Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Lets start at the beginning, International markets had the J70 Prado which i believe we never saw in South Africa. If we did there is very few of them. The J70 was based on the J70 Landcruiser but was badged as soft rider to be more road orientated. It was powered by a 2.4l straight 4 turbo diesel producing 71kw and 240N.m of torque. Suspension was a SFA front and standard rear solid axle.
In 1996 the first true Prado as we know it was released, the J90 was the first commercial Prado to be sold in South Africa. It was deemed to be a soft roader as the front suspension was replaced by IFS and the interior build was more luxurious. It came in two engine options, the 3.4l V6 producing 136kw and 343N.m of torque, and the 3.0l Kzte turbo diesel without a intercooler producing 97kw and 287N.m of torque.
In 2003 the J120 Prado was introduced to the world, South Africa was in the line and i am sure we were happy about it. Still considered a soft roader due to the suspension setup to many die hard 4x4 fans. The 3.4l V6 was replaced by the legendary 1GR-FE 4.0l V6 upping the power to 179kw and the torque to 377N.m of torque. The 3.0l Kzte was not replaced in South Africa like the rest of the world, but it gained a intercooler but the outputs remained the same due to the tuning on the EFI.
The J120 was sold up to 2009 when it was eventually replaced by the J150. To all die hard Prado fans who believes that the Prado is not a Barbie Cruiser this is the model that made it. I myself am i vivid Prado 120 fanatic, i have driven my car to places and 4x4 routes where the big boys have gone and beyond.
The Australian Following of the 120 Prado is enormous, to them it is one of the underrated 4x4's on the road which the people do not really know what the vehicles capabilities are and what can be done with it. The only problem on the 120 Prado was that there was a centre diff-lock but no rear diff-lock, the option was available on the diesel models but not the petrol models.
In 2010 the now available J150 was introduced. Much more luxurious then the 120 and much more capable. Where the 120 had no rear diff-lock the 150 had centre and rear diff-lock standard on the entire range. Still seen by many as a soft roader, but many more as a real 4x4 capable of tackilng more difficult terrain. The First 4.0l V6 models was replaced by a dual VVT-I sytem upping the power to 201kw and 377N.m of torque. The 3.0l Kzte engine was replaced by the more reliable and tested 3.0l D4D engine producing 127kw and 352N.m of torque. Later models of the 4.0l V6 was derated back to 179kw and 377N.m of torque, this was done to prolong wear on the engine and it had a slight improvement on the fuel economy.
To many 4x4 enthusiasts the Prado will always be a soft roader/Barbie Cruiser. But to the handful dedicated Prado owners, who know their vehicle's capabilities the Prado will be the best 4x4 by far.
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