In Summary

The pros of Prados include excellent safety features, smooth pick up and a powerful engine performance. The cons on the other hand include high cost of ownership and problems with parking.

After taking over from the Pajero at least in Uganda, does the Prado still have it? In the early 2000s, the Toyota Prado, specifically the J90 with model years 1996 through 2002, was a representation to the public of well off circumstances for the driver. The commanding driving position was loved by many and being a Toyota, it was loved by many.

In the looks department, well, I don’t know. This will certainly be purely a matter of personal opinion. For me, the Prado looks just a bit too toned down for a car that belongs in the off road category. Well, that is the trend nowdays, anyway. This car was built for some serious mud- tossing, so why not make sure it looks the part?

For manufacturers in Japan, having an off-roader in your line-up is more or less mandatory, and the Land cruiser has done its duty as Toyota’s all-purpose mule for years now. For the Land cruiser variant better known as the Prado, it all began back in 1990. Toyota didn’t really have a competitor for the very popular Mitsubishi Pajero and Challenger. Mitsubishi had quite a lead in almost every field. It was a Dakar winner many times, it was the best looking 4WD at the time had lots of equipment, handled well and pretty good off road too.

Design
Toyota had much ground to make up in terms of marketing and packaging and design. Anyway, let us face it, Toyota is one of the most technically advanced and arguably the largest and most successful car manufacturer in the world today. So it didn’t take long before the original Prado Land Cruiser was released with the most common version in Uganda being the second generation 90-series with years 1993 to 2002.

Available with either a 147 or 185 horsepower 2.7 or 3.4 litre petrol-powered V6 respectively, or a 140 horsepower 3.0litre Turbo diesel, the Prado offers something for the performance-minded, as well as for the economy-conscious. This specific model of the Prado is one that has not aged well. In fact, both the second and third generation Prados just do not age with the grace other models in Toyota’s stable have.

Driveability
But to get down to the driving experience, the first thing you would find is that the suspension is rather soft. Body roll is very noticeable when pushed hard in corners, but the tall stance means that is more or less to be expected.

Of course, it will likely unleash its stuff when you are bogged down in mud or huge pothole, so this ideally should be the number one reason why one would buy such a car. Most potential Prado owners prefer the Toyota Harrier, aka Kawundo which, for all intents and purposes, is a beautiful car, offers lots of comfort, capable off road and has great resale value.

Verdict
Overall, the Prado, remains a competent car, even though it shows its age in some departments unless, of course, it is a newer model. There are still loads of space, lots of people can cram in and still be reasonably comfortable, and the car is powerful enough to do some serious hauling if that is on your agenda. In terms of speed, acceleration and handling it really does not impress as much as the other cars in the Toyota line-up, but again, it is simply not in its element at all. Other alternatives include the Isuzu Bighorn, and the Pajero of course.