Two years ago we drove to the hospital to have our daughter in the previous model Toyota LandCruiser Prado, having no idea at the time that here I would be almost exactly 24 months later reviewing the latest version for BabyDrive!
I remember at the time thinking it was enormous, bouncy and felt very top heavy around corners as we took the scenic route to the hospital on winding roads! Let's find out what we made of the new Prado two years on as a BabyDrive…
The Prado has a decent amount of space for its role as a seven-seater SUV and it still feels as enormous as it did two years ago, but it didn’t feel as high to climb up into and down from now I’m not 37 weeks pregnant!!
But the Prado still has the rock and roll suspension, making it not very BabyDrive friendly!
The Toyota Prado, proudly wearing its Land Cruiser badge, is a serious off-roader that is built to survive outback conditions, so you have to bear that in mind when driving it around town. The drive is definitely compromised and the Prado lollops around, rocking backwards and forwards when you come to a stop at a junction or to park. You really have to drive to compensate for it when you have little passengers on board. If off-roading is not something you really require from your car then I would suggest looking at other seven-seaters where the ride is not as compromised around town.
But overall I found the Prado a very spacious and practical SUV, so it's no wonder so many thousands of Australian families love it!
It is not perfect, but if your family loves getting off the beaten track, then the Prado will be worth the price. However, if you are just going to drive it around town then its really rocky ride might be better swapped for something less rugged and you’ll probably save yourself thousands of dollars too.
With three top tether points and two ISOFix connections across the second row of seats we managed to easily install two child seats and there is space for a third booster seat in between them, however it would not be easy to fasten the middle seatbelt as the buckle is underneath the base of the child seat and the child’s bottom!
We installed the rear-facing Mountain Buggy Protect infant capsule and Infasecure Compressor 4 (rear facing) in the outer seats and the Infasecure Foldaway booster in the centre.
The third row of seats had a heavy and difficult to use mechanism for folding them up and down, and it was so complex that Toyota felt the need to put instructions on the side of the boot!! The seats were extremely heavy and stiff to move, and seemed to be designed for the use of taller people as I really struggled (at my modest 162cm in height) to reach the levers and have the strength to pull them up.
The second-row seats did slide to adjust the distribution of legroom and we found a 184cm adult could sit behind ‘themselves' in each row of seats with just enough legroom.
I found the only way to access the third row of seats from the second row was to uninstall a child seat in the outer seat, which would be a real pain in reality.
The dashboard is a spattering of buttons! It was a shock at first as nothing seemed logical on the dashboard or central console and buttons seemed to have been thrown in all over the place. But surprisingly quickly I became familiar with it and could easily locate everything. The USB and 12V sockets did seem like an afterthought and were crudely added, allowing nowhere to practically put my mobile phone while driving as it rattled around or slid out of the only available spaces.
The central console box was a fridge. This I found a fantastic feature, perfect for our Queensland summer for keeping my daughter's drinks and snacks cool whilst we were out and about!
I loved the cooled seats! The front seats are heated and cooled so they are perforated leather. The rest of the seating has been done to match, making them all a little harder to keep clean as crumbs and child detritus get into the perforations.
As a five-seater, the Prado's boot was very large and held 15 bags of shopping when empty and would hold any size pram or stroller and ample room for bags with them. You could also carry a large dog with a basic stroller and a few bags of shopping too.
With the third row of seats in use, there was not much boot left. I could just get four bags of shopping in but it wasn’t big enough to hold the basic umbrella stroller, which was disappointing.
The cargo blind was disappointing too. There was nowhere to store it under the boot floor and it had a ridiculous connection method to the second-row headrests that was flimsy and fiddly and not practical for a parent especially with little passengers to keep tabs on!
From my least favourite BabyDrive feature to my best and that is the lock/unlock buttons on the boot. I found them so practical and useful. When I parked somewhere, got little one out of the car, I’d go to the boot with her in my arms and get our things and then just shut the boot door and press lock and walk away. Having the keys in my pocket or bag, I didn’t need to hold them and lock it, leaving me with arms full of child and bags and not scrabbling for my keys!
New on this model Prado and standard for all automatic models is the 360degree cameras, I found these so helpful as the Prado is so big that visibility low down where little ones could be buzzing around is just so hard. Also with the child seats all in the back visibility was even less so the cameras really helped. When parking I found the bird's eye view camera helped to position yourself in the parking spaces.
The Toyota Prado scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating and has seven airbags including side curtain head airbags that extend to the third-row seats.