So we got a 2010 Toyota Prado
The 2010 Toyota “Land Cruiser” Prado is currently the most researched vehicle in the region. We got one for two days, and being the only one we’ve seen on the road so far, we would’ve thought that we’d be swarmed by middle-aged family men on the streets of Dubai, inquiring about this dream car. But we weren’t. We got a few people standing around staring at it here and there, but they were probably the intelligent ones. Because if you don’t concentrate hard enough, it is easy to dismiss it as the old model.
Our early coverage of the 2010 Prado caused a lot of controversy among UAE readers. Most of them hated the styling, based on the unimaginative studio photos. But while we’re not a fan, our silver VX-L tester was wholly acceptable in real life.
The rear end looks pretty much exactly like the outgoing model, which is likely why few people gave it a second glance while driving behind us. We missed the coolness of dual exhaust tips in a vehicle that costs Dhs 217,000, but all Prados do get special new touches such as the rear wiper hidden in the top spoiler and the tailgate handle moved within the number-plate area.
Like the exterior, the dashboard looks much more friendly in real life than in photos, with soft-touch materials that firmly move the Prado into a more premium segment, higher than the likes of the all-new Honda Pilot and others such as the Chevrolet Traverse and the Nissan Pathfinder, all using excessive hard plastics. The ergonomics are fine for basic functions, but buttons for some fancy features are hidden in darkness behind the steering wheel.
The touchscreen was surprisingly easy to use, even for navigation and stereo functions. It is probably lifted from the latest Lexus models. So is the optional four-camera system, although beyond the rear camera, we did not find much use for the other three. But even with the touchscreen present, Toyota has chosen to give each special function its own button. In fact, there has never been a vehicle in history with more buttons than a 2010 Prado VX-L.
Oddly enough, we still found our way around the buttons rather easily, without ever pulling out the instruction manual. Everything is clearly marked. Separate buttons will always be better than playing with stupid menus or voice instructions, like in the failure that is the Ford SYNC system.
The Prado is an excessively tall 4×4, and even wider for 2010, so there is no shortage of space inside. The top models come with smooth leather and better-bolstered powered front seats. There is a cooler box between the front seats to hold 4 bottles. In fact, there are at least 10 cup-holders spread about the cabin.
The split-folding second-row seats are extremely spacious, and can even recline. Passengers get their own a/c controls, but our tester did not have any DVD entertainment back there.
Access to the third-row seats is absolutely awful, as the second-row seats barely fold out of the way. This is one area where the Japanese can learn from the Americans. The Chevy Traverse handles this much better.
Once back there, there is barely any legroom for adults. However, the second-row seats can be moved forward to create more knee space, so passengers can negotiate between themselves how much leg space each one is entitled to. Notice the buttons to electrically fold the third-row seats into the floor, with similar redundant buttons also placed near the tailgate.
With the third-row seats up, there is absolutely no luggage space left, especially with the included “emergency kit” taking up space. The floor is also a bit high, to make space for the spare wheel underneath. We aren’t fans of side-hinged tailgates either, although this one is not heavy at least, with hydraulic support.
With the third row down, there is good cargo volume, but less floor area than, say, a Mercedes-Benz M-Class. However, the second-row seats can be moved forward to compensate, or even folded down to create van-like room.
A pop-up rear window, a staple of most 4x4s for years, finally makes it to the Prado range.
We have not even begun to cover the technical aspects of the 2010 Prado, with new electronic-doohickey features to aid both on and off-road driving, all of which we’ve tested. But that is a whole other story for another day.