Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VS Tesla Model X
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
- Value in low-spec auto models
- Serious off-road credentials
- Lower prices across the range
- Safety kit isn't widespread enough
- Pricey in high-spec models
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Tesla Model X
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.
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
Tesla Model X
Tesla - love the brand, or hate it - has done a lot for the automotive industry. It has made electric cars a talking point, something that competitor companies are finally acting on.
I spent a week in the 2018 Tesla Model X 75D, which happens to be the most affordable version of the US company’s crossover. Affordable? Well, that’s really going to depend on your salary.
Read More: Tesla Model X 2018 review
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.
Tesla Model X7.9/10
The Tesla Model X in 75D specification offers a lot of technology for buyers who want to dip their well-heeled toe all the way into the electric mobility pool. There are more conservative and compelling options for customers who think plug-in hybrids are the first step, though - and if you’re not hellbent on a full EV, then we’d suggest maybe you have a bit of a look at what else is on offer.
Could you live with an electric car? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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.
Tesla Model X
That’s just me, and like everyone I’m entitled to my opinion. I know there are people out there who absolutely love the exterior design of the Model X. If you’re one of them, let me know - I have a great optometrist I can refer you to.
Seriously, though - the Falcon Wing rear doors are design overkill. No-one needs back doors that open up like that, and the amount of compromise that has been built into the rest of the vehicle’s design because of them is noticeable - I couldn’t open the back door on the driver’s side of my test vehicle at home because I was apparently parked too close to the bin - the axis angle at the top of the door limited how far the bottom of the door would open. I can’t understate how rubbish this would be if your home parking space was tight.
Plus this example (and the few I’ve seen/sat in prior) had some issues with quality, like mismatched panel gaps around the doors and hatch. Take a look at our photos to see for yourself.
The massive windscreen stretches to above the front occupants’ heads, and it’s tinted to try and eliminate sunlight overhead - and Tesla has added a mesh shield visor that you can slot in, and although it is welcome, it’s flimsy, and would be easy to knock down when you’re moving the actual (magnetised) sun visors.
Now, as a piece of design, the glass is great - but other vehicles with big glass have smart solutions integrated into them, like the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, with its pull-down blinds and proper sunvisors.
I guess it’s a bit like an architecturally designed house that’s really cool the first time you see it, but really hard to live with. The sunvisors are very thin, and it’s difficult to position them to block the sunlight, especially driving in an easterly direction in the morning (as I do) and a westerly direction in the afternoon (yep, that’s me). Plus, the visors don’t have vanity mirrors - a disaster for makeup artists on the move.
Things I like? The LED headlights and LED daytime running lights are exceptionally good, and the wheels that this model comes with as standard are nice, even if they look a bit dwarfed by the bulk of this slab-sided high-rider.
And if you’ve ever wondered why every Tesla Model X has its rear spoiler in the ‘up’ position at all times, it’s because it’s a fixed spoiler.
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.
Tesla Model X
There are good and bad elements to the interior design.
The ingress and egress to the third row is better than some SUVs because the floor is so low - meaning it’s easy to step in and out of - but also worse than some SUVs because the shape of the opening is odd.
Space in the third row is better left for children or small adults with limited legroom and headroom, and while there are vents back there the vision for occupants is limited; the seats are low, and if you’re little you won’t be seeing much.
If the Model X had electric sliding doors rather than the Falcon Wing doors, it would be more practical. If you park in a tight space, a sliding door allows you to still get out, but these doors won’t even open all the way if the sensors detect they are unable to. That’s annoying, because this is a really wide vehicle, and some parking lots seem to be making spaces smaller and smaller.
Anyway, I’m not going to win the battle of sliding vs gullwing doors here, am I?
The boot space is good - with seven seats up you can make use of the hidden compartment below the floor, and with five seats in use the cargo capacity is very good, too. Then there’s the front trunk - no engine means you get bonus storage, and Tesla claims total cargo capacity for the Model X is 2492 litres for the five-seat version.
You can get a five-seat, six-seat or seven-seat version of the Model X. This vehicle used to have electric sliding and folding second-row seats, but now there’s a push-button system, which still uses some form of electrical pulse to unlock the rails below the seats. While it’s quicker than electric would have been, it's not as simple as, say, a lever like you’d find in the Mazda CX-9.
For outboard second-row occupants the space is okay - I set the driver’s seat in my position and had enough legroom and headroom to be comfortable in the second row. But anyone in the third row would have been squished. The middle-row middle-seat of our test car was less than impressive, with little head room and not much width available.
Storage is well sorted up front, with two large centre bottle holders, plus bottle holders in the front doors (none in the rear, for obvious reasons) and a pair of cupholders up front. The storage situation is poor for those in the back: there are no cup receptacles at all for the second row, but there are dual USB ports. In the third row there are two cup holders, and all three rows have air vents.
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.
Tesla Model X
How much is a Tesla Model X? It isn’t cheap, that’s for sure. But this 75D version is currently the lowest cost model in the brand’s SUV price range.
The price of the 75D kicks off at $125,000 plus on-road costs, or $142,475 drive away - but where you live will determine the drive-away price, because different states and territories have different stamp-duty implications for electric cars. ACT buyers ($142,475 RRP) get a much better dealer than those in WA ($151,174 RRP), for instance.
Pricing jumps significantly if you want the more performance-focused 100D, which also gains extra battery range (prices from $173,805 drive away) or the flagship P100D we tested recently (from $247,385). That’s right - the Model X we have is more than a hundred grand cheaper than the top model.
The Model X comes pretty well equipped from the factory, with a 17.0-inch touchscreen media display featuring Google Maps sat nav with realtime traffic updates, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, digital DAB radio and integrated TuneIn app connectivity. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though.
Other standard items include keyless entry and a self-opening (and self-closing) driver’s door, an electric tailgate, interior ambient lighting, air suspension with ride height adjustment, auto headlights with auto high-beam lights, LED fog lights, power adjustable and auto-folding heated auto-dimming side mirrors. You get 20-inch wheels as standard, but there's no spare wheel - tyre-pressure monitoring is fitted, and if you get a flat, you'll need to call roadside assist.
There are standard heated seats for every occupant and there’s a heated steering wheel, heated windscreen washer nozzles to help defrost if you’re heading to the snow, and if you download the app you can adjust the temperature inside the car remotely - cold starts on winter mornings are a thing of the past.
The app also allows you to monitor the vehicle’s state of charge, enable someone else to drive your car without the keys present (you just have to input your password in the app), and you can unlock/lock the car and/or open the front or rear trunks, start it, honk the horn, flash the lights, set the speed limit or enable ‘valet mode’, so those pesky parking attendants don’t go using all your juice doing speedy starts.
How many seats in the Tesla Model X? Well, you can have it with five seats as standard, six seats for an additional $8300 (with or without a rear centre console) or seven seats for $4100.
Other options fitted to our vehicle included grey painted 20-inch wheels (as opposed to the silver rims you get on the standard version: $2800), the White Premium interior pack ($4600) and the carbon-fibre upgrade ($350), Deep Blue metallic paint ($2100) and the Enhanced Autopilot system ($6900).
So, in the end, our affordable Model X cost more than $175,000 on the road… ouch. You can get any one of a number of petrol or diesel SUVs from competitor luxury brands for less money, and plenty with plug-in practicality, too.
If you want a luxury plug-in hybrid SUV, consider the Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid from $122,900, or a Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid from $135,600, or the Mercedes-Benz GLE500e for $129,500, or the Audi Q7 e-tron from $139,900, or the BMW X5 xDrive40e from $124,990.
Admittedly, none are full EVs, but the Audi e-tron model is due next year…
You should also be aware of the wait time associated with a Tesla - the vehicles are built to personal specifications, so unless you’re buying a second-hand car, or a demo from the company’s (small!) stock list, it could mean a wait time of about three months. The Tesla web configurator allows you to get an idea of approximate delivery dates. Some buyers will take that with a grain of salt, though, given customers have waited about two years for their Model 3s.
If you don’t want to wear the depreciation, you could consider a used car - there are pre-owned Model X and Model S examples on Tesla’s website.
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.
Tesla Model X
Not so much an engine, but a 75kWh battery pack with a claimed 210km/h top speed and a 0-100 claim of 5.2 seconds. The claimed driving range for the Tesla Model X 75D is 417 kilometres. You don’t have gears to play with - Tesla’s run a single-speed transaxle, but the stalk to control it is sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
Remember, this isn’t the ‘fast’ Model X. But the D in the name signifies that it has Tesla’s dual-motor all-wheel drive system, ensuring excellent traction for super-quick acceleration.
As you might expect, stepping up to the Model X 100D with a 100kWh battery pack and dual motors increases the performance considerably (0-100: 4.9sec; 250km/h top speed), and also adds more electric driving range (565km claimed).
Go all out on the P100D and apparently your Model X will do 0-100 in 3.1sec, thanks to the addition of Ludicrous Mode, but the battery range drops away slightly (542km). Tesla says it’s the quickest SUV in history - and even in 75D guise it’s pretty rapid.
Every Tesla Model X is prepped for towing, too - the towing capacity is rated at 750kg for an un-braked trailer, and 2250kg for a braked trailer. The tare mass for the Model X is 2352 kilograms.
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.
Tesla Model X
None. Well, it consumes electricity, so if you’re getting your energy from green sources, you can drive carbon-neutral in the Model X.
As mentioned above, a full charge will get a claimed 417km. On test, we picked the Model X up will a full ‘tank’, and got it down to 7 per cent remaining over about 400km - so the claim is pretty truthful.
But yes, I got range anxiety, and yes, I Googled “how long does it take to charge a Tesla Model X?”
The charge time really depends where you do it. If you go to a Supercharger - Tesla’s network of high-amperage, big power output (up to 120kW per car) fast-charge stations, you can expect to get to 80 per cent from empty in about 45 minutes, or all the way to full in a bit more than an hour. It used to be free to recharge at Superchargers, then increased demand saw Tesla introduce a pay-per-use fee, but all Tesla owners get 400kWh of credits to use every year.
If you charge at a destination charger like I did, the results are far, far worse. I parked up at the Supercheap Auto Penrith charge point, which is capable of up to 22kW’ of power output at just 6 amps, and left the car there for a full business day. It started at 7 per cent, and when I got back, it was at 53 per cent.
These destination chargers make sense if you’re going away for the weekend and can leave the car plugged in while you relax at the resort, but you need to know they’re not Superchargers. The network of Superchargers is getting bigger and bigger, and theoretically you can drive from Adelaide to Brisbane using them now.
Every Tesla comes with a wall connector for you to install at home, but there are options for how powerful it can be, and can be “tailored to your home’s supply” - be it three-phase or single-phase. On single-phase power, the output can be 16, 20, 24 or 32 amps. According to Tesla’s Australian site, 16-amp three-phase power will charge at a rate of about 50km per hour, while at 24-amp you could see 80km per hour added (meaning about five hours to fully charge in this spec).
If you want the specs and figures, our Model X had used 136kWh over the total 507km of its life to date, at an average of 269Wh/km. So, if your energy company bills you $0.22 per kWh, it’ll cost you about $30 to do 500km. Not exactly cheap, but you’re not buying a Tesla to save money - and if you have a good home solar array setup, you should be able to run your house and your car at no extra cost.
And Tesla has a deal with AGL so you can charge your car for $1 per day. That means you can theoretically fill it up every evening with energy, and you won’t spend more than $365 for a year of driving.
So, the Model X gets a 10 out of 10 for fuel consumption. But if these ratings included a ‘time-consumption’ figure, it would be a lot less!
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.
Tesla Model X
With two electric motors and a huge bank of lithium-ion batteries to work with, the acceleration of the Model X is impressive. Throttle response is good, and from a standing start you will still impress your friends - even if you don’t buy the Ludicrous version.
On-the-move acceleration is good, too, because there’s no transmission or turbo lag as you’d find in any of the Model X’s natural competitors. It’s quick, and even if you’re driving it sedately it’s nice to know there’s power in reserve if you need it.
It is a heavy vehicle, but the weight is mainly down low, with Tesla’s skateboard battery platform between the axles making it feel suctioned to the ground. The 20-inch rims with Michelin rubber (255/45 front, 275/45 rear) offer tremendous grip, and the traction is better than you’d likely find in other, more traditional SUVs.
The air suspension does a decent job of cosseting those in the cabin from the road surface below, provided it’s smooth. Some shortcomings are noticeable over sharp edges, such as speed humps, where it can feel a bit stiff-legged, and there’s the typical side-to-side wallow you see from airbag suspension.
The electric steering system offers nice accuracy and response, with a linear weighting that means it’s easy to turn the wheel, whether you’re pushing it through corners or simply trying to park it at the shops.
Some things that could be better? The visibility is the biggest issue, for me. This is a big vehicle, and the rear-view mirror is tiny, as is the vision it offers. If you have people in the third row, there’s almost no point even trying to use it.
I used the Enhanced Autopilot system on my commute, and it worked very well, you just need to ensure there’s some pressure on the steering wheel. This isn’t a full autopilot system, and shouldn’t be treated as such: you need to maintain control of the car and be conscious of your surroundings, because it isn’t perfect, and if you disobey its commands to ‘keep light pressure on the wheel’, it will disable for the rest of your drive.
I was surprised there wasn’t a surround-view camera system fitted to this car, especially given there are so many driving-system cameras and radars fitted.
Other concerns? The creaking and groaning of the body and the rubbers as you turn corners, particularly over offset low-speed bends in car parks and the like. This isn’t the sort of thing you hear in the established luxury SUVs.
And of course, if you’re getting a Tesla, spend the money and get the best home-charging solution you can. It’ll put your mind at ease. Or just move close to a Supercharger.
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.
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.
Tesla Model X
There is no ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash test rating for the Tesla Model X, but the vehicle scored extremely well in NHTSA testing the US, scoring the highest rating in history for any SUV.
The Model X sold in Australia gets an array of safety gear, including a collision-warning system and autonomous emergency braking, a reversing camera and parking sensors front and rear, plus there are airbags for first and second row occupants, but no curtain airbag coverage for those in the rear row.
Models fitted with Enhanced Autopilot (which will be all of them, we reckon) have four cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors that monitor the road and the vehicle’s surroundings. Engaging autopilot means the car works to maintain the vehicle’s line in a lane of traffic, it can change lanes at the tap of the indicator stalk (thus letting the car do the blind-spot checking for you), and it can adjust speed to mimic other road users. It slows to a complete stop, and will take off again when things get moving once more.
In better news for parents, there are ISOFIX child seat anchor points in four of the five rear seats, plus top-tether attachments for all five rear seats - so baby capsules shouldn’t be an issue.
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.
Tesla Model X
Tesla offers a strong eight-year/160,000km warranty for the vehicle, and the warranty extends to unlimited kilometres for the drivetrain.
The company asks owners to service their Model X (or Model S) every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever occurs soonest. And with few moving parts, you’d expect service costs to be pretty low - however, there is no capped-price-servicing plan.
Considering a Tesla? Make sure you check out our Tesla problems page to read up on any issues, faults, common problems and complaints or defects and recalls issued.