NO-FRILLS OP­TION GETS JOB DONE

Herald Sun - Motoring - - MOTORING - Joshua Dowling

VALUE

The Prado’s lat­est facelift re­places the ver­ti­cal “ele­phant ears” head­light de­sign with more con­ven­tional, hor­i­zon­tal head­lamps, tougher look­ing grille, new bumper and dark ac­cented tail-lights. Most vari­ants gain au­to­matic emergency brak­ing but not man­u­als (such as the one we tested, the GX five-seater from $58,450 drive-away, the cheap­est ticket into a Prado). Auto lifts the price to $61,600 and the auto-only seven seat GX is $64,200 drive-away. The au­dio touch­screen is big­ger, nav­i­ga­tion and CD player are stan­dard, though there’s still no Ap­ple CarPlay or An­droid Auto. The base model gets a con­ve­nient sen­sor key with push but­ton start but not auto head­lights. The war­ranty is only three years/100,000km, ser­vice in­ter­vals are short at six months/10,000km but the first six ser­vices are just $220 each. Be­yond that, ser­vice costs rise dra­mat­i­cally.

COM­FORT

The GX is a com­fort­able place to be. The qual­ity of the ma­te­ri­als is ex­cel­lent, the seats are su­per com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, and there is am­ple stor­age in the doors, glove­box and a gi­ant, deep cen­tre con­sole. There’s no short­age of room front or back. The Prado is sur­pris­ingly re­fined. It’s a quiet and smooth op­er­a­tor with plenty of sound dead­en­ing be­tween the cabin and diesel en­gine. The off-road tyres are quiet, too.

SAFETY

Seven airbags and the Prado re­tains its ear­lier five-star ANCAP rat­ing — if tested to cur­rent stan­dards, the lack of au­to­matic emergency brak­ing (AEB) would make it in­el­i­gi­ble for a fives­tar score. Min­ing and govern­ment fleets stip­u­late five-star ve­hi­cles, tech­ni­cally elim­i­nat­ing man­ual Pra­dos. A rear cam­era is stan­dard but the dis­play is not as clear or as sharp as in other cars — or other Toy­otas. The guiding lines still don’t turn with the steer­ing and rear park­ing sen­sors are not stan­dard on the GX. Press­ing a but­ton to can­cel park­ing beeps ev­ery time you re­verse a trailer can be­come an­noy­ing.

DRIV­ING

The 2.8-litre turbo diesel can’t match the power of some ri­vals but it’s a smooth and ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tor. The six-speed man­ual is a gem, work­ing well with the en­gine’s torque, but tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 2500kg — the auto can haul 3000kg. Ride com­fort is ex­cel­lent thanks to the cushy off-road tyres but they don’t turn as sharply as road-bi­ased rub­ber, so you need to take it easy in round­abouts and tight turns, es­pe­cially in the wet. Other mod­els get a dig­i­tal speedo. Long range fuel tanks mean you can get more than 1100km be­tween re­fills.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

MIT­SUBISHI PA­JERO SPORT FROM $42,990 D/A A cheaper al­ter­na­tive, has a five-year war­ranty and stan­dard auto but is not as ca­pa­ble off-road. ISUZU MU-X LS-U FROM $45,990 D/A

De­pend­able 3.0-litre turbo diesel, also with

five-year war­ranty and stan­dard auto but it’s not in the same league as the Prado. FORD EVER­EST 4WD FROM ABOUT $57,700 D/A

Ute-de­rived SUV that’s pitched as a ri­val to the Prado, feels more sure-footed on-road and comes with stan­dard auto. Ca­pa­ble off-road, but won’t get as far as the Toy­ota.

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