Though it has ‘proper 4WD’ body-on-chassis construction the Toyota Prado is aimed at buyers who will do most of their driving on-road – but who do want to get serious at times in moderate to harsh off-road conditions.
Prado has been sold in Australia since 1996, but in this feature we will start with the November 2009 introduction of the fourth-generation. Australia is an extremely important market for the Toyota Prado, ours being the second largest in the world.
The gen-four is usually a seven-seater, unlike the eight-seater that had been offered in some variants of older Prados. Five seat models are on offer in some.
A slightly odd Prado with just two passenger doors was offered, it never took on so was quietly removed from the import list at the end of 2013. However, if you really don’t need back doors very often you may pick one up at a bargain price.
November 2017 saw the Prado get a fairly comprehensive restyle forward of the windscreen, with a more standout look to the grille and revised headlights. The rear saw new lights and changes to the bumper.
Inside, the dashboard was given a more modern look, the changes included revised instruments and the minor controls.
Prado is a large vehicle with plenty of interior space for occupants and a decent sized boot.
Parking in tight spaces can be a hassle, but it’s not overly wide so driving in suburban and city areas isn’t a real problem. Naturally, the big Toyota is in its element in the country and in the big open spaces in the red centre of this vast land of Oz.
Handling is safe and predictable but there’s no way you would call it sporty.
Off-road Prado is competent and will look after you if you drive it sensibly, in fact it’ll look after you if you’re not sensible. But that’s not way to treat it…
Folding the door mirrors in before you go into tight bush can prevent scratches on their covers.
Engines are four-cylinder turbo-diesel and V6 petrol. The diesel in the period being covered here has a 3.0-litre. A new design 2.8-litre was introduced late in 2015, its capacity was increased to 3.0 litres at the end of 2017 as part of a major makeover.
Petrols have a 4.0-litre capacity but faded from buyers’ favour when the newer diesels were introduced, though a few continued to be imported until the introduction of the new model of 2017.
Toyota is well represented just about everywhere in Australia where there’s civilisation – and even in places civilisation has barely reached.
Spares and repairs are usually readily available, though if you’re in the distant outback you may have to wait for some little ordered parts to be delivered.
There’s plenty of underbonnet space so it’s possible to do a fair bit of your own servicing and some basic repairs.
Insurance costs are usually towards the lower end of the scale. We don’t see any major differences in charges between the major insurers. Shop around, just be sure you’re making direct comparisons.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If you suspect a Prado has been off road, check underneath for damage to the protection plates, chassis rails, door sills, and the bumper lower corners.
Even gentle off-road running can lead to scratches on the doors, guards and door mirrors because it is a large vehicle that has been squeezed through tight spots.
Look for sand underneath the vehicle and in the wheel arches. If you find any, taste it for salt – indicating the Prado may have been playing around in breaking surf. This can lead to rust if any of the body protection has been breached.
Check the engine starts easily, idles well, though four-cylinder engines can be comparatively rough due to their big capacity.
Engines shouldn’t hesitate when accelerated hard, even when cold. Keep in mind the progress is on the leisurely side so don’t expect neck snapping takeoffs.
The later diesels are modern units and will start almost as quickly as a petrol engine, if you feel it’s too slow to kick over have it professionally checked.
Listen for any untoward noises from the differentials, driveshafts and front wheel hubs.
Look over the interior, particularly the back seat and luggage area as some Prados are used as heavy duty workhorses.
Expect to spend from $12,000 to $17,000 for a 2009 Toyota Prado GX; $14,000 to $20,000 for a 2009 GXL; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2012 GX; $21,000 to $28,000 for a 2012 Kakadu; $25,000 to $34,000 for a 2015 GXL; $32,000 to $43,000 for a 2014 VX or a 2017 GXL 7-seat; $38,000 to $49,000 for a 2015 Kakadu or a 2019 GX; $42,000 to $55,000 for a 2019 GXL; $46,000 to $61,000 for a 2018 VX; and $55,000 to $63,000 for a 2019 Kakadu.
CAR BUYING TIP
Vehicles are are used in the wide open spaces in Australia will often have big miles on their clocks. But easy driving and being warm virtually all the time is good for engines. Choose them on condition not indicted distant travelled.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/