At home every­where

BRIAN BAS­SETT takes to the hills to dis­cover why the Prado can still take on all new­com­ers

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THE prob­lem with driv­ing an icon is that you ex­pect a great deal from it. Since 1951, when the orig­i­nal Land Cruiser was launched it has be­come syn­ony­mous with en­durance, dura­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

Turn on your TV and you will see the Land Cruiser Prado marked with the let­ter­ing of the United Na­tions in North Africa and with the mark­ings of the Red Cross in war zones around the world.

The Land Cruiser Prado has been on Arc­tic ex­pe­di­tions car­ry­ing sup­plies to the white waste­land at the top of the world and into the Ama­zon jun­gles bring­ing re­lief to iso­lated ex­pe­di­tions.

Like all iconic ve­hi­cles ev­ery­one seems to have a story about the Prado. Mine con­cerns a friend who has a Land Cruiser Prado which is now some 10 years old.

He has to go to Zam­bia reg­u­larly on fam­ily busi­ness and has been there four times this year.

To date the Prado has done some 400 000 kilo­me­tres and he tells me he has no plans to re­tire the ve­hi­cle.


The Prado has a dy­namic and ag­gres­sive front end dom­i­nated by a heavy grill and cen­trally placed Toy­ota badge, flanked by adap­tive head­lights and fog lamps built into the bumper.

The high sides of the Prado are molded to pro­duce flared wheel arches and colour- coded elec­tri­cally- op­er­ated heated side mir­rors. The rear is largely taken up by the rear door with its at­tached spare wheel and rear light­ing.

De­spite the fact that the Prado is qui­etly styled and has not changed much over the years, it is nonethe­less dis­tinc­tive and stands out in any park­ing lot.


The Prado has a lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior of the high­est qual­ity.

The ve­hi­cle I drove was fin­ished in leather and soft plas­tics. The elec­tri­cally- op­er­ated seats were com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, with built in mem­ory so you do not have to hunt for your favourite seat­ing po­si­tion.

The fully- ad­justable, mul­ti­func­tion leather and wood steer­ing wheel takes care of the fine multi- speaker sound sys­tem as well as the au­dio Blue­tooth func­tion and multi ter­rain mon­i­tor, in­for­ma­tion dis­play and voice recog­ni­tion func­tion and speed con­trol.

The cen­tral stack is dom­i­nated by a screen op­er­ated by a large knob, which dis­plays a range of func­tions like the ra­dio and GPS.

The high driv­ing po­si­tion is com­fort­able and the con­trols are eas­ily viewed and op­er­ated.

The gear lever for the auto box is fin­ished in leather and wood, and is par­tic­u­larly tac­tile.

In five- seat for­mat the Prado takes five adults eas­ily and of­fers a huge boot space be­hind the sec­ond row of seats.

Just in­side the rear door is a but­ton which raises and low­ers two ad­di­tional seats, which are easy to ac­cess and even for a large chap like me, make for com­fort­able long- dis­tance seat­ing. Even with seven seats in place the boot is still large enough for a fam­ily’s week­end lug­gage, or if you are off to the bush, for your tent and moun­tain bikes.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Prado is built to un­der­take mis­sions any­where in the world in safety and com­fort.

Whether it is col­lect­ing you fam­ily from school, or work­ing for an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion in North Africa or Afghanistan, the Land Cruiser Prado is equipped to do the job.

The Prado is all- wheel drive and has just about ev­ery safety de­vice you can think of.

There is the usual ABS with EBD, Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity Con­trol, Ac­tive Trac­tion Con­trol, Multi Ter­rain Se­lect, PDC and rear cam­era, Hill Start As­sist, Down­hill As­sist and eight airbags, which sur­round pas­sen­gers in an emer­gency. The diff lock can be en­gaged for front or rear and there is a crawl func­tion which takes care of boul­der- strewn sur­faces. A but­ton raises the ve­hi­cle to ac­com­mo­date par­tic­u­larly bad ter­rain and two set­tings make even the worst ter­rain fairly easy to ne­go­ti­ate.

The Prado has a 700 mm wade depth, an in­cli­na­tion an­gle of around 45 de­grees and a tilt an­gle of 42 de­grees.

The ve­hi­cle has a re­in­forced pas­sen­ger cabin and chas­sis.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Prado has a three- litre VX diesel en­gine, putting out 120 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque.

The Com­mon Rail Diesel en­gine is turbo- charged and in­ter­cooled and a pow­er­ful plea­sure to drive.

In town the Prado will do ev­ery­thing re­quired of a spa­cious, well man­nered ve­hi­cle and cart your fam­ily about in safety.

On the na­tional road you have to watch the speed, which is in­clined to creep up­wards.

The D- roads in the Mid­lands pro­vide no chal­lenge at all and the only real test we could think of for the ve­hi­cle was to drive it up­wards to­wards Hil­ton on the hill­sides above the city, which of­ten have no roads at all.

We com­menced by en­gag­ing the rear diff and driv­ing up one of the steep­est slopes in the city, which is deeply rut­ted and cov­ered with smooth, slip­pery sand.

The Prado flat­tened the slope with­out a prob­lem. The same can be said of the other rough forestry tracks we drove, which even­tu­ally brought us to Hil­ton.

The best com­pli­ment for the Prado, how­ever came from the back- seat driver with the bad back, who com­mented she felt no dif­fer­ence in the Prado’s smooth ride on tar or over the bumps.

Even though you will not buy this re­mark­able ve­hi­cle for its speed, 0- 100 km/ h takes about 12,5 sec­onds and top speed is around 175 km/ h. Fuel consumption is en­tirely ter­rain de­pen­dent but you should get around 11,5l per 100 km in nor­mal driv­ing.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The Prado 3.0 ODT VX comes in at about R800 000 and you get a three- year/ 100 000 km war­ranty, as well as a fiveyear/ 90 000 km ser­vice plan. Both are upgrad­able. You also get to leave this car to your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, but you should also look at the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery, Jeep Grand Chero­kee, BMW X5, Ford Ever­est and Mercedes Benz GLE.


The 2015 Land Cruiser 200 builds upon the rock solid foun­da­tion of its pre­de­ces­sors and adds a host of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments, which Toy­ota states makes this the best and most ca­pa­ble Land Cruiser yet. The roots of the Toy­ota Land Cruiser, the 1951 Type 25 BJ Land Cruiser mod­elled on the WW2 Jeep.

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