There’s something about the big 4WDs out on the road, something that when you see so many you start to ask yourself – why do so many people drive them, what is the appeal? As the owner of a traditional “wagon” and the father of three young kids – space is important, so my wife and I took the brand new Toyota Prado on a weekend away with the family to see what all the fuss is about.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
You’ve got a climb up into the Prado, this is not a RAV4, or a Captiva, this is a proper sized 4WD – yet not as huge and overwhelming to consider as things like the Nissan Patrol. That said, it has a high perch so the feeling on the road from the dealer that first time in the car right through to the long family drive – you’ll need to adjust and likely very quickly appreciate the benefit of the higher driving view.
Out on the road the Prado has a soft feel behind the wheel – it’s lighter than many basic sedans to steer, but that gives you a feeling of confidence to counter this high perch and big frame which can be offputting.
Among the many settings you’ve got at your disposal, the main one you’ll need to be aware of is the sport and comfort options for the suspension. On the most basic of winding roads the comfort setting can feel rather loose. Switching it to sport gives it a stronger feeling and when you’re twisting around the bends you want to feel like it’s sticking to the ground not rolling all over the place – sport mode does that well.
Space wise there’s a feeling of great space for the driver and front passenger, not only is the height something that adds to your perception of space, but the huge centre area with a fridge for several cold drinks is a big separation.
In the back you’re looking at a middle-row seat that is similar to the Holden Commodore. I know this because we sat our three kids back there with little difference.
My oldest (7) son was a bit annoyed he couldn’t ride in the third row on the way to our destination – but I had to explain that put simply that was the boot – and when you’re travelling with three kids there is no packing light. So the rear seats stayed folded down until we had unpacked at our accommodation.
The scale of the vehicle from the outside does make you think it’s going to be enormous inside, when in reality – I don’t think we had much more space than had we taken the Commodore Wagon – just a bit more comfortable up in the front roe.
Ins and Outs
Pricing up this Turbo Diesel Kakadu variant of the Toyota Prado with dealer deliver brings the price tag to just over $100,000. That’s steep. With a premium of only $1000 for the Diesel I’ve got no idea why you would choose the petrol given the stunning 140l of fuel storage on board. The estimated distance on one refill was over 1,000km’s, which is just what they need in a vehicle like this when you’re in rural Australia. City dwellers will love it too though, because it’s a rare thing to have to worry about running low.
As a family car, the Prado Kakadu has a rear seat entertainment unit dropping from the roof which allows you to play DVD and Blu-Ray’s through either headphones or the car speakers. With little ones on board you’ll find headphones aren’t an easy thing so after a short while you’ll revert to the car stereo and have to sing the Wiggles Toot-Toot Chugga-Chugga big red car along with them.
The entertainment system is great, but in reality the little ones will not use headphones, and your older kids will probably have their own device. I wonder how far off an “Apple TV” compatible solution where using Chromecast or similar kids can use the screen that’s built-in to play their own content. Seems a logical next step.
For the driver this vehicle makes life a breeze. Concentrate on the road ahead and let the Prado do the rest. Radar cruise control will keep your speed limited and consistent, while adjusting to the vehicles around you by slowing down when someone pulls in front of you. It works, and works very well on the Prado – for freeway drives it’s almost a must-have today.
Then of course there are the rest of the mod-cons, the cameras, park assist and almost assumed bells and whistles at this level – including Blind-Spot monitoring to prevent little mistakes on the open road.
The Kakadu variant has all the options you’d need, and your mates will love the look, the features and the comfort. The solid reliable performance of a trusty Toyota 4WD will not likely let you down.
The Hip Pocket
A GX model Prado will set you back around $60,000, while it climbs right up to this Kakadu spec at a touch over $100,000. While I loved the top line features, the average family wouldn’t likely be considering that kind of expense, so you’re going to need to analyse every details of the features and specs to work out which one in the range is for you.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
This is a great vehicle, easy on the eye, a solid drive on the open road (Where most of you will be taking it) and very well equipped. The Kakadu gets the EFTM Credit Stamp – well worth a closer look if you’re in the market.