New Prado the most refined ever
■ Toyota has launched the first leg of an engine trifecta with its all-new 2.8-litre turbo four-cylinder diesel power plant.
The impressively quiet, yet torquey oil burner makes its debut in a mid-life upgrade of the Prado 4WD, with the HiLux workhorse to come followed by an all-new model, the Toyota Fortuner SUV, both due in dealerships in October. This engine replaces the 3.0-litre turbodiesel.
The first turbo-diesel to grace Prado came in the year 2000 and by 2006 diesel-powered Prado overtook petrol sales.
This new turbo-diesel engine produces up to 450Nm of torque from a low rev base and 130kW of power at 3400rpm.
After our first drive of Prado with its new heart our overall impression was that of a quiet achiever. Many drivers will find it difficult to tell the difference between this engine and a quiet petrol unit.
Along with a new six-speed automatic transmission the 2016 Prado is the most refined Prado in the vehicle’s 20-year history.
We would also venture to say this is the most refined large 4WD on the market, a segment Prado has dominated since being released, and looks set to continue.
Toyota launched the upgraded Prado out of Canberra with an off-road component at the Toyota LandCruiser Owners Club facility at Willowglen, around 80km from the nation’s capital. It was here Prado confirmed it was as good offroad as refined on the road.
Despite diesel Prado commanding 98.8 per cent of sales, Toyota will continue to sell the petrol 4.0litre V6 variant to ensure Prado does not lose sales to petrol 4WD competitors.
It will also continue to offer a manual in GX and GXL variants — a six speed — for those who prefer to swap gears themselves.
Unfortunately, the upgrade did not address two other issues.
Towing rate remains at 2500 kg — well below the accepted norm of 3000 kg in the segment — and a rear diff lock is only available on the top of the line Prado Kakadu.
It is not even available as an option on the rest of the Prado stable — vehicles more likely to be taken off-road than the luxury $80,000 plus Kakadu. Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the towing issue was one of Toyota being a conservative company.
“In other markets Prado has a rating of 3000kg, but climate factors in Australia where some areas can be extremely hot mean that the company takes a typical conservative approach to towing rates,” he said.
“The vehicle can tow 3000kg, that’s beyond doubt.”
Australian buyers would be taking a risk to exceed the 2500kg limit as any accident or breakdown could void the vehicle warranty or insurance claim. Towing issues aside Prado is well placed to continue its dominance in the big 4WD segment with the inclusion of this quiet turbo diesel.
Conservative in nature, Toyota’s Prado has timeless styling.