STEPPING (up) into the 2016 Toyota Prado GXL manual with the help of the grab-handle in the A-pillar, after spending a week with the Kluger, it is clear instantly that this vehicle is made for a different market to Toyota’s other 7-seat SUV.
Bigger, tougher, simpler, it is not really an SUV but a true four-wheel-drive, and the most notable improvement this year is the refined, powerful 2.8L 4-cylinder diesel power plant.
Visually, there’s nothing to differentiate parajumpers polo shirt damen the 2016 Prado from last year’s model, inside or out. Presumably, as Toyota sells more of these than any other SUV in the country, they’re taking the ‘when you’re onto a good thing, stick to it’ approach. It works on the exterior, with its clear, solid lines and its instantly recognisable grille.
On the inside it’s a slightly different story. The dash layout is practical, but even with the now-standard satellite navigation on the GXL, there’s an overwhelming sense of nostalgia to the grey velour on the seats, the hard plastics, and the simple instrument binnacle that could just as easily have been lifted from the 2005 model.
Just a simple electronic odometer and external temperature read-out sits beneath the twin speed and tachometer dials – not even a one-colour multi-function display – is a bit sub-standard in a $60,000 car. Summing up the interior in one word though, would be ‘outdated.’
That being said, the interior works fine, and has plenty of storage for bottles, cups, and anything else you need to find space for. The sat-nav is easy to use, but the screen is a bit small at the top of the centre stack. Reducing the size of the buttons on either side of the display could release some extra room for a bigger screen.
The front seats are fairly flat, without a great deal of lateral support, but an incredible level of comfort, which makes for effortless long freeway journeys. And speaking of freeways, the Prado simply eats up the miles with pleasure.
Point it down the Hume from Campbelltown and before you know it you’re approaching the sign to Canberra. The diesel engine is quiet – much quieter than expected, and although it’s not as powerful as its rivals, the Prado never feels underpowered.
In its wisdom, Toyota has detuned the 2.8 litre from 450Nm in the auto, down to 420Nm, which for the mostParajumpers Dame part is unnoticeable, except on long hill-climbs in 6th gear, sometimes requiring a shift to 5th a little earlier than expected.
Fuel economy is excellent. In a vehicle that tips the scales at well over 2,000kg, the engine sips diesel at the very respectable rate of less than 8 litres per 100km, even dipping as low as 7.5.
Around town, with stop/start traffic and extra gear changes, we experienced consumption as high as 13.5L/100km, which in the scheme of things is still pretty good. Overall our test returned 10.4L/100km with a mix of about 60% freeway driving, 20% suburban, and 20% city.
There’s a reason more than 90% of buyers choose the diesel over the 4.0L six-cylinder petrol also offered by Toyota.
Handling on-road is never going to be car-like, and sharp corner turn-ins will leave passengers in the rear pews a little queasy with very noticeable body-roll. But it’s off-road where the Prado shines.
Full-time 4WD, low & high range, and spare wheel mounted on the tailgate means it can go pretty much anywhere in this rugged brown land.
For those going far off-road, an approach angle of 32 degrees, departure angle of 25 degrees, and more than 200mm of ground clearance make the Prado an excellent choice, unlikely to be bettered by any direct competitor other than the Discovery.
There is a lot to like about Toyota’s venerable Prado in 2015 guise, particularly the combination of the sweet-shifting six-speed manual and the quiet, refined, torquey diesel. It will take a large family to school on weekdays, and to the country on weekends in comfort.
It’s only the outdated interior that lets this otherwise impressive SUV down, and it will only be more apparent to buyers comparing it with the newer, sexier (albeit pricier) Ford Everest.
The 2016 Toyota Prado GXL comes in Glacier White, Graphite, Silver Pearl, Metal Storm, Wildfire, Ebony and Liquid Bronze. The version we tested (turbo-diesel/manual) hits the road at $59,990 plus on-roads.
Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2016 Toyota Prado GXL, contact your local Toyota dealer.