Car ReviewsFirst Drive

Refreshed 2015 Toyota Prado review

Paul Murrell’s launch-based 2015 Toyota Prado review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

IN A NUTSHELL: Toyota’s Prado has had a facelift, a new diesel engine, a tweaked V6 petrol engine and a new six-speed auto to take on the latest challengers. Australia’s most popular SUV has just raised the stakes.

Editor's Rating

Our first thoughts of the refreshed 2015 Toyota Prado
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: The Toyota LandCruiser Prado has never been a style-leader, but the latest improvements make it a better all-rounder and it’s sure to continue topping the sales charts. Although new competitors have arrived to threaten its lead.

2015 TOYOTA PRADO

PRICE from $52,990 (plus ORC); WARRANTY three-year, 100,000 kilometres; SAFETY 5 star ANCAP (last tested 2014); ENGINE 4.0-litre fuel-injected four-cylinder petrol engine, 207kW @ 5600rpm, 381Nm @ 4400rpm; 2.8-litre turbocharged diesel engine, 130kW @ 3400rpm, 420Nm (manual) @ 1400-2600rpm, 450Nm (auto) @ 1600-2400rpm; TRANSMISSION six-speed manual, six-speed auto; BODY 4.93m (L, including rear-mounted spare wheel); 1.89m (W); 1.85m (H); WEIGHT 2150-2435kg; THIRST 7.9L/100km (manual diesel, combined), 8.0L/100km (auto diesel, combined), 11.6L/100km (auto petrol, combined).

THE HUGLEY POPULAR Toyota Prado was refreshed less than two years ago, but such is the speed of change in the category, the company has seen fit to deliver another upgrade. Headline changes for the latest model are a new diesel engine of slightly smaller capacity, a new six-speed automatic gearbox, slightly more equipment on some models and a slightly upgraded petrol engine.

Keeping the Prado at the top of its game is important because more Australians bought Prados than any other SUV and our relatively small overall market accounted for 8.6% of global Prado sales. As for upgrading the diesel, that’s equally important since 98.8% of Prados are now delivered with diesel power.

Toyota Prado Kakadu

In fact with such a majority of Prados being delivered with diesel, some people would wonder why Toyota bothers with the V6 petrol at all, but as Toyota’s Tony Cramb explains, the Prado V6 petrol scores well with repeat buyers and that makes it important to Toyota and its dealers. Not such welcome news is that Prado prices have been increased by between 0.5% and 2.6%, although to be fair, Toyota cut prices by between $2730 and $7630 on January 1 this year following the Australia-Japan free trade agreement.

The new diesel engine is quite an achievement (and will also power the HiLux and Fortuner models). The 2.8 turbodiesel (down by 227cc) produces 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm between 1600 and 2400rpm (for the auto; the 6-speed manual output is reduced to 420Nm produced between 1400 and 2600rpm) with an impressive 80% of torque available from just 1200rpm. That’s a useful increase of 3kW and 40Nm over the outgoing 3-litre unit.

Toyota Prado Kakadu

Internal friction has been reduced by 25% and the turbocharger is 30% smaller yet responds 50% faster. Even more importantly, fuel consumption comes down by six to ten percent to 7.9L/100km (manual) and 8.0L/100km (auto) which taking into account the 87-litre main tank and 63-litre subtank provides a useful range.

One of the most immediately noticeable changes to the diesel engine is the absence, to a major degree, of the typical diesel “clatter”. According to Toyota, this has been achieved by “designing” the engine note to remove “unpleasant sounds”. The V6 petrol engine has also come in for a few modifications, such as new injectors and modified exhaust to achieve 207kW (up 5kW) with torque unchanged at 381Nm.

Toyota Prado Kakadu (Freshwater crossing shown.)

The contentious issue of towing capacity means the Prado can tow 2500kg, quite a bit down on the claimed figures of some of the competitors where the benchmark is now a rubbery 3500kg. However, as Mr Cramb explained, Toyota is happy to make a conservative towing claim in the interests of durability.

The entry level Prados continue with independent front suspension and a solid rear axle, while the upper end models (VX and Kakadu) get an electronically modulated Kinetic Dynamic Suspension at the rear. The Kakadu goes one stage further with adaptive variable suspension and rear air suspension.

Toyota Prado Kakadu

The model line-up continues as before with the GX (diesel only) as the entry level with five or seven seats. The GXL, VX and Kakadu are all seven-seaters and offer either petrol or diesel engines. The VX and Kakadu are auto-only. By far the majority of buyers plump for the mid-spec GXL, so the addition of sat nav to this model will be welcome news to most buyers.

We drove all versions of the new diesel models, from the manual GX to the impressive Kakadu. There’s a new level of refinement from under the bonnet that transforms the character of the diesel Prado. Even when mashing the throttle to overtake on the open road, there’s no diesel roar or protest from the turbo.

The new six-speed auto is the perfect foil for the engine with unfussed changes and a useful ability to maintain momentum (and according to Toyota, will be the choice of 95% of buyers). The manual gearbox is slightly less happy, but an easy thing to live with. The gearchange couldn’t be compared to a sedan, but it’s certainly quite easy to use and the clutch pedal, while slightly numb, wouldn’t tax a slightly built driver of either sex.

The Prado rides well, if perhaps a little softly, but body roll is more than acceptable for the class. Moving off road onto two quite challenging tracks showed the genuine ability of the Prado. The wide spread of torque and very capable auto transmission allowed us to go much further and more confidently than we imagined.

2015 Toyota Prado car review

The articulation of the suspension and impressive traction certainly made me look a more accomplished off-roader than I really am. Some models get a Crawl function which maintains speed both up and down hill. Befitting a serious off-roader, the Prado gets good approach, departure and ramp-over ability. We tackled steep, loosely surfaced climbs, creek beds and a 40cm deep water crossing with absolute ease.

The Kinetic Dynamic Suspension on the VX and Kakadu grades cleverly improves wheel travel by disconnecting the sway bars. It also improves on-road handling by making sway bar response stiffer. However, all models were so capable, we were hard-pressed to see the difference.

Toyota Prado Kakadu

Prado’s line-up remains the same: diesel-only GX is available with five or seven seats while seven-seat GXL, VX and Kakadu offer the choice of engines. The two higher grades are auto only.

The addition of satellite navigation to the GXL variant “brings the convenience of this technology to the vast majority of Prado buyers”. GXL – including the special-edition “Altitude” diesel based on this grade – accounts for more than three-quarters of all Prado sales. VX and Kakadu are already equipped with this feature.

Pricing starts at $52,990 (up $1000) for the GX 5-seat manual model. Auto adds $2000. The GX 7-seater is $55,490 (manual) plus a further $2000 for auto. The big-selling GXL 7-seater is $59,990 (plus $2000 for auto). The VX 7-seat auto is $73,990 while the top-line Kakadu is $84,490 (a modest increase of $390 each). Premium paint adds a further $550. Petrol models come in at $60,990 for the GXL 7-seater, $72,990 for the VX and $83,490 for the Kakadu.

Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for an in-depth off-road test of the refreshed 2016 Toyota Prado.

Key Features by variant:

Prado GX:
• Five seats on GX (seven-seat option)
• Seven airbags
• Display audio and rear-view camera
• Trailer Sway Control
• Emergency brake signal
• Whiplash injury lessening front seats
• Vehicle stability control 
• Active traction control (A-TRC)
• ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA)
• Air-conditioning
• Cruise control
• Smart entry and smart start
• Tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment
• 220-volt rear accessory socket
• Bluetooth hands-free mobile telephone capability
• USB auxiliary input and iPod control
• Audio and phone controls on the steering wheel
• Side mirror-mounted indicators
• Alloy wheels
• Conversation mirror
• UV-cut glass
• Maximum 2500kg towing capacity

Prado GX automatic:
• Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC)
• Downhill Assist Control (DAC)

Prado GXL (in addition to GX):
• Seven seats standard (including third row coverage of curtain-shield airbag)
• Satellite navigation2
• Toyota Link with “navigate to” function
• Nine speakers
• Climate-control three-zone air conditioning
• Rear parking sensors
• Alarm system
• Front fog lamps
• Roof rails
• Side steps
• Premium steering wheel
• Premium shift lever knob and handbrake lever
• Roller blind-type tonneau cover
• Sun visor extensions
• Privacy glass
• Two additional cup holders 
• Heated and power-retractable exterior mirrors

Prado VX (in addition to GXL):
• Electronically modulated Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) suspension
• 18-inch alloy wheels
• Automatic on/off LED headlamps and headlamp jet washers
• Rain-sensing intermittent wipers
• Leather-accented seats
• Heated front and second-row seats
• Power adjustment for the tilt and telescopic steering column
• Power-folding third-row seat
• Front parking sensors
• 17-speaker premium JBL audio
• DAB+ digital radio
• Time-delay auto-cut headlights
• Electro-chromatic interior mirror
• Illuminated entry system
• Chrome interior door handles
• Luggage utility rails 
• Full-colour multi-information display with steering wheel switch

Prado Kakadu (in addition to VX):
• Rear cross traffic alert
• Blind spot monitor
• Pre-crash safety system
• Radar cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls
• Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system
• Five-mode CRAWL control
• Four-camera Multi-Terrain Monitor
• Electronic rear differential lock
• Toyota Adaptive Variable Suspension 
• Height-adjustable and auto-levelling rear air suspension
• Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) traction-control switch
• Moonroof
• Refrigerated cool box
• Enhanced ornamentation 
• Key-linked driver’s seat and steering column two-position memory pack

Toyota Prado range

 

  • AUSDAVIDZ

    Good too see still has solid 4×4 performance, cant wait to see PM put it through the industries harshest test regime

    Love the touring range with the twin tanks, 2% ULP buyers, why bother

  • Marts

    Hi.

    Just discovered this most excellent of websites. We’re about to become “grey nomads” (well, in name only at this stage). But we’re looking at the Prado as a tow vehicle for a van.

    How will the reduced engine size affect the Prado’s towing ability, despite its performance figures being higher than the larger 3l version?

    Thanks

    • Hi Marts – not affected, you cannot judge engine output by capacity, and there’s way more to choosing a towcar than just power. Do ensure that you get a towcar that can handle at least 500kg more than your intended maximum trailer weight.

      • Marts

        Thanks Robert. My concern was that with reduced capacity and increased output that the engine may be working harder.

        As for towing weight and so on, since I started researching this I’ve discovered that nothing is straightforward and that it can be a minefield for those who don’t research it and end up with a van that exceeds the car’s towing capacity, or that they load up the car with junk and it’s overloaded.

  • HD

    Hi, great overview/review of the Prado. The Prado GXL comes in at a similar price to the Fortuner Crusade, both of which have the offload ability and the creature comforts I am looking for. Which is the better buy/ recommendation? I am thinking the Prado GXL, although its an older model, it seems more sophisticated in how it is built and rides, and not to mention made in Japan, and proven reliability. Regards

    • Hi HD we do have a comparison of Fortuner vs Prado on the site.

  • Gerran

    Hi Robert, I have a 2004 diesel prado GLX auto (120 series) and tow a 1.8 ton van. I love the car but it struggles a bit on the hills and I am considering getting a new GLX prado with the 2.8 litre diesel. Do you think it will be better on the hills with the new motor (with 450nm) and any concerns with the increased stress on the new motor?. I have looked at the Everest but would prefer to stay with Toyota because of the great run I have had with my car.

  • Gerran

    Hi Robert, on paper the Prado 2.8 litre diesel looks better than the old 3 litre for towing. However having a test drive and read a few reviews I am not convinced and have seen a few negative comments in reviews about the towing performance of the Prado. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a test towing my 1.8 ton van and would love to hear from anyone who uses the new 2.8 Prado for towing. I took the Isuzu MU-X (3 litre diesel) for a test drive and was surprised at the grunt it has in getting up hills (without a van) and it seemed to have more pull than the Prado. Also found lots of positive comments on the towing ability of the MU-X. When you compare the specified torque (Nms) of each the Prado should win hands down (450 Nms. compared with 380 Nms. for the MU-X). The Isuzu dealer explained that Toyota measure the Nms. at the flywheel however Prado’s full time 4X4 drivetrain soaks up a proportion of this torque. This is not the same as Isuzu who measure Nms. at the rear wheels, which is a better measure of actual torque produced by the motor. The MU-X also has a flatter torque curve. Is this just dealer speak or does this have some credibility? I liked the grunty MU-X but not sure if I could live with the noise of the motor or the small tank.

    • Wow I’ve heard some dealer crap in my time but that’s impressive BS right there. Manufacturers all measure torque at the flywheel not at the wheels and measuring at the wheels is not better, it’s just different.

      The torque is not ‘soaked up’ by the drivetrain in 4WD vs 2WD. There are marginal friction losses but nothing to be concerned over, and AWD gives better traction and control when towing.

      Torque alone is not a measure of a towçar’s capability.

      Find another dealer!!!

Paul Murrell

Paul Murrell

Paul’s mother knew he was a car nut when, aged three, he could identify oncoming cars from their engine note alone. By 10, he had decided what his first car would be and begun negotiations with a bank to arrange finance, the first of many expensive automotive mistakes. These days, he is happy to drive other people’s cars (on the road, off the road or on the track) and write up what’s good about them and what isn’t.