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LAND ROVER DEFENDER TAKES ON TOYOTA PRADO

Large SUVs have never been more popular and the competition among vehicles with genuine 4x4 off-road capability is strong. Land Rover’s New Defender has justifiably earned high praise from motoring critics, but the Toyota Prado has also earned a reputation as a solid 4WD option.

Carsales.com.au’s Feann Torr recently pitted the two cars against one another to find out which one had the edge. While both are designed to perform off-road, he pointed out that in reality these vehicles will be driven more often in city environments and so posed the question: Which is the better all-rounder, the better daily drive?

DEFENDER’S LUXURY & AMAZING DESIGN

Starting with the interior of the Prado, Torr highlights the bigger 9-inch touch screen system, now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which he says is “better late than never”, and the instrument panel which is “basic but functional”. While power adjusted heated and cooled leather seats, the layout of the controls, and integrated car fridge all received a positive mention, less impressive to Torr were the limited storage options and single USB port.
Moving on to the Defender cabin, he said “it feels like a luxury spaceship compared to the Prado”, with amazing design, including the way the touchscreen has been integrated into the dash. Torr praised the screen’s sharper resolution, more functionality and greater connectivity, saying “the overall design makes the Prado look prehistoric by comparison”. The Defender also features far better storage options and includes 7 USB ports, wireless phone charging and “the icing on the cake” is a fridge.

OFF-ROAD CAPABILITIES

Getting behind the wheel, Torr said both vehicles are hugely capable off-road “with loads of ground clearance, impressive wading depth and very good wheel articulation”. He praised the Defender as “being surprisingly good off road, this thing has really impressed”. It also has clever tech tricks to make off-roading easier, with more numerous and advanced cameras than the Prado to see if you’re going to hit something, as well as a multi-mode terrain select system and adjustable air suspension.

NEWER, SMARTER, MORE SOPHISTICATED LAND ROVER

Heading back into the city, Torr found that while the Prado provides an excellent view of the road and recent upgrades to the engine enhances driveability, it’s “handling is a bit slow and ponderous”, and although it’s relatively comfortable most of the time, “it can feel a bit rigid here and there”. In contrast, the Defender is based on a car-like monocoque chassis and he could really feel the difference in the way the car handles - it’s more planted, the handling is direct and “it’s more enjoyable to steer as a result...refinement levels are seriously good and make the Toyota Prado feel like a rickety old truck by comparison”. The petrol engine is also much quieter and more suited to urban driving, while the advanced safety systems are “streets ahead of Toyota’s” and it simply cannot match “the newer, smarter, more sophisticated Land Rover”.

DEFENDER COMES OUT ON TOP

Finally, taking the ultimate urban test, the reverse park, Torr found the Prado’s reverse camera quality “pretty awful”, while the Defender had far more cameras with much higher resolution, and overall he felt more confident parking the Land Rover.

After putting both vehicles through their paces, Torr concluded that the Prado is “a great adventure machine” with Toyota’s solid reputation for reliability, but in terms of everyday usability the Land Rover comes out on top. It’s just as capable off-road if not more so, so there’s one clear winner - the Land Rover Defender.