1 Jul 1996
Traditional 4WD leader Toyota was caught unawares by the unexpected success of medium-sized 4WDs like the Mitsubishi Pajero and Jeep Cherokee.
So in came the full-ladder frame chassis Prado, featuring a full-time 4WD differential with two-speed transfer case.
Replacing the crude Hi-Lux ute-derived 4Runner, it impressed buyers with its good looks, comfort, space and relatively civilised on-road manners – courtesy of its car-like coil spring suspension and reinforced body shell.
Two engines were offered at launch – a 112kW/240Nm 2.7-litre four-cylinder (3RZ-FE) and a 132kW/303Nm 3.4-litre V6 (5VZ-FE) – with the choice of a four-speed auto or five-speed manual gearbox.
The four models were: 2.7 RV and V6 RV6, GXL and VX Grande.
All V6s featured a 159-litre fuel tank and eight seats (to the 2.7’s 90 litres and five seats). Power steering was standard, while dual airbags and anti-lock brakes were optional.
Value-added special editions included the World Cup of May ’98, the Getaway of October ’98 and May 99’s Snowy.