Toyota LandCruiser - 4WD Systems

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Last Updated: 04 April 2013
Original 2006

4WD or AWD systems

First of I want to say that we  not an expert at 4wd systems. But I will try to describe simply what I have observed various how various 4wds systems work in off road conditions and in reference to the Prado's system.

The Prado has permanent All Wheel Drive (AWD). This means that all 4 wheels can provide some sort of drive when moving on any type of road. 

However with this sort of system when the wheels lose traction the wrong set of wheels often spin. However LandCruisers also have a LSD that reduces the chance of this happening. So at least one wheel with traction can still move.

All Prado's have 3 differentials including a central lockable differential in addition to being a TORSEN type it has LSD capability. This is the key in allowing AWD on hard surfaces, eg. normal roads. This diff allows power to be transferred to the front or back and side to side. The system cannot be turned off.

This type of standard system has been in use for many years and is a step up from more basic systems.  Eg. those found in most Subaru's models.

I hope I got it right...?

4wd systems with DAT or other electronics

What is DAT? Well it stands for 'Driver Assist Technology' and is used by Toyota to describe a number of 4WD technologies.

DAT is a specific to Toyota, however its concept is the same as other manufacturers who have their own system names. Not all LandCruiser models have the full set of DAT options.

It main components are a stability control system (VSC) traction control (TRC), downhill speed control (DAC), hill start control (HAC) and arguably adjustable height rear air suspension (TEMS). These are Toyota terminology. 

Only the top range models Kakaudu, Grande models have all the complete DAT systems. The VX comes close though.  Now basically it all adds up to a pretty formidable off-road ability and made even better with the VSC system which you can turn off when by locking the center diff etc... 

All manufacturers have their only acronyms and systems that try to do the same thing. The latest trend to to use the brakes as a form of off-road traction control combined with an on-demand system. However these systems alone are not as durable as a system designed to be permanent AWD with electronic aids.

There is more to off-road ability than just the AWD system. Things like ground clearance and decent suspension travel and a rigid rear axle which although old tech increases 4wd ability and durability.

Over our travels the Toyota's AWD system has always got us where we want to go without being assisted by another car. 


Last known pricing (RRP)
LandCruiser Prado
NOT including on roads, discounts etc...

5 door Kakadu - $87,990
5 door VX - $74,490
5 door GXL - $63,490

5 door Kakadu - $88,990
5 door VX - $75,490
5 door GXL - $64,490
5 door GX - $58,490

Diesel (Only)
3 door ZR - $65,990
3 door SX - $55,990

3 door SX - $55,990

See Read Motorblog for more!

Opinion and summary

Based on what off-road tracks we have been on the LandCruiser's system works very well indeed. Remember its not just the 4wd hardware but the gearing especially low range, tyre type, extra height, suspension travel and engine power that makes it very good in various conditions. Don't forget driver ability and experience helps too !

I also find it ironic that the top range models which gets the most aids whilst the models that need them most - Ie. basic versions don't get them. The top range LandCruiser system are also quite noisy as the system work automatically to maintain traction.

All current Prado's have independent front double wishbones in the front with gas dampers and coil springs and live axle rear also with gas shocks and coils. Only the Grande aka top range model version gets pneumatic or 'air bags' as well as springs.

One last thing. If a road you're traveling on is slippery and no wheels have any traction it doesn't matter whether it is 4WD, AWD or whatever you won't be going anywhere in a controllable fashion. The latest electronic assisted systems are very impressive and can find traction - but only in certain circumstances.


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