Car re­views

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Land Cruiser Prado: More lux­ury, com­fort and pres­tige

With an off-road her­itage span­ning more than 65 years, Land Cruiser re­mains unique in its seg­ment for an abil­ity to com­bine out­stand­ing qual­ity, dura­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity with un­ri­valled off-road per­for­mance and ever-greater lev­els of lux­ury, com­fort and own­er­ship pres­tige.

Land Cruiser is the most widely avail­able model in the global Toy­ota prod­uct range – be­ing sold in more than 190 coun­tries world­wide. Its un­matched off-road abil­i­ties have earned it a rock-solid rep­u­ta­tion as one of the world's tough­est and most re­li­able 4x4s.

Hav­ing test driven the Prado 3.0 VX for a week, I can at­test to this rep­u­ta­tion. The ve­hi­cle has a more mod­ern and ro­bust ex­te­rior styling, so­phis­ti­cated, com­fort­able and higher qual­ity in­te­rior, and im­prove­ments to its user-friendliness, both on and off-road.

Tech­ni­cally ad­vanced

The all-ter­rain sup­port sys­tems help even un­skilled driv­ers make the most of Land Cruiser's off-road per­for­mance. They also add to the over­all mix of on-board tools which makes the Prado one of the most tech­ni­cally ad­vanced, safe, plea­sur­able and easy-to-use 4x4 ve­hi­cles in the world.

The Prado range has tra­di­tion­ally con­sisted of two grades, the mi­dlevel TX and high-grade VX. For the first time a new third grade, called VX-L, has been added to the model line-up.The VX-L model com­bines all the fea­tures of the VX whilst adding a power-op­er­ated tilt-and­slide moon­roof and com­pre­hen­sive ac­tive safety as­sis­tance pack­age to the mix.

New-look frontal el­e­ments such as the bonnet, grille, head­lamps, bumper and wings draw on struc­tural el­e­ments from the model's de­sign her­itage.

The stan­dard con­ve­nience spec­i­fi­ca­tion list be­fits the stature of the Land Cruiser Prado. It in­cludes au­to­matic dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, six-speaker touch au­dio sys­tem, elec­tri­cally ad­justable driver's seat, il­lu­mi­nated en­try, cruise con­trol, park dis­tance con­trol, key­less en­try, three power out­lets, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, USB, third row seat­ing and re­verse cam­era.

High-grade mod­els

High-grade mod­els add mem­ory func­tion for the driver's seat, a 14-speaker pre­mium au­dio sys­tem with woofer, multi-in­for­ma­tion dis­play, power tilt-and-tele­scopic steer­ing ad­just­ment, rain-sens­ing wipers and power-fold-down third row seats.

Sadly for us here in South Africa, we have to make do with the ag­ing, but proven 3.0 D-4D en­gine, of­fer­ing a lethar­gic 120kW and 400Nm avail­able be­tween 1 600–2 800 rpm. This is mated to a fivespeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with gear ra­tios op­ti­mised for low-speed tractabil­ity and off-road use.This en­gine, we are told, can only be re­placed with the newer six-cylin­der

unit found in the Aus­tralian ver­sions if and when the qual­ity of our diesel fuel im­proves.

The 4.0 litre petrol en­gine uses a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Max­i­mum power is 202 kW at 5 600rpm, with peak torque of 381Nm de­liv­ered at 4 400rpm.

All Prado mod­els fea­ture Toy­ota's Ac­tive Trac­tion Con­trol sys­tem, which ac­tively reg­u­lates wheel-slip by di­rect­ing torque to the wheel with the most trac­tion.The sys­tem is ca­pa­ble of ap­ply­ing brak­ing pres­sure to wheels in­di­vid­u­ally to max­i­mize trac­tion. A low-range trans­mis­sion with user-se­lectable rear and cen­tre diff-locks and Hill As­sist Con­trol forms part of the stan­dard en­sem­ble.

Adapt­ing to ter­rain

The Multi-Ter­rain Se­lect sys­tem

(VX and VX-L only), op­er­ated by a cen­trally mounted ro­tary knob, al­lows the driver to se­lect the cor­rect mode de­pend­ing on the road ahead. The sys­tem has five pre-con­fig­ured modes (mud and sand, loose rock, mogul, rock and dirt, and rock) to tai­lor the ve­hi­cle's trac­tion con­trol, trans­mis­sion char­ac­ter­is­tics, power de­liv­ery and sus­pen­sion set­tings to the ter­rain at hand. Down­hill As­sist Con­trol is in­cluded on VX and VX-L mod­els.

The 4.0 V6 de­riv­a­tives ad­di­tion­ally fea­ture Drive Mode Se­lect which of­fers five modes; Com­fort, Sport, Sport +, Nor­mal and Eco; to adapt ve­hi­cle dy­nam­ics ac­cord­ing to driver pref­er­ence.

The pack­age in­cludes a PreCol­li­sion Sys­tem with pedes­trian de­tec­tion func­tion, Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol, Lane De­par­ture Alert and Au­to­matic High Beam.The Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol sys­tem uses radar sen­sors in the front grille to mon­i­tor the dis­tance to the ve­hi­cle in front and ap­plies cor­rec­tive ac­tion via both throt­tle and brake in­puts to main­tain a spec­i­fied gap.

The Prado has quite a for­mi­da­ble list of ri­vals such as the newly launched Nis­san Pa­trol and the pricier Land Rover Dis­cov­ery. What the Prado of­fers is peace of mind mo­tor­ing which will last long af­ter you de­cide you want to sell it.

Tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by Toy­ota SA.

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