Tow Vehicle: Toyota Landcruiser Prado

By: Steve Vermeulen, Photography by: Steve Vermeulen

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The Toyota Landcruiser Prado is a reliable towing vehicle for holiday fun

Tow Vehicle: Toyota Landcruiser Prado
Tow Vehicle: Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
  • Masses of interior space
  • Quiet, refined road manners
  • Improved handling
  • Ample safety features
  • Genuine off road capability and solid tow stability

It’s tow vehicle 101: a sturdy chassis, preferably one with a separate ladder chassis for added strength, heavy duty suspension to cope with the load and as much torque as you can stuff inside the bonnet.

The Toyota Landcruiser Prado, a perennial Kiwi towing favourite, suitably ticks all those boxes. But when it comes to touring the countryside, caravan hitched and family members and gear loaded, hard graft is only part of the picture. These days a spacious and quiet cabin, comfortable seating, well-behaved road manners and a bevy of safety features have also become pre requisites.


It’s a mix only truly achievable in an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) body configuration, and the plush new seven-seat Prado makes the grade on all counts here too. Changes over the older Prado model are revised LED tail lamps, more flared bodywork, indicators incorporated into the wing mirrors and a subtle rear hatch spoiler.


Even the entry level workhorse offers a 4.2" colour screen for trip information such as fuel consumption, distance to empty and trip counter data, but it also doubles as a display for the reversing camera to take the fuss out of lining up the tow ball.

There’s also Bluetooth hands free capability for taking cell phone calls on the road, cruise control and a simple single CD player, all which can be controlled via handy steering wheel mounted buttons.

You’re well catered for in terms of safety with dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, electronic stability control.

Despite all that, it’s the upper spec VX and VX Limited that are better suited for family use, adding important features like high intensity discharge, adaptive (pivot around corners) headlamps for improved night vision, front and rear park sensors and rear view camera, a simple wide angle "conversation mirror" that folds down from the ceiling so the driver can communicate with rear occupants at a glance, leather interior with electrically adjustable front and third row seats with heated squabs upfront, three-zone air conditioning to accommodate both front and rear passengers independently and the CD player picks up nine-speaker/six disc functionality.

The range-topping VX Limited also boasts a tilt/slide sunroof, satellite navigation, a centre console cool box and, importantly for towing, self-levelling rear suspension, which keeps the vehicle’s optimum suspension geometry when laden with a hefty load and, handily, a 240-volt AC adapter can also be specified. A dynamic radar guided cruise control monitors the vehicle in front to maintain a consistently safe following distance, automatically braking and accelerating as the gap widens or closes, it can even utilise up to 40 percent braking force rapidly to assist in nose to tail avoidance.


Styling wise it’s typically Toyota, fairly austere with lashings of plastic or faux wood grain, but you can’t baulk at the usefulness of it all. It’s not a struggle to climb into and once inside there’s room for everything you can throw at it, be it for large family use in seven seat mode or with the third row stowed to increase luggage capacity.

Drive impressions

With it’s 3.0-litre diesel engine chugging out 410Nm of torque from very early in the rev range (1200rpm) lugging around a large caravan, or indeed anything you like up to a braked 2500kg (unbraked 750kg) is a doddle. The centre of gravity is kept relatively low and cornering ability is as good as any of the large Japanese SUVs, with only the very top end Euros providing notably better stability, weighing in at sizable 2270kg and with a wide footprint the Prado is not easily lead astray by wind gusts.

It’s available with a six-speed manual, though the majority of sales will revolve around the smooth and efficient automatic transmission; the drive train combination reacts briskly to throttle inputs and should keep you from holding up proceedings up the hills.

Read in-depth reviews in the latest issue of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, on sale now.

See new and used Toyota Landcruiser Prado for sale.


Price $78,490-$104,990 Towbar price $1030 fitted Towing capacity 750kg unbraked / 2500kg braked Power 127kW@3400rpm Torque 410Nm@1600rpm Transmission Five-speed auto Fuel economy 8.5 l/100km Length 4930mm Width 1885mm Height 1880mm Seating capacity 7 Luggage capacity 1833L


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