LOOK AT THAT FACE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - Joshua Dowling

THE up­dated Toy­ota Prado has gone to 2009 with the start­ing price for the facelifted four-wheel-drive.

The Prado GX is $55,990 plus on-road costs, while the rest of the range in­creases by less than $500 de­spite the ad­di­tion of new tech and kit. In ad­di­tion to the un­usual nose — the over-sized grille ap­pears to be in­spired by Mahin­dra of In­dia, and ele­phant-ear head­lights — it gets trail­er­sway con­trol, a new au­dio and in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and a dig­i­tal speed dis­play.

Third-row seat ac­cess has been im­proved with a wider-open­ing sec­ond row seat. The op­tion for the ad­di­tional two seats on the GX is $2500. it’s stan­dard on the rest of the range.

As be­fore, most of the heavy-duty 4WD hard­ware (sus­pen­sion and rear diff lock) and tech­nol­ogy (hill crawl modes and front-view cam­era) are avail­able only on the dear­est mod­els, which buy­ers are pre­sum­ably loath to scratch let alone take off-road.

GX gains a rear view cam­era, new 17-inch sixspoke al­loys, au­dio con­trols on the steer­ing wheel and a new six-speaker dis­play au­dio. GXL gets the dis­play au­dio, plus heated and power-re­tractable ex­te­rior mir­rors. VX gets new 18s, LED lights and day­time run­ning lights, radar cruise, blind zone warn­ing, and an up­dated KDSS sys­tem (to ad­just the sus­pen­sion to bet­ter clam­ber over ob­sta­cles). In­side there’s a new touch­screen 17- speaker JBL pre­mium mul­ti­me­dia au­dio sys­tem and dig­i­tal ra­dio, and heated sec­ond-row seats.

Kakadu gains rear diff lock, radar cruise, blind zone warn­ing and a nineinch Blu-ray screen with three wire­less head­phones.

The un­changed 4.0-litre V6 petrol and 3.0-litre four­cylin­der turbo diesel en­gines re­main among the most fru­gal in the large 4WD class (11.5L/100km and 8.5L re­spec­tively).

Much qui­eter thanks to the ad­di­tion of noise dead­en­ing be­tween the cabin and the en­gine bay, the Prado still drives like the pre­vi­ous model.

The Prado may be able to con­quer moun­tains but cau­tion is still re­quired for any­one con­sid­er­ing mak­ing the leap from a reg­u­lar car and into the driver’s seat of one of th­ese. Its tall nar­row body can feel ner­vous in cor­ners. The chunky tyres are de­signed to avoid punc­tures in the desert, so they don’t have as much grip on reg­u­lar roads. Only en­thu­si­asts should ap­ply.

If you want a large sev­enseater for the school run buy a Kluger or Mazda CX-9. They’re nicer to drive and cheaper to buy.

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