Revered as one of the most challenging roads in the world due to its winding twists, hairpin bends and frightening drops, it does however offer some truly breathtaking scenery, that is if you are piloting a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Luckily, I was behind the wheel of the facelifted Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
The Land Cruiser name has a lineage of almost 65 years, very similar to that of Sani, and has gained somewhat of a cult-like following around the world.
Bridging the gap between the off-road ready Land Cruiser 79 Wagon and full-size Land Cruiser 200, the Prado has been nothing but a success for Toyota since its introduction well over 20 years ago. With this updated model though, Toyota has added more style, luxury and safety without compromising on off-road ability.
Although still recognisable as a Prado, changes include a redesigned front bumper, rectangular headlights and a bonnet with power domes that resemble those of the Land Cruiser 200.
It’s modern yet imposing and muscular, something I quite like when it comes to a big SUV. The new looks are functional though and contribute to the car's off-road ability. Thanks to the higher positioned lights, the Prado has both improved wade depth and cooling. At the rear, there is the usual spare wheel mounted on the rear door and new taillights with blacked-out clusters.
On the inside
Toyota has made some improvements to the cabin too, which remains spacious and practical. Much like the Land Cruiser 200, the Prado features a centre tower-mounted in the dash- board. Here the driver can control all aspects of the car including all the off-road functions.
One of the more noticeable features is the new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display. I will admit that it is not the most visually appealing system and that it feels somewhat dated at times, especially the low quality 360 degree camera system. This doesn’t detract from the overall luxury inside the Prado though. A new stitched leather and wood steering wheel definitely adds a touch of class.
Practically and safety
Being a Prado, you can expect loads of head and leg room as well as boot space. I drove the VX-L which slots in above the TX and VX as the new range topper. Aside from the usual electric everything, you also get new safety items such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Sport Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alerts, Lane Keep Assist and Pre-Crash Braking.
Under the bonnet
The Prado retains the proven 3.0 D-4D engine offering 120kW/400Nm. If I’m honest, it’s not the most eager engine around, but when it comes to reliability and durability, there is no equal. I also averaged around 11.0-litres/100km. The car is also fitted with a somewhat aged five-speed automatic gearbox.
It’s a Land Cruiser and because of that, it needs to be a capable off-roader. Thankfully, Sani Pass presented ideal conditions for me to sample the Prado’s 4x4 hardware.
Systems such as Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), which actively regulates wheel-slip, and Multi- Terrain Select (MTS) makes traversing the rough stuff easy. The latter allows the driver to select the ideal mode depending on the ‘road’ ahead. The system has five settings; Mud & Sand, Loose Rock, Mogul, Rock & Dirt and Rock.
On the road, the Prado offers a soft and comfortable ride. It does however feel large but some might find that appealing. It’s able to cruise the streets of Sandton as easily as it did taking us up Sani without a hitch.
Warranty and Service
All Land Cruiser Prado models come as standard with a five-year/90 000km service plan and three-year/100 000km warranty.
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 DT TX AT - R821 700
Land Cruiser Prado 4.0 VX AT - R930 000
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 DT VX AT - R 932 400
Land Cruiser Prado 4.0 VX-L AT - R967 200
Land Cruiser Prado 3.0 DT VX-L AT - R969 600