Toyota Land Cruiser Prado: All you need to know
The 5th-generation Prado, revealed to us in 2014, has gotten the expected mid-cycle refresh for 2018.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is one of the few vehicles that needs no elaborate introduction in this region. In just a few decades, it has become a household name, thanks to its proven credentials of practicality, reliability and off-road worthiness. The 5th-generation Prado, revealed to us in 2014, has gotten the expected mid-cycle refresh for 2018. We splashed about in Al Qudra in the top-spec Limited variant of the revamped 4.0L V6 5-door model. Today, we take this opportunity to reiterate its credentials and to highlight some tweaks, both on the inside and out.
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
The 2018 Prado is still very much a rugged-looking SUV built on a body-on-frame chassis. Therefore, it still holds on to the old-school traits of the SUV - like a substantially good clearance, elevated seating and purposeful bodywork. And while it's a baby Land Cruiser, it's still an imposing figure under the sun, being 4,950mm long and 1,885mm wide. It also boasts an unusually tall 1,845mm height that gives it critical volume.
The pre-facelift 5th-generation Prado wasn't the handsomest vehicle. But they have addressed that in good measure, so much so that it now looks like its upscale cousin, the Lexus GX460. And being nearly 100k cheaper, it is sure to buy its place into many luxury homes.
While the stout structure remains, it's the details that make an impact. The inherited five-bar chrome grille has slits to improve cooling and it's been placed higher for greater off-road functionality. So have the headlamp main beams, which have also been positioned inboard to avoid damage while off-roading. Together, they form a more cohesive design, what Toyota calls "single graphic form". Expected, the main headlamps come with an LED/halogen setup to accompany the LED DRLs.
You've got to love its sculpted hood and the subtle alignment of its bodyworks, which gives it a visual balance. The base vehicle gets 6-spoke, 17-inch alloys, but others get the Lexus-like high-gloss painted 18-inch alloys. The hind view gets redesigned lamp clusters and a new bumper. It also gets a side-hinged tailgate which can be locked/unlocked using the smart keyfob.
The elevated ride means you need to scale heights to climb aboard, which I presume a whole lot of us in the Middle East enjoy. You enter a cabin that has been tastefully refreshed, migrating it more towards luxury. The redesigned 4-gauge driver's instrument binnacle features 'Optitron' meters with a metallic base panel and spin-polished dials with raised scale markings. They flank a 4.2-inch TFT colour multi-info display. The result is good legibility of the vehicle and infotainment vitals, all managed through steering-wheel switchgear.
The white illumination for the instrument panel, centre console and door switchgear improves ambience as well. Even Toyota's famously 80s' digital clock gets it. The new centre console has been lowered for improved front visibility. The highlight, however, is the high-definition 9-inch full-colour multimedia screen set neatly on a satin-finished surface populated by a symmetrical arrangement of buttons. Rear seat passengers can also enjoy videos from DVDs, Blu-ray discs and other sources on their dual LCD monitors.
As for the front seats, the Prado is in love with the shape of you and will accommodate you however it may be. The driver seat gets 8-way power adjustability, while the passenger gets four to help make that happen. The second-row passengers have good head and legroom; it can be slid and reclined too. And the third row is good for two adults, but for only brief trips. The VXR and Limited are the only trims that get soft leather in black or beige.
Front seat storage includes a good-sized glove box, sunglasses holder with built-in conversation mirror, cup holders, and large door bottle holders. The central cubby has a cooling function and can fit in four-and-a-half litres. Twelve-volt power outlets are provided in the front and second rows, with a 220V AC power outlet in the cargo hold.
POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
Powertrain and outputs remain the same as before. Yes, there still are two engine options including a 2.7-litre inline 4-cylinder producing 164 horsepower and 246Nm of torque. Considering it's weak, and the fact that its claimed 10.6 km/L economy isn't much of an advantage over the V6 engine's respectable 10.1 km/L for the V6, I wouldn't recommend it. Plus, you have a 150-litre tank to exploit.
The other option is the 4.0-litre V6 24-valve DOHC with dual VVT-I, that comes with the Limited. It produces 271 horsepower and 382Nm of torque. The outputs may not be class leading, but there is plenty of grunt to get off the line quick, over highway traffic and barge through sand; I'd say 8.0 seconds from 0 to a 100 km/h. All engines are mated with a 6-speed automatic with multi-mode sequential shift mode, using which you can do some of the shifting when you get bored.
We took this beyond the tarmac to reaffirm our truths about the Prado as a good dune basher. Besides reasonable approach and departure angles, it also gets the newly-developed full-time four-wheel drive with TORSEN limited slip differential. It powers through most of the sand or rut quite easily, and when it's time to drop tyre pressure for more difficult terrain, you can adjust the central differential lock and transfer the case to meet requirements.
It also gets a new 5-speed Crawl Control System to help maintain uniform speed by fiddling with engine output, and hydraulic brake pressure to help you wiggle your way past a sticky situation. Then, there is the Multi-Terrain Select that automatically modifies vehicle acceleration, braking, and traction control to suit off-road conditions. We set it on 'Mud & Sand', but there are four other modes to choose from - namely, 'Rock', 'Rock & Dirt', 'Mogul', and 'Loose Rock'.
Other features that came into use during our sandy ventures was the Multi-Terrain Monitor that gives the driver better views of the surroundings via multiple cameras. We avoided a few scratches thanks to that. Also available is Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control - which do exactly what their names suggest.
The Prado's front independent double wishbone and rear four-link rigid suspension renders a decent ride quality. But what makes it so versatile is the electrically-controlled Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which adjusts the effect of the anti-roll bars in order to suppress body roll and improve steering response on road, and extend wheel articulation to improve wheel contact when off road, especially over jagged surfaces.
Overall, although it drives well on tarmac, you can't treat this body-on-frame SUV like a Cayenne, but you can be sure it handles like a Land Cruiser on the sand.
FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
What's there to say about the air conditioning system? It's fully automatic, with a triple-zone independent temperature control system. It's cool and easy to use. My only complaint is that it's a little too cool sometimes and could do with some calibration.
As for practicality, the Prado is king. The second row seat is of the 40:20:40 split-folding variety and the third row is a 50:50 split and folding type. This gives you enormous cargo space with all of them folded flat. The third row can also be easily operated either from inside the car or from the back door. It's all automatic these days.
In addition to radio and a DVD player, you also get a JBL system with 14 speakers. The Clari-Fi compressed audio restoration technology helps play the music as close to its original audio quality. And I'd say it played my mp3 playlist well enough to drown my co-passenger's speech. The system also features Bluetooth support and has USB and mini-jack inputs offering external audio input. The system lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though.
In the safety department, the Prado has it covered with all the abbreviated mainstay features like ABS, EBD, BA and so on. There's plenty more. The Prado has a Pedestrian Protection System that uses Impact Alleviation Structure, an impact-absorbing feature. Furthermore, you also have seatbelt pre-tensioners and force-limiters and a total of seven airbags. The Limited is the one to go for if you need Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, the Rear-View Monitor System displaying 360-degree video images etc.
The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is still that utilitarian and reliable SUV we've all come to know and love. For 2018, it's even got a pretty face elevated to luxury levels and plenty of tech, like KDSS and Crawl Control, to help it become a better off-roader than ever before. It certainly is the bargain Lexus GX460 you're looking for, especially in this Limited trim. And possibly one of the best vehicles out there.
It seems that in China, Dadi Auto made two models inspired by Prado, called the Dadi City Steed and the Dadi Shuttle
Body type: 5-seater; 5-door mid-size SUV
Engine: Front-engine; 4.0-litre V6; four-wheel drive
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Peak output: 271bhp @ 5,600rpm; 382Nm @ 4,400rpm
0 to 100km/h: 8.0 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 200 km/h (drag limited; estimated)
Price: Starting at Dh129,900; Dh205,000 as tested
AT A GLANCE
Pros: Stylish refreshed exterior; off-road prowess; practicality; features; reliability and residual value
Cons: Still no Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; not class-leading output
Author's rating: 8/10
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