Toyota’s all-terrain icon, the Land Cruiser Prado, has been given its first major revamp since being launched in South Africa in 2009.
Along with significant exterior and interior styling tweaks, the big seven-seater SUV – as before available in TX and more upper-class VX grades – has gained safety improvements and enhanced specification at minimal price increases of between 1-3 percent.
The mid-life redesign is more than your average facelift and the cosmetic surgery involves reshaped headlights and tail lights, a deeper front bumper, a new grille, and newly styled alloy wheels. Aerodynamic stability has been improved by means of stabilising fins on the exterior mirrors and tail lamps.
The cabin’s upgraded with new multi-media audio systems as well as a redesigned dashboard with classier materials. Premium touches include double stitching for better tactile appeal. Leather seats are standard in both TX and VX grades, with cowhide also covering the door panels of the more expensive VX.
Both models gain power-adjustable front seats with memory, along with dual automatic climate control which replaces the previous manual air-conditioning.
The floor has been lowered at the third row of seats to increase foot space, but these small seats are still only roomy enough for small kiddies, not adults.
Safety’s been improved across the range with the addition of Trailer Sway Control, while VX models acquire tyre-pressure monitoring, and Blind Spot Monitoring which flashes the indicators in the rear-view mirrors to warn you of unseen vehicles during lane changes.
The engine line up remains as before with a choice of a a 3-litre turbodiesel or a 4-litre V6 petrol, both mated to five-speed automatic transmissions and offering huge 150-litre fuel tanks.
The faithful turbodiesel, also used in the Hilux and Fortuner, delivers outputs of 120kW and 400Nm and a claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.5 litres per 100km.
The more powerful V6 petrol offers 202kW and 381Nm and quaffs 11.5l/100km, according to factory figures.
The Prado’s no occasional pavement-hopper and is aimed at customers who seek real offroad ability, which is why full-time four-wheel drive is offered across the range along with a lockable centre differential, and high- and low-range.
The upper-grade VX models are true mountain goats with a button for everything, including a rear diff lock, Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) front and rear, and height-adjustable rear air suspension.
VX spec also comes with a five-setting Multi-Terrain Select which automatically controls power and braking over a variety of surfaces including rocks, mud and sand.
BUNDU BASHING MADE EASY
A Multi-Terrain Monitor helps guide you through tight offroad situations with the help of four video cameras located around the vehicle; the new 4.2” colour multi-information display also shows individual wheel traction control, steering angle and diff-lock operation.
VX models also ride on a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which electronically adjusts the front and rear stabiliser bars for improved on-road ride and handling, but allows longer wheel articulation for off-roading.
The all-conquering VX also has a crawl function, a low-speed offroad cruise-control system with five speed settings, but this didn’t come into play when I drove the upgraded Prado at its media launch in Namibia last week. Negotiating the Namib Desert’s soft sand dunes is all about maintaining momentum and not letting your speed drop.
The Prados proved to be more than gutsy enough to clamber up the tall dunes without bogging down, and their 220mm ground clearance was sufficiently high-riding to avoid getting beached on middelmannetjies.
The Prado 4-litre VX I drove also had a notably plush ride on bumpy surfaces, with a lack of jarring that makes it well suited to long, Africa-crossing expeditions.
Land Cruiser Prado TX 4.0 V6 Auto - R632 200
Land Cruiser Prado TX 3.0 DT Auto - R642 000
Land Cruiser Prado VX 4.0 V6 Auto - R728 200
Land Cruiser Prado VX 3.0 DT Auto - R732 400
All sold standard with three-year/100 000km warranty with 24-hour roadside assistance, and five-year/ 90 000 km service plan.
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