Toyota Land Cruiser Prado review
Adventure in comfort
Have you always dreamed of exploring the wilds of Botswana, the desert of Namibia or the endless coastline of Mozambique? Or have your dreams stretched even further away, to the shores of Lake Tanganyika and beyond? Perhaps it’s time to turn armchair adventures into real ones with a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, one of the most competent all-rounders available.
Part of the Land Cruiser family, the Prado is a rugged 4x4 vehicle with a full host of off-road driving features, but it is also a premium family vehicle with seating for seven and everything you need to be comfortable and entertained on long trips (or lengthy commutes!).
Under the bonnet of the new Prado, launched in 2017, is the familiar 3-litre D-4D turbodiesel engine that produces 120kW and 400Nm, paired with a five-speed automatic gearbox. You might wonder why the new Prado is fitted with a 3-litre turbodiesel engine while the new Hilux and Fortuner have 2.8-litre turbodiesels under the bonnet. Well, the Hilux engine is built for more modern markets and needs 50ppm fuel to run whereas the old Prado 3-litre will keep going on virtually any fuel you can find. (Local Hilux’s and Fortuner’s get a modified engine that can cope with the fuel, but the Prado’s local sales figures don’t justify the expense of this localised modification). In real life, this means that many of the Prado’s modern peers are limited in how far they can go from modern, 50ppm diesel petrol pumps, while the Prado can adventure anywhere in Africa. If you want something more powerful, you can always choose the 4-litre V6 petrol Prado, which produces 202kW and 381Nm, and uses a six-speed automatic gearbox (but 4 out of 5 Prado’s sold in SA are diesel).
One last word on fuel – the Prado is fitted with a 150-litre fuel tank ((actually an 87-litre tank and a 63-litre sub-tank) that is good for 1200km or so, using the claimed 8.5L/100km. This is brilliant for those long adventures away from the amenities of cities.
There’s another thing that marks the Prado as a true explorer – it has a tough-as-nails body-on-frame construction, which is now unique in the large SUV segment. Allied to this old-school technology are very advanced all-terrain support systems that help even unskilled drivers make the most of the off-road potential. These systems include traction control (which directs torque to the wheel with the most traction), and a low-range transmission with rear and centre diff-locks and Hill Assist Control (HAC). Combine all of this with 215mm of ground clearance and you’ve got a true 4x4 vehicle ready for expedition life.
You want to be comfy though, and to this end even the entry-level Prado TX is fitted with full leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, electric wondows, cruise control and automatic lights and windsreen wipers. In terms of safety, a full host of passive and active safety systems is fitted, including front, side and curtain airbags.
The Prado isn’t Toyota’s most rugged and extreme off-road vehicle (that would be the Land Cruiser 76), but it is probably the best all-round expedition vehicle available today.
Prices for the Prado start at R855 500 for the 3.0D TX and escalate to R1 009 200 for the 3.0D VX-L. All Land Cruiser Prado models include a 9 services /100 000 km service plan and 3 year/100 000 km warranty.
Rugged reliability from the tried-and-tested mechanicals
High comfort levels
Incredible resale value