The pros and cons – deciding to buy the Toyota LandCruiser Prado
Original posted September 2005

Buying a car or any form of transport is all about meeting your requirements. Lets face it –  it is rare that you can simply buy a new or used car without some sort of mental justification more than spur of the moment decision. As a result we put together this page to detail our combined decision to buy the LandCruiser Prado as opposed to another model in the Toyota range or those made by another manufacturer.

It is quite exhaustive research but quite exciting since we initially test drove 10 different models between us to come up with the final decision.

Here’s the criteria for choosing this type of vehicle:
Reliable.
Long range.
Use as little fuel as possible.
Must not be under powered.
Appropriate safety equipment.
Low running costs
Big enough for 2 or more people and 4 desktop computers + support gear + dog.
Flexible interior arrangement.
Cope with long distances in short times.
Cope with harsh conditions (lots of sun + beach)
Keep driver and passengers stress free.
4wd system that can go beyond the simple dirt track.
What we did not want was :
A small 4wd.
A car strictly for inner city commuting.
A make or model with a poor build quality.
A base model with not enough equipment.
A car that feels cheap to be in.
Value for money.

Besides the main criteria there are numerous other reasons as you can imagine. These include:
Handling
Interior quality
Customisable
Driving position
Exterior design
Choice of colours
Service intervals
Cost of maintenance
Brand and model image

Then there is the sales staff and showroom. It’s easy NOT to get the right price and certainly that happened to everyone. The main thing to remember is NEVER shake on the price – get the written details first. There are very few sales people – its another trick in their books and it is insincere plus its at least 10 years bad luck.

So what did we get:
A pair of Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GXL 120 series
A pair of Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Grande 120 series

What about the competition?
The competitors at the time where many unlike the prior Grand Vitara from the other website. They included the 100 series Land Cruiser, Pajero, Land Rover Discovery, Nissan Patrol, Terracan, Subaru Liberty Outback and so forth. At one stage even the groovy Honda Odyssey was being considered. Unfortunately 4 wheel drive was essential requirement due to the nature of services to be provided. We also wanted a high quality interior features and and engine that goes well too!

So why not the others: This is relative – so I listed for the main reasons why they weren’t considered.

Mitsubishi Pajero: Not as quiet and harder suspension.  Not bad value for money though. Still looks awkward after all these years. Dealers we went to where not exactly rushing to sell us anything.

Land Cruiser 100 Series : Too expensive and too expensive. The look of the interior didn’t live up to its price. It’s also a very tight squeeze in the garage. Didn’t drive as well as the others especially the diesel. Lots of low down power but nothing up top.

Subaru Liberty Outback: Complete let down in the expectations of handling but good quality interior yet feels like a Camry – only better handling. Probably because the advertising promise so much. Although so many magazine publications promote the dynamic ability of the car have a drive for your self and the reality is that it is nice BUT its not outstanding enough to make you buy it on the spot there are much better choices in the price range.

Land Rover Discovery: Too expensive, poor resale, documented reliability and parts concerns. Very poor dealer network if your travel as much as we do. But feels nice. If the wipers are faulty what does it say about the rest of the car…

Nissan Patrol: Fantastic value but too big and squeeze to fit in the garage. You may think the Prado is big but the Patrol is physically bigger. It is not refined or particular quiet and feels old fashion due to 1990’s materials.

Hyundai Terracan: Clearly not as refined as the rest needless to say its handling is not up to par. That said it feels like a tradition 4wd of 5 years ago. The dashboard in particular wasn’t something to write home about. Although I didn’t get to try the new DiD diesel that was to be released at the time. I understand the new model is much better.

So the Prado was chosen, it did drive well and quiet, big enough and flexible interior when folded a almost flat floor to sleep on, fast enough for the 4WD and excellent fuel economy for a large car and wagon. The most impressive and selling points for us was the quietness, comfy seats and drivability all worked within the first few minutes of the test drive. It is also priced comparatively well. It is also tough enough to handle anything within reason. There are issues with the car though but you just have to read about them in the other pages.