Toyota Land Cruiser VS Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
Toyota Land Cruiser
- Excellent off road
- Comfy cabin
- Good all-round package
- Lacking safety tech
- Short service intervals
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Better in every way than the A45
- Terrific front seats
- Relatively restrained looks
- Expensive servicing
- Some interior bits are cheap
- Getting old
Toyota Land Cruiser
If you’ve seen our most recent comparison test where we put the Toyota Prado up against some of its fiercest rivals, you will know that the Toyota impressed us on many levels.
That comparison - where it went up against the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Ford Everest and its sibling, the Toyota Fortuner - saw us put the GXL variant of the Prado range through plenty of stress tests.
Read More:Best off-road 4x4 SUV: We compare the Toyota Prado, Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest & Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
But we thought we’d do a standalone deep dive review on the Toyota Prado GXL 2020 model - in case you don’t really care how it compares, and just want to figure out if you’re making the right decision choosing this variant. This review will help. We promise.
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
Buuuuuuuur, parp, buuuuuuuuuuuur, parp. Anyone who knows anything about cars immediately recognises the sound of a 45-engined A-class derivative. It's the sound you hear in a tunnel as old mate blasts past with a giant carbon-fibre wing atop his hatchback. It's the sound you hear at 3:00am on a summer morning (if your suburb has no speed bumps, of course).
Sure, the GLA compact SUV is probably a slightly unexpected source of all that noise. But then, Merc's Ingolstadt rivals stuffed Audi's stupendous five-cylinder engine into a Q3 to make the hugely improbable RSQ3, so why not do the same with their skirts-lifted A-Class?
To be honest, my expectations for this car were low. So do I owe Mercedes a grovelling apology? Or can I still claim the moral high ground after a week of GLA 45 "ownership"?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Toyota Land Cruiser7.6/10
There’s a reason so many people opt for the Toyota Prado, and plenty of those choose the GXL model, too. It’s a very impressive family off-roader that can tackle rough terrain straight out of the showroom, but also offer comfortable, family-friendly progress in daily driving as well.
It is showing its age and starting to lack some tech, but there’s no doubt it will continue to sell well because if you can overlook those shortcomings, it’s a highly impressive four-wheel drive.
My wonderful wife, who is not really into this kind of car, admitted to me in a quiet voice that she really liked the GLA45 as long as it was in Sport + mode. And I have to agree. While I'm very fond of the ridiculous Audi RSQ3 (that turbo five-cylinder sounds amazing), I think I'd stump up the extra for the GLA.
Importantly, it can be comfortable, it can be quiet and it's a better fit for most humans than the A or CLA. It is getting on a bit and could do with a further clean-out of the poor ergonomics, but in what is likely its final year on sale, it's still a belter.
Has Peter finally lost it? Can the GLA45 be the best of the A-side 45 trio? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
In terms of dimensions and size, the Prado is pretty compact when it has the Flat Tailgate pack. The length is 4825mm (on a 2790mm wheelbase), width is 1885mm and height is 1890mm. Add the spare tyre to the back door, and it pushes out to 4995mm.
I actually think the Flat Tailgate pack is one of the most interesting elements of the Prado’s design. The company has gone to the trouble of eradicating the rear-mounted spare, but still kept the side-swinging back door, which can be a pain in the neck if you’re trying to access the boot but have parked close to a wall or a car behind has parked you in.
But there is a trick - the tailgate glass opens separately to the boot, which can be a saviour in situations like that… unless you’re loading or unloading something long, awkwardly shaped or heavy, or you’re shorter in stature as you might struggle to reach.
The exterior design of the Prado has been treated well over the years it has been around, and it still looks smart enough to catch your eye despite being ubiquitous. The muscular grille, squared-off haunches and beefy stance help.
While design is more often equated with styling, or how a car looks, in 4x4s like this there is more than just the aesthetic of the metalwork to consider. They’ve also gotta be designed to deal with the rough stuff.
So, cue important specs for off-road enthusiasts: approach angle - 30.4 degrees; departure angle - 23.5 degrees; break-over/ramp-over angle - 21.1 degrees; ground clearance (mm) - 219; wading depth (mm) - 700; turning circle/radius - 11.6m.
The GLA45 isn't a looker, but then, none of the GLAs are. There's a certain blobbiness to it. A bit of Teletubby mixed with...um, another Teletubby. It's not ugly, it's just not particularly attractive. The 20-inch wheels do much to lift the appearance and negate the effect of the raised ride height compared to the A45/CLA45.
The body kit stops just short of lairy, which is heartening. So if you want to stand out, venture out into the aftermarket world.
Inside was a mild surprise. The last time I drove a CLA 45 I used the word "gaudy". While the GLA isn't amazingly better, the texture of the Alcantara replacing the brushed metal-look plastic, or the carbon of the option pack, was much more pleasant. The brightwork in the cabin is still a bit odd looking, and it's still overcooked with its red detailing, but it is an otherwise beautifully built and well-detailed interior.
Toyota Land Cruiser9/10
Unlike some of its closest competitors, the Prado is a purpose-built off-roader family SUV, where the others are derived from dual-cab utes. That means it’s wider and a bit more passenger friendly - even if there are things that we wish were a bit better, like the space on offer with all seven seats in play.
The Prado offers a meagre 104 litres (VDA) with all seven seats up, which is less than all of its main rivals. With five seats up there’s 553L (VDA), and if you fold down all the rear seats you should have 974L (VDA) at your disposal.
There are roof rails if you want to fit a roof rack and luggage pod, or if you don’t need all seven seats and plan to use the boot all the time, a cargo barrier is available. Maybe get a luggage liner while you’re at it.
As mentioned, all three rows have air vents and there’s a fan controller as well, and there’s a third climate zone so those in the rear can set the temp as desired.
If you happen to draw the short straw and end up in the back row, you’ll be pleased that the ingress and egress is excellent. The door opening is large, meaning easy access, but taller occupants might struggle for head room, and you’ll need to make sure those in front slide the seats forward to allow better third row space. Some other SUVs in this space don’t offer a sliding second row.
In the middle row there’s good width to the seat, feeling comfortable and accommodating for adults. There’s easily enough knee room, headroom and shoulder space for three adults to fit side by side. There are cup holders in a flip-down armrest (though they are weirdly shaped), and bottle holders in the doors. Rearmost occupants have cup holders as well.
Up front the seats offer good adjustment, and there’s a level of intuitiveness to the way the Prado’s cockpit is laid out. Everything falls to hand easily, and the storage is mostly good, with bottle holders in the doors, cup holders between the seats, a storage box below the media screen, and even a centre console bin with cooling, which is ideal for family drives.
The media screen is decent, but not great. At least there are hard buttons either side and knobs for tuning and volume, rather than on screen touch controls like you find in some other Toyotas.
The front seats are utterly brilliant and feel as good as they look. On first acquaintance they may feel under-padded, but once you've adjusted them to your liking, you never want to leave. The AMG cars also feature one vast improvement over a normal GLA - the ergonomic disaster of a column-mounted shifter is removed, with a console-mounted shifter added where a small cubby once lived. It's so much better, although the Park button is oddly difficult to press.
When luxuriating in those snug front seats, you'll have access to two cupholders and door-mounted bottle holders, as well as a console bin (where the USB ports are) and a tray under the climate controls. Rear seat passengers will find legroom tight but headroom good, even with the huge sunroof.
The GLA's boot holds an entirely reasonable 421 litres, rising to 1235 when you drop both rear seats.
Price and features
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
The 2020 Toyota Prado GXL has a list price of $63,690 before on-road costs. That’s for the automatic model - deduct $3000 if you’re going with a manual.
Our car had the $3463 Premium Interior option pack, which added leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, and heated second row seats. That pack, as well as its optional premium paint ($600) pushed its as-tested price to $67,753.
If you’re interested, there’s a Flat Tailgate pack available for the GXL automatic (also the VX and Kakadu), which deletes the tailgate mounted spare wheel in favour of a spare mounted under the car body. It downsizes the fuel tank from 150L to 87L and that’s how our car came - it doesn’t cost any extra.
In addition, the Prado comes decently kitted out for the cash, with standard items including 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, auto headlights, side steps, and keyless entry with push button start.
Other standard inclusions comprise a three-zone climate control with rear vents and rear fan controller, leather steering wheel, a 230-volt powerpoint in the boot, a nine-speaker sound system teamed to an 8.0-inch touchscreen media unit with sat nav, USB port (x1), AM/FM radio and CD player. There’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Safety spec is adequate for the class, but certainly not exceptional - read the safety section below for a rundown.
If your curious about colours available for the Prado, there are a few to choose: Glacier White and Ebony are the only no-cost choices, while optional premium ($600) colours include Peacock Black metallic, Dusty Bronze metallic, Graphite grey metallic, Wildfire red metallic, Crystal Pearl white, Silver Pearl and Eclipse Black mica.
The GLA 45 lightens your wallet by no less than $89,211 - more than double the GLA 180 front-wheel drive, and about $5000 more than the bonkers (and ancient) RS Q3.
Packed into the GLA's kit bag are 20-inch alloy wheels, a 12-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, comprehensive safety gear, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, electric and heated front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, leather trim (some real, some not), auto parking, powered and heated folding mirrors, a massive sunroof and dynamic dampers. There's no spare tyre, just a tyre-repair kit.
The multimedia system is Mercedes' COMAND unit and it is as user-unfriendly as ever. It does, however, power a very decent stereo, and also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Thankfully our car was bereft of both the carbon-fibre package ($990) and the aerodynamics package ($1990).
Engine & trans
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
The engine specs are familiar if you’ve encountered a Prado in recent years. The motor is a 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, producing 130kW of power (at 3400rpm) and 450Nm of torque (at 1600-2400rpm).
In this part of the market, most models are close on horsepower and torque - only the Ford Everest Bi-turbo breaks away from the pack with 157kW and 500Nm.
Weighing up manual vs automatic? In GXL spec you can have the Prado with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission, as tested here. If you get the manual you miss out on 30Nm, too.
It has permanent four-wheel drive (4WD), so you could consider it to be all-wheel drive (AWD). What that means is there’s no need to switch to 4x4 mode when you depart the sealed stuff: there’s no 4x2 or 2WD mode.
Curious about whether the engine has a timing chain or timing belt? The answer is a timing chain.
What about towing capacity and towing specs? The Prado is capable of towing 750kg unbraked, while maximum towing capacity is 3000kg. If you’re thinking how that stacks up vs competitors, it’s there or thereabouts: the Everest and Pajero Sport can both manage 3100kg.
Love numbers? The gross vehicle mass GVM) for the Prado is 2990kg, and the gross combined mass (GCM) is 5490kg. Its maximum payload, according to Toyota, is 665kg - so keep that in mind if you’re planning to fill all seven seats and also tow a load behind.
While Toyota has made strides in the world of hybrid SUVs in other parts of the market, the Prado has no such variant available in this generation. There’s no electric, LPG, plug-in hybrid or petrol models sold here either.
AMG's fabled 2.0-litre turbo four lurks under that higher bonnet, still kicking out an improbable 280kW and 475Nm. Drive reaches the road via Merc's own seven-speed twin-clutch transmission and all four of its wheels.
All that power and grip translates to a 4.4-second dash to 100km/h for the slightly tubby (over 1600kg) GLA, but just between you and me, anything under five seconds feels scorchingly quick.
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
Fuel consumption for the Toyota Prado GXL automatic is claimed at 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres. Choose the manual and the consumption claim is 7.9L/100km.
During our on road testing - across urban, highway, and back roads - we saw an impressive diesel fuel economy return of 8.3L/100km at the pump. And there’s not even an eco mode, that’s just how efficient it was.
When it came to dirt road and off road testing, the consumption was a little less impressive, using 12.7L/100km. That may matter to you, or not.
All told, though, our combined average fuel use of 10.5L/100km over the entire testing period was decent.
The fuel tank capacity of the Flat Tailgate-equipped Prado is 87 litres - which is still bigger than an Everest or Fortuner (both 80L) or Pajero Sport (68L) - but it loses the 63-litre sub tank. So if you think you want a long range tank, you’re best off getting the standard tailgate design.
The official combined-cycle figure suggests the GLA45 will consume 7.5L/100km. Obviously that figure is largely irrelevant, and not just for the usual reasons, but because you don't buy a GLA45 to potter about in. I got, uh, 12.5L/100km, so you can imagine how much I was enjoying it.
As you might expect, you'll need to feed it 98RON.
Toyota Land Cruiser8/10
We drove the Prado GXL on a mix of roads to see what it was like in everyday situations - and there were very few complaints, really - so long as you’re not rocketship acceleration or sports car handling, it’ll tick most of the boxes you need it to.
It is wider than its ute-based rivals and as a result it feels more planted on the road. That comes down to a wider track than most other rugged off-roaders, which gives a surefooted feel on all surfaces across a range of speeds.
The Prado’s permanent four-wheel drive ensures confident progress on damp roads, too, and it felt confident for passengers and for the driver, too.
The Prado’s steering was a bit slow and it felt slightly larger than its rivals negotiating tight streets. But it was manageable and predictable to drive.
The Prado’s engine didn’t feel punchy, but it did offer honest progress. The Prado weighs a couple of hundred kilograms more than the Fortuner, which runs the same powertrain, and in comparison the Prado feels the extra weight - it never really shoots away from a standstill.
But it is considerably more refined than its stablemate, offering a more agreeable driving experience. Not thrilling, but fine. And the six-speed automatic offered smooth and clever shifts at all speeds on road.
What about the off road review? Here it is.
The Prado made it simple to place the wheels right where you want them, no matter how rutted the tracks or slippery the sand. We had no issues with grip from the Dunlop AT20 Grandtrek tyres fitted, either - if you’re spec-curious, they were 265/65/17.
The suspension - comprising double wishbone front suspension and four-link coil spring rear suspension - allowed plenty of wheel travel, and the Prado’s well calibrated off-road traction control system and a permanent four-wheel drive system ensured smooth progress on unsealed roads. It is arguably the best bush-ready 4WD you can buy and drive into the distance from the showroom floor. And there’s a rear diff lock if you think you need it.
Sure it doesn’t have as much torque as a Ford Everest, but the Prado was excellent at delivering its grunt to the dirt effectively - all while feeling easy to drive and direct in its communication with the driver. The engine hardly ever felt stressed, and the auto transmission was effective at all speeds.
When the 45-badged cars first launched, they were something of a revelation. BMW's turbo six-cylinder fans sniffed at the 2.0-litre's staggering outputs and all-wheel-drive chassis, but this car really captured the imagination. The GLA45 might be slightly unexpected, but it's better in almost every way as a daily driver than the A or CLA.
For a start, its higher ride height seems to translate to a much better ride quality. Anything on 20-inch wheels should have an appalling ride, but the GLA45 manages to be firm yet comfortable. Put the other two in Race mode and you'll need to up your private health insurance extras to include osteo, physio and whatever "o"-ending specialist fixes your back.
The improved ride quality meant I was far happier to chuck this car around. While it doesn't have the same ultimate overall performance of the lower cars, it's far more comfortable whether you're on it or just driving around. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, and the steering is excellent.
As for the engine...well, it still farts like toddler during a moment of silence at a funeral, but you can't deny its technical brilliance and huge power outputs. I remember the CLA45's engine as being a bit highly strung. Perhaps I couldn't separate the overall high-strung nature of the car from the engine, but I felt the same engine in this car wasn't as jumpy.
The way it propels this car into triple figures is tremendous fun. It's not as charismatic as the Audi five-cylinder, perhaps, but that doesn't matter in the end - it's properly fast, attached to a better chassis and offers a cabin with a driving position fit for humans.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
The Toyota Prado has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating - but it was awarded almost a decade ago, with the local safety body having conducted its tests way back in 2011.
They include auto emergency braking (AEB) that works from 10km/h-180km/h with pedestrian detection (that works between 10km/h-80km/h), as well as lane departure warning, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
Missing items at this price point include cyclist detection, active lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a 360-degree camera and front parking sensors.
There are seven airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front side and full-length curtain), and the Prado has two ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether attachments for baby seats.
Where is the Toyota Prado built? Japan is the answer.
The GLA comes with nine airbags (including driver's knee), blind-spot sensors, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning and mitigation and driver-attention detection.
Toyota Land Cruiser7/10
Toyota has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for all of its models. But if you maintain logbook servicing - it doesn’t have to be through Toyota’s network, just so long as you keep the owners manual up to date with the stamps - you will be eligible for an extended drivetrain warranty, out to seven years. That’ll help when it comes to resale value, too.
The Prado also has a capped price servicing plan, but it only spans three years/60,000km. And the service intervals are far more regular than most rivals, at six months/10,000km.
At least the maintenance is reasonably priced. Per visit you’re looking at $260. But remember, you have to go twice a year for servicing, which means an annual cost of $520.
There’s no roadside assistance included in the Toyota ownership plan.
If you’re worried about common problems, complaints, issues, engine problems, DPF issues, transmission complaints or any other defects and recalls, you should check out our Toyota Prado problems page.
The Mercedes standard warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres with roadside assist to match. Service intervals are a very reasonable 12 months/20,000km.
The company also offers capped-price servicing - first service is $576 but the second and third are a whopping $1152 each. Three years will set you back $2880.