Last week drove the updated Toyota Land Cruiser Prado which has established itself as one of the most accomplished off-roaders on the South African market. While many SUV’s are bought for ‘curb appeal’, the Prado leverages its Land Cruiser DNA to deliver when the going gets tough. The Land Cruiser badge carries substantial cachet and whether it is the utility-focused 70-series, poised Prado or flagship 200-series – owners have come to rely on the robust construction and go-anywhere capability that the Land Cruiser badge signifies.
Its a big SUV, make no mistake, with it’s broad long bonnet, bulky body and broad behind, you know that you are in a solid car. Prado has been reputed to have an under powered engine, according to some motoring scribes, and this model puts that to rest properly. With a new 2.8 Litre GD-6 turbo-diesel engine, it has plenty of power at 150kw & 500 Nm of torque.
It’s apt to discuss the power-up first, and the new engine adds an additional 30kw of power, with an extra 100Nm of torque. It also adds an extra gear, to a six-speed auto box, from the previous 5-speed. Prado’s overlanding and towing credentials benefit from the higher-performance engine that now delivers a maximum of 150kW@3400rpm and 500Nm over a wider 1600-2800rpm band.
Toyota claims that the Prado delivers better fuel economy, and I drove for a week, and used just over a quarter tank of fuel. The 4.0-litre petrol engine continues unaltered (also mated to a six-speed automatic transmission). Maximum power is 202 kW at 5,600rpm, with peak torque of 381Nm delivered at 4,400rpm. Maximum braked towing capacity is increased to 3,000kg on 2.8 models. Because the Prado is so large, I liked the extra power that Sport mode delivered, but there is Eco, and Normal modes, if you don’t want to go vroom.
A new-generation multimedia system is fitted across the range, which now incorporates a larger 9-inch touchscreen display (previous 8-inch), enhanced voice recognition and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Customers are able to utilise mobile-phone-services such as Google Maps, Waze, Spotify, SoundCloud etc. to enhance their driving experience – while providing enhanced telephony and messaging interfaces ‘on-the-fly’. An embedded satellite navigation system complements the aforementioned smartphone functionality – particularly useful when out of signal range.
As before a three-grade strategy is followed; TX, VX and VX-L. The TX variants come well equipped with automatic dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker touch audio system, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, illuminated entry, cruise control, park distance control, keyless entry, auto door lock, three power outlets, Bluetooth connectivity, USB, 3rd row seating and reverse camera. Seat heating and ventilation are provided for front row occupants while 2nd row occupants also benefit from seat heating. The refrigerated centre console helps make light work of road trips or bushveld excursions.
VX models amplify the comfort and convenience specification with the addition of 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 functionality for the 3rd row seats.
The flagship VX-L versions feature Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), which encompasses Pre-Collision System (PCS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Blind-Spot Monitoring (BSM), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA). In addition, the Automatic High Beam (AHB) function provides enhanced visibility via the LED headlamps when activated. A power-operated tilt-and-slide moonroof completes the VX-L package. I drove the top of range VX-L model, but probably the VX model will suffice for most enthusiasts.
I was unfortunately unable to test the Prado off-road on this occasion. But have been on a trip to Namibia with this SUV, and it performed admirably.
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. Hill Assist Control (HAC) 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) and Crawl Control are included on VX and VX-L models.
New for 2020 is the inclusion of ‘Drive Mode Select’ on 2.8 VX and VX-L variants (already standard on the V6), which offers five modes; Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Normal and Eco; to adapt vehicle dynamics according to driver preference.
All Land Cruiser Prado’s make use of a rugged body on frame construction – proven to offer the best strength and wheel articulation – with a double-wishbone front design and multi-link rear layout. TX models use conventional steel springs and dampers while VX and VX-L versions boast Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS).
KDSS employs a hydraulic system attached to the sway bars, to effectively link all four wheels thereby reducing body roll and improving wheel articulation. The KDSS system thereby offers the best of both worlds; excellent body-roll control for on-road driving, while having the ability to disengage the sway bars during off road driving – for improved wheel articulation and mechanical grip.
In addition, the VX and VX-L models also make use of Toyota’s Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) to allow adjustability of the shock absorber damping level. This is linked to the Drive Mode Select function.
Model Line-Up & Pricing
Prado 2.8L Diesel TX – R 939,900
Prado 4.0L Petrol VX – R 1,029,000
Prado 2.8L Diesel VX – R 1,060,600
Prado 4.0L Petrol VX-L – R 1,072,600
Prado 2.8L Diesel VX-L – R 1,105,800
The model line-up remains unchanged.
Warranty & Maintenance
All Prado models are sold with a 9-services/90 000 km service plan – with 10 000 km service intervals. A 3-year/100 000 km warranty is also provided. Customers can purchase an additional service plan and warranty extensions from their local Toyota dealer – and benefit from the biggest dealer network in the country (over 220).
The improvement in engine can be felt across the range, from the Hilux, to the popular Fortuner, and now the Prado. And in my mind is a massive improvement to all three. It was way overdue, and now Toyota can hold it’s head up high in that dept.