Land Cruiser Prado
AT HOME IN AFRICA
- Dramatic new look for legendary Prado
- Smarter interior with added functionality
- Under-the-skin changes – suspension refinements and extra safety kit
Toyota’s iconic Land Cruiser Prado has undergone a metamorphosis with bolder exterior styling, a more refined interior and even better handling for 2014.
Ringing the exterior changes is an extensive redesign with a deeper front bumper, heritage-inspired grille and newly styled alloy wheels that reinforce the Prado’s toughness, reliability and legendary off-road prowess.
Interiors too have benefited from comprehensive upgrades that raise quality, convenience and ease of use with new multi-media audio systems as well as a redesigned dashboard featuring improved materials, detailing and features.
Under-the-skin fettling comprises upgrades to the electronically-modulated Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) to enhance handling and ride comfort characteristics.
Finally, Toyota has amplified functionality by providing additional driver guidance aids such as Blind Spot Monitoring and a Tyre Inflation Warning system on the VX and Trailer Sway Control (standard across the range) that assists when towing by negating the possible unpleasant consequences of crosswinds or bumpy roads.
Toyota SA Motors Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Calvyn Hamman, says the upgrades will reaffirm the Land Cruiser Prado as one of the most technically advanced and easy-to-use 4WD vehicles in the world.
“Land Cruiser Prado has become renowned in the 4WD market for its blend of rugged performance and premium features.
“The latest improvements will enhance Prado’s rock-solid reputation as one of the world’s toughest and most reliable 4x4s while offering the cachet, comfort and on-tar performance that are important to today’s customer,” Hamman says.
Dramatic New Look
The new Prado front-end treatment is the stand-out feature of the redesign, led by a deeper front bumper, heritage-inspired grille and new light clusters.
Toyota has introduced a more prominent grille that marks an evolution of the traditional arrangement of five parallel vertical bars, giving them a stronger appearance.
The new grille and restyled headlamp clusters form a single, powerful-looking unit, which has been positioned higher to make it less vulnerable to damage when driving off-road.
A neat touch is the inclusion of discreet Land Cruiser branding above the turn signal lamp within the headlamp casing. Headlights and daylight running lamps are LED on the VX.
The oversize bumper’s two-step design protects the headlights while its sharply trimmed lower section minimises the effect of the front overhang on the vehicle’s off-road abilities.
In addition to being electrically-adjustable and retractable, the outside mirrors on TX models are now also heated; in the case of VX models, added functionality comes in the form of Blind Spot Monitoring.
The latter warns the driver if there is a vehicle in the blind spot on either side, using millimetre-wave radars to detect other vehicles in adjacent lanes. It informs the driver of the presence of a vehicle by illuminating indicators in the relevant exterior mirror. The mirror indicator will remain illuminated as long as the vehicle is detected. It will flash when the turn signal is operated while another vehicle is in the blind spot.
There is no change to the turning circle (11.6 metres) or approach (32°), departure (25°) and ramp-over (22°) angles, safeguarding Prado’s excellent agility, manoeuvrability and off-road supremacy.
The vehicle profile is enhanced by newly designed 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels for TX and 18-inch 12-spoke alloys for VX versions.
Moving to the rear, changes are more subtle but nevertheless just as eye-catching as the Prado’s new face.
Tail-light clusters have been redesigned with clear lens blocks inset with red accents. Once again, the Land Cruiser logo is neatly integrated within the lamp casing.
Aesthetics aside, Toyota has also increased the new Prado’s aerodynamic stability thanks to aero stabilising fins on the exterior mirror base and rear combination lamps.
In addition, there are front and rear spats to smooth air flow around the tyres and wheel housings, and a rear undercover to channel air flow behind the rear tyres for a smooth exit behind the vehicle. A rear spoiler smooths air flow from the roof. A front deflector corrects air flow coming through the radiator grille, to reduce turbulence. The front bumper is designed to push air flow away from the sides of the vehicle, to smooth the flow towards the rear. (Prado has a drag co-efficient of 0.35.)
There are two striking new exterior colours: “Midnight Blue Metallic”, a dark blue mica paint, and “Liquid Bronze Metallic”, a mid-tone khaki hue.
VX versions are available with an optional electrically-operated sunroof.
Smarter more functional interior with added kit
The Prado’s interior décor has similarly been uplifted. Revised interior trims and ornamentation create a more elegant atmosphere for this seven-seater SUV with premium touches such as double stitching for better tactile appeal and even higher perceived quality.
Leather seat upholstery is standard on both TX and VX models but in the case of the latter, the side door panels are also swathed in leather, plus you get the option of an ivory colour palette in addition to the standard black treatment. The front arm rests on both models now come with slide functionality.
A welcome new feature on both trim levels is the adoption of power-adjustable front seats with memory (eight-way adjustment for the driver and four-way for the passenger seat).
To improve ease of entry and exit for third-row occupants, the forward-folding angle of the second-row seats has been increased by more than 12 degrees. The floor has been lowered by 38.1mm at the third row of seats to increase foot space.
Seat heating is extended to the outboard second-row seats in VX models, offering independent operation with two temperature settings.
The bottom line is that the interior upgrade focuses on making the vehicle’s drive systems easier to access and monitor.
Prado’s revised geometric dashboard design, for example, features a strong horizontal form dissected by a prominent vertical centre console that is ergonomically efficient.
Within the upper console, a new audio control panel has been located above the seven-inch full colour screen (new for TX), which shows reverse camera images on all grades and satellite navigationon VX models as well as displaying multimedia and audio content.
The revised driver’s instrument binnacle incorporates new tachometer and speedometer dials – Optitron for VX. (Optitron is a bluish-white light that illuminates that gauges in such a way that they seem to “float” in the middle of a dark background at night. It also is easier to see them in daylight.) The VX model also features a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display (MID) located between the Optitron dials. Operating in conjunction with a switch on the steering wheel, it provides significantly enhanced off-road driving assistance. Information regarding individual wheel traction control, steering angle and differential lock operation can be displayed simultaneously for maximum driver assistance in challenging terrain.
Top-level VX models get a Multi-Terrain Monitor which gives drivers additional guidance when negotiating off-road obstacles by relaying video imagery via four cameras located at the front, rear and sides of the vehicle.
Multi-Terrain Select is another VX standard. This feature automatically controls power outputs and braking inputs to provide the swiftest progress over a variety of surfaces. The main change is that this feature is now operated by a dial.
The driver can select the appropriate mode according to terrain. Multi-Terrain Select regulates wheel-spin, while Multi-Terrain ABS regulates lock-up to maximise traction in any off-road scenario. Multi-Terrain Select is an evolution of Toyota’s A-TRAC (active traction control system) and incorporates All-Terrain ABS, thereby offering a wider range of slip control.
Also, a fifth mode, to help negotiate a combination rocks and dirt, has been added to the previous rock, loose rock, mud and sand, and moguls (middelmannetjie) modes.
This new dial offers simple, intuitive control of both the Multi-Terrain Select system and Crawl Control speed adjustment – the latter is standard on the VX models.
This dial and the adjacent 4WD and Adaptive Variable Suspension (VX only) system switches feature knurling and illumination for maximum clarity and ease of use, even under extreme off-road driving conditions.
Lastly, dual automatic climate control makes its debut across the Prado range, replacing the previous manual air-conditioning system.
Under the skin
Land Cruiser Prado has the choice of two proven engines – a four-litre V6 petrol engine with dual VVT-i and a three-litre turbo-diesel.
The quad-cam V6 petrol delivers 202kW of power at 5600rpm and 381Nm of torque at 4400rpm. It is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with sequential shifting.
Combined-cycle fuel economy is 11.5 litres per 100km and the CO2 reading is 266g per kilometre.
Prado’s 16-valve, DOHC 3.0-litre turbo-diesel pumping out 120kW at 3400rpm and 400Nm between 1,600 and 2,800rpm is likewise matched to a five-speed sequential automatic transmission offering a combined-cycle fuel economy of 8.5 litres/100km. CO2 readings are pegged at 224g/km.
Prado’s A750F Super ECT five speed automatic transmission has a gated sequential shift and optimum shift feel thanks to an electronically controlled hydraulic shift system. Prado automatic can be driven in conventional automatic mode with the shift lever in ‘D’ or in manual style using the sequential shift function.
This transmission is matched to a full-time four-wheel drive system with a lockable Torsen centre differential and two-speed transfer case. Prado has a dial to control the high/low transfer, rather than a conventional lever. VX versions additionally feature a rear differential lock and CRAWL control – Toyota’s low-speed off-road cruise-control system.
The new Land Cruiser comes with an improved version of Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) technology originally developed in Australia. The refined KDSS optimises handling stability and ride comfort, including smoother front-rear weight transfer during cornering.
KDSS controls Prado’s front and rear stabiliser bars, providing optimum stability and ride comfort on road, and longer wheel stroke for optimum traction off road. KDSS debuted on Land Cruiser 200 Series in 2007 and was upgraded with electronic control when the current-generation Land Cruiser Prado was launched in 2009.
Prado VX versions have the added features of Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) front and rear, and height-adjustable rear air suspension.
Upgrades to Prado’s KDSS include increased front-cylinder rod diameter and rear-cylinder piston diameter. These changes have increased input force by optimising the performance of the hydraulically-controlled front and rear cylinders.
Toyota has therefore optimised the front stabiliser bar diameter and thickness, front stabiliser bar bush inner diameter, front lower-arm stabiliser bracket thickness and the frame KDSS bracket thickness.
KDSS gives Prado two previously contradictory benefits: long wheel articulation for challenging off-road driving and greater on-road roll-control and handling. The system improves active safety, off-road capability and on-road driving comfort and confidence.
The addition of electronics, powered by its own electronic control unit (ECU), makes the KDSS system more sensitive to inputs on vehicle speed, steering angle, yaw rate, and longitudinal and lateral acceleration or deceleration.
At low speed, for example, the ECU ensures that stabiliser bar resistance is minimised – to provide optimal wheel articulation. The KDSS ECU varies stabiliser bar resistance to suit the driving conditions – via hydraulic control cylinders front and rear.
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado now has an additional layer of confidence and control for owners who use their vehicle for towing in the form of Trailer Sway Control – standard across the range.
Trailer sway control is enabled by, and integrated with, the existing vehicle stability control technologies to aid the driver in the event that a trailer starts to swing from side to side. It is designed to suppress swaying that can be triggered by factors such as crosswinds, bumpy roads and sharp turns of the steering wheel.
It detects trailer sway based on information from the vehicle’s yaw-rate sensor, acceleration sensor and steering sensor. If sway is detected, the system uses deceleration control and yaw-moment control to suppress the effects. A slip indicator in the instrument cluster warns the driver while the stop lamps illuminate to alert following drivers. The system operates seamlessly and does not require the addition of hardware or any change to the trailer.
AT HOME IN AFRICA. Quickpic. 29 December 2013. http://www.quickpic.co.za