When Basic is Best. Words Dean Mellor
Toyota Prado GX ($53,490)
What?! Another Toyota? Yes, and for good reason. Like its smaller Fortuner GX sibling, the base-spec Prado GX has everything you need for bush travel and not too much of the unnecessary ‘fruit’ that you’ll find on higher-specification (read: higher-priced) models.
The Prado has separate chassis architecture with independent front suspension and a live axle rear with coil springs. Like the Fortuner, the Prado is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that makes a claimed 130kW of power at 3400rpm and 420Nm of torque from 1400-2600rpm mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, or 450Nm with the optional six-speed auto, which adds $3k to the price.
The Prado GX offers a generous 150L fuel capacity which results in a touring range in excess of 1000km, and it features a full-time 4x4 system with a lockable centre diff. Low-range reduction is excellent and the Prado offers a good combination of ground clearance and wheel travel for off-road forays.
The Prado is significantly larger than the Fortuner but if you opt for the manual transmission GX variant you’ll have to make do with five seats (third-row seats are optional on Prado GX auto). This results in a cavernous cargo area that’s well suited to carrying gear for extended trips into the bush. While the Prado GX manual has a generous 760kg payload capacity, those who want to haul a heavy trailer should note that maximum braked towing capacity is 2500kg with the manual transmission, increasing to 3000kg with the auto.
Standard equipment on the base-spec GX includes cloth trim, manual air conditioning, air-conditioned cool box, 8-inch colour touchscreen, satnav, smart entry and start system, and 17-inch alloy wheels with 265/65R17 tyres. On the safety front, the Prado GX manual has seven airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, TC, VSC, TSC (Trailer Sway Control) and a reversing camera. The Prado GX auto adds PCS (pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection), ACC (active cruise control), lane departure alert and auto high beam.
The Prado GX is an impressive base-spec 4x4 wagon that combines good on-road comfort with strong off-road capability and an impressive list of standard safety equipment.