Toyota LandCruiser Prado Diesel review filed by Joel Helmes.
The Toyota Prado has topped the Australian large SUV sales charts for the past thirteen years and with an impressive new diesel engine under the bonnet more years of strong local sales look assured.
Priced from $52,990 for the Prado GX (five-seats with seven-seat option), I was handed the keys to a 2016 Toyota Prado GXL and this comes standard with the seven-seats. My test car was also fitted with a six-speed manual transmission; the starting price here is $59,990.
I was thoroughly impressed with the new diesel Toyota Prado.
I have always been a Toyota large SUV fan and I’ve always had a real soft spot for the Toyota Prado in particular. It’s just the right size for a family, is easy enough to drive and has a stack of off-road ability.
While many Australian families were introduced to the earlier Prado offerings via the (rather thirsty) V6 engine, today the diesel engine is by far and away the more popular option.
Thankfully, the new 2.8 litre diesel engine, the same unit that features in the slightly smaller new Toyota Fortuner, is a further step above the diesel engine it replaces.
With more torque and a lighter overall weight, I was blown away by just how good the Prado diesel fuel economy was. Considering that this is a big, heavy, seven-seat SUV, I averaged just over 9.0L/100kms.
That fuel economy figure coming from a week of predominantly city driving, as well as some fairly rigorous off-road work and about 200 kilometres of freeway/country highway driving.
Interestingly, off-road was where I found the only real weakness in the new 2.8 litre engine. Confronting a rather steep climb in high-range 4×4 (standard road setting), the lack of power - 130kW, saw the Prado (with three adults and two children aboard) really struggle and run out of puff.
Stopping and putting the Prado into low-range 4×4 fixed the issue and the Toyota easily climbed the hill.
Really that’s a great way to look at the strengths of this new engine – a little short on power i.e. it’s not terribly fast off the mark and needed that extra assistance climbing the incline. On the other hand 420Nm of torque sees the Prado easily tackle hills at speed and accelerate away even in top gear.
More interested in an auto Prado? Well, get the automatic transmission version and you get an additional 30Nm for a total of 450Nm!
The new diesel engine is also remarkably quiet; you wouldn’t pick it was a diesel.
The manual transmission is nicely matched to the engine, the throw is a bit bigger than I might have expected and this makes the Prado manual a little more ‘truck like’ than perhaps it could be.
Beyond that, great ride, surprisingly good handling, nice brakes and a better than expected turning-circle ensured getting about in the Prado was a piece of cake.
Despite the size of the Prado this really isn’t an imposing or difficult vehicle to drive, even in the city.
A roomy and nicely laid-out cabin also features. The third-row of seats offers enough space for two adults on short trips, as with most seven-seaters children are better catered-for in the back row.
The front two rows get heaps of legroom and there’s plenty of rear ventilation thanks to roof mounted vents and controls.
Comfortable seats, nicely-sized storage areas and a feeling that is between tough and rugged and comfortable has been found by Toyota in the Prado cabin.
The infotainment system is also easy to use and all the controls and gauges etc. are simple and well-designed. I also like the way Toyota just goes that little bit further with features such as the smart rear tail-gate lock that stops the heavy door from closing on you if the wind is blowing or you are parked on an incline.
All grades of the Prado in 2016 come with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; if given the choice between Prado and Fortuner I would lean towards the larger offering. For not a lot of extra money you do get more cabin space and more road presence.
In saying that, both seven-seat Toyota diesel SUVs are very capable, very well-designed and enormously easy to drive and live with.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL diesel
Engine: 2.8 litre turbo-diesel producing 130kW and 420Nm (manual) 450Nm (auto)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
Safety: Five stars
Price: GXL from $59,990