Prado has become a bit of a household name over the past two decades. It is fair to say its name resonates with off-road enthusiasts almost to the same extent as that of Land Cruiser. It’s little wonder then that Toyota chose to use the Land Cruiser name together with Prado. The aim was always to offer a 4×4 vehicle almost as capable as the hardcore Land Cruiser while being more affordable and road-biased.
Following hot on the heels of the facelifted Toyota Hilux and Fortuner, Toyota has installed several of the improvements of their bakkie and rugged load-lugger into this luxury SUV. Most importantly is the 2,8-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine which, as with the Hilux and Fortuner, means power and torque has climbed by 30 kW and 100 N.m respectively to 150 kW and 500 N.m of torque.
Unlike our usual two-week road tests, we were able to drive the Prado from Johannesburg to Cape Town over three days (acting as the back-up vehicle during the Ferrari 250 GTE drive from our March issue).
One of the Prado’s party tricks is its two fuel tanks, the combination of which gives 150 litres, lending it a fuel range unmatched by its competitors. It was during this extended road trip that the Prado excelled. At times, we were four-up with adults, jam-packed with luggage for the entire trip, including tools and photographic equipment. No matter the cargo, the Prado simply sailed along the road with the same effortlessness. Although its weight, a hefty 2,45 tonnes, can never be completely hidden, here it only lent it a relaxing nature from behind the wheel and excellent bump absorption through the suspension. Needless to say, on the less vigorous stretches of road, some passengers struggled to stay awake, that’s how cosseting the Prado’s ride quality was.
This VX model has Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS). The system features hydraulics attached to the front and rear sway bars, effectively linking each corner of the vehicle together in the process. The TX model carries the standard steel springs and dampers. In town driving, you need to remember there is a certain level of turbo lag from the motor and to anticipate gaps and crossing junctions you have to press the accelerator a little earlier than in other cars.
When we finally got back to Cape Town, on our test strip we didn’t expect fireworks in terms of acceleration. The best 0-100 km/h acceleration result was a time of 11,38 seconds. That is fast enough for a car weighing this much, with a four-cylinder engine. During braking, the Prado swerved a little during two of the 10 emergency braking runs, otherwise, it did an average job in our books: 3,3 seconds and 46,25 metres.
This facelift features several new technologies, including an updated multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Drive Mode Select is now also available on the turbodiesel, featuring Comfort, Sport, Sport + (in a Prado), Normal and Eco settings. More importantly for buyers considering using this model for towing, the braked towing figure for the turbodiesel has been increased to a full three tonnes.
The cabin has an overall aura of quality and sturdiness. There are a few hard plastics and some of the technology and graphics seem a little dated compared to the latest tech out there. Examples of the latter include the infotainment screen and the fact that the cabin has only a single USB port when cars costing much less have two or more.
There is a copious amount of space for the front and rear occupants and the driver has a commanding view over the long, proud bonnet with indents running the length of the fenders. You are never in any doubt about its imperiousness and size but when you arrive in a parking lot, you will need to exercise caution. However, fitted with parking sensors and cameras on all corners, the job of parking is a little easier.
The beauty of the Land Cruiser Prado is that Toyota is keeping true to the Prado’s tradition and core elements. There is no hidden agenda of trying to push the envelope and make it some sort of dynamic SUV. It remains a luxurious conveyance that is built to tow, venture off-road and carry its occupants in comfort anywhere. The fact that it can run on 500 ppm diesel (according to Toyota) is an attractive proposition for the true adventurers who might want to venture into Africa. Keep in mind that precious few modern turbodiesel SUVs can run on 500 ppm nowadays.
Toyota might be somewhat conservative in how they introduce a new product; however, more often than not, it is a necessary approach to ensure these products can be trusted and fully exploited in all scenarios. In that respect the new Prado is, as always, one of the best.
Price:R1 150 500
Engine:2,8-litre, 4-cyl, turbocharged diesel
Power:150 kW @ 3 000 - 3 400 r/min
Torque:500 N.m @ 1 600 - 2 800 r/min
0-100 km/h:11,38 seconds (Tested April 2021)
Top Speed:175 km/h (claimed)
Fuel Consumption:8,7 L/100 km (CAR fuel route)