THE PERENNIAL

TOYOTA PRADO

ALTHOUGH SURPASSED IN SALES BY JEEPíS GRAND CHEROKEE LAST YEAR, THE PRADO IS BACK AS AUSTRALIAíS MOST POPULAR 4X4 WAGON.

2015íS MOST POPULAR 4X4S

The 150 Series Prado arrived in 2009 and is nearing the end of its model life, so itís doing well to be Australiaís most popular 4x4 wagon and number five on the overall 4x4 sales chart.

Mind you, it hasnít been without its challenges, as last year it ran second to Jeepís Grand Cherokee in terms of 4x4 wagon popularity, although it was still fifth in the overall rankings. Compared with 2014 sales, it did drop 857 sales in 2015, but at the same time the Grand Cherokee nose-dived, which allowed the Prado to retain fifth position overall. 2015 was important for the Prado, as it gained a new 2.8-litre diesel engine, a new six-speed automatic gearbox and some extra kit, including sat-nav as standard on the volume-selling GXL.

The 2.8-litre diesel replaced the 3.0-litre diesel that first saw service in the previous-generation 120 Prado in 2006 and is shared with the allnew Hilux and Fortuner. Meanwhile, the new six-speed automatic replaced the previous fivespeed auto, while the six-speed manual was carried over unchanged.

The chief reason for the new diesel is up-coming emissions regulations, which will probably mean the adoption of SCR (ad-blue) technology, for which the 2.8 is ready, even if itís not fitted at this stage. Swapping the 2.8 into the Prado also means production cost savings, given parts commonality with Hilux and Fortuner.

Regardless of the new engine and gearbox, which bring refinement more than performance improvements, the Prado remains a comfortable tourer and a capable off-roader that is hard to go past for those looking for a wagon.

This year will, however, be a pivotal year for the Prado, as it will come under serious threat from the new Ford Everest, which offers more equipment, better on-road dynamics and stronger performance for the same money.

When you throw the new Fortuner into the mix, the situation gets even more interesting.

Will Fortuner sales cannibalise Prado sales, or will they merely weaken the Everestís push into this potentially lucrative market?