The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado—aka Bundera, Land Cruiser II, LC90, J90, or simply Prado—is a full-size 4x4 SUV built by Toyota under the Land Cruiser J70 series.
After the now-classic Land Cruiser 40 Series ended production in 1984, the 70 Series (J70) replaced it as the off-road-oriented LC versions. Only the 40 and 70 series continued to take the off-road direction, since their J50, J60, J80, J90, J100, and J200 siblings have taken the more comfortable and luxurious SUV path. For the history of the Land Cruiser, you may read it from our full article devoted to it.
The Prado was built along this off-road J70 branch, but it also ventured out to become a new distinct series—bearing the J70 DNA but very much its own unique identity.
Predecessor J70 (1984-1990)
Toyota introduced the Land Cruiser J70 in various builds, including softtops, hardtops, utes/cab-chassis, troop carriers, and SUVs in three wheelbase variations. From these many combinations, the J70 also figured as a short-wheelbase (SWB) light-duty vehicle aptly called 70 Light.
The 70 Light sat on a 4-wheel coil spring solid-axle suspension, which improved its ride quality. This model was marketed as Bundera and Land Cruiser II. Later, it was called 70 Prado, from the Portuguese word ‘Prado’ which means grass or meadow.
Instead of the standard 4.0-litre and 3.4-litre engines of the regular LCs, the 70 Light used a Hilux-sourced 2.4-litre 4-stroke 22R petrol engine paired with a G52 5-speed manual gearbox. Two other powertrains were also available – 2.4-litre 2L diesel and 2.4-litre 2L-T turbocharged diesel units, paired with R150/R151 5-speed manual gearbox.
In Australia, the J70 arrived as the Bundera, powered by the 2.4-litre petrol engine (74 kW, 186 Nm) and the 2.4-litre diesel unit (63 kW, 188 Nm), both paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The standard equipment featured limited-slip differential, power steering, power windows, and a sunroof.
First Generation J70 (1990–1996)
In 1990, the 70 Prado evolved into a model distinct from the Land Cruiser series, albeit still very much associated with its progenitor. It is now known as the Prado with other names that include Land Cruiser II and Land Cruiser Prado.
Toyota produced it with a new exterior, sporting a restyled front grille and new front fenders, hood and headlights. This new model, which was still coded as J70, was marketed as an on-road vehicle with highly-capable off-road qualities.
Much of the alteration included the internals, including a new front suspension system to improve handling. Modifications were also made to the brakes and trim details. The range now comprises 4-door versions as well, in addition to the previous 2-door only models. It has a body length of 4,585 mm and a kerb weight of 1,890kg. The powertrain also received updates, which are as follows:
- From 22R petrol to 2.4-litre 22R-E and later to 2.7-litre 3RZ-FE
- From 2L diesel to 2.8-litre 3L
- From 2L-T diesel to 2.4-litre 2L-TE and later to 3.0-litre 1KZ-TE
The 3.0-litre engine could reduce Nitrogen Oxide gases and soot. This generation was the first Japanese 4WD with an automatic transmission, which at this time was the A440F 4-speed automatic.
Second Generation J90 (1996–2002)
By this time, Toyota built the Prado under a new platform (J90), marking the start of Prado as an independent series. It went through a makeover with its body length increased to 4,675 mm for the 5-door model and 4,240 mm for the SWB 3-door variant. It now utilised an independent front suspension served by double wishbones with coil springs. The rear used coil springs with 5-link gas-pressurised hydraulic dampers.
The following four trims were released in Australia:
- Grande VX 4x4, base trim level – 3.4-litre 5VZ-FE V6 petrol (132 kW, 303 Nm) paired with 4-speed auto; 5 doors, eight seats, featured dual-front airbags, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, CD with 6-CD stacker, central locking, LSD, metallic paint, power mirrors, power steering, power windows, and radio cassette with four speakers.
- GXL 4x4 – 3.4-litre 5VZ-FE V6 paired with either 4-speed auto or 5-speed manual; featured five doors, eight seats, basic equipment plus CD player
- RV6 4x4 – 3.4-litre 5VZ-FE V6 paired with 4-speed auto; 5 doors, eight seats, featured central locking, LSD, power mirrors, power steering, radio cassette with four speakers
- RV 4x4 – 2.7-litre 3RZ-FE 4-cylinder petrol engine (112 kW, 240 Nm) paired with 4-speed auto; 3 doors, five seats, featured central locking, LSD, power mirrors, power steering, radio cassette with four speakers
1998 saw some changes in the offered trims, starting with a new base model, the Getaway.
- Getaway 4x4 – same 3.4-litre V6 engine coupled to either 4-speed auto or 5-speed manual gearbox; standard equipment included alloy wheels, cruise control, central locking remote control, LSD, leather steering wheel, power mirrors and steering, and radio cassette with four speakers
- GXL 4x4 – same 3.4-litre V6 engine coupled to either 4-speed auto or 5-speed manual gearbox; added CD player, power windows
- Grande VX 4x4 – same 3.4-litre V6 engine coupled to 4-speed auto; added dual-front airbags, air-conditioning, CD player with 6-CD stacker, metallic paint, power windows
The 5-seat RV and 8-seat RV6 remained on offer, and a limited World Cup 4x4 was also available.
There were some minor upgrades in 1999 with more limited editions released in the succeeding years until the end of the generation. Some of the new features offered as standard include ABS, dual-temp zones auto climate control, engine immobiliser, leather-accented upholstery and steering wheel, power front seats, power sunroof, power windows, radio cassette with six speakers, seatbelts with pretensioners (front), trip computer, and traction control system.
Toyota introduced a new engine in 2000, the 3.0-litre 1 KZ-TE inline-four turbocharged diesel engine (96 kW, 343 Nm), to the Grande, GXL, RV, and new TX trims, although the previous powertrains were still available.
Special editions all through the generation included the Snowy, GXL Kimberley, and 50th Anniversary models.
Third Generation J120 (2002–2009)
The third-generation Prado, coded J120, was designed by Toyota ED2’s Lance Scott. From this period came the Prado that won three awards as the best-performing SUV in Australia and the US.
Its suspensions went through a significant revision, now using upper and lower wishbone, coil spring, gas damper, and anti-roll bar for the front and 5-link trailing arm, Panhard rod, coil spring, gas damper, and anti-roll bar for the rear.
The Prado retained the 2.7-litre I4 3RZ-FE for the 3-door GX, 3.4-litre V6 5VZ-FE for the RV6 and VX, and the 3.0-litre I4 1KZ-TE for the Grande, 5-door GX, GXL, RV, and TX. A new engine joined the range – a 4.0-litre 1 GR-FE V6 petrol engine.
2004 brought new engines that replaced all engines from the previous generations. A 2.7-litre 2TR-FE inline-4 petrol replaced the previous same-capacity 3RZ-FE, but in Australia, the 2.7-litre option was phased out. A 4.0-litre 1GR-FE V6 petrol (179 kW, 343 Nm) replaced the 3.4-litre 5VZ-FE V6, matched with either a 5-speed automatic transmission or 6-speed manual gearbox. The 3.0-litre 1 KZ-TE diesel engine stuck around for a while but, it too was replaced in 2007 by the 3.0-litre 1KD-FTV turbo-diesel engine (127 kW, 410 Nm) to meet Euro IV requirements.
Fourth Generation J150 (2009–present)
The fourth-generation Prado, chassis-coded as J150, rolled out from the production lines in new trim models packed with more standard equipment and offered with numerous options. They also came with new engines, although Australia retained both the 3.0-litre 1 KD-FTV diesel and 4.0-litre 1GR-FE V6 petrol units from the third generation, but now paired with either 5-speed sequential automatic transmission or 6-speed manual gearbox. Below is the new range of models released:
Five-door models; 5/7 seats
- GX – 3.0-litre diesel
- GXL – available in both 3.0-litre diesel and 4.0-litre petrol
- Altitude – offered in 2012; available in both 3.0-litre diesel and 4.0-litre petrol
- VX – available in both 3.0-litre diesel and 4.0-litre petrol
- Kakadu – available in both 3.0-litre diesel and 4.0-litre petrol
Three-door models (on offer until 2013 only)
- SX – 3.0-litre diesel
- ZR – 3.0-litre diesel
The remaining models after 2013 received updated equipment, front panels, headlights, and suspension. June 2015 again brought changes to the powertrain. A new 2.8-litre 1GD-FTV inline-4 turbocharged diesel engine (130 kW, 450 Nm) replaces the 3.0-litre diesel engine and now partners with either a 6-speed Aisin AC60F automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The latest offering now solely packs this new powertrain in all its trims. The equipment and accessories now include active high beam control, autonomous emergency braking, adjustable steering wheel, intelligent/active cruise control, collision warning/full auto brake, hill descent control, hill holder, pedestrian recognition, reversing cam, Sat Nav, and vehicle stability control, among its array of features.
In North America, this generation sells as the Lexus GX 460, equipped with much more luxurious features and state-of-the-art gadgetry.
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)