Last week I asked what Japanese car manufacturer was founded
in 1920 to make cork products? The answer was in the name of the Japanese
Company founder, Jujiro Matsuda. He established the company in 1920 as Toyo Cork
Kogyo Co., Ltd. which later became Mazda.
And so to this week. Let’s go back to three wheelers. If
the car I had seen in the park in the UK had been a Morgan, what style of front
suspension would it have had?
Perhaps the title should have been “How many grand to
spend?” as it costs AUD 72,000 in Australia but some of the Prado range can be
purchased in Thailand with the closest specification here being a cool 2.5
Prado V6 Grande
Our Down-Under correspondent John Weinthal has been blasting
around the boonies in the top of the line Prado and came up with the opinion
that there are many less effective ways to spend $72,000. Here are the Words
“The Toyota Prado has been a success story for Toyota
Australia. It slots between the fun, soft-roading RAV 4 and the big-bruiser
full-on LandCruiser range. Prado is an honest off-roader of considerable talent
without some of the ultimate - and rarely required - ruggedness and go-anywhere
capability of its big brother. A distinguishing feature from most other
mid-fielders is its standard eight-seater capacity.
now have what might be called Prado Mk 11. This is a much more stylish vehicle
than its predecessor both inside and out, but the base formula remains the same.
That said, this is a comprehensively better vehicle in every facet -
particularly the range-topping AUD 72,000 Prado Grande tested.
“Were Toyota to badge this vehicle a Lexus I would be the
last to argue. For my money it deserves this accolade far more than the re-badged
full-sized LandCruiser V8 which is passed on with a huge price premium, and not
a lot more, as the Lexus LS470. I say this, I should add, at the same time as I
have the keys to the delectable new five-seater Lexus RX330 wagon. This will be
reviewed shortly. (Some people have all the luck - Dr. Iain.)
“New Prado is safer, stronger, more economical and a lot
more refined. In Grande form it could be almost considered as an eight-seater
alternative to a local limo like the Ford LTD or Holden Caprice, but with real
off-roading ability and seating for eight. Its refined hush combines with an
unexpectedly supple ride.
“The downside is that its height and over two-tonne weight
also ensure that it has less than car-like reflexes when it comes to cornering
and traffic light grand prix starts. But these will not necessarily be demerits
for many drivers, and especially for their passengers. To ride in the
rear-air-suspended, self-levelling Prado Grande is to endure no hardship.
“A host of valuable features - visible and otherwise -
apply across the three-engine and three-spec new Prado range. Every Prado from
the entry level 112kW 2.7 litre petrol GX model up has full-time
four-wheel-drive, at least two air bags, three-point seat-belts to all eight
seats, CD player, engine immobiliser, power windows and mirrors and remote
locking. Safety and comfort features increase as one moves through GXL to the
“All Prados are available with a 96 kW diesel or a 4 litre
179kW V6. Four-speed auto is optional on all models. The 2.7 litre 112kW
four-cylinder engine is confined to the entry level Prado GX, but it too can be
had as a manual or auto. Toyota seems to have hit every button this time.
“Committed fishermen friends assure me a recent week on
Fraser Island could not have seen them in a better vehicle. These guys gave the
Grande the sort of treatment few owners will ever mete out. These guys are old
hands. They are not easily impressed, especially by something which carries just
about every comfort feature going, exudes refinement on road and is quiet enough
to justify the Lexus badge it richly deserves in so many areas.
“There is a raft of safety aids. These start with ABS
all-disc brakes and full-time four-wheel-drive. There are side curtain airbags,
hill start and downhill assist controls for really rugged off-road
mountaineering and more.
“Torque from the new 4 litre quad cam engine is 35% greater
than before, and the Prado V6 is more powerful than either of the entry level,
but more expensive, Mercedes or BMW all-wheel-drive wagons.
“Satellite Navigation is standard as are roof rails, an
excellent sound system, dual air-con, security alarm, trip computer, compass
altimeter and barometer! What more could one ask for? Comfortable, super-plush
looking leather seat perhaps? That too is standard.
“This is a comprehensively equipped vehicle of exemplary
build quality, that will carry eight virtually anywhere in considerable comfort.
Of course, it will deliver just as well for any number short of eight, with
luggage capacity rising with each body you leave back home.
“At AUD 72,000 many will not even consider it out of order
to take it into the rough stuff - and the Prado Grande will reward them richly.
There are many less effective ways to spend that sort of money.”
(Thank you John, and reading between the lines, it seems as
if you liked this one! Dr. Iain.)