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Toyota’s (not quite new) Terrain Trouncer

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GX Review New Zealand

You are overcome with a sense of all-conquering power the moment you climb (and I mean climb) inside a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. Of course it’s big and bold, offering an elevated seating position across a rather substantial bonnet, and that goes a long way towards your thought process but it’s way more than that. For although Toyota has gone a long way towards ‘beautifying’ this large SUV, there is still an underlying utilitarian feel about it, and you know it’ll take you WHEREVER you want to go.

With the new Land Cruiser Prado, Toyota have really lifted the whole face of the SUV. The bonnet has more defined curvature, the headlights are more pronounced, and the shallower chrome grille makes way for elevated airflow and larger air ducts. The interior has been freshened up too. It has a more cohesive flow with the 8” display infotainment centre (complete with chrome buttons and accents), merging sweetly down to meet the centre column. The tunnel effect look of the predecessor’s Instrument cluster has been removed and now the display is more open and clearer. Overall, the new SUV looks younger and sprightlier, however, it’s not, well not really, and that’s a good thing.

You see, behind it all, the Land Cruiser Prado has kept its tried and trusted chassis that will cross the town and cross mountains with equal aplomb, and although the V6 engine has gone, it’s replacement 4 cylinder 2.8-litre turbocharged diesel produces a similar, unfaltering, powerhouse that won’t win any drag races but get you there, wherever ‘there’ is.

As expected, the 6-speed automatic transmission keeps everything in check and the Full-Time 4WD ensures all four wheels are where they should be and doing what they’re told on and off road (oh and High and Low ratios are accessed via a rotary switch in the console).

Unfortunately, (and I actually mean that), I didn’t take the Land Cruiser Prado anywhere near the rough stuff, however, like I said in the beginning, I was filled with the confidence that it would simply chow down on muddy terrain like a cow would clear a rolling meadow, probably slow and methodical but certain to get the job done.

On the topic of getting the job done, with a towing capability of 3000kg’s (with trailer sway control software as standard), seven seats with ample space, ground clearance of 215mm and a wading depth of 700mm, this is a vehicle that’s going to tough it out – my jaunts to the local mall and transportation of kids to soccer didn’t exactly vex this vehicle, but chores are chores and jobs are jobs!

It’s not that often that I’m handed the keys to the base model from any vehicle brand but the GX didn’t come across as lacking. It came with plenty of driver’s aids for my around town exploits and had a few up its sleeve should I have chosen to be more adventurous (Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and a centre diff lock switch that ensures the front and rear wheels work together).

The ‘new’ Land Cruiser Prado may be a combination of a large slice of ‘modern’ underpinned by the reassurance of a well-proven core, but whichever way you look at it, the result is a large SUV that looks to trounce any terrain that’s thrown at it.

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