Like many off road vehicles Toyota’s Land Cruiser began life as a military developed machine and has a history that stretches all the way back to the Second World War. The Prado is the lighter sibling to the full-strength Land Cruiser and has a family tree which retreats only as far as the 1980s. But the Prado can mix it up off road and still fit easier into one place the big mud-munching Land Cruiser can’t — suburban garages. Now in its fourth generation the Prado is marching back into the NZ market with familiar styling and a few new tricks in its backpack. Car and SUV mounted up with a top-spec Prado VX Ltd to see what it’s made of.
In terms of exterior appearance the new Prado is a clear evolution of the outgoing model, dimensions have increased in length (80mm), width (10mm) while height has decreased (15mm). This gives the Prado a stocky, assured stance and a more streamlined body shape with under-body panels has reduced the aerodynamic figure to 0.35Cd. A new three-dimensional grille, teardrop headlights and a curvaceous bonnet shape make for a modern face. In profile the Prado has a high beltline and flared rear wheel arches giving a robust look. Integrated roof rails and privacy glass are handy additions and on the Ltd model 18-inch alloys and side steps are included. Out back, LED tail lamps and a high rear spoiler round off what’s a curvy yet tough aesthetic.
Inside there is seating for six passengers and a whole arsenal of tricks. The third row of seats is stowed under the floor and rises with the push of a button. Unlike most occasional seating that’s best suited to children the Prado’s back pew can easily accommodate adults. Second row seating is also very good and although the middle occupant is left with a narrow space leg and headroom is generous. Up front the driver and passenger have wide supportive seats offering multiple adjustment and finished in soft leather.
Dashboard ergonomics are well thought out and while the amount of buttons may seem overwhelming at first all controls are well sectioned. A large 9″ multi-function screen sits on top of the central stack with climate controls, audio controls and off-road settings all found underneath. The mixture of dark plastics, contrasting silver trim, leather and wood grain make for a busy appearance but contributes to the overall luxury look.
When it comes to equipment the Prado Ltd is fully loaded with too much to list here. Highlights include 3 zone climate control, 6-disc 14 speaker stereo, cool box, dynamic radar cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, roof-mounted DVD player, rain sensing wipers, illuminated side steps, multi-function steering wheel with Bluetooth controls and a handy 220V rear power outlet for running small appliances. The Prado also has three cameras onboard, at the front, side and back, which display on the cabin screen and assist in navigating tight terrain.
So what powers this rolling fortress? A 3-litre diesel engine is the only option for the Prado in NZ. This 4-cylinder unit makes use of a variable vane turbo charger and produces 127kW of power and 410Nm of torque. It’s a flexible engine that has usable acceleration and a good dose of mid-range torque for shifting the Prado’s hefty 2365kg kerb weight. That said it isn’t as refined as some other modern diesel motors and rattles can be heard at idle and under load.
The improved aerodynamics and a slick 5-speed auto transmission have resulted in an impressive 8.5L/100km fuel economy. Pulling power is strong with the Prado boasting a 2500kg braked towing capacity.
On-road the Prado is a surprisingly confident cruiser that offers a good ride and a high comfort level. The suspension is compliant and surpasses what’s generally expected of an off-road ready SUV. During cornering there is an expected level of body roll but the wide tyres provide a good level of grip. The power assisted rack and pinion steering is precise but a notch on the light side and doesn’t firm up on the open road.
Off-road the Prado is all business and sits on a rugged ladder chassis with body-on-frame construction. The all-coil suspension set up allows the wheels long-travel and combined with a 220mm minimum ground clearance makes for a capable machine. The 4WD system is a full-time set up with a Torsen limited slip centre differential. Hill-start Assist and a clever Downhill Assist Control system that can work in reverse are included as standard kit. An optional off road package is available for the serious enthusiast and includes a multi-terrain select feature to optimise settings for, sand, mud, loose rocks, moguls and hard rock. Other special features in the optional package include a CRAWL control system, multi-terrain ABS and an electrically controlled rear diff lock.
No corners have been cut when it comes to safety and the Prado has a full cache of airbags with front/middle/rear curtains and a driver’s knee airbag included. There are impact bars in the doors, a pre-crash warning system and stability control with active traction control. These safety features combined with the Prado’s generous size and robust build quality make for a very safe family hauler.
The Land Cruiser Prado is an impressively advanced SUV but with a price tag just shy of $105,000 it really needs to be. Solid effort has been put into its on-road dynamics and it does move well on the street. However, there are still handling and refinement compromises made to cater for strong off road abilities. To get the most value out of the Prado it really needs to be taken off road, because that’s where it shines brightest. If you’re looking at the high-end of rugged med/large SUVs and you intend to use it on a variety of surfaces the Prado provides a strong option. If you’re staying permanently on the tarmac, you could save money and be better served by a more road-focussed vehicle. Whatever your intentions the Prado is a spacious, highly equipped, safe family vehicle with a good reliability record and is definitely worth a look.
Price: $104,990 (Base model GX $78,940)
What we like:
- Plenty of useful equipment
- Safety features
- Off-road capability, Economical
What we don’t like:
- Diesel engine can be noisy
- Light steering
- Top-spec model is pricey
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (2010) – Specifications
Engine Model Code 1KD-FTV
Type In-Line, 4 Cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC, Common Rail Diesel with Turbocharger and Intercooler
Alternator 100 amps
Battery Voltage 12 volts
Bore 96 mm
Capacity 2982 cc
Configuration In-line 4 cylinder
Emission 225 g/km
Fuel Tank Capacity 87 litres
Fuel Type Diesel
Injection Type Common Rail Direct Injection
Location Front, Longitudinal
Maximum Power 127 kW 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque 410 Nm 1600-2800 rpm
Starter 2.2 kW
Stroke 103 mm
Fuel Economy Rating 4 out of 6
Front Track 1585 mm
Rear Track 1585 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 2990 kg
Kerb Weight 2315-2365 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 220 mm
Overall Height 1880 mm
Overall Length 4760 mm
Overall Width 1885 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 2500 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 750 kg
Wheelbase 2790 mm
Front Fully Independent Double Wishbone Type with Coil Springs and Stabiliser Bar
Rear 4 Link Rigid Axle Type with Lateral Control Rod, Coil Springs, Stabiliser Bar and Rear Active Height Control
Description 5 Speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission (ECT) with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Lock-Up Torque Convertor
Drive Type Full-time 4 wheel drive with high/low ratio and Centre Locking Differential
Diff Type Front – Standard; Centre – Torsen LSD; Rear – Standard
Tyre Size 265/60 R18
Wheel Size 7.5J x 18″
Wheel Type Alloy