Toyota Land Cruiser VS Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Toyota Land Cruiser
- Excellent off road
- Comfy cabin
- Good all-round package
- Lacking safety tech
- Short service intervals
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Smooth diesel power
- Comfy, practical cabin
- Passenger-car tech
- Loud with windows down
- 360-degree camera would need to land as standard
- Much hyped new voice control can be... patchy
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|
On the commercial side of the Mercedes-Benz business, a new Sprinter van is talked about in the same revered tone as a new S-Class. Seriously; the company's best-selling van has the same flagship aura about it as the uber-luxe limousine.
Even in Australia - where it wears a price premium over most competitors - Mercedes says it has managed to cling to the top sales spot in the large-van segment for more than two decades. But in Europe (and especially Germany) it's even more ubiquitous - they are absolutely everywhere.
This 2019 update is kind of a big deal, then. And with a new (and cheaper) FWD variant, overhauled cabin technology that now mirrors the best of the passenger-car range, and new safety offerings like AEB, active cruise and a 360-degree camera, Benz reckons this new model will bite off an even bigger share of the market.
And so we took the Sprinter for a quick spin ahead of its Q4 Australian launch to see if they're right.
|Engine Type||2.1L turbo|
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.
If it was any more practical it would do the loading and unloading for you, but there's also no obvious penalty for driving a commercial vehicle here. It's comfortable, quiet and now offers better interior technology than even most Benz passenger cars.
And with a cheaper entry point now on offer, the Sprinter should have absolutely no problem holding onto its top sales spot.
Would you buy any van other than a Sprinter? Tell us in the comments.
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.
It's a vast and slab-sided thing, of course, and practicality takes priority over design, but in the world of full-size vans, the Sprinter is a rather handsome beast.
Up front, the optional three-column LED headlights separate the massive horizontal slats of the grille, while sharp contours running the edge of the bonnet create a kind of power dome in the centre. It's a pretty dominant design, and it definitely lends the Sprinter a strong road presence.
But there's only so much crayon work you can do with a commercial vehicle, so, unsurprisingly, the Sprinter looks... a lot like a van. Lighter colours - and grey especially - look best, highlighting the subtle contours and making it look a little less blocky and heavy.
The cabin, though, looks properly great; a customisable blend of form and function (exactly how much of either is up to you) that - thanks to Mercedes' cool MBUX system and Touch steering wheel - feels like it could belong in a passenger car rather than a workaday van.
The materials are geared toward wear and tear, though, with fabric seats and hard plastics liberally splashed about the cabin.
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.
It's available in in four sizes (five if you include cab chassis) and with three roof heights, so just how practical your Sprinter arrives is going to be up to you.
Benz reports total storage space can be up to 17 cubic metres, depending on configuration. The front-wheel-drive version is now eight centimetres lower at the back, too, making it a little easier to load.
Mercedes is yet to confirm the full load-carrying spec for Australian cars, but consider this; even the smallest and most underpowered model in the outgoing range could carry more than a tonne and tow in excess of 2000kg (braked), and those numbers are unlikely to have gone backwards. But then, that the big and cavernous Sprinter can carry stuff will surprise absolutely no-one.
The cabin is a super-clever mix of storage spots and hidey-holes, but special mention must go to the phone-sized slots in the dash for both passenger and driver, as well as the extra storage at head height, dash height and in the centre console.
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 big news here is the introduction of a new entry point to the Sprinter range, a (first for this van) FWD model that is also offered with a new, nine-speed gearbox.
Mercedes is yet to confirm pricing or full specification for the updated Sprinter, but it reckons we can expect to see the FWD model lop about $5k off the starting price, lowering the entry point for an automatic SWB vehicle to around $42k (and about $39k for a manual).
That would bring it much closer to the heart of its segment - the Renault Master, for example, will set you back about $35k for a SWB with a manual gearbox.
The Sprinter will arrive in a standard specification across the range (SWB, MWB, LWB and XLWB) with plenty of personalisation options from there. And we do mean plenty; Benz reckons there are about 1700 possible variations.
New for this update is Benz's very cool 'MBUX' multimedia system (the one in the spanking new A-Class), which will be operated via a 7.0-inch screen as standard, with a 10.25-inch screen a cost option. The MBUX setup uses the same AI-enabled voice recognition system as the A-Class - meaning you can talk to it without using pre-defined key words, although it's still far from flawless - and it pairs with a six-speaker stereo.
The system joins Merc's heavily redesigned 'Touch' steering wheel as the standout new features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are yet to appear, but Benz tells us it's coming post launch, and will likely be rolled out as a no-cost option.
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.
Aside from the new nine-speed automatic offered in the FWD version, the engines and transmission options are carried over from the current models, although they do now offer a little more oomph.
That means a 2.1-litre diesel good for 84kW and 250Nm, 105kW and 330Nm, or 120kW and 360Nm, as well as the diesel V6 that produces 140kW and 440Nm. They're paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic in RWD versions, while the FWD can now choose the new gearbox.
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.
Mercedes is yet to confirm fuel use for the 84KW engine, but the mid-spec diesel will use 8.0L/100km - the very same as the most powerful 120kW option in the four-cylinder range. Updated numbers for the big 3.0-litre V6 haven't been revealed yet, either.
All those numbers are calculated on the claimed combined cycle.
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.
It's utterly car-like. There's really no other way to describe it. Despite the fact you're dragging a cargo area big enough to swallow an Ikea showroom, the mass is largely unnoticeable from the driver's seat. In fact, if it wasn't for the way the sky-high driving position perches you above the steering wheel, it would be very easy to forget you're driving a van at all.
We only sampled one drivetrain combination - the 2.1-litre diesel paired with the seven-speed transmission, both of which carry over from the outgoing model, housed in a mid-wheelbase version - and the engine proved smooth and refined, gathering speed with nary a clatter or rattle in the cabin. It's not overly quick, but the low-down urge of the 360Nm (it appears at 1400rpm) is plenty willing to drag the Sprinter away from the lights.
With the window down, the diesel noise is far more noticeable, but the sound insulation does a great job of locking the noise outside when the cabin is sealed.
Even the steering feels surprisingly responsive, but with a reassuring lack of sharpness that mirth otherwise have you feeling like you're about to topple over. In a moment of pure madness, we pointed the Sprinter's massive nose at a climbing, twisting road, and while you're unlikely to win any hillclimb challenges,it doesn't feel overly top-heavy, either, and it will happily rumble to the top of most any mountain you should encounter.
Most importantly, though, the cabin is comfortable, mostly quiet, and feels less jittery or bouncy than plenty of dual-cab utes. With about 350 kilogram load on board, the ride was firm but not uncomfortable - exactly what we'd want from a van of this size.
And now, a small caveat. We were treated to a fairly limited test-drive on European roads that were ridiculously smooth, so we'll reserve full judgement on how the Sprinter responds to Australian conditions until it arrives locally in Q4 this year.
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.
Benz should be commended for rolling out AEB as standard across the range for this 2019 update, which also includes new side airbags for the front seats, joining the dual-front bags from the outgoing model.
Active lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, active cruise and a 360-degree camera have also become available, but if and where they arrive as standard is yet to be confirmed. Expect cross-wind control to reappear, too.
The Sprinter has not undergone ANCAP crash testing.
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.