The Toyota Land Cruiser needs no introduction. It introduced a new level of ruggedness, reliability, and longevity to the automotive world. But what if one wanted all the characteristics of the full-size Land Cruiser in a more compact and affordable platform? It was with this thought that the Toyota Prado was born.
The Toyota Prado was originally known as the Land Cruiser Prado. It was launched as an extension of the Land Cruiser product line up and to this day, many still call the Prado a Land Cruiser. The Toyota Prado isn’t sold in the American market. Instead, the Lexus GX, which is based on the Toyota Prado, is given full attention.
How different is the Prado from the full-size Land Cruiser? When & how did the Toyota Prado story start? How popular is the Toyota Prado? In this DubiCars Car Spotlight, we throw light on the Toyota Prado and tell you everything you need to know about it.
Toyota Prado History & Heritage — Models Over The Years
Roots Of The Toyota Prado
In the late 70s and early 80s, if you wanted a rugged and dependable Toyota, you could either opt for the small Land Cruiser 40-Series or you could get the ‘Iron Pig’which was the nickname given to the Land Cruiser 50-Series. Both of them weren’t comfortable and they were powered by engines that were rather thirsty.
Demand for a smaller, lighter, and more fuel-efficient version of the Land Cruiser was strong enough for Toyota to consider launching a whole new extension to the Land Cruiser series. The basic combination of a ladder frame chassis, rugged but lighter and smaller engine, and proper 4WD with a low ratio was used since the very beginning and Toyota has stuck to this formula since then.
Toyota Prado 70-Series | 1984 – 1996
1984 was the year in which Toyota launched the 70-Series Land Cruiser. The 70-Series remains the most successful Land Cruiser model yet, and it is the longest-running single model without major changes in automotive history. The Toyota Prado was developed on the sidelines of the full-size 70-Series Land Cruiser. In essence, the 70-Series Land Cruiser was a heavy-duty vehicle, and the Prado was its light-duty version.
Back in 1984 though, it wasn’t known as the Prado. In fact, the Prado name first appeared only in 1990. This SUV was simply known as Land Cruiser II or Bundera. In some markets, it was on par with the Land Cruiser and went by the same name too. It was powered by either a 2.4-litre inline-four petrol engine or a 2.4-litre inline-four diesel engine. These engines were co-developed with Hino.
In 1990, a major update to the J70 was launched. It still used the same platform but Toyota used a whole new design language to distinguish it from the Land Cruiser. It was during this time that the Prado badge first appeared. The 2.4-litre diesel was replaced by a 2.8-litre unit and Toyota even introduced a 3.0-litre diesel engine. By now, the Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero were direct competitors.
Toyota Prado 90-Series | 1996 – 2002
By this point, Toyota was doing everything it could to differentiate the Prado and its elder sibling. The Prado lineup moved to the 90-Series in 1996 and the flagship Land Cruiser series moved on to the 100-Series in 1998. The new Prado was also manufactured in a completely different plant in Aichi, Japan.
For the first time, the Prado was available with a larger engine. This generation of the Toyota Prado was powered by either a 2.7-litre inline-four-cylinder petrol or a 3.4-litre V6 petrol engine. Diesel variants were available with either a 2.8-litre inline-four or a 3.0-litre inline-four. With this generation, the Toyota Prado became very popular indeed.
Toyota Prado 120-Series | 2002 – 2009
Though the Prado was originally created as a more affordable alternative to the flagship Land Cruiser, the SUV had become a premium product. This generation of the Toyota Prado saw the addition of premium features. The suspension system was taken from the Toyota Hilux Surf/4Runner.
Petrol variants of the 120-Series Prado were powered by the same 2.7-litre inline-four and 3.4-litre V6 with the addition of a 4.0-litre V6 engine. The diesel variants on the other hand were powered by a 3.0-litre engine.
The diesel engine was updated in 2006 and with that update came the 3.0-litre D-4D turbo-diesel that would go on to power lots of other Toyota products including the Innova, Fortuner, Hilux, Hilux Surf, etc. It is one of the most rugged and long-lasting engines ever made.
It is with this generation of the Toyota Prado that the Lexus GX took birth. The Lexus GX was first launched in 2002 and was based on the Prado 120-Series. The Lexus featured a more premium design and the 4.7-litre V8 from the larger Land Cruiser & Lexus LX. Unlike the Toyota Prado, the Lexus GX was also launched in the North American market.
Toyota Prado 150-Series | 2009 – Present
The 150-Series is the largest and most modern Toyota Prado yet. It is a premium SUV and in many ways comparable to the flagship Land Cruiser. The 150-Series was introduced shortly after the 200-Series Land Cruiser debuted. The 200-Series is now long-gone and the Toyota Land Cruiser 300-Series is selling in large numbers. However, the Toyota Prado 150-Series still soldiers on.
Petrol models are powered by either a 2.7-litre inline-four or a 4.0-litre V6. Diesel variants continue to use the 2.8-litre and 3.0-litre inline-four motors. This version of the Prado gets all the luxuries one could ask for. Leather seats, touchscreen infotainment, premium speakers, climate control, and more are present in the Toyota Prado.
Toyota Prado 250-Series | Yet To Be Launched
The Toyota Prado 150-Series received a facelift in 2015 and then another one in 2018. However, it has been 14 years since a new generation of the Prado was launched. Thankfully though, a new update is coming.
The next-gen of the Prado, called the 250-Series will be thoroughly modern and luxurious. It will retain the 2.8-litre diesel and 4.0-litre petrol engines. However, the big news is that it will for the first time ever feature a strong hybrid powertrain, combining a petrol engine with an electric motor and a battery. Here’s an in-depth comparison between an EV and a Hybrid to give you an idea of how advantageous a hybrid powertrain is.
Most Popular Toyota Prado Generations In The UAE
Large numbers of the 90-Series, 120-Series & 150-Series were sold in the UAE. However, over time, most of the 90-Series Prado were scrapped and buyers upgraded to bigger SUVs. The 120-Series and 150-Series are still very popular and will continue to remain that way for the years to come.