Off-road with all mod cons
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.