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Toyota’s big friendly giant - The Toyota Prado


WHEN it comes to big luxury family haulers that enjoy a spot of dirt, a few SUVs roll off the tongue rather quickly. The Toyota Land Cruiser being one of them.

It’s big; it’s intimidating; and, boy oh boy – it sure is something to behold off-road. Besides following its updates, this Japanese sumo wrestler has been spruced up adding to its rugged appeal.

Some of the changes are a redesigned front bumper and changes to improve quality and convenience through the addition of a new multi-media audio system.
But the biggest change is welcomed to the suspension setup as the Prado now boasts the electronically-modulated Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) to enhance handling and ride comfort characteristics.

Taking to the streets, this juggernaut has a road presence like no other. While it might not be the most cosmetically appealing car on the road opting for a blocky look, you know what? Who needs a modern design, when your vehicle can take you anywhere? Besides, the Prado has more mechanical prowess than Robocop.

Sporting the 16-valve, 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, our test mule pumped out 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque and was mated to the five-speed automatic transmission. 
Toyota claimed 8.5 litres/100km from this big brute, but spending a lot of time wafting around in Joburg traffic I was hard-pressed to get close to that.

Admittedly, in town, the Prado felt like King Kong caged in the city and it was in the wild where it found its home. The renowned Toyota reliability and a healthy dollop of off-road talent is what makes this car so appealing. Capable of switching between high and low transfer via a dial plus the addition of a rear differential lock and ”crawl” control all add to the impressive list of off-road credentials.

The high ride height is great in rugged terrain and even has its place in the city but the bigger tyres make it cumbersome to drive on tar and the car wails a bit at pace and on the open road.

The diesel engine is fantastic from a fuel perspective and the surge of torque is great. But, for those who’ll spend more time climbing hills and playing in the mud, the petrol version is the better option because it doesn’t have that hideous diesel lag.

Overall, the Prado is a user-friendly car and despite it being such atechnically advanced vehicle, its off-road traits have been simplified to make it an easy-to-use explorer. It’s no wonder then that families around the world have fallen in love with it and the best just got better.

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