Recently had the opportunity to tick off a bucket list by driving up the iconic Sani Pass in the Southern Drakensberg, as well as drive the updated Toyota Prado. Part of the legendary Land Cruiser models it remains a firm favorite with off-road drivers for its ability to combine outstanding quality, durability and reliability with unrivalled off-road performance and ever-greater levels of luxury, comfort and ownership prestige.
Land Cruiser is the most widely available model in the global Toyota product range – being sold in more than 190 countries worldwide.
Its unmatched off-road abilities have earned it a rock-solid reputation as one of the world’s toughest and most reliable 4x4s. In South Africa, the Land Cruiser range has a cult-like following with off-roading enthusiasts admiration deeply rooted in the legendary robustness and go-anywhere-ability of the Land Cruiser brand.
The new Land Cruiser Prado enhances this reputation with more modern and robust exterior styling, a more sophisticated, comfortable and higher quality interior, and improvements to its user-friendliness, both on and off-road.
The Prado has always been a substantial looking SUV in the large segment. It has an imposing presence, but has had to be enhanced to stay relevant with the likes of the Volvo V90 and the Discovery. It has been increased in length by 60mm to 4,840mm and has an admirable turning circle for such a large car at 5.8 m. The new front elements like the sculpted bonnet, new grille,headlamps & bumper give it more purpose and looks great. It has a good ground clearance and is reknowned for its off-road prowess.The headlight main beams have been situated to avoid damage when driving off-road.
The headlamp clusters comprise high and low beams, front turn indicators and daytime running lights, contained in a distinctive housing. TX models utilise halogen bulbs, whilst VX and VX-L models feature high brightness LED units. All models feature LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and foglamps, in addition to automatic light control system, as standard.
The sharply trimmed lower section of the body reinforces the Prado’s broad stance and minimises the impact of the front overhang on the vehicle’s off-road approach angle. Ground clearance is 215mm, with 31-degree approach, 25-degree departure and 22-degree ramp break-over angles.
The vehicle’s profile is further enhanced by stylish new alloy wheels; 17-inch alloys on TX and high-gloss painted 18-inch rims on VX and VX-L derivatives.
New elements at the rear include a redesigned lamp cluster (featuring two stacked C-shapes) with an LED stop light; a smaller rear garnish plate and a restyled bumper.
The new Prado has a new eight-inch, full-colour multimedia screen, a flush-fitting air conditioning control panel and the drivetrain-related instrument cluster.
The controls for driving and comfort functions are located in separate panels for ease of use, positioned behind a new, leather-trimmed gear lever. They include switches to operate new integrated heating and ventilation for the front seats.
The centre console features a silver textured finish with a metallic effect. Soft pads are provided on either side to cushion the driver and front passenger’s knees.
The luxury and sophistication of the interior are amplified by new white illumination for the instrument panel, centre console and door-mounted switches. The new cabin lighting scheme uses LEDs for the front footwells, headlining, glove box and door panels.
Two interior colour schemes are available: Black and new elegant ‘Neutral Beige’. A matte-finish Walnut wood trim is paired with the Black interior, whilst the Beige iteration is paired with a modernistic matte “blonde wood” accent.
No other SUV offers Prado’s combination of off-road performance and on-road competency. Its powerful road presence and high levels of on-board technology mark it down as a premium 4×4 with a perfect blend of go-anywhere capability, comfort and refinement.
Where you want to go, Land Cruiser Prado will take you there – and bring you back. No more was this felt on the steep and windy road up the Sani Pass, which thankfully had no snow or rain on it on the day, which make it a daunting thought indeed.
The Prado range has traditionally consisted of two grades, the mid-level TX and high-grade VX. For the first time, a new third grade, called VX-L has been added to the model line-up.
The VX-L model combines all the features of the VX whilst adding a power-operated tilt-and-slide moonroof and comprehensive active safety assistance package to the mix.
TX models inherit the much favoured ‘coolbox’ located in the centre console binnacle. In keeping with the cool-theme, all models are now equipped with seat ventilation for driver and passenger -in addition to the seat-heating function (for first and second row occupants). This kept or water for the road at a pleasnt temp in the hot summer weather.
The top-tier VX and VX-L models are outfitted with Satellite Navigation and an enhanced surround-view Multi Terrain Monitor camera system which also includes Panoramic and overhead view modes. The 14-speaker Premium touchscreen infotainment system incorporates a tablet-like design and easy to operate switchgear.
The standard convenience specification list is of course befitting the stature of the Land Cruiser Prado: automatic dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker touch audio system, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, illuminated entry, cruise control, park distance control, keyless entry, three power outlets, Bluetooth connectivity, USB, 3rd row seating and reverse camera.
High grade models add memory function for the driver’s seat, a 14-speaker Premium audio system with woofer, multi-information display, power tilt-and-telescopic steering adjustment, rain-sensing wipers and power-fold-down 3rd row seats.
The Land Cruiser Prado retains the proven 3.0 D-4D engine, offering 120 kW and 400 Nm available between 1,600-2,800 rpm. This is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission with gear ratios optimized for low-speed tractability and off-road use. This powertrain felt slightly under -powered, and seemed to strive for breathe when over taking.
The 4.0-litre petrol engine uses a six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum power is 202 kW at 5,600rpm, with peak torque of 381Nm delivered at 4,400rpm. Pick of the powertrains, this one is powerful and effortless in its approach.
All Prado models feature Toyota’s Active Traction Control system (A-TRAC), which actively regulates wheel-slip, by directing torque to the wheel with the most traction. The system is capable of applying braking pressure to wheels individually to maximise traction. A low-range transmission with user-selectable rear and centre diff-locks and Hill Assist Control (HAC), naturally forms part of the standard ensemble.
The Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) system (VX and VX-L only), operated by a centrally mounted rotary knob, allows the driver to select the correct mode depending on the ‘road’ ahead. The system has five pre-configured modes (mud & sand, loose rock, mogul, rock & dirt and rock),
to tailor the vehicle’s traction control, transmission characteristics, power delivery and suspension settings to the terrain at hand. Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is included on VX and VX-L models.
The 4.0 V6 derivatives additionally feature ‘Drive Mode Select’ which offers five modes; Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Normal and Eco; to adapt vehicle dynamics according to driver preference.
The package includes a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with pedestrian detection function, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) and Automatic High Beam (AHB). The Adaptive Cruise Control system uses radar sensors in the front grille to monitor the distance to the vehicle in front and applies corrective action via both throttle and brake inputs to maintain a specified ‘gap’.
The driver can choose from three pre-selected distances via a steering mounted button when the system is operating in this dynamic mode. The system also allows toggling between traditional constant speed and adaptive modes based on driver preference.
Further driver support is provided in the form of a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (both VX and VX-L) and an upgraded tyre pressure warning system – with digital read out in the multi-information display.
These active safety systems complement the standard seven airbags and comprehensive brake and stability control systems (ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, VSC, Trailer Sway Control and aforementioned Traction Control).
Warranty and Service
All Land Cruiser Prado models include a 5 year/90 000 kilometre service plan and 3 year/100 000 kilometre warranty.
Model Line-up and Pricing
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0D TX – R 821 700
Land Cruiser Prado 4.0 V6 VX – R 930 000
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0D VX – R 932 400
Land Cruiser Prado 4.0 V6 VX-L – R 967 200
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0D VX-L – R 969 600
The Prado is a big player in the premium SUV segment, Many pundits might suggest that the Prado does not have the elements any more to match the competitors. Me personally, I would pick it 9 times of of 10, it has a great drive feel, and gives one a feeling of reliability and strength, backed up by its dealer network throughout Southern Africa and beyond, it would be a good choice.