May 16, 2011

Great engine, pity about the fuel prices

Prado's more than up to little obstacles like this.
Oh look, the engine's made of moulded plastic.
A party trick is a graphic showing
which way the wheels are pointing.

How long before the nose camera
gets damaged off-road?
Toyota dropped the V6 from the current Prado range when it was introduced late in 2009, but there followed persistent customer inquiry for the petrol burner. Now, the company’s wondering how many buyers step forward, with fuel prices at their current levels … especially as the owner’s handbook says it needs 95 octane or higher. But those holding out for a petrol Prado had a point. The four cylinder 3.0 litre turbodiesel engine produces 127kW and 410Nm of torque, enough to give the large, heavy, fourth-generation SUV only adequate performance, especially when loaded. The 4.0 litre V6 ups the figures to 202kW and 381Nm and transforms the wagon, especially when the five speed auto transmission is used in its Sport mode. It’s a bit of a stormer. And it’s smoother and quieter than the diesel version. The engine is the most powerful and torquiest six cylinder engine of any midsize SUV with low-range gearing. It’s ahead of the new 213kW and 347Nm Pentastar V6 in the Grand Cherokee. So it’s hard to understand why the braked towing rating remains at a weak-kneed 2500kg.

Fortunately, fuel consumption is quite good for a 2300kg-plus SUV.  Its official overall rating is 13 litres per 100km, but over a variety of routes including country and urban, 4wdNewz managed 14.6. It’s unusual to match the laboratory-generated official figures in real driving. V6 SUVs often struggle to do much better than 17 litres per 100km. On the other hand, the diesel version officially consumes 8.8 litres per 100km overall and Driven’s most recent tester returned 9.6.

Whatever the pros and cons of the engine, the Prado in VX Limited trim is generally quite a magnificent vehicle, immaculately finished, roomy, and rich feature with features. Well, you’d expect that for $106,690 – $1000 less than its diesel equivalent. However, it doesn't change my original opinion of the G4 Prado, here.

Despite suspension refinements, ride and handling are only average, even for an SUV and even in the Sport setting. But it sticks to the road well on its 18-inch 60-series Dunlop Grandtreks, backed up by an assortment of “save me from trouble” electronic aids. Off-road, the VX Limited is competent, thanks again to some clever electronics and adjustable-height air suspension; but why would you want to tackle our many tight tracks and trails in this large, dentable $100,000-plus wagon? And I’m afraid to even think what any amount of time in low-range gearing will do to the fuel economy.

This posting is based on an article I wrote for the
New Zealand Herald's new Driven section, May 14

1 comment:

  1. I tried a V6 Prado yesterday. Really nice, but too expensive for my pocket, and that's b4 I have to fill it up!