2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL Review
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Refreshed Prado gets some tweaks to the inside and outside, and key improvements to active safety. Diesel only.
2018 Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL automatic
Price $62,990+ORC Warranty three-years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP (2010) Engine 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 130kW at 3400rpm Torque 450Nm at 1600rpm (420Nm for the manual) Transmission six-speed automatic as tested Drive four-wheel drive (with low-range) Dimensions 4995mm (L) 1885mm (W) 1890mm (H) 2790mm (WB) Angles 30.4-degrees (A) 23.5-degrees (D) 21.1-degrees (BO) Ground Clearance 219mm Seats seven as tested Boot Space 480 litres Weight 2240kg Towing 3000kg braked Fuel Tank 150 litres (87L main; 63L sub-tank) Spare full-size Thirst 8.0L/100km claimed combined
BEFORE WE GET INTO THIS I want you to consider some numbers, and they are 566 and 15,982. That’s a gap of 15,416. The former is how many Prados sold in the UK last year and the latter, the number of Prados that sold here last year. I just find that a staggering difference.
See, the UK likes to tow caravans, like us and there’s plenty of off-roading to be had too. And the Poms can’t get enough of vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery. I would have thought the Prado would be a much stronger seller than it is in the UK. But maybe it struggles because here the Prado appeals to touring off-roaders and there isn’t that sort of ‘group’ in the UK… There’s no reason for mentioning the numbers and they certainly have no bearing on the review, I just found them interesting. Moving on.
What is the Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL?
The LandCruiser Prado GXL sits one up from the entry-level GX and now lists from $59,990+ORC in manual trim (a $1200 price reduction) and $62,990+ORC in automatic trim. Our test car was a GXL automatic with the Premium Interior option pack which sells for $3500.
The 2018 model-year Prado isn’t an all-new vehicle, but there’s more than enough by way of new kit, design and safety changes that it can be considered a significant refresh. Indeed, the beefy 4.0L V6 petrol engine has been dropped with only a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder now available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
One of the key changes and one that’s caused Ford an annoyance has been the raising of the Prado’s towing capacity from 2500kg to 3000kg which now matches the Ford Everest – well the automatic variant does, the manual is still limited to 2500kg. Previously, Ford had been able to claim bragging rights in this area over the Prado. This will be a significant upgrade for those looking for a medium 4×4 tow car – that said, it seems bonkers calling a near-5m long 4×4 with seven seats a medium anything.
The exterior changes bring the Prado in line with its bigger brother the 200 Series via the squared-off snout. While on the inside, there’s a new dashboard and touchscreen infotainment, but still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
For many, many years, the Toyota Prado has, unquestionably, been the best mid-sized off-road touring wagon you can buy, both in terms of capability and modifiability. And, from an ownership point of view, it’s always had great resale too.
What’s the interior like?
Well, this is one area where the Prado needed a lot of work. Up until this ‘refreshed’ model arrived very late last year, the Prado looked and felt like a throwback to the very early 2000s. There was hard, brittle plastic and fiddly little switches and acres of grey plastic.
In a lot of ways, unfortunately, that’s still largely the case. Yes, the interior looks better thanks to the redesigned dashboard and prominence of the infotainment screen; if you squint there’s a touch of retro to the boxy design, or is that just me?
Start running your hands across the surfaces, though, and it’s the same old story with hard, shiny, brittle feeling plastic used in abundance throughout the cabin. And the joins between one element and the next are great at catching and holding crumbs and grit so deep that it can be impossible to clean.
The interior is dominated by the box-like centre dash with its touchscreen infotainment unit, and climate controls below. The touchscreen system is typical Toyota flare, meaning its solid with a logical menu structure but the graphical interface feels old, and there’s no proper smartphone connectivity via Apple or Android. This means streaming music relies on Bluetooth connectivity, although if you have your phone plugged in and charging at the same time as being connected via Bluetooth then you’ll have two media streaming options. But one will cancel the other out, meaning, when I tried to play a podcast via the ‘iPod’ connection the audio played through my phone only; when I went via Bluetooth it worked perfectly. No biggie, but worth mentioning.
All the switches and dials are easy to reach and use on the fly but they don’t feel like the sorts of buttons, switches and dials you’d expect to find on a $60,000 vehicle. Indeed, the whole interior feel doesn’t feel like it belongs on a $60k vehicle, but the materials are hard wearing and should stand up to years of family abuse.
The driving position is nice and high and the seat is comfortable if not overly supportive when bucking and bumping around on a rough track or when the thing is rolling through a corner on the bitumen. There’s good movement on the seat for drivers of all heights to get comfortable behind the wheel and the steering wheel offers reach and rake adjustment.
Over in the back seat there’s plenty of room for three adults and fitting a booster seat is a cinch. My kids managed to scramble into the back of the Prado without issue and because the doors are light they were easy for them to close, even if the door was open fully.
The Prado is available as a seven-seater and you should only go for this option if you absolutely need seven seats as fitting the third-row raises the boot floor. You don’t lose a lot of functional space but loading and unloading, obviously, becomes trickier for those who are vertically challenged. Indeed, setting up the seats isn’t as easy as it is in, say, a Ford Everest. You’ve got to pull the back of the seat up, with quite a bit of force too, and then slide the base out. I climbed into the back and had very little foot room with my legs bent up towards me uncomfortably. I let my kids sit in the third row and they were comfortable enough, but my six-year-old isn’t legally allowed in the back row as there’s no top tether anchor for her booster seat to attach. I did, however, dry fit her booster seat and ask her to sit in it in the third row, and she had next to no room. So, as an occasional seat for older kids it’ll work, but adults need not apply.
Once the third-row is up boot space comes back to 120 litres from a not-huge 480 litres with the third-row stowed in the floor.
It’s worth noting the full-size spare is slung on the rear door which makes it incredibly heavy to swing open, especially if you’re pointing down a hill, even a slight one.
There’s tri-zone climate control in the Prado, with those in the second row able to adjust their own temperature to suit. There are roof mounted vents for the second and third row. Third-row vents are also handy for when you’ve got your pooch in the back… if the windows aren’t down, and you can read the effect lowering your windows has on fuel consumption here, then having cool air piped into the boot area will keep them happy.
What’s it like to drive?
The V6 petrol has been dropped. Beyond that, not a lot else has changed… although one key thing that has changed is the maximum braked towing capacity, which is now 3000kg – up from 2500kg. It’s meant the Ford Everest no longer has towing capacity bragging rights. And that’s good news for outback tourers wanting to tow a rough road caravan instead of a camper trailer. There’s also now a rear differential lock as standard. Moving on.
Our test car, as mentioned, is the GXL auto. It gets the only engine available, obviously, which is a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm of torque at 1600rpm. The automatic transmission is a six-speed unit; it’s not the most sophisticated set-up given competitors are moving to more-ratio transmissions, but it’s rock-solid and smooth enough.
Our time with the refreshed Prado saw us put it across PM’s usual test loop which is now lacking its ‘really’ rough section of bitumen that simulates cobblestones; thank you to the local council for resurfacing that section… We didn’t go too far off the beaten track because, as there’s been no real mechanical change, our Robert Pepper’s off-road review of the now-old Prado stands as being applicable to this one too, and you can read that HERE.
On the road, the Prado’s engine feels strong if not overly urgent… that is unless you keep giving it a good hard prod with the right foot and then it’s happy to pick up its skirt and gallop along. Once up and running, though, you quickly realise this isn’t the Prado’s forte and let it settle back to an easy jog where it becomes much more settled.
The on-road ride isn’t amazing, if I’m honest, and that’s partially because the Prado wants to keep its long-legged suspension wants to keep the wheels pushed hard into the road and, so, minor ripples, at highway speed do send jolts and joggles through the cabin. As firm as the suspension feels, though, there’s a lot of body roll and that’s even when travelling at around four-tenths. That said, the body roll isn’t disconcerting, and once the vehicle’s rolled over and settled it just holds that line.
As you slow down across a dirt road, you start to realise why the Prado’s suspension has been tuned the way it has, with its set-up allowing it to ease its way comfortably across all sorts of low-speed broken terrain. Grip is good on both dirt and bitumen; we didn’t get a chance to drive it in the wet.
The steering wheel is new but the steering ratio is the same slow set-up as before. There’s very little feel and, so, like playing a computer game you tend to use lots of different senses to determine the right amount of steering to apply to head in the intended direction. In the straight ahead and travelling at 100km/h you tend to nibble at the steering wheel and any sort of long drive becomes a little tiring.
In terms of driving off-road, the Prado is widely considered to be the best of medium 4x4s and the tweaks to this refreshed model will only enhance its reputation. As mentioned, follow the link above to read our Robert Pepper’s off-road assessment of the Prado.
What about ownership?
It can be hard to answer this question when we only get to spend a week with a car, but I think I can safely say that if you buy a Prado because you’re looking for a touring 4×4 then you won’t be disappointed. I’ve looked around and most of the opinions I’ve found have been glowing. I haven’t towed with a Prado for years, but there are some gripes around the auto in the diesel to hold onto sixth gear, or even fifth gear when towing… Anyone own a Prado and tow with it? Let us know your opinion.
There’s a huge amount of after-market gear to personalise your Prado and then there’s Toyota’s huge support and service reach across Australia. The Prado is covered by the Toyota Service Advantage which sees the first three years or 60,000km of servicing covered by $240 per service. That said, the Prado has very short service periods of just six months or 10,000km. I also think the warranty, despite Toyota’s reputation for reliability is very short at just three years or 100,000km.
What about safety features?
The refreshed Prado carries over its five-star rating from 2010 which, in my opinion, is a little cheeky. That said, the entire Prado range has copped a significant active safety update, including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning but not assistance as in the Everest, and automatic high beam. If you plump for the VX you get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
The Prado, of course, runs permanent four-wheel drive, traction and stability controls, seven airbags with curtain airbags that’ll reach into the third-row, keyless entry and start, and an engine immobiliser, as well as ISOFIX mounts on the two outboard seats in the second row.
So, what do we think?
If you want a solid and dependable 4×4 to drive into the Outback and back again then the Prado is hard to go past. It’s not the most dynamic in the segment, that’s the Everest, and it still feels old and cheap inside, but there’s enough in the pros column to keep this thing selling at the top of the tree.