouldn’t be very different to drive at all from the X3 M Competition with which it shares an engine, and just about everything else. At the same time, it would be nice if was more fun to drive, because that would help to justify the fact that it costs $7000 more than the (slightly more practical) X3 version.

The differences are mainly about looks, of course, but those aesthetic changes also make the X4 ever so lightly longer, wider and lower than the X3. 

That really shouldn’t make a difference you can feel, yet somehow, every time I switched into the X4 and began another wild, hooting, dusty circuit of the rally course set out for us be foolish on at M Town, I found myself having slightly more fun than I’d been in the X3.

An actual rally driver who was in attendance, mainly to laugh at our ineptitude and because their diet consists largely of dust particles, told me he’d also found the X4 ever so slightly more chuckable, and stable, also.

So perhaps there are two reasons for choosing to spend $7K more on an X4 - the rear end, and the fun, but then again, this is probably only a factor if you attend to take your new BMW on some kind of mad motorsport adventure.

Certainly, in the unreal environment in which we tested these cars, they were hugely fun - overly powerful, playful, sporty in terms of steering feel and cabin ambience - but we will have to wait and see what they’re like in the real world.

Reports from overseas have hinted at overly firm ride quality, even in Comfort mode, and other foibles for the new X3 M Competition - like the fact that it doesn't actually feel all that fast, thanks to the 1970kg it's carrying.

What we do know is that the engine is a crackerjack, the (adjustable) steering gives fabulous feedback, and, if you happen to be on a clay pan, it’s just the vehicle you need to plaster a huge smile across your face.

I recommend the video footage highly.

One touch of genius that was beautifully highlighted, though, was the combination of the properly sports-car spec M Differential with an M version of xDrive, which allows you to choose between two 4WD modes, normal and 4WD Sport, which “pretty much does become rear-wheel drive”, as BMW admitted to us. 

This is such an M move it’s hilarious. Force us to make an all-wheel-drive car will you? Ha, we’ll put a button on it that turns it back into a proper BMW M car.

On a clay pan, where you can drive almost entirely sideways, sawing at the wheel and using that gorgeous engine to carve beautiful arcs in the Earth via the throttle,4WD Sport is a work of genius. 

In the real world, in this car, it’s… still a bit weird. 

The chassis feels super stiff as well, and the big strut braces under the bonnet show you how seriously they’ve taken that.

There’s no denying the how, or the know-how on display here, it’s just the why that’s hard to get your head around.

Safety

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado8/10

The facelifted Prado model hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP, but this generation was tested all the way back in 2010, when it scored the maximum five-star safety rating. It is unlikely the facelifted version will get the crash-test treatment again.

The manual models miss out on the added safety gear that every automatic Prado gets as standard as part of the update, which is disappointing, and you don’t even get a hill-hold function on the base model GX. 

The kit every auto Prado now gets includes auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automated high-beam headlights. 

Manual or auto, the Prado comes with a reversing camera with active steering guidelines and rear parking sensors. All Prado models have seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain, driver’s knee), stability and traction control, ABS, EBD and trailer-sway control.

If you step up to the VX you also get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, not to mention the surround-view camera and low-speed off-road front-view camera, and front parking sensors. The Kakadu model gets the lot, plus all of the off-road hardware and tech.

Parents will appreciate the two second-row ISOFIX child-seat anchor-points


BMW X48/10

The X4 M Competition has not been crash tested yet but the standard X4 previously received a five-star ANCAP rating. It comes with six airbags - driver, front passenger, head airbags for both rows, side airbags with seat occupancy detection for driver and passenger and side-impact protection for the front seats.

You also get DSC, ABS and DTC and driver-assistance systems including Driving Assistant Plus, Parking Assistant Plus, tyre-pressure monitoring and a speed limiter.

Ownership

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado6/10

Toyota’s unbreakable reputation is well founded, and reliability issues are reportedly few and far between. The brand offers an expansive dealer network providing access to professional Toyota care pretty much anywhere you think you’ll take your Prado.

The company isn’t unbeatable for warranty cover, however. It offers the bare-minimum three-year/100,000km plan for all of its cars, utes and SUVs.

Likewise Toyota’s maintenance schedule remains annoyingly short - intervals are every six months or 10,000km, which could be painful if you do a lot of mileage. At least the visits are affordable, with service costs capped at $240 each time for the first three years/60,000km.

Resale value is hard to argue with for the Prado – and most Toyota’s for that matter. But if you’re concerned about a used car purchase maybe check out our problems page for common problems, issues, faults and complaints about the Prado. 


BMW X47/10

As is typical for BMW, the maintenance requirements for the X3 M Competition are controlled by a Condition Based Servicing system, which constantly monitors the car, and the way it’s being driven, to determine when annual inspections or oil changes are required.

BMW is offering two service-inclusive packages, a five-year/80,000km Basic level for $3685, or the Plus, for $8173, which you should choose “if you drive spiritedly and you go through brakes a fair bit”, because it includes brake pads and discs over five years.

BMW seriously seems to think people are going to track this thing. Go figure.