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We checked out the new Land Cruiser Prado in person. Here’s what we thought.


Retro revival for Prado scores points in the metal – and Toyota says demand is expected to be very strong

We’ve seen the new generation 250 Series Toyota Land Cruiser Prado in the metal.

Well, a final phase prototype at least – which has been a much-used test vehicle in Australia since April 2023, complete with branch scratches and mud beneath.

To see this chunky, attractive SUV up close feels like a pivotal moment. The Prado is, after all, a hero model in Australia, and the current generation has been dominating our roads and bush for the best part of fifteen years.

The Australian test vehicle wears a Toyota genuine accessory front bar

Shown at Toyota’s Melbourne showcase this week, the new model looks a completely different animal than the current Prado, its square-edge design, like the new Land Rover Defender, modernising the rugged aesthetic.

This new Prado may be 100mm longer, 95mm wider and 20mm taller than the current version, but from the rear it almost looks skinny.

Its compact back lights and angular surfaces no doubt help this, but from the front end, its boxy wheel arches add a far more aggressive, beefed-up style.

Shod in white paint with black 18-inch alloys, this could be a mid- or high-spec prototype vehicle

The Prado on show also upped its purposeful style with black cladding along its sides, and looked trail-ready with 18-inch black alloys shod in all-terrain Dunlop rubber.

Behind its rather used bull bar are the Prado’s oblong LED headlights, not the circular retro-looking lights seen in pictures of the US-market vehicle that is simply called Land Cruiser.

Whether Australia scores both front end variants remains to be seen, but let’s hope so.

The size is marginally larger but the proportions appear quite different to the outgoing Prado

The display prototype looked as close to a production car as you’ll get, and featured the platform and upper body of the cars we’ll see in showrooms next year.

Its body had a few scratches and the underside plenty of bumps and gouges, as you’d expect of Toyota’s extreme off-road testing over an extended period.

Sadly, the Prado prototype had locked doors, and no amount of requests would see Toyota open it up for us.

The interior was off-limits on our viewing – but here’s what the new Prado’s cabin looks like

Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, confirmed the new Land Cruiser Prado was expected by mid-2024.

“It’s hot, hot, hot,” he said when asked about Australian buyer interest. “Enquires on our dealers since the global launch is quite incredible. I expect demand will exceed supply,” but no information on initial supply numbers was given.

“People who have orders outstanding on the current model are also looking at whether they should wait,” Hanley continued. “One thing we’ve seen after Covid… there is a tolerance now for customers to wait for the car they want.”

No petrol hybrid (yet), but Toyota expects Aussie demand for the Prado to be very strong

The question was asked why there’s no full-hybrid Prado offered from launch in Australia. “We certainly haven’t ruled that out,” Hanley said.

“It’s just not part of our product plan; we have to look at the US [turbo hybrid engine], make sure it can tow, and perform off-road, before we bring it out here. If it can do those things, then certainly it’s a car we’d be interested to bring to the Australian market.”

A 48-volt system – which Toyota Australia doesn’t call a mild hybrid – will aid the new Prado’s fuel economy by covering the stop/start operation, steering, pumps, fans and any fitted accessories.