Next-gen Toyota Prado to come with a hybrid electric powertrain [Update]

Despite global emission norms tightening with every passing year and the heightening emphasis of governments on manufacturers to launch EVs, some gas-guzzling 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.

Release Date

The fourth-gen Toyota Land Cruiser Prado came out in September 2009, and it has received two major facelifts during this time. As planned with the new Land Cruiser, the Prado hybrid variant may arrive well after the launch of the regular gasoline models.

On November 24, 2021, China’s Autohome reported that Toyota will release the next-gen Land Cruiser Prado in Japan in August 2022. The report didn’t talk about a hybrid variant at the launch and mentioned only conventional 2.5-liter gasoline and 2.8-liter diesel engine options.

In August 2021, Japan’s Best Car reported that the debut will take place in summer 2022 (June-August 2022) that had many getting their hopes up to own a modern and compact Land Cruiser without having to spend too much money. However, in a follow-up piece published in October 2021, Best Car said that Toyota might postpone the launch of the next-gen Prado to after the summer of 2024. Currently, the standard Land Cruiser (available in limited supply and with a waiting line for more than two years) would overlap with the new Prado if the smaller SUV comes out in the next couple of years.

At this point, it’s best to take any available information regarding the release date with a pinch of salt, given all the inconsistencies in the media reports. On top of this, Toyota has not released an official statement about a new Prado launch, nor have they confirmed the existence of a next-gen model.

Toyota Land Cruiser sketch
Expect the new Toyota Prado to retain a frame SUV’s appearance and visual qualities, keeping its distance from crossovers. Image: An old sketch of the Land Cruiser 300 by Instagram page landcruiserupdates

Australian launch speculated in 2023

Before these 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 recently. Toyota has to maintain 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.

Platform & Dimensions

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.

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).

Powertrains to include hybrid

The big news, although still only a rumor, is that the all-new Toyota Prado would be available with a new parallel-hybrid powertrain comprising a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and electric motor(s). Seating options would be the same as today’s model – 5- and 7-seat. Customers would also get to opt for an improved version of the 1GD-FTV 2.8-liter diesel engine, which produces 150 kW (204 PS/201 hp) and 500 Nm in the current model.

It is CarSales Australia which speculates that the Prado Hybrid would employ the 2.5L petrol engine. When the time comes for a zero-emissions Prado in the next decade, Toyota could consider using a hydrogen-powered combustion engine instead of heavy batteries to power the e-motors. The company has started developing this new technology using a GR Yaris prototype, but it is quite a while from mass production.

Japan’s Response.jp has different speculation about the next-gen Prado’s hybrid variant. It says that Toyota could use a combination of a newly developed 250 PS (246 hp) 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 150 PS (148 hp) electric motor in the Prado Hybrid. The net output of this electrified engine could be 400 PS (394 hp). The Prado Hybrid could go on sale in Japan before overseas markets. If Toyota plans to launch the next-gen Prado in Europe, it could ship the first Prado Hybrid export units here before other markets.

Features

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado interior dashboard
Expect the new Toyota Prado to be unveiled with a larger infotainment screen running Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, and new driver assistance features. Pictured is the current Prado, courtesy Toyota.

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, 9-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.

According to a report Best Car released in June 2021, the next-gen Land Cruiser 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 main highlights of the Land Cruiser Prado GR Sport.

Current Toyota Prado soldiers on with minor updates

The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado J150 received an update in the Japanese market on June 1, 2021. The changes brought with this update should help the model stay fresh until the end of this year.

Toyota has retained the grilles, bumpers, lights, and tailgate design but has changed the design of the 19-inch alloy wheels. According to a report from creative311.com, Toyota has reduced the body color options from nine to five: White Pearl Crystal Shine, Black, Attitude Black Mica, Red Mica Metallic, and Avant-Garde Bronze Metallic. Super White II, Silver Metallic, Gray Metallic, and Blackish Ageha Glass Flake are the discontinued color options.

The interior design remains unchanged. As per the report, the third-row seat upholstery has seen a downgrade from genuine leather to faux leather. The front seat backrests were said to receive a new design, but there’s no confirmation about that yet. Customers selecting the Black or Attitude Black Mica paint option can no longer specify the interior in beige. Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) is now standard equipment.

The new Toyota Land Cruiser Prado’s prices range from JPY 3,666,000 (USD 31,678) to JPY 5,543,000 (USD 47,897).

Toyota Prado 70th Anniversary Edition model

Toyota has introduced a Land Cruiser Prado 70th Anniversary Limited special edition model with the update in Japan. The special edition LC Prado costs JPY 4,290,000-5,118,000 (USD 37,070-44,225).

Based on the TX L package trim, the 70th Anniversary Limited model offers unique styling with a black radiator grille, jet black radiator grille bars, jet black headlamp garnish, piano black fog lamp bezels, 18-inch black alloy wheels, piano black exclusive roof rails, black ORVMs, and jet black tailgate garnish. A 70th Anniversary emblem can be specified as a dealer-level option for a price of JPY 23,100 (USD 199).

The special treatment continues with a richer material and trim appointments with brown genuine leather upholstery and silver dashboard ornament. Black floor mats with the 70th Anniversary logo can be added as a dealer-level option for an extra JPY 35,200 (USD 304).

For the United States

It is doubtful that Toyota will sell the Prado in the U.S., but demand for Toyota SUVs is only increasing with the company launching the new Corolla Cross and announcing a 3-row SUV to cover the two ends of the range. This does not mean that the next generation of the Prado is coming to America, rather that the Lexus GX will be sold here for the next generation.

Featured image: Toyota