New Prado the most re­fined ever

Southern Telegraph - - Wheels - Mur­ray Hub­bard

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 turbo-diesel. 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 450 Nm of torque from a low-rev base and 130 kW of power at 3400 rpm. 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 big 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 of­froad com­po­nent at the Toy­ota LandCruiser Own­ers Club fa­cil­ity at Willowglen, around 80km from the na­tion’s cap­i­tal. It was here that Prado con­firmed it was as good off-road as it is re­fined on the road.

De­spite diesel Prado com­mand­ing 98.8 per cent of sales, Toy­ota will con­tinue to sell the petrol 4.0-litre 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 2500kg — well be­low the ac­cepted norm of 3000kg 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. The ve­hi­cle can tow 3000kg, that’s be­yond doubt,” he said.

Aus­tralian buy­ers would be tak­ing a risk to ex­ceed the 2500kg limit as any ac­ci­dent or me­chan­i­cal break­down could void the ve­hi­cle war­ranty or in­sur­ance claim.

Tow­ing is­sues aside, Prado is well placed to con­tinue its dom­i­nance in the large 4WD seg­ment with the in­clu­sion of this quiet turbo-diesel.

Fuel econ­omy gains of around 13 per cent are claimed by Toy­ota thanks to a low en­gine weight, bet­ter com­bus­tion ef­fi­ciency and less in­ter­nal fric­tion. Prado also gets a diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter which re­sults in lower emis­sions and Euro 5 emis­sion com­pli­ance.

Other en­gine im­prove­ments in­clude a chain rather than belt drive, the in­tro­duc­tion of a coun­ter­bal­ance shaft for im­proved vi­bra­tion man­age­ment.

About the only time you can de­tect it’s a diesel is out­side the ve­hi­cle at idle. Toy­ota claim 7.9 litres/100km for man­ual vari­ants and 8.0 litres/100km from the sixspeed auto. Prado’s ap­pear­ance re­mains the same as does the sus­pen­sion and line up with diesel-only GX as a five or seven seater, and seven-seat GXL, VX and Kakadu.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

Con­ser­va­tive in na­ture, Toy­ota’s Prado Kakadu has time­less styling.

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