Added safety features and clever off-road gizmos take the always popular Toyota Prado to the next level.

Story By Matt Raudonikis

Toyota's LandCruiser Prado has been an Australian family favourite since it was first introduced here in the mid-1990s. That was actually the second generation of Prado, the first not being sold here, and the third-generation model replaced it in 2003. Late in 2009 Toyota launched the fourth-generation Prado worldwide with a raft of new technologies, more standard equipment and a bigger interior cabin to ensure the model’s popularity continues into the new decade.
The Prado’s appeal has always been that it offers the best part of the full-size LandCruiser 100 and 200 series wagons’ off-road ability, but in a smaller wagon that is easier to live with both in and out of town. It uses traditional four-wheel-drive vehicle construction with a separate ladder chassis, live rear axle and dual-range transfer case but gives concessions to comfort and drivability with the use of independent front suspension. The three rows of seating gave places for up to eight passengers in previous models but even though this latest Prado is bigger, seating capacity has been reduced to seven in order to manage weight.
The new Prado is 80 millimetres longer and 10mm wider but has a 15mm lower roofline. The extra size has allowed for more interior space and this is better utilised with a second-row seat that slides forward and back and third-row seats that fold flat into the floor. The interior trim features a new dash with a modern appearance and user-friendly controls for the driver.
The most exciting new features are the electronic driver’s aids found in the top-of-the-range Prado Kakadu. These features include a multi-terrain monitor (MTM), multi-terrain select (MTS) and crawl control (CC).
Rear-view cameras have become common in 4WD wagons affording drivers a better view of what is directly behind them when reversing. MTM adds three more cameras – one on each of the exterior mirrors and one in the centre of the radiator grille, to give the driver a better view all around the vehicle when driving off road. The side cameras can display forward and back of the mirrors to show the full side of the vehicle, while the front camera has a 190-degree view of what is directly in front of the vehicle. This is particularly useful to show the track ahead when cresting a steep hill when all you can see through the windscreen is the sky.

This story excerpt is from Issue #70

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2010