2017 Toyota LandCruiser Prado Review

2017 Toyota LandCruiser Prado Review

Overall Rating

0

3.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

3 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

3 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProTough and comfortable family wagon that can go anywhere

  2. ConLacklustre diesel performance despite new engine

  3. The Pick: 2017 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL (4x4) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Toyota Prado is a large SUV-type wagon with a seven-seat cabin, proven reliability, and peerless service back-up. For a big 4WD vehicle it is very comfortable as a day-to-day family car, but it is also built extra tough and is one of the best choices for long outback trips.

What might bug me?

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In the diesel, modest overtaking performance. The 2.8-litre engine introduced in September 2015 is not significantly quicker than its predecessor.

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?

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Five-door wagon only. All but one version has seven seats. The exception is the least costly, the GX, which offers a choice between seven seats and five.

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?

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A rear-view camera, cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity, tilt and reach steering wheel adjustment, audio and phone controls on the steering wheel, and a USB port.

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.

All Prados come with seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and passenger; a side airbag for each front occupant that protects the upper body; head-protecting curtain airbags covering the front and rear side-windows; and an airbag in front of the driver’s knees.

All Prados come with a 100,000km, three-year warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The turbo-diesel engine is the more fuel-efficient of the two engines available in a Prado, and by a comfortable margin.

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 2105 although it didn’t really 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.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Prado, the GX, offers the third row of seats, and extended curtain airbags for their occupants, as options. Step up to the GXL and both are standard.

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 a Pre-Crash Safety System, which includes a form of 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 the brakes have not been applied, the system will brake for you.

The Kakadu also warns the driver of vehicles in blind spots to either side, and has radar-operated cruise control, which automatically slows the car to the speed of traffic in front.

A rear cross-traffic alert warns you of approaching cars when you are backing out of a parking spot.

There is a sunroof, a refrigerated box in the centre console, and the driver’s seat remembers the individual settings for two different drivers. 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?

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Aside from the rear differential lock, the off-road specific features of the Kakadu add significant complexity of operation without doing much for the off-road capability, which is excellent anyway.

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?

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The Toyota Prado is roomy, well finished and very user-friendly. All the switches and knobs are large and easy to identify, while the major controls are light and easy to use. The only challenging aspect is the complexity and sheer number of switches on the top-spec Kakadu model.

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?

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All Prado models rate Excellent for safety. All models have seven airbags and a reversing camera. The Prado Kakadu gains significant extra features with its Pre Crash Safety System, which incorporates automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitoring, radar-operated automatic cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert help also.

(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded all Prados its maximum five stars for safety.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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The Prado is not for drivers who like a car with responsive steering and nimble handing. It’s too high-riding and heavy for that, and the soft, long-travel suspension only adds to the body roll – which passengers won’t like, even if the driver doesn’t mind.

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?

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The Prado is a big car and that is reflected in a spacious rear seat that can adjust fore and aft, for either more legroom or more luggage space. However, it’s still tight across the shoulders for three adults.

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?

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The Prado has a big luggage area, but third-row seats that fold down into the floor do eat into the overall cargo volume. The Prado can’t match the Land Rover Discovery’s cavernous luggage space but it gives you as much storage room as the Ford Everest, and it betters Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and Toyota’s smaller alternative, the Fortuner.

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?

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All Prado models sold in Australia are made in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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More power from a diesel engine, for swifter overtaking and easier towing. Toyota’s own LandCruiser 200 offers a much bigger V8 turbo-diesel, for example. The Land Rover Discovery and Jeep Grand Cherokee have V6 turbo-diesels with more power than the Prado’s diesel, and eight-speed auto gearboxes.

The Grand Cherokee also offers sportier on-road handling. But it is not as comfortable off road.

The Grand Cherokee brings you more equipment for the money, too.

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?

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The diesel is definitely the way to go and unless you must have a manual, go for the automatic. The GXL spec has everything most people want, and even if you don’t need the third-row seats they will help with resale value. The VX has some good extras, namely the KDSS suspension, but there’s a big price hike. The GXL diesel automatic is the most popular variant by a good margin, and for good reason.

Are there plans to update the Prado soon?

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The 150 Series Toyota Prado was released in late 2009 and updated in November 2013 with new exterior styling, a new dash and some additional features.

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.


A next-generation Prado is expected before the end of 2017.