FAM­ILY FIRST

AMONG A SEA OF DUAL-CAB UTES, TOY­OTA’S PRADO RE­MAINS THE CHAM­PION 4X4 WAGON.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

SOME 525 less Toy­ota Pra­dos were sold in 2016 than in 2015, al­though Prado re­tains fifth spot over­all in the 4x4 top 10 and is com­fort­ably the best-sell­ing 4x4 wagon. This slow ero­sion of sales con­tin­ues the re­cent trend, but it wasn’t as bad as 12 months ago when sales dropped by 857 units.

In what’s been a volatile 4x4 mar­ket in many ways, the Prado has been a steady hand at fifth place for a few years now as oth­ers around it move up (Ranger) or down (Navara) – in the case of the Jeep Grand Chero­kee both up and down within a very short pe­riod of time.

The fact the Prado still sells nearly 15,000 a year is tes­ta­ment to both the ve­hi­cle it­self and the strength of the Toy­ota brand, given the core de­sign now dates back to 2009. The Prado has con­tin­ued to find favour with buy­ers de­spite a sig­nif­i­cant shift away from tra­di­tional 4x4 wag­ons and to­wards the now fash­ion­able 4x4 dual-cab utes.

What’s more, the pop­u­lar­ity of dual-cab utes has spawned a swag of ute-based 4x4 wag­ons also try­ing to eat away at Prado sales. The all-new Mit­subishi Pa­jero Sport, al­though smaller than the Prado, has come from nowhere to sell more than 6000 units in 2016, while other new­com­ers like Toy­ota’s own For­tuner (3871 sales) and Ford’s Everest (3614 sales) must also be hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on the Prado. Even sales of Isuzu’s MU-X and Holden’s Colorado 7 (now Trail­blazer) are up, prov­ing there’s still plenty of in­ter­est in 4x4 wag­ons even if the love is be­ing spread more thinly.

The Prado it­self has also un­der­gone change, and 2016 rep­re­sents the first full year of sales of the 2.8-litre diesel en­gine and new six-speed au­to­matic gear­box. The 2.8-litre diesel re­placed the 3.0-litre diesel that first saw ser­vice in 2006 in the pre­vi­ous­gen­er­a­tion 120 Prado, while the new sixspeed au­to­matic re­placed the pre­vi­ous five-speed auto. These changes add to the Prado’s re­fine­ment rather than per­for­mance and, as ever, the Prado re­mains a com­fort­able and ac­com­plished tourer and a more-than-ca­pa­ble off-roader.

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