After over a decade from the last overhaul, the new Toyota Prado is a wild departure from Toyota’s conservative playbook. But is it enough to make it a go-to tow rig?
You don’t need to look too closely to see Toyota are in a very different position now than 20-years ago. Back in 2003, they were on top of the game in every game they played. Across their entire range, they dominated the market, offering serious value for money, unbridled reliability, and feature parity with just about any other marque they competed against. If you didn’t have a HiLux, you had a second-tier ute. If you didn’t have a Prado, you had a second-tier wagon. It was as simple as that.
Now, competitors who weren’t even on the radar 20-years ago offer comparable vehicles for less money. In many cases, the competition built more feature-packed vehicles. Sure, Toyota still has the crown for reliability, but they’ve been building amazing hammers, while everyone else is building nail guns.
With the recent unveiling of the new 2024 Prado, it’s obvious Toyota are aiming to retake the lead, bringing a serious offering to the market. In the process, they may have just created the best value for money tow-tug in their lineup.
Why does the new Toyota Prado look different?
Toyota are a traditionally conservative company in terms of both looks and technology, and that’s what makes the new Prado so interesting. Dubbed the 250-Series, the styling is reminiscent of the near twenty-year-old FJ Cruiser’s styling that seemed modern, yet packed full of styling cues from previous models as well. Based on Toyota’s TNGA-F platform, the new body takes a massive departure from Toyota’s vanilla styling of previous models. You either love it or hate it.
Up front, the Aussie market will get the rectangular headlight front end in the new Toyota Prado. Styled off the FJ62 and early 80 Series LandCruisers, it features the old-school TOYOTA badging up front rather than the sombrero design Toyota have been using. Internationally, a round headlight offering is more in line with the upcoming 70 series. Maybe Australians aren’t ready for that level of retro? Either way, a classic white roof not only enhances the boxy styling, but is a smart choice given Australia’s hot summer sun.
Stateside, Toyota has typically been a little more bold with their styling. They were the birthplace of the FJ Cruiser after all. The new 250 Toyota Prado is a wild departure from the 150 currently on sale. However, it slots in right at home next to U.S. offerings such as the Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tundra. It’s a pretty clear indication of Toyota Australia moving more towards the U.S. styling and away from the Asian market styling we’ve seen in models like the HiLux and Fortuner.
What do we get for the money?
Styling aside, the new 250 Toyota Prado will offer up both five and seven-seat layouts depending on the variant. Estimated to be starting from the $70-75k mark, you’ll be able to get either GX, GXL, VX or Kakadu models. All will feature the same drivetrain. So expect the usual trim level differences like leather seats and larger screens differentiating the four.
On the inside, that same U.S. styling has made for a drastic overall and a significantly nicer place to be for long-haul touring and towing. With a physically lower roof line and higher waist line you’ll sit deeper into the cabin that any previous Prado. The analogue gauges and separate infotainment system in the dash have been replaced by a sleek dual screen setup handling gauges, heater and AC controls, and all the various ways you get music to your speakers. Fear not in this Prado though, Toyota has learnt from the mistakes of others. As a result, most controls look to still have physical buttons.
Off-road performance and safety features
A few different factors come into play when talking off-road performance as well. While the new Toyota Prado 250 retains the tried and tested full-time 4WD system from previous models, the chassis itself promises some pretty significant upgrades with a 50% increase in rigidity allowing the suspension to flex, rather than the frame. Paired with a remote disconnecting front sway bar the 250 will offer better articulation than ever before. Handy for people planning the big lap, or hauling their campers off the beaten path.
Safety features will get a huge boost too in the new Toyota Prado. The hydraulic power steering has been replaced by an electronic unit offering different steering profiles on and off-road as well as for low-speed manoeuvrability. This also allows Toyota’s Lane Tracing Assist as well.
What’s under the bonnet?
Well, that depends. World-wide, the new 250 Toyota Prado will be offered with a choice of five distinct driveline packages. Petrol offerings range from a 2.7L inline four with 120kW and 246Nm up to a 2.4L turbo-four hybrid with 242kW and 630Nm. A non-turbo version of the 2.4L is also available with 207kW and 430Nm.
On the diesel front, there’s two different versions of the same engine, both holdovers from the 150 Toyota Prado. Dubbed the 1GD-FTV, the 2.8L four-cylinder turbo-diesel is currently Toyota’s mid-size flagship engine used in the Prado, HiLux, and Fortuner. It produces a reasonable 150kW and 500Nm, putting it on par with its peers but hardly a standout.
In Australia, the only drivetrain option will be that same 2.8L diesel, with the addition of a 48V hybrid electric system and 8-speed automatic, a vast improvement over the outgoing 6-speed automatic.
On paper, the new drivetrain produces the exact same power and torque as the 150 Prado. 150kW and 500Nm. The addition of the hybrid system is designed to improve fuel economy by 10% as well as improve take-off ability and reduce engine noise. In short, it’ll take that old diesel and turn it into something far more refined than the base model HiLux’s it also comes in. Unfortunately, it looks like Toyota has decided to sling the spare tyre under the rear of the new Prado instead of on the tailgate like previous models. This could mean the removal of the Prado’s much-loved second fuel tank, and of the major selling points for long-distance tourers.
What will the new Toyota Prado tow?
The Prado in all its generations has been a fan favourite for towing, and for good reason. It’s been one of the most affordable pathways into a seven-seat Toyota and offered a significantly more civilised every day experience over the bigger 100 and 200 Series LandCruisers. That coupled with the long range tanks made it a sensible option. One area it’s always lacked though is towing capacity itself, often lagging behind its competition.
Toyota hasn’t yet confirmed towing capacity for the new 250 Prado but all signs point to a 3500kg capacity in line with its main competition, Ford’s Everest. The new 48V hybrid system has already been announced for the SR5 and Rogue spec HiLux’s where Toyota has publically stated they’ll offer 3500kg towing. So Toyota are more than happy to back the drivetrain to handle it.
Over in Europe, the new Prado has been confirmed as towing up to 3500kg. While stateside, the fancy cousin Lexus GX sports a twin-turbo V6 and rated towing capacity of 3628kg. When you factor in both the Ford and Isuzu competitors offer a full 3500kg braked tow capacity, it’d be a home goal for Toyota to offer anything less in the new Prado.