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Car reviews - Toyota - LandCruiser Prado - wagon range

Launch Story

Toyota logo23 Nov 2009

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

TOYOTA has made the LandCruiser Prado a household name with nearly 150,000 copies sold since the second-generation 90 Series launched here in 1997.

Aside from a raft of new features, the new Prado will have the might of Toyota’s marketing budget, big dealer network and the brand’s reputation for reliability to help counter the negatives of an ageing diesel, higher prices, added weight and reduced seating capacity.

Prices are up a minimum of $2450 for the GXL diesel to $8900 on the top-grade Kakadu model.

While the lower-spec models are around $2000 to $4000 more than equivalent Pajero models, the gap widens to around $14,000 up the top of the range. The $89,990 Kakadu even makes Land Rover’s less well-equipped but far more powerful $81,990 Discovery 4 SE look appealing.

The Japanese-designed Prado 150’s all-new body is mounted on a separate chassis and strut front/live axle rear suspension adopted and modified from the 120 Series.

The 150 Series is 80mm longer, 10mm wider and 15mm lower than the 120 Series, and has a 30mm wider track. The standard hard spare wheel cover accounts for half the increase in length, and wheelbase remains the same as 120 Series, as do the off-road angles.

The three-door measures 4485mm long (445mm less than five-door), 1875mm high (15mm less than the five-door) and has a 2455mm wheelbase (2790mm for the five-door).

Its rear overhang is just 1135mm (110mm less than five-door) and, along with the shorter wheelbase, improves its break-over angle (25 degrees versus 22 for the five-door) and departure-angle (26 degrees versus 25 for the five-door).

The 150 Series five-door is between 150kg and 200kg heavier than its predecessor, due to the stronger, safer body and increased equipment.

Inside the Prado is 35mm longer and 5mm wider and driver and passenger sit 30mm further apart. Its third row now folds into the floor but loses a seat, now making it a seven-seater. Toyota says occupant reduction saved weight and research showed owners were rarely using the extra capacity.

The second row is split 40-20-40 and has three child seat anchor points fitted in the seatback. The tailgate is a one-piece side-swing design as before, with a new hydraulic locking strut (which still only locks the door in the fully open position).

Fuel capacity for the twin-tank five-door model is 150 litres, down from 180 litres, while the single tank in the three-door holds 87 litres.

Toyota says it paid particular attention to the body’s crashworthiness by installing features such as multi-layer front-pillar reinforcements between the roof rail reinforcement and cowl for increased buckling strength and improved energy absorption, and reduced body deformation. High-strength outer sill reinforcements and other changes have improved side-collision performance.

Front pillars and roof-rail reinforcements are high-tensile steel, while the centre pillar and sill are super-high tensile steel for better lateral strength. Cross members, including a multiple load-path central beam, are positioned to better distribute impact energy and limit cabin deformation.

Seven airbags (front, front side, side curtain and a driver’s knee airbag) are standard across the range. Active safety features on all models include VSC electronic stability control, All-terrain Traction Control (A-TRC), and an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA).

Head impact-absorbing structures are used inside for the side pillars and roof trim, while the doors have foam-padded inner panels and crushable armrests to help reduce pelvic and abdominal injuries in the event of a side impact. New whiplash injury lessening active front-seat head restraints are used for the first time.

Pedestrian safety is improved by the design of the bonnet, front guards and cowl. The bonnet has an energy-absorbing structure with crush points behind the hood striker reinforcement to absorb impacts, while crush points have been added to the guard brackets and the guard protectors have been designed to slip down in the event of a head-on impact. The back of the cowl has an energy-absorbing open cross-section and a stepped cowl louvre to increase its ability to absorb impact energy.

Toyota is keen to point out that the Prado is a genuine off-roader and its owners do explore the great outdoors, claiming that 44 per cent of owners take their Prado off-road at least once a month.

While such self-reporting figures can be rubbery, there may be some truth to it given the Prado options take-up. More than 50 per cent of private Prado buyers will have a bullbar fitted and 80 per cent will have a towbar installed.

Towing capacity remains at 2500kg for the five-door and 3000kg for the three-door, while the five-door’s roof load capacity is 80kg.

There are four grades in the new 150 Series five-door range (GX, GXL, VX and Kakadu), each available with petrol or diesel engines, and two grades in the new three-door line-up (SX and ZR), which are both available with the diesel matched to the auto transmission only.

The GX is now only available with the diesel engine, and the only manual petrol you can buy is now the GXL. The entry-level Standard is gone, while the Kakadu replaces Grande.

The 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine has more power and torque and better fuel economy and emissions outputs, primarily due to the introduction of dual VVT-i (variable valve timing). The previous V6’s VVT-I system operated only on the inlet valves.

The revised V6 has 23kW more power - 202kW at 5600rpm - and 9Nm more torque, with 381Nm available at 4400rpm.

The V6 uses less fuel due not only to the new VVT-i system but also the 150 Series’ smoother body (which has an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.35 versus 0.37 for the old model) and by the use of low-viscosity driveline oil.

Economy has been improved by 12 per cent on the petrol automatic five-door model to a combined figure of 11.5 litres per 100km (down from 13.1L/100km), while CO2 emissions fall to 271g/km (down from 314g/km).

The petrol manual has combined economy of 13.0L/100km compared with 13.6L/100km for its predecessor.

As before, both the petrol and diesel are available with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, the latter now with a sequential shift mode in place of the gated lever in the 120 Series.

The 1KD-FTV 3.0-litre turbo-diesel also features improvements, albeit minor ones. New fuel injectors and a more efficient front-mounted intercooler (instead of the previous top-mounted intercooler) are used. Peak outputs remain unchanged: power is 127kW at 4400rpm and torque is 410Nm at 1600-2800rpm.

Toyota says it has improved the auto’s shift pattern in the diesel model to yield an 8.6 per cent improvement in combined fuel consumption, which now stands at 8.5L/100km. The diesel manual consumes 8.8L/100km (down from 9.2L/100km) and emits 225g/km of C02.

The new three-door automatic turbo-diesel returns combined fuel economy of 8.3L/100km.

The rest of the driveline and suspension package in lower-spec models remains in essence as before: a dual-range transmission with Torsen full-time centre differential and independent strut front suspension with a five-link live axle at the rear.

The high-low range mechanical shift lever has been replaced with electric activation via a rotary knob. As before, the centre diff is engaged via a push-button, as is the new locking rear diff on Kakadu and ZR models.

Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), first seen on the 200 Series LandCruiser, has been improved with electronic supervision for use on the Prado VX and Kakadu. The KDSS ECU varies stabiliser bar resistance to suit the driving conditions – via hydraulic control cylinders front and rear, which firm the bars when needed for on-road cornering and soften them for better wheel travel off-road.

In addition to KDSS, the Kakadu has Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and height-adjustable rear air suspension (Automatic Height Control), both of which are evolved features from the previous model.

Brakes have been upgraded via new four-piston callipers with increased piston diameter and thicker front ventilated rotors - up from 28mm to 32mm - resulting in a 14 per cent increase in heat capacity, which improves anti-fade performance. The hydraulic booster and brake pedal link ratio have also been changed for improved brake feel.

There are some clever new off-road features, such as the CRAWL control, which is an evolution of another feature that debuted on the LandCruiser 200 Series, except with five speeds instead of three on the 200.

CRAWL sets a fixed speed regardless of gradient by controlling both engine output and brake hydraulic pressure. It only works in low-range and disengages at speeds above 25km/h, or above 10km/h when the rear diff is locked.

Multi-Terrain Select is a new feature similar to land Rover’s Terrain Response - a sophisticated group of throttle and traction control settings for off-road conditions. In the Prado, there are four modes: Mud and Sand, Loose Rock, Mogul and Rock. Only mud and sand can be used in both low and high-range.

Multi-Terrain Monitor, which uses four external cameras to primarily help the drive negotiate tight off-road terrain, is also new. A 190-degree camera is mounted in the grille, with one in each of the side mirrors and one mounted to the spare wheel carrier.

The Prado also has a feature called Steering Angle Display, which displays the direction the front wheels are pointed - an advantage when twirling the wheel in slippery off-road conditions.

The ZR and Kakadu have the option of Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which has two modes: a normal set-speed cruise control mode and vehicle-to-vehicle distance control. The vehicle-to-vehicle mode draws on information supplied by a radar sensor, yaw-rate sensor, steering sensor and various other units to recognise the distance to the vehicle ahead in the lane, and keeps a set distance.

The ACC feature incorporates the Toyota Pre-Crash safety System (PCS), which uses the ACC’s front radar sensor to track the relative speed, distance and angle to objects ahead and gleans information from sensors that monitor vehicle speed, steering angle and yaw-rate and the brake system to calculate if an emergency situation is developing.

Initially using a warning buzzer and visual display to inform the driver to avoid a crash, the system will pretension the seatbelts and apply the brakes if it senses a crash is unavoidable and the driver is not responding to the situation.

While all but the entry-level GX get a rear parking camera, the screen in the Kakadu and ZR are more sophisticated and add the Lexus-sourced Back Guide Monitor, which superimposes guidance lines on the screen to assist reverse parking.

Standard equipment on all models includes air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and starting, tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment, side-mirror-mounted indicators, alloy wheels, wide-angle passenger view mirror, UV-reduced glass and a ventilated cooler bin in the centre console.

With an optional auto transmission, the GX adds Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC), while third row seats with side curtain airbags are a $2500 option.

The Prado GXL gets third-row seats and third-row side curtain airbags, three-zone climate-control, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, a 106mm central information display, steering wheel audio controls, an alarm, front foglights, roof rails, side steps, a cargo cover and a leather-clad steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake.

The VX comes with the KDSS suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off HID projector headlights with Adaptive Front-light System (AFS) and headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, front parking sensors and a leather interior with heated front seats, a power-adjust steering column, power-folding third-row seats, nine-speaker audio with CD stacker, privacy glass, time-delay headlights, an electro-chromatic rear-vision mirror, illuminated entry and multi-information display with steering wheel switch.

The Kakadu adds CRAWL control, four-camera Multi-Terrain Monitor (MTM), a rear diff lock, Multi-Terrain Select (MTS), sunroof, touch-screen satellite-navigation, 14-speaker Pioneer audio with DVD stacker, a ceiling-mounted rear DVD screen with three wireless headphones, two headphone jacks and AV input, a refrigerated centre bin, leather and mock wood steering wheel, wood and mock metal instrument panel and key-linked driver’s seat and steering column memory.

The only option for the Kakadu is the Pre-Crash safety System (PCS) and radar cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, which costs $2500 and means that the CRAWL control, electronic locking rear differential, MTS and one of the MTM cameras are deleted.

The entry-level three-door model, the Prado SX, has the same equipment as the five-door GX, except it lacks the sub-tank. The premium three-door ZR is equipped similarly to the five-door Kakadu and has the same $2500 option pack available.

The Prado is available in nine exterior colours, seven of which are offered across the range – Silver Pearl, Graphite, Metal Storm, Ebony, Dark Furnace, Sandstone and Storm Blue. Crystal Pearl is exclusive to the ZR, VX and Kakadu, while the Prado SX, GX and GXL are also offered in Glacier White.

Two interior fabric trim colours are available in SX, GX and GXL – Ivory and Grey. The ZR, VX and Kakadu have the choice of Ivory or Black leather trim.

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