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Driven: Toyota Prado facelift arrives

Freshen up: A mid-life update for the popular Toyota Prado includes price increases of between $236 and $1455, depending on the variant.

Price rises on most variants and three-door dropped as Toyota upgrades the Prado

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Toyota logo12 Nov 2013

TOYOTA Australia this week launched the first significant update of its 150 Series LandCruiser Prado large off-roader since launch in 2009, replete with new frontal styling, redesigned cabin switchgear, tweaked suspension and some additional active safety equipment.

The revised version of Australia’s top-selling large SUV arrives on the market at a convenient time for Toyota, with sales of the outgoing version down 15.4 per cent this year and softer-edged rivals such as the Ford Territory and Holden Captiva 7, plus the five-seat Jeep Grand Cherokee, nipping at its proverbial heels.

The range has been pared back to 11 variants (including different transmissions), with the slow-selling three-door bodystyles axed. Toyota says the sales rate towards the end was around 10 units per month, out of an average total monthly haul of around 1200 cars.

In return for the mid-life facelift, all offerings with the exception of the fleet-special GX base five-seater with manual gearbox have copped price increases ranging between $236 (GX seven-seaters) up to $1455 for the flagship Kakadu versions in both petrol and diesel guise.

Beyond the upgrades briefly outlined, the major mechanicals are untouched, including the engines, transmissions, dimensions, off-road angles and the separate chassis construction with familiar long-travel front independent/ live rear axle suspension.

Safety features trailer sway control - which helps prevent ‘jack-knifing’ when undergoing a swerve with a trailer - and an emergency brake signal are new to the range, while the Kakadu also gains a blind-spot monitor and pre-crash auto brakes as standard fare. Existing equipment such as seven airbags remains as before.

Seven seat models – in other words every model except entry level GX – have improved rear-seat access thanks to an improved tilt mechanism on the the middle row.

Styling changes include a deeper front bumper and a larger grille with five prominent vertical bars, integrated with new headlamp clusters. The tail-light clusters have been redesigned with red and clear lens segments and the LandCruiser logo is integrated within the lamp casing.

‘Aerodynamic stability’ has supposedly been increased by adopting aero stabilising fins on the exterior mirror base and rear combination lamps.

Additional specifications to each variant over the old model are as follows: the GX gets a rear-view camera, newly designed 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels, audio controls on the steering wheel, an LCD central display and new six-speaker display audio system (with a seven-inch central screen).

This in addition to standard equipment such as cruise control push-button start, 220-volt accessory socket, and USB, Bluetooth and auxiliary connections.

Towing capacity remains 2500kg (below rivals such as the Holden Colorado 7).

But while the base $55,990 (plus on-road costs) manual costs the same as before, the seven-seater with auto transmission is an extra $1013 over the old version, at $61,190.

The volume-selling GXL, which accounts for 75 per cent of total volume, includes the new six-speaker display audio, the 17-inch alloy wheels, plus heated and power-retractable exterior mirrors in return for price hikes between $355 and $555.

The GXL now starts at $61,490 for the manual, 3.0-litre diesel ($2700 extra for the six-speed auto), or $63,190 for the V6 petrol auto.

Additional equipment over the GX includes climate-control, rear parking sensors, roof rails and side steps, fog lights, a leather steering wheel and seven seats as standard.

Enhancements to the $1355 pricier ($77,990 as a petrol, or $1000 extra for the diesel) VX begin underneath with an improved version of the Australian-developed Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), featuring an increased front-cylinder rod diameter and rear-cylinder piston diameter.

These changes have increased input force by improving the performance of the front and rear cylinders, meaning tweaks to the front stabiliser bar diameter and thickness, front stabiliser bar bush inner diameter, front lower-arm stabiliser bracket thickness and the frame KDSS bracket thickness.

Toyota also claims the power-assisted steering has been ‘recalibrated’ to increase build-up feeling off centre and provide a “better connection to the road”. The Kakadu has the added features of Adaptive Variable Suspension front and rear and height-adjustable rear air suspension.

There are also newly designed 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlamps with daytime running lights, while the cabin gets a 17-speaker JBL multimedia audio system and DAB+ digital radio, as well as a full-colour display, heated second-row seats and a new control panel for the various rear-seat functions. Extra gear over the GXL also includes 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, partial leather seats, front parking sensors and satellite navigation.

Upgrades to top-of-the-range Kakadu ($1455 more expensive, to $91,590 for the petrol/$92.590 for the diesel) include the adoption of a Blu-ray player for the rear-seat nine-inch entertainment system.

Under the bonnet, the unchanged 4.0-litre quad-cam V6 petrol engine still makes 202kW of power and 380Nm of torque through a five-speed automatic transmission that can also be used with the sequential shift function. Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is a claimed 11.5 litres per 100km.

However, 95 per cent of sales are the 127kW/410Nm (between 1600 and 2800rpm) 3.0-litre turbo-diesel matched to either six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmissions (VX and Kakadu are auto-only). Consumption is a claimed 8.5L/100km (8.8 for the manual).

Both transmissions are matched to a full-time four-wheel drive system with a lockable Torsen centre differential and two-speed transfer case.

Toyota Australia has sold the Prado here since 1996, with more than 210,000 finding buyers since then. Over the past 10 years, the company has averaged 14,700 annual sales, making it the segment leader in that time.

Australian sales are the third highest of any market in the world, behind only China and Russia.

2013 Toyota Landcruiser Prado pricing*
Diesel
GX 5$55,990
GX 5 (a)$58,690 (+$436)
GX 7 $58,490 (+$236)
GX 7 (a)$61,190 (+$1013)
GXL$61,490 (+$355)
GXL (a)$64,190 (+$555)
VX (a)$78,990 (+$1355)
Kakadu (a)$92,590 (+$1455)
Petrol
GXL (a)$63,190 (+$555)
VX (a)$77,990 (+$1355)
Kakadu (a)$91,590 (+$1455)
*Excludes on-road costs.

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