2017 Toyota LandCruiser Prado Review

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Toyota LandCruiser Prado

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

  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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Modest overtaking performance. The 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine, first 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 up to1000kg 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 five-seat option.

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, satellite navigation, 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.

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?

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The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel is now the only engine option, with the more powerful, but thirstier, V6 petrol deleted from the range in November 2017 due to a lack of customer demand.

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.

It is designed for touring but lacks a little power for everyday driving and doesn’t overtake strongly.

A six-speed manual is available in the least costly GX, and GXL, while the more popular six-speed automatic is available across the range.

(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?

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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.

Automatic transmission costs an extra $3000. Upgrading to automatic in the GX and GXL models also brings a Pre Crash Safety System, which incorporates automatic emergency braking, plus active cruise control, lane departure alert and auto high beam. All automatic models have also had their towing capacity increased by 500kg to 3000kg.

Upgrading from the GX to GXL also brings side steps, which make it easier to get in and out of the car, and roof rails for mounting luggage systems. It also has long lasting LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED front fog lamps, 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.

For off-road driving, the GXL and more expensive models also feature a driver-switched lock for the rear differential, which can help you go further in difficult 4WD conditions.

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. And there is a blind-spot warning and a rear cross-traffic alert.

There’s also a multi-terrain monitor that uses front, rear and two side cameras to allow the driver to check vehicle blind spots and confirm their surroundings. This includes a panoramic view that enables the driver to check for other vehicles at blind intersections.

You also get powered, leather-trimmed and heated and ventilated seats with lumbar support, a premium sound system, a refrigerated box in the centre console, and front parking sensors. The third-row seats can be deployed and retracted electrically.

Spend more for the Kakadu 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. For some reason this feature was removed from the VX in November 2017.

On the luxury side, the Kakadu has a sunroof and driver’s seat that remembers settings for two different drivers. And a rear-seat DVD entertainment system can help keep children occupied.

The Kakadu also features Crawl Control, which automatically controls the accelerator and brakes through very rough terrain 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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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.)

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. It is under-powered though, with modest overtaking performance. Alternatives such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Discovery have significantly more power.

What about safety in a Toyota Prado?

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All Prados have anti-lock brakes, stability control, seven airbags, and a reversing camera.

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.

Automatic Prados gain 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 VX and Kakadu also warn 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 August 2015.

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 Kakadu’s KDSS suspension is much better in this regard as the body roll is reduced.

The Prado is not 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.

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 Fortuner and LandCruiser 200 stablemates, 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 offer diesel engines with more power than the Prado’s, and eight-speed auto gearboxes.

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?

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Unless you must have a manual, go for the automatic for the active safety and increased towing capacity. 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, but there’s a big price hike.

The GXL 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.

The Prado received a long overdue facelift in November 2017, which brought a reshaped bonnet and headlights, and a redesigned dashboard and instruments. The V6 petrol versions were axed and the GX and GXL automatics gained the Pre Crash Safety System, which was previously only available in the VX and Kakadu.

It is unclear when the Prado will be next updated or replaced.