Toyota Land Cruiser Prado ups the ante

Observer writer

Friday, February 23, 2018

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THE Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is already known for its legendary Toyota off-roading capabilities. However, the aim for 2018 was to add to its on-road prowess. And its makers succeeded.

From its inception, the Land Cruiser Prado was successful in bridging the gap between the ultra-luxurious Land Cruiser and smaller sport utility vehicles (SUV). The latest iteration doesn't attempt to stray far from what is already a winning formula.

Unlike the Fortuner, which it sits above in the SUV model range, Land Cruiser Prado hasn't gone through a radical visual change. A side profile would see the old and new models rather similar. It's the front and rear that get the updates. A new front fascia tones down the previous vehicle's massive grillwork and aggressively slanted headlights for a more subdued appearance.

The light changes continue on the inside. The materials have become nicer. The Prado has copied the understated luxury of its bigger brother, the Land Cruiser. At first, only the primary functions stand out, like the buttons that keep the Prado going over whatever terrain possible and the climate controls. Everything else is buried under either a layer of technology or some piece of luxury trim. It gives the interior a clean, simple look and does wonders for ergonomics, as after a few uses they all fall into place, allowing quick access from the driver's seat.

It's at that point the Prado's interior starts to reveal its true self. The serenity of the cabin is only ever broken by the significant demand for acceleration as the three-litre diesel makes the expected turbo noises. Otherwise, it's peace and quiet, unless the stereo is being used. Open the sunroof and the luxurious expanse of the cabin becomes even more apparent. Even in seven-seat mode, all can travel in comfort with three zones of individual climate control, power and USB connections to the eight-inch touchscreen that operates the infotainment system, and reverse camera. There is some overlap with a secondary 4.2-inch screen in the between the speedometer and RPM gauges, so the driver is never left uninformed.

Once a proper position is found with the four-way power-adjustable heated and cooled driver's seat, also for the passenger, the Prado shows off why it's a favourite as the viewing angle is best described as imperial. From the driver's seat, one can “lord over” the road, no matter its condition.

On unbroken tarmac, the Prado isn't some crude machine with off-road compromise. It's no sports car, but it's not clumsy either, as there is a remarkable lack of body roll. The leather-wrapped steering offers as much control as one needs and at whatever legal speeds it may be required to go, and the engine and transmission play fine together, even in SPORT mode.

Rough tarmac makes no difference to its pace as it just absorbs hard impacts with only audible acknowledgements to the fact that it drove over something. Push too far and the natural understeer of four-wheel drive interrupts before the “electronic nannies” kick in. Should things go wrong, the Prado is filled to the brim with airbags.

It handled all that was thrown at it, on and off-road, without the engagement of 4x4 Lo or the Differential Lock. The Land Cruiser Prado is just as happy trampling through an actual jungle as it is the urban ones.

The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado starts at $9.6 million.




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