MR AND MRS POPULAR
THE PRADO IS AUSTRALIA’S BEST-SELLING 4X4 WAGON FOR GOOD REASON. MANY GOOD REASONS IN FACT.
OTHER than a short period back in 2014 when Jeep Grand Cherokee sales were peaking, the Prado has long been Australia’s best-selling 4x4 wagon. Before the rise in popularity of 4x4 utes it was Australia’s best-selling 4x4 overall. The Prado is now the default Land Cruiser, given the 200’s ritzy pricing (and possibly larger size) is not to everyone’s liking. In many ways, not least in size, the Prado is today’s 80 or 100 Series – in their day the most popular 4x4s.
The Prado is a proper Land Cruiser, a 150 Series to be precise. That’s something often not acknowledged and even denied – just because it’s smaller than a 200 doesn’t mean it’s a lesser vehicle.
The big question is: What Prado from the nine-model range is the pick? Discounting the three petrol models, there are two ways to go with the diesel. If you’re planning on building a bush tourer then the five-seat GX, probably in manual, is the only way to go. However, if you want more of a general-duties, day-to-day family 4x4, then we think it’s worth bypassing the popular GXL auto and going for a VX.
Trouble is the VX is an additional $12K over and above the $61,990 GXL auto, which seems like a lot until you drive the two back-to-back. The VX offers far sportier and flatter on-road handing and better offroad performance, thanks to longer and more supple wheel travel. The difference is the VX’S Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), a brilliantly simple hydromechanical system that automatically adjusts the tension on the suspension’s sway bars. KDSS is standard on the VX but unfortunately unavailable on the GXL, even as an option.
The VX also ups the ante with leather, heated front- and second-row seats, electric seat and steering wheel adjustment, powerfold third-row seating, auto headlights and wipers, a 17-speaker premium audio system and front parking sensors. You also get 18s instead of 17s, but the tyre spec is still very bush-friendly.
Compared to the previous 3.0-litre diesel, the new 2.8-litre diesel is noticeably quieter, smoother and more flexible, but it doesn’t offer a significant jump in outright performance.
As ever, the Prado cabin is comfortable, roomy and nicely detailed, especially at the VX spec. Practical features, such as the 150-litre fuel tank, are all supported by an extensive dealer network. Plus there’s a vast array of aftermarket enhancements available.