2017 Toyota LandCruiser Prado Review
By Fraser Stronach, with WhichCar staff
Priced From $54,050Information
What stands out?Expand Section
What might bug me?Expand Section
That some other big wagons can legally tow more. The Prado is rated to tow 1000kg less than the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Discovery. (Which means you can’t match their ability to tow another big 4WD vehicle on a car trailer, for example.)
What body styles are there?Expand Section
There is also a limited-edition Altitude model, which has its spare wheel mounted under the vehicle rather than on the rear door. It is based on the GXL automatic turbo diesel (but has power-adjustable leather seats and other enhancements). The relocated spare has implications outlined below.
All Prados have dual-range, full-time four-wheel drive. The Prado is classified as a large SUV, lower priced.
What features do all Prados have?Expand Section
On all models, the doors can be opened as long as you have the key in your pocket or bag. To start the engine, you push a button. Toyota calls this Smart Entry and Smart Start.
Electronic stability control, which helps the driver control the vehicle in a skid. This is mandatory on all new cars.
Electronic traction control, which helps prevent wheelspin in slippery conditions and is a great help off-road.
Polished aluminium-alloy wheels, which are generally lighter and look fancier than steel wheels.
Seven airbags. Anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control – which helps you control the vehicle in a skid. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Prado safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
All Prados come with a 100,000km, three-year warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?Expand Section
In the official test (printed on the windscreen sticker) it uses 7.9 litres/100km with the manual gearbox, and only marginally more with the automatic. In real-world driving expect to use about 10.5 litres/100km with either gearbox.
The main reason you might not choose it is that you want more power for overtaking on the highway. The Prado gained a new, 2.8-litre turbo-diesel in September 2015, but its performance is not significantly better than the previous diesel’s. It has enough power for everyday driving but doesn’t overtake strongly.
The bigger, V6 petrol engine is more powerful but uses more fuel, officially 11.6 litres/100km.
In practice, the petrol engine does not use much more fuel than the diesel when cruising comfortably down the highway. But it gets thirsty in stop-start urban driving, or when worked hard on hills, towing, or off-road. It also asks for premium unleaded petrol although it will run just fine on regular unleaded. This engine had a minor power boost in September 2015 although it didn’t need it.
Historically, 98 percent of buyers have chosen a diesel Prado.
A six-speed automatic gearbox is standard with either engine. If you want the six-speed manual gearbox, the less costly GX and GXL variants in diesel trim are your only choice.
(Power outputs and all other Toyota Prado specifications are available from the Cars Covered menu, under the main image on this page.)
What key features do I get if I spend more?Expand Section
The GXL also gains satellite navigation, side steps, which make it easier to get in and out of the car, and roof rails for mounting luggage systems. It also has front foglights, a cargo blind to hide whatever you may have in the cargo area, and rear parking sensors.
The driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers can also separately set their desired cabin temperatures, via three-zone climate control.
Spend more for the VX and your best additional feature will be its Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which gives both flatter on-road handing and more off-road capability. KDSS works by automatically adjusting the tension on the suspension’s anti-roll bars.
The VX swaps the standard 17-inch alloy wheels for 18-inch alloys, and has headlights that switch on automatically when it gets dark. Windscreen wipers activate automatically when it rains.
You also get leather-trimmed and heated seats, a premium sound system, and front parking sensors. The third-row seats can be deployed and retracted electrically.
At the top of the range, the Kakadu adds automatic cruise control, which can slow you to follow a vehicle ahead – resuming your preset speed when the way is clear. It also brings you a Pre-Crash Safety System, which includes automatic emergency braking. And there is a blind-spot warning and a rear cross-traffic alert.
On the luxury side the Kakadu has is a sunroof, and a refrigerated box in the centre console. The driver’s seat remembers settings for two different drivers. And a rear-seat DV-D entertainment system can help keep children occupied.
The Kakadu’s off-road specific features include a driver-switched lock for the rear differential, which can help you go further in difficult 4WD conditions. For such situations there is also Crawl Control, which automatically controls the accelerator and brakes at a speed you select: all you have to do is steer.
Multi-Terrain Select allows you to tailor stability control and traction control for different off-road conditions. The Kakadu also has self-levelling and height-adjustable rear suspension, and the driver can change suspension settings for a softer ride, or sportier handling.
Does any upgrade have a down side?Expand Section
Although many people will like the look of the VX and Kakadu’s 18-inch wheels and their accompanying lower-profile tyres, they don’t ride as comfortably as the standard 17s and are more damage prone and less effective off-road. (The Altitude too has 18-inch wheels.)
The relocation of the spare wheel on the Altitude model has its advantages – see below – but it reduces fuel capacity from 150 litres to 87 litres, and makes the spare harder to get at.
Glacier White and Ebony (black) are the only two standard colours. All the rest are extra-cost options.
How comfortable is the Prado?Expand Section
Otherwise, this is a very easy car to operate and drive.
Seats in the Prado are supportive and comfortable, and nice places to be for even the longest trip. Compliant, soft-riding suspension and low road-noise levels on all surfaces, even gravel roads, make this a car that can eat the kilometres without fatiguing the driver or passengers.
The 2.8-litre diesel engine is also very quiet and smooth by diesel standards, and hardly sounds or feels like a diesel engine at all.
The petrol V6 is quiet and smooth too. Both engines work nicely with the slick-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox.
Both engines also provide effortless performance for most driving situations, although the new 2.8 diesel and six-speed automatic don’t improve upon the modest overtaking performance of the previous 3.0-litre and five-speed automatic. Alternatives the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Discovery have significantly more power.
What about safety in a Toyota Prado?Expand Section
There are two airbags directly in front of the driver and passenger; an airbag for the driver’s knees; chest-protecting side airbags immediately outside the driver and passenger; and curtain airbags extending down each side of the car that protect at head level.
Where third-row seats are fitted, the curtain airbags protect those rearmost passengers also.
The Prado GXL, VX and Kakadu also have rear parking sensors. When reversing, these may alert you to the presence of hazards behind that you have not noticed in your mirrors or rear-view camera.
The Prado Kakadu gains significant extra features with its Pre Crash Safety System, which incorporates automatic emergency braking.
If it concludes that a crash may be imminent, it triggers an audio-visual warning, pre-tensions the front seatbelts, and if necessary adds brake pressure. If you don’t brake the car, the system will brake for you.
The Kakadu also warns you of vehicles lurking near your rear corners that might not appear in your mirrors. A rear cross-traffic alert warns you of approaching cars when you are backing out of a parking spot.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded all Prados its maximum five stars for safety. The five-star rating was re-issued in May 2014, but it is based on ANCAP standards for 2009.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Expand Section
The models with KDSS suspension are much better in this regard as the body roll is reduced.
Nor are diesel Prados for people who like lots of acceleration. The 6th ratio added to the automatic gearbox doesn’t help, as it’s merely an additional and taller overdrive. However, the unpopular petrol V6 has 60 percent more power than the diesel.
What everyone will enjoy about the Prado is its comfort and quietness on even the worst roads.
The Prado is also very capable in genuine off-road conditions. Among the big family 4WD wagons, only the Ford Everest, Land Rover Discovery and the Prado’s bigger stablemate, the LandCruiser 200 Series, can match or better it here.
How is life in the rear seats?Expand Section
Given the Prado’s height and big doors, getting in and out of the rear seat is a breeze. Likewise access to the third-row seats is good. As is often the case, the third-row seats are suitable only for children or smaller adults.
All models have air-conditioning vents for rear-seat passengers.
How is it for carrying stuff?Expand Section
The single rear door opens sideways and can be heavy to handle when the vehicle is on a slope.
The limited-edition Altitude model is more convenient here, as the rear door is lighter (no spare wheel attached) and the rear-glass opens separately.
The Prado’s towing capacity of 2500kg (braked trailer) is 1000kg shy of Discovery and Grand Cherokee, and 500kg short of the Everest, but is still sufficient for most towing needs.
Where does Toyota make the Prado?Expand Section
What might I miss that similar cars have?Expand Section
The Discovery and Grand Cherokee also offer sportier on-road handling. (The Grand Cherokee is not as comfortable off road, however.)
Among other vehicles you might consider are the seven-seat 4WD wagons developed from utes, among them the Ford Everest, Toyota Fortuner, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
Alternatively, if you want seven seats and all-wheel drive but do not intend to stray far beyond good gravel roads, you might consider more car-like alternatives such as the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9, and Kia Sorento.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Expand Section
Are there plans to update the Prado soon?Expand Section
In September 2015 it gained an all-new, 2.8-litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox with six ratios, replacing the previous 3.0-litre diesel and five-speed automatic.
About that time Toyota dropped the special-edition Prado Altitude variant, on which the spare tyre was relocated under the car. The Altitude returned, with the new engine, in April 2017.
Toyota has announced that an upgraded Prado will arrive about November 2017. It will have a reshaped bonnet, and a redesigned dashboard and instruments. Every Prado will come with a lane-departure warning. Every automatic Prado will also have auto emergency braking. The current diesel engine will be retained, and the petrol engine will no longer be offered.
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