Off-road with all mod cons

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con­trol, which al­lows the driver to nom­i­nate a dis­tance from the car ahead and the ve­hi­cle will be­gin brak­ing if it gets too close.

The Prado diesel (in any guise) is a for­mi­da­ble 4WD, with 32-de­gree ap­proach an­gle and 220mm ground clear­ance. Even on stan­dard tyres it has good off-bi­tu­men abil­i­ties. And with all the gear, the Kakadu jus­ti­fies its price. As well as hill-start as­sist and down­hill con­trol, it has height ad­justable rear sus­pen­sion con­trolled by a dash­board knob.

It raises 40mm to give the body ex­tra clear­ance (re­vert­ing to nor­mal at 50km/h) or low­ers 20mm to aid rear load­ing (re­turn­ing to nor­mal at 12km/h).

Push but­tons let the driver se­lect a locked cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial, turn off the sta­bil­ity con­trol, and se­lect be­tween com­fort, nor­mal and sport shock ab­sorber set­tings.

It is con­stant 4WD. Low range is se­lected with a dash­board ro­tary knob.

Toy­ota claims the ABS sys­tem will ‘‘read’’ the sur­face and ad­just ac­cord­ingly.

The diesel en­gine works away with­out com­plaint and is pretty well matched to the five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with se­quen­tial shift. The com­puter showed an ac­cept­able 10.5 litres/ 100km in sub­ur­ban driv­ing. By the end of our hol­i­day driv­ing it read an av­er­age 8.4 litres/100km — an ex­cel­lent fig­ure given it in­cluded 110km/h free­way run­ning and a beach drive in a 2.5-tonne wagon.

Prado Kakadu lux­ury touches in­clude a leather in­te­rior, sat-nav, rear cam­era and re­vers­ing guide, rear seat DVD with fold-down screen plus head­phones, multi-in­for­ma­tion dis­play touch screen to set up ve­hi­cle func­tions (hours of fun here with the owner’s hand­book on your lap), power sun­roof, a 14-speaker pre­mium sound sys­tem, three-zone air­con, a large cen­tre con­sole bin that can be used as a fridge, heated front seats, me­mory po­si­tion driver seat, and a steer­ing wheel that folds out of the way au­to­mat­i­cally for en­try and exit.

A for­ward-fac­ing cam­era helps with park­ing and hav­ing a squizz at the ter­rain im­me­di­ately in front of the ve­hi­cle (we’d like this to have an ad­justable lens, the stan­dard one be­ing a very wide an­gle).

Kakadu stands out lit­tle from a $60,000 GXL Prado on the out­side.

But once your friends are in­side, you’ll daz­zle them with its good­ies.

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