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