2018 Toyota Prado review – The next chapter unfolds

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Toyota have released the 2018 model year edition of the Prado in Oman. How different is the 2018 Toyota Prado?

Author: Raj Warrior

2018 Toyota Prado

One feature that characterises hardcore off-roaders that use body on frame construction is that every model cycle has an inordinately long life. You may think it is because the companies behind them don’t want to disturb a surefire success. You would be right – but it’s also because there are usually so few advancements in terms of chassis and drivetrain technology to warrant frequent changes. So we end up with vehicles that run for a decade on average between model versions and the Toyota Prado is as good an example as any.

The Toyota Prado had its complete refresh almost eight years ago and this year’s upgrade could be seen as the evolution that takes it over the decade hump. To that effect the delicate balance of delivering just enough to keep the badge exciting to buy, without spoiling the surprises of the future model has been maintained.

1Design and Exterior

The Prado has had no fiddling with its platform or major body panels. The visible changes to the exterior are concentrated around the front fascia, with a new grille serving as the focus of a new headlight and bumper redesign – with the bumper being pulled in ever so slightly to improve the approach angle. The hood gets a raised treatment that is meant to provide a central dip that improves forward visibility, while the side gets a shiny new strake that runs across the bottom of the doors and there are new alloy wheel designs. The rear also gets its share of changes with new taillights and numberplate surround.

2Interiors and seats

The next major change visible is in the refreshed dashboard treatment that upgrades the central display to either an 8″ touch screen or at the top of the line delivers a 9″ navigation display that does away with some of the buttons of the 8″ unit. The VX also gets an Optitron instrument panel with dials flanking a 4″ display, with a refreshed steering wheel too. The dashboard looks flatter and taller, while it has actually been lowered at the top to improve visibility.

The Prado gets the seven-seater arrangement that is so popular – the VX gets the power switches that can drop the rear bench down when needed as opposed to the one touch pull arrangement.

Other than these obvious changes, the 2018 Toyota Prado gets a new comprehensive safety package that includes four elements – a dynamic adaptive cruise control that not only maintains distance in highway mode, it brakes to keep that. In addition you get forwards collision warning that uses the sensors to warn you of impending collisions and brakes to initiate the process when you get too close. The other must have element is lane departure warning. The last feature is automatic dipping headlights. The package is only being offered on the VX.

You also have to invest in the VX to get the ventilated front seats and the selectable power modes from a switch on the centre console.

3Powertrain and Chassis

Any dedicated off-roader is defined by its ability to trundle into the challenging stuff at a whim – the Prado is no stranger to those demands. It comes equipped with a suspension arrangement that gives it a standard 225mm of ground clearance – it uses a combination of independent front and rigid rear – with the front using MacPherson struts and a compact four-link unit on the rear.

Depending on your needs you can get any of the existing three power units on the Prado – ranging from the 163hp 4-cylinder 2.7-litre unit, to the 271hp V6 4.0-litre. There is even a 3.0-litre turbo diesel unit, but that is reserved for fleet customers looking for PDO spec cars – the last row is given a miss and the basic trim drops down to the entry level on the 2.7-litre unit. The two petrol engines get the benefit of a 6-speed automatic gearbox, while the diesel has a 5-speed auto.

Coming back to the virtues of buying the VX grade – you get Toyota’s KDSS hydraulic dynamic damping arrangement that uses a system of valves and cross point tubing to control suspension response on individual wheel points. You get both points on one side tighten up as you turn hard in the other direction, while in slower off-road mode you are able to get much longer travel on unloaded points while the loaded points take the weight with better refinement.

The next goody that the VX gets is a limited slip differential on the rear that kicks in depending on the need of the wheel.

4Driving Impressions

Frankly it is KDSS that will make all the difference in terms of driveability and we didn’t get that spec to test. We drove the 4.0-litre TX-L and while it comes close, we have enumerated the goodies it misses. But that doesn’t detract from its ability to handle the sands and water traps like it was born for the role. The torque is very useful in the lower to midrange, while the gearbox is a mix of shorter stopped lower gears with two really tall cogs at the top end. Yes, the engine does keep going into Eco mode while you cruise and that’s a good thing considering the new realities of petrol pricing.

But it is the handy torque and the selectable low range knob that really makes all the difference. The springing and NVH on this generation (the J150) of the model range are already tuned for greater creature comfort and you notice that even when flooring the engine in lower gears. There is a greater degree of muffling and just a little less harshness to the rebound on the springs. And the electromechanical steering remains just that slightly bit vague and dead centred on-road but engaging off-road. It is tuned to give a modicum of feedback while soaking up the shocks from the front axle.

5Verdict

As far as body on frame tough as nails vehicles go, the 2018 Toyota Prado is competing in a limited and shrinking gene pool. It definitely gives the impression of being a smaller, slightly less kitted out Land Cruiser and with this latest feature upgrade actually gives you an option of getting almost into LC mode. But the bulk of the need is from customers who occasionally take the Prado off-road or just enjoy the high ride height and inherent assuredness of the marque.

If you already own a Prado there is very little reason to upgrade, unless you are stretching yourself into the VX. That’s where the feature hotspot is in the 2018 Prado.

6Gallery

7Specifications

2018 Toyota Prado

Specifications   
Carguide IDTOPR00024TOPR00025TOPR00026
ModelPradoPradoPrado
BrandToyotaToyotaToyota
Model Year201820182018
StyleSUVSUVSUV
Wheelbase (mm)279027902790
Length Width Height (mm)4980 x 1885 x 18454980 x 1885 x 18454980 x 1885 x 1845
Engine2.7-litre i-4 DOHC4.0-litre V6 DOHC3.0-litre Turbo diesel
Power HP@RPM163271161
Torque Nm@RPM246382400
Gearbox6-speed Auto6-speed Auto5-speed Auto
Doors555
Seats775
Fr SuspensionDouble wishbone IndependentDouble wishbone IndependentDouble wishbone Independent
Rr Suspension4-link with beam axle4-link with beam axle4-link with beam axle
BrakesFront: ventilated discs / rear: ventilated discsFront: ventilated discs / rear: ventilated discsFront: ventilated discs / rear: ventilated discs
Wheels17-inch steel or aluminium17-inch or 18-inch alloy17-inch steel
Tyres245/70 R17 or 265/65 R17265/65 R17 or 265/60 R18245/70 R17
2018 Toyota Prado in 2.7-litre petrol, 4.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre turbo diesel engines
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Styling
Interiors
Powertrain
Features
Drive quality
Value for money
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Raj Warrior is the managing editor of Carguide.me and has been a part of the Middle East’s automotive landscape from the past 16 years. He has run top rung car magazines in India and Oman and is often referred to as the Automan of Oman, due to his long association with the magazine. A love of mechanisms and technology adds to his forte and contributes a mix of technical and lifestyle based assessment to his writing. An avid photographer, as comfortable on a motorcycle as he is in cars, Raj is driven by his love affair with all things on wheels and brings his passion to all his automotive ventures. Raj has chosen Oman as his home base because he loves the country, its friendly people and its great driving and riding roads.

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