Update: ‘Design’ section updated with ‘Three different looks?’
Despite global emission norms tightening with every passing year and the heightening emphasis of governments on manufacturers to launch EVs, some off-roaders have managed to hang on. Such is the case of at least Toyota’s go-anywhere SUVs Toyota Prado and Toyota Land Cruiser. According to a report from the Japanese auto magazine Best Car, the company plans to renew the smaller of the iconic 4×4 SUVs for another generation.
Platform & Dimensions
The fourth-gen Toyota Land Cruiser Prado came out in September 2009, and it has since received two major facelifts. As planned with the new Land Cruiser, the Prado hybrid variant may arrive well after the launch of the regular gasoline models.
The Toyota Prado would retain its heritage of a die-hard body-on-frame SUV. However, it would move to the TNGA modular platform, which underpins most of the new Toyota models in the marketplace. Toyota has engineered a new version called TNGA-F for large SUVs and pickups. The company used the F version first to build the Land Cruiser 300, followed by the Toyota Tundra and the Toyota Sequoia, both of which have hybrid powertrains.
Toyota has reduced the weight of the Land Cruiser 300 by 200 kg (441 lbs.), and it will likely take all possible steps to make the Prado lighter. To this effect, the next-gen Land Cruiser Prado could have aluminum body panels. The hood, doors, mudguards, roof, and tailgate could be aluminum-made like the flagship SUV. These revisions can also improve weight distribution and increase high-speed stability. Considering the fuel efficiency improvements and the range benefit offered by electrification, the company could consider reducing the fuel tank size.
The next-gen Toyota Prado would have “a clean exterior design,” says Best Car magazine. Chances for a 3-door version look slim, while the 5-door version is expected to measure 4,825 mm in length, 1,885 mm in width, and 1,830 mm in height and have a 2,790 mm wheelbase. For reference, the current model (5-door version) has the same dimensions except for the height (1,835 mm/1,850 mm).
Three different looks?
Best Car Web reported on March 14, 2023 that the next-gen Prado would be available in three different front fascia designs. One would be inspired by the 70 Series Land Cruiser and feature similar classic round headlights for a proper ‘retro’ style. The wheels could also have simple, old-school rims to match the theme. It could be a big hit in African and Middle Eastern markets, where the older LC has a great deal of history.
The second design will reportedly follow the Land Cruiser 300’s recipe, as we’ve shown in our rendering above. We think it’ll be relatively more popular in terms of sales.
The third could just be an iteration of the LC 300’s design. One possibility is GR Sport, which comes with unique radiator grille, wheel, bumper, and wheel arch molding, special wheels and tires, and an exclusive interior theme. Customers from the Middle East who participate in off-road events and go on excursions in challenging conditions may be particularly attracted to the Land Cruiser Prado GR Sport. Currently, in some markets, Toyota offers a Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport.
Powertrains to include hybrid
While many of its rivals aim to shift entirely to fully electric vehicles as early as the end of the decade, Toyota aims to ensure its entire line-up is at least partially electric. The company’s electrification exercise will reportedly see the Land Cruiser Prado adopting hybrid technologies. Electrifying the Land Cruiser Prado “makes sense,” Sean Hanley, Vice President – Sales and Marketing, Toyota Australia, said, as per a CarsGuide report dated January 17, 2023.
2.4L or 2.5L Gasoline Hybrid?
The big news, although still unconfirmed, is that the all-new Toyota Prado would be available with not one but two hybrid powertrains, as per a report Best Car released on November 5, 2022. One of these could entail a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine or a 2.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and two electric motors.
In November 2021, Japan’s Response.jp‘s had reported that Toyota could use a 400 PS (394 hp) hybrid powertrain comprising a newly-developed 250 PS (246 hp) 2.4-liter gasoline engine and a 150 PS (148 hp) electric motor in the Prado Hybrid. Perhaps, it was referring to the engine that debuted in the 2023 Crown Hybrid Max in July 2022 and extended to the 2024 Grand Highlander in February 2023.
The new Hybrid Max powertrain combines a 2.4-liter turbocharged gas engine, a front motor, and a rear motor. In the 2023 Crown, it delivers 340 hp of combined power and 400.4 lb.-ft. of combined torque. In the 2024 Grand Highlander, it produces 362 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. In contrast to these two models, the Land Cruiser needs to be able to handle extreme driving conditions, and an output of 394 hp would come in handy.
Best Car claims that a diesel hybrid powertrain would also be available in the next-gen Prado. According to its March 14, 2023, report, the diesel-hybrid variant will be based on a 2.8-liter engine. On November 5, 2022, the publication had said that it would also have two motors assisting the engine.
Toyota may offer many new features of the new Land Cruiser in the smaller off-road SUV. For example, sequential turn indicators (front and/or rear), gesture tailgate, 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, 3D Multi-Terrain Monitor + Panoramic View Monitor, electric parking brake, and Toyota Safety Sense (v2.0 or higher) could be available in the next-gen Land Cruiser Prado. In addition, the all-new Prado may offer more convenience with a wireless charger and USB-C port(s) for smartphones.
Toyota Prado GR Sport trim
According to a report Best Car released in June 2021, the next-gen Toyota Prado will come in a GR Sport variant like the latest Land Cruiser. The GR Sport trim may feature a modified, more rugged exterior. Expect exclusive wheels, unique radiator grille, bumpers, wheel arch molding, and rocker moldings, black mirrors and handles, and GR Sport emblems. Inside, the GR Sport grade may feature a different color scheme and unique decor elements, an infotainment system with a special start-up screen, and GR branding on various elements. Cosmetic changes aside, thicker tires and a special suspension system that unleash more off-road capability should be the highlights of the Land Cruiser Prado GR Sport.
In the piece published on November 5, 2021, Best Car said that Toyota will unveil the next-gen Prado in Summer 2023.
Australian launch speculated in 2023
Before most of the aforementioned reports, an article from carsales.com.au in March 2021 had suggested that there would be a delay in the market launch of the next-gen Land Cruiser Prado in Australia, where the car has a large following. A source privy to developments has said that the redesigned model is “at least more than two years away” from the region. With the launch timing in Australia affected, Toyota Motor may also push back the market release in New Zealand.
The source revealing the deferred launch talked about the design of the model. The exterior would not be similar to that of the RAV4, as some auto magazines have represented it in 2021. Toyota has to preserve the design identity of the globally acclaimed off-roader, and giving it the garb of a crossover is illogical for this reason. Toyota’s crossover range has grown considerably since the Prado came out in 2009, and if anything, the virility would be heightened in the new generation.
For the United States
While Toyota hasn’t confirmed, TFLcar put out a story on December 14, 2022, citing an insider, that the next-gen Prado will be making it to American soil as a 2024 model (MY2024). As per the American site, it will come equipped with a sole turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid powertrain making around 350 hp, and may initially be available in three trim levels (including a “Launch Edition”). Reportedly, Toyota wants to shift an optimistic 30,000 units of the SUV each year, according to the same source.
Demand for electrified Toyota SUVs in America is only increasing with the company launching the Corolla Cross Hybrid and announcing a 3-row SUV (Grand Highlander) to cover the two ends of the range in 2023. The Land Cruiser (Prado), if presented in the U.S., could serve as a premium alternative to the next-gen 4Runner, but we’re not getting our hopes up yet!
The Prado is an important member of the Toyota Land Cruiser family internationally, which also includes the classic station wagon available in limited markets, and the global heavy-duty LC 300. Nearly a quarter of the 6.5 million Land Cruisers Toyota built by 2018 were the light-duty Prado. Toyota announced in June 2021 that cumulative Land Cruiser sales worldwide had reached approximately 10.4 million. Sales figures specific to the Prado weren’t released, but it’s safe to assume that the figure is still 20-25 percent.
Current Toyota Prado soldiers on with a special edition
Europe received a Toyota Land Cruiser Matt Black Edition (Toyota sells the J150 without the ‘Prado’ suffix in Europe) on July 7, 2022, with matt black details. The surround and vertical bars of the radiator grille, the headlights’ upper garnishes, and the fog light bezels are in this color. On the sides, the matt black is visible on the side steps, ORVM housing, roof rails, and 18-inch alloy wheels. At the rear, the tailgate garnish above the license plate is in the special color.
The Matt Black Edition also has a fresh look on the inside. Customers can choose from two new leather upholsteries and combine black seatbacks and cushions with side bolsters in contrasting gray or saddle tan. Under the hood, the special edition model has the same 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 204 PS (201 hp) and 500 Nm (369 lb.-ft.) of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission and a full-time 4WD system work together to send drive to the wheels.
The next-generation Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is expected to be a massive upgrade from the current model. Powertrains — both conventional and hybrid setups — should receive a boost in efficiency without sacrificing performance, while modern design, new connectivity, and equipment will bring the SUV well into the 21st century.
The emergence of crossovers and strict emission norms are claiming traditional heavyweight off-road SUVs one by one — Toyota’s own FJ Cruiser has had to deal with this — but there are and will continue to be exceptions, and the Land Cruiser Prado is certainly one of them!
Featured Image: TopElectricSUV’s illustration of the next-gen Prado based on recent Toyota designs.