The fourth-generation Toyota LandCruiser Prado might be getting on in years, with its design dating back to 2009, but that hasn’t stopped it from remaining one of the most popular large SUVs on Aussie roads.
Despite the fact there’s a new model slated for 2024, it’s still sold 10,849 units between January and August 2023. That’s over a thousand more than the second-placed Isuzu MU-X. It’s also part of the reason we were keen for one more steer of the baby LandCruiser.
The version on test here is the VX, which sits one rung below the top-spec Kakadu, and comes priced at $76,348 before on-road costs. Ours is fitted with the optional flat tailgate, although pricing is identical to those with the spare tyre still mounted there.
The Prado’s design is old, but its chassis is even older, with this 150 Series model drawing on the 120 Series that launched way back in 2002. Despite this, the Prado still looks surprisingly fresh courtesy of two facelifts for the current model, the last back in 2018.
Go for a higher-specified model like this VX with its 19-inch alloy wheels and it looks pretty classy, too. The optional beige interior is a good match for a mix of complementary brown leather trims, along with some lightly-tanned wood finishing.
While the interior is simple and ergonomic, with a driving position that’s absolutely on-point, it’s in here where the Prado’s age starts to show, with items such as the unsynchronised digital clock and blocky infotainment graphics showing up its age.
The clunky shifter pattern, and some of the switchgear doesn’t do it any favours either. The equipment list is strong though, with VX models featuring heated and ventilated front seats with power adjustment, heated second-row seats and three-zone climate control.
A 14-speaker JBL audio system, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto also feature, as does a fridge under the centre armrest. There’s a fairly good array of active safety technology as well.
Toyota’s Safety Sense system includes autonomous emergency braking with day and night pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection, high-speed active cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beam.
It also grabs blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, automatic high beam, and traffic sign recognition. All models other than the base GX come with a 7-seat layout as standard, and it’s the third row which is another area where the Prado is clearly a bit dated.
The operation of the third-row seat is a two-stage process which is a bit of a faff, and it’s only really big enough for kids to be comfortable there. It also drastically reduces the amount of boot space to a mere 120-litres with all the seats up.
That’s a big penalty over the standard 620-litres with row three down, and 1,800-litres with row two dropped. Even with the flat tailgate, it’s still side-hinged so the rear door swings out quite wide, but you can open the rear window for quick access.
Braked towing capacity is 3000kg, with ground clearance at 219mm (both lower than some rivals), although its 30.4-degree approach angle means it’s still perfectly capable off-road. All variants feature the same 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine.
It makes 150kW and 500Nm, and is paired to an Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel drive. A rear diff lock is also fitted. The combination means it’s not too bad a performer, with it feeling decently torquey when you lay on the throttle.
Acceleration still won’t blow you away and neither will its handling. That said, the feel of its hydraulic power steering is pleasantly relaxed yet weighty enough. Large ladder-frame 4x4s like the Prado aren’t really geared towards performance but rather durability.
On that basis, the Prado certainly feels like it will handle anything you throw it, at in typical Toyota fashion. Its full-time four-wheel drive system gives the Prado a very tractable feel on sealed roads just as much as on gravel.
Ride quality is good, whether on sealed or unsealed roads, and the standard suspension irons out bumps well. It also strikes a good balance by being dynamically competent, and there’s a good amount of articulation for when you’re tackling more challenging terrain.
Toyota claims fuel consumption of just 7.9-litres/100km although the best we could do was 9.4-litres/100km. With the regular tailgate, the Prado features a massive 150 litres of fuel capacity, but the flat tailgate version tested here only gets an 87-litre tank.
Like all Toyota models, the Prado is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and is also eligible for an additional two-year warranty on the engine and driveline so long as it’s serviced properly.
Speaking of which, servicing is required every six months/10,000km which is a frustratingly short interval compared to most rivals. It is quite affordable for this class though with the first six visits capped at $290 each.
Despite the signs of ageing, it’s easy to see why the Toyota Prado has continued to be so successful in Australia. It still feels like it can tackle anything this country can throw at it and looking good while doing it.
That said, the timing of the new 250 Series launch is impeccable. Part of me can’t help but wonder whether the new Prado will see the same level of popularity though, given it’ll be more techy and complex, and likely more expensive.
It’s the somewhat old-school charm of this outgoing model that makes it what it is. There’s no learning curve, and everything just makes sense because there’s not a whole lot to make sense of. It’s an off road icon.
And sure, plenty are pavement princesses – but for those interested in buying a Prado for all its capabilities, it’s worth getting one of these while you can. You can build your own on the Toyota Australia website. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.
This article originally appeared on drivesection.com and has been republished with permission. Test vehicle provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more, contact your local Toyota dealer.