NO-FRILLS OPTION GETS JOB DONE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.