Prado Kakadu is still capable, luxurious and now slightly more practical
The Toyota Prado is one of Australia’s biggest sellers and in order to stay on top of their game, Toyota has been gradually rolling out a number of moderate updates.
Since we last tested the Prado back in May 2018, Toyota has added a function to cycle the diesel particulate filter (DPF) and, perhaps the biggest change in Prado history since the mid-size SUV launched locally back in 1996, the option of having the spare wheel mounted under the floor, rather than on the tailgate.
They also dumped the 4.0 litre petrol V6, as it was on the nose with a lot of buyers, who simply chose the diesel.
Should you opt for the new tailgate design – which is a no cost option – the glass hatch opens separately, meaning you can load smaller items like shopping without having to pry open the whole rear door. Convenient.
Anyway, onto our test car. We revisited the flagship Prado Kakadu which is priced from $84,119 plus on roads. The standard equipment list is generous: you get adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a 360 degree camera system, autonomous emergency braking, heated and cooled front seats, multi-zone climate control, leather trim, satellite navigation, a roof mounted BluRay DVD player and much, much more.
Power still comes from a 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produces a meagre 130kW @ 3400rpm but it is torquey with 450Nm @ 1600-2400rpm. Power makes its way to pretty much any surface via a six-speed automatic and the Prado’s all-wheel drive system.
We’ve criticized this engine in the past for being a little agricultural. It’s a little on the noisy and coarse side, and erodes the Kakadu’s prestige SUV’s aspirations. Performance is relaxed. It’s not that the Prado is underpowered – all that torque should be handy for towing – it’s just never really in a hurry to go anywhere.
Rather ironically, the facelifted Prado Kakadu offers a number of driving modes, which have been borrowed from Lexus: which include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport + modes. The differences between the driving modes are minimal, with the sportier options holding gearshifts slightly longer.
Naturally, the Prado Kakadu. is hugely competent off-road, with high and low range gearing, diff lock and limited slip differential fitted as standard.
Inside, the Prado Kakadu is spacious, comfortable and well made. It’ll devour seven people easily, the seats are soft and supportive and are wrapped in high quality leather. Passengers in the first two rows have plenty of room, with the third row best suited to children.
A roof mounted DVD player should keep the kids happy on longer journeys, but we think it’d be beneficial if screens were also mounted on the back of the front headrests.
Toyota’s infotainment system looks and feels dated, with some graphics and the satellite navigation appearing to be a little primitive. As Toyota is beginning to roll out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in some of its models, so some changes could be on the horizon.
Now, that new tailgate. It is considerably lighter than the standard version with the spare wheel and, the separately opening glass hatch is handy. However, as the Prado is a tall vehicle as a general rule, you do need to lift objects rather high to load them into the opening.
We can’t help but think an electrically opening rear would be a better solution, especially in a luxury 4×4 with a price tag that’s nudging $90k.
That said, though, the absence of the spare wheel on the back does improve visibility and we think it gives the Prado a cleaner less bulky look.
Granted, relocating the spare wheel to under the floor does eschew the secondary fuel tank, but Toyota insists the Prado will still get 1000km to a tank of diesel.
The choice of tailgates is purely a personal one. Overall, though, the Toyota Prado Kakadu is still a very luxurious, well-equipped, capable and family friendly SUV. It’s just showing its age in places.