18 April 2018

Toyota Prado 2018 Car Review

Time with an evaluation vehicle doesn’t always go as planned, but sometimes that proves an advantage. And this time it was the very clever way Toyota’s latest Land Cruiser Prado helps you pick your way through tricky going which paid off.

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Toyota Prado
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Toyota Prado
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Toyota Prado
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Toyota Prado
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Toyota Prado
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Toyota Prado

Extracting a vehicle the size of Toyota’s Land Cruiser Prado from the underground car park beneath AA heardquarters is almost as intimidating as conquering a steep and icy rock field, except the dangers threaten the corners rather than the underside.

Fortunately the battery of cameras fitted to this VX Limited mean it’s possible to view the sides, the front and rear and even the underside — all without leaving your perch at the driver wheel — to ensure this 4825mm-long, almost two-metre wide 2.2-ton behemoth doesn’t lose a molecule of paint on those concrete posts.

Arguably this isn’t what any Land Cruiser is designed for. These things are astonishingly capable off road, particularly with the correct tyres fitted. Sadly, our aim had initially been to stick to tarmac and use it more as a family vehicle, while checking out the updates that arrived in December 2017.

The Prado now tows 3000kg, up 500kg from before, and includes an array of new safety tech such as auto emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control and an auto high beam.

LED daytime running lights join the spec, along with a 4.2-inch colour multifunction information display, and six-way manual driver set adjustments (the passenger’s is four-way).

This VX Limited also gets an eight-inch audio display, some colour changes to trim, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED low- and high-beam headlights and front fog lamps, front seat ventilation, that panoramic view monitor, a rear Torsen limited slip diff to replace the electroincally lockable one, and there’s five-mode drive select with Eco, comfort, normal, Sport S and Sport+, alongside the previous multi-terrain select, drive mode select, adaptive variable suspension, plus, well, it might be simpler to list what this Prado doesn’t have, given it’s even got a roof-mounted drop-down screen to entertain the rear passengers.

You can carry five of them back there, with the third row disappearing into the boot floor when not in use, and the second tumble folding if you need to carry something big.

Want to access the boot without opening the whole tailgate? Just lift the back window to pop stuff in.

But for all this usefulness the Prado, with its ladder-chassis construction, remains resolutely an off-roader. It’s always comfy, impressively so, even when rolling over potholes, but then it’s not designed for incisive corner carving or high-speed agility, and doesn’t claim to be.

Go for the smooth approach, and if this 2.8-litre turbo-diesel (there’s no petrol V6 now) VX Limited is anything to go by it will get along well, while cossetting all who sit within it. And it’ll do the same if you head into the rough.

Which brings us to the second time those cameras came into play. Prado was parked at a rural Waitakere property during exceptionally heavy overnight rain which caused flooding and large land slips, and it was due back at base. Fortunately a team of locals with off-roaders, ropes and tools had attacked the largest slip and hauled fallen trees, towed rocks, and then dug a channel through wide enough for the likes of this Toyota, but the muck between Prado’s road-oriented tyres and the tarmac beneath was in places still sill-deep. Yet it was one of few vehicles that day which took the exceptionally slippery descent in its stride, barely needing the settings for slippery surfaces and controlled crawl to chug its way through, using the cameras to ensure it remained well away from any potentially damaging hazards. Had it not been half term at the time, we’d have easily doubled as the school bus for the six stranded kids usually commuting in passenger cars.

Of course that’s not the off-roading it was designed for, Prado is far more capable than that. Indeed, buyers inteding to use it on formed tracks and seal are arguably making too many off-roader compromises by opting for Prado over something a little less gung ho. Still, the massive array of features you get for this money, and the fact you could, come Armageddon, still make it to granny’s by going cross country without breaking a sweat is beguiling.

Prado’s underpinnings are getting on a bit now, but the new face and modern kit keep it up with the play among its small coterie of large, off-road-capable competitors. It can’t compete on road against some of the latest soft-roaders, of course, but it doesn’t need to, because where it is good, it’s hard to beat.

Especially if you’ve got a passell of kids and luggage, and value their comfort, however rugged it is underfoot.

At a glance


Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Limited


 2.8-litre dieseel


 $99,990 (range starts at $79,490)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

 230kW at 3400rpm, 450Nm from 1600 to 2400rpm


 Six-speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity



4WD with five-speed crawl control and five-mode multi-terrain select

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

104 litres with all three rows in use, 553 litres with two rows in use, 1833 litres with both rows folded, to roof

Safety systems

Auto emergency braking

Lane departure alert

Vehicle sway warning, trailer sway control

Dynamic radar cruise control

Blind spot alert with cross traffic alert

Seven airbags

Two isofix and three teher anchor points

Panoramic view reversing camera and park sensors front and rear

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