New life in an old stalwart.

Story Peter Pap and Mark Muller  

The 2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado injects fresh life into this stalwart of the large four-wheel-drive offering in Australia. It comes in four models: GX, GXL, VX and Kakadu, all powered by the same 2.8-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine delivering 130 kilowatts of power and 450Nm of torque at 1600rpm. A new interior, new bodywork and new accessories are evident across the range.

OUTBACK spent a week in the new GXL. We figured the GXL, which starts at $59,990 for the manual version and $62,990 for the automatic, is a sweet spot in the line-up: not as bare-basics as the GX, and not as eye-watering as the $84,490 range-topping Kakadu. You’ll need to add on-road costs to all of these prices. 

The GXL can be upgraded with a ‘premium pack’ for an extra $3500. It gives you more fruit along the lines of leather accents on the seat trim, ventilated, electrically adjustable front seats and heated front and rear seats. Seven seats come as standard. 

Across mixed driving the vehicle performed very well. Back-country dirt roads of varying quality, high country fire trails and farm tracks, paddock work, highways, freeways and suburban school runs were tackled. The GXL handled it all with aplomb, but in town it seemed somewhat cumbersome. It has a kerb weight of just over 2.3 tonnes, and is nearly five metres long, 2m wide and 2m high, so there’s a lot of vehicle with which to contend. It feels softly sprung, and therefore feels like it wallows through corners and roundabouts. The diesel engine can also seem quite loud at low speeds, which can be off-putting. Once out of town and above speeds of 50 kilometres per hour or so the engine noise quietens and ceases to be an issue. 

On open roads the Prado is effortless to drive and the suspension tuning is perfectly calibrated. On the highway there’s no pitching and the Prado scythes from corner to corner nicely.  

Permanent four-wheel-drive with 4H and 4L drive modes works well, and the Prado feels glued to any surface. Even on wet, twisting roads, it handles well – there’s body roll, but it’s very compliant and planted. Steering is not light, but has enough weight to transmit the road surface to your fingertips.

Off-road the Prado performs flawlessly. Hill descent works well and rear diff lock (only available on the automatic) is great. There’s plenty of wheel articulation and you know that there’s solid, agile capability in difficult terrain. 

On dirt roads it handles well and when pushed hard there’s plenty of traction. You can feel the chassis has well-balanced grip from front and back and there are no nervous or scary moments when thrown by mid-turn bumps and the like.

The All Terrain tyres are a good match. They bark a bit in town when pushed but other than that they offer the perfect set-up for the sort of mixed driving conditions that OUTBACK  readers would likely experience. There were no rattles or squeaks and good NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) isolation and refinement in the chassis. 

A 150-litre fuel capacity across two tanks ensures that large distances between fuel stops can be accommodated without drama. Across 1000 kilometres of mixed driving, the GXL averaged just over 10 litres per 100km. 

The range comes with an admirable suit of standard assets, such as pre-collision warning system, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, auto high-beam lights and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. There are also ABS, EBD, seven airbags, traction and stability control and trailer sway control. Although we did no towing, the Prado is rated to pull 3000 kilograms braked, and 750kg unbraked. The GXL is further kitted-out with LED headlights, running lights and fog lights, sidesteps, roof rails, rear parking camera and separate climate control for all three rows of seats, among other things. 

The Prado is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty, and six-monthly/10,000km servicing capped at $240 for the first three years or 60,000km. 

At the end of our test, the only gripe we had was body roll.  That could be negated by buying the Kakadu, which has Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), which changes the tension on the sway bar, making cornering flatter and handling sharper and enabling significantly more wheel travel off-road and a suppler ride. It does, however, come at a significant premium.

In all, for country use – with long distances, varying road conditions and a range of weather – the GXL Prado is an excellent, composed, competent and rewarding vehicle. Given all of this and combined with Toyota’s excellent service network, storied reliability and strong resale vale, we expect to see see plenty of these out and about in the bush.

This story excerpt is from Issue #119

Outback Magazine: June/July 2018