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Car reviews - Toyota - LandCruiser Prado - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

Toyota logo13 Dec 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

TOYOTA has upgraded its Prado SUV for 2007 and the son-of-LandCruiser’s raft of changes is headlined by a slicker new turbo-diesel engine lifted directly from the newer HiLux utility, plus new six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions.

More powerful and more fuel efficient than the diesel it replaces, the 3.0-litre common-rail direct-injection oil-burner will further leverage one of Prado’s major advantages over Ford’s Territory, which since mid-2004 has eclipsed the big Toyota for medium SUV market leadership – despite the lack of diesel power.

Toyota also claims Prado’s new diesel engine arrives just in time to ride Australia’s diesel boom, and that since June 2006 diesel has accounted for 50 per cent of Prado sales (compared with a long-term average of 40 per cent).

The first quad-cam turbo-diesel to be offered in Prado features twin counter-rotating balance shafts, electronic engine management, an electronic drive-by-wire throttle, a variable-vane turbocharger with water-cooled bearing housing and electronic high-pressure fuel-injection.

Available from October production, the new 1KD-FTV diesel offers 127kW at 3400rpm (up 32 per cent from 96kW at 3600rpm) and a beefy 410Nm of peak torque between 1600rpm and 2800rpm (up 19.5 per cent from 343Nm at 2000rpm).

Unlike Prado’s outgoing diesel, the new engine also meets Euro IV emission standards, which will be mandated for all diesel, petrol and LPG-powered passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle mass under 3500kg from January 1, 2007.

Euro IV laws introduce cold-start emissions requirements, plus a carbon monoxide (CO) emission reduction from 1.0g to 0.5g/km.

Along with the extra performance and efficiency across the rev range, Toyota claims the new oil-burner is more responsive and smoother, while official combined cycle fuel consumption drops by 2.2L/100km (or 19.3 per cent) to 9.2L/100km for the manual and by 3.3L/100km (or a big 26.2 per cent) to 9.3L/100km for the auto.

A large part of the new Prado diesel’s sub-10L/100km fuel consumption is attributable to lighter new manual and auto transmissions from the V6 Prado, adding a gear ratio to both manual and auto Prado diesel variants.

Already available with Prado V6 and LandCruiser 100 Series, the new Toyota-built A750F electronic five-speed auto with gated shift is now available across the four-variant/two-engine Prado range, which includes the entry-level GX plus GXL, VX and the range-topping Grande.

The six-speed manual gearbox is also carried over from the V6 Prado and now comes as standard on GX and GXL turbo-diesels (but remains unavailable with the auto-only VX and Grande) and features easier-shifting triple-cone synchromesh sprockets for the first, second and third gears.

Both gearboxes continue to be combined with a low-range transfer case, as well as hillstart assist control and downhill assist control.

Prado’s new diesel gains a bigger new engine cover and is complemented by acoustic windscreen glass and new sound-absorbing material under the instrument panel.

"Prado’s new turbo-diesel engine delivers strong performance from idle and features an extremely flat torque curve," said Toyota Australia’s senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner.

"These characteristics make the Prado turbo-diesel ideal for acceleration, towing and off-road driving."

Although Prado’s 179kW/376Nm 4.0-litre DOHC petrol V6 remains unchanged, all Prado variants have also come in for upgrades.

The base GX now offers wider 7.5 x 17-inch "styled" steel wheels with 265/65-section tyres, wider side steps, wheelarch flares and mudguards, body-coloured bumpers and door-handles, side protection mouldings, and a chrome grille and exterior mirrors.

ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, cruise control and a leather steering wheel and gearshift knob are available as an option pack for GX ($1250).

The Prado GXL gains privacy glass and roof rails as standard, while additional standard features for the VX include power-operated front seats, leather seat trim and leather/woodgrain door trim.

Finally, Prado’s Grande flagship gets a new Lexus-style Optitron instrument cluster and added warning features.

All Prados continue to offer, as standard: twin front airbags, eight seats, eight three-point seatbelts, a 180-litre fuel capacity, power windows/mirrors, remote central locking and a six-speaker MP3-compatible CD sound system.

Toyota dubs its simplified new Prado pricing structure as "3+1", in which the automatic transmission commands a $3000 premium over the manual and the turbo-diesel is priced $1000 higher than the petrol V6.

As such, the upgraded entry-level GX turbo-diesel manual is now priced at $47,290 ($1000 more than the Prado GX V6 manual), while the GX turbo-diesel auto’s price is $50,290.

The Prado GXL turbo-diesel adds foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-CD player and air-conditioning, and costs $55,290 ($58,290 auto).

Now equipped with leather trim and powered front seats, the auto-only VX diesel ($68,290) adds stability and traction control, downhill assist, hill-start support, front side and curtain airbags, dual air-conditioning and a separate rear cooler.

Grande turbo-diesel auto’s sticker price is set at $75,290, which includes rear air suspension, active height control, an electric moonroof, satellite-navigation (with in-dash four-CD changer), cool box, alarm, trip computer and a partial cover for the spare wheel.

Toyota Australia has sold 108,477 examples since the Prado was launched here in 1997, including almost 11,000 to October this year. Excluding rear-drive versions of Ford’s dominant Territory, Prado remains the top-selling 4WD entrant in Australia’s medium SUV segment, which has more than doubled since 2002, when 30,671 vehicles were sold (69,947 found new homes in 2005).

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