Toyota Prado 4-litre V6
Announced as a future model at the Auto Africa Show in October last year, it has now been launched to complete Toyota's three-model Land Cruiser Prado range, consisting of the Turbo diesel manual, mechanically similar VX turbo diesel automatic, and now the VX petrol automatic.
Comparisons with its 3.4-litre V6 predecessor illustrate just how dramatically Toyota has upped the stakes in the booming international market for sports utility vehicles (SUVs) with serious off-road credentials.
Power is up from 132 kW at 4 800 r/min to 179 kW at 5 200 r/min, with torque improving from 298 Nm at 3 600 r/min to 376 Nm at 3 800 r/min.
This compares favourably with the outputs of the fuel-sipping 1KZ-TE diesel versions, which boast
96 kW at 3 600 r/min and 343 Nm at 2 000 r/min from a 3-litre four cylinder turbo diesel engine, now fitted with an intercooler in the latest Prado installation.
But even more important to discerning buyers in this premium luxury class are the levels of comfort, sophistication and impressively low noise levels offered by the new-generation V6 flagship model.
In common with the VX turbo diesel, it features a permanent four-wheel-drive system, and is mated to Toyota's smooth-shifting four-speed automatic, with a lock-up torque converter, and second gear start function.
Technical highlights include a rigid bodyshell mounted on a rugged ladder frame chassis, with 60% greater torsional rigidity than its predecessor; a Torsen limited slip centre differential; Active Traction Control (A-TRC); Vehicle Stability Control (VSC); Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and
Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)..
The new Prado is also unusual in featuring an additional long-range fuel tank as standard, providing a 180-litre capacity.
Safety has also been of paramount importance to the Land Cruiser designers, the V6 Prado boasting
17-inch wheels as standard to accommodate large four-pot calliper disc brakes, coupled to the latest generation ABS brakes, Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist System (BAS.
Intelligent dual-stage front airbags are supplemented by side airbags for the front seats and curtain shield airbags for the front and middle row seats, with three-point seatbelts and head restraints provided for all seven seats.
The front seat safety belts feature two-stage pre-tensioners with force limiters, and two ISO-FIX child seat anchors are also provided.
The new Prado is sumptuously appointed, the list of standard equipment including plush leather furnishings, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver's seat and four-way adjustable front passenger seat, a one-touch auto up and down function for all four electric windows, a powerful but fuel-efficient three-zone climate control system with separate controls for rear seat passengers, Optitron instrumentation, a multi-function trip computer and an integrated premium audio system with a convenient six-CD shuttle mounted in the glove compartment.
Dr. Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa, says that the market has reacted very positively to the new Prado, which is seen as offering "more for less," as there were more features, a built-in five year/90 000km service plan and a lower retail price than for the equivalent outgoing models.
He predicts ongoing sales of more than 100 units a month in South Africa, with about 60% of sales going to the two diesel derivatives.
Prices: Turbo diesel R419 800; VX Turbo diesel R469 800; VX V6 petrol R446 230.
Clickhere for Prado photo gallery.