Prado History - General
Prado Model history
I don't have details on all the various names Toyota has used for this vehicle over the years but based on what I know they include: Toyota Land Cruiser or Land Cruiser Prado, Landcruiser Colorado, Lexus GX.
I am focusing on the current model and its model history and development but may include the earlier models at a later stage.
Technically the original Prado was based on the what most of us know as the simply the Land Cruiser. At the time I think the Land Cruiser was called the 70 series. When introduced the '96 Prado was given the 90 series designation. The 80 series 'name' was already taken.
I'm not going to cover the general Land Cruiser history because that's not the point of this site. The focus is on the Prado or 120 and 150 series - obviously !
Toyota had much ground to make up in terms of marketing and packaging and design against the leading Mitsubishi. But as we all know Toyota is one of the most technically advanced and arguably the largest and most successful car manufacturer in the world today.
So it didn't take long before the original Land cruiser Prado or 90 series Land Cruiser was released. It was quite funny when I first saw it at a motor show, only because it looked very similar to the Pajero, with only the design flair that Toyota can do. Ie. It was not a good looking thing.
Also note that there is a Japan only model that predates the one the rest of the world knows. But in all honestly it seems like the 70 Series Land Cruiser with a different body.
The current shape was released in late 2002 in some countries and available worldwide by late 2003. The wagon appears to be the only model available world wide. The SWB appears to be only available in Japan and the UK. I presume this for for price and demand purposes.
In my opinion the design for 120 series is actually one of the better looking cars from Toyota. Both interior and exterior is cohesive. Don't know who was responsible for it. Good choice of alloy wheels, at least for most of the world.
The estimated model life for this current shape is 7-10 years, based on prior Land Cruiser cycles. So next change is not due till 2010.
The original Landcruiser series where numbered 60 and so forth. The Prado began with the 90 series and so forth. So now, with the release of the 200 series Landcruiser it is clear how Toyota wants to proceed.
I owned the fabled FJ40 SWB (beige with a white roof) for many years having only replaced it with a more suitable Corolla when I moved into the city. Being a student at the time and even with 'cheap' petrol the 18+ litres of leaded petrol the FJ used it was expensive to run. But probably the real reason is that it didn't have air-conditioning !
I also noticed that Toyota has released a FJ replacement ! based on the Prado mechanicals and who knows what else. Unfortunately available only in the US. Needless to say this would be a suitable replacement for my Prado when it comes time to change.
The Prado is marketed as a 'mid-size' 4wd wagon but really I think its a bit bigger than that. Admittedly in markets such as North America it is a mid-size but then again to most of the world it is a large 4wd wagon.
Naming issues (Opinion)
Based on Toyota's past this model is not a replacement for what most of the world knows simply as the Land Cruiser. However in some parts of the world eg. the UK the Prado is known just as the 'Land Cruiser'.
So what's the go ? Here's what I think. World markets are very different. In Europe small cars are the thing to buy. Although large cars with large engines are desirable but the reality is that running costs are too expensive and legislatively discouraged. This often means that you can have a large car but you can only get a small capacity engine. However the loop hole is in relation to diesel engines which are also the choice engine type.
Likewise names have different actual and perceived meanings around the world hence they have tried to differentiate each model in each country and establish a reputation with a particular name.
How these names are chosen ? Who really knows. Probably some focus group for Toyota I guess...
The Lexus GX is the only 'Prado' available in North America which is odd. I presume its for marketing purposes and the also the only continent that the V8 is available for it. However the 100 series is is available as a Toyota or the Lexus LX. The strange thing is that all versions are high spec. Furthermore the 100 series is not exactly a big seller in North America.
Anyway the rest of the world gets the full range of models, from the most basic Prado to the top spec 'Lexus' version called the Prado Grande. Admittedly the Lexus LX gets a few extra bits even the Grande doesn't get.
Other parts of the world also get the SWB or 2 door version which comes in a variety of levels too !
So for the rest of us, the whole naming thing is confusing but according to Toyota there is some logic. The most part is in relation to the use of the Land Cruiser badging on the Prado.
They claim the Land Cruiser tag is given to vehicles that meet the 'legend' which is fair enough. So I guess the Prado is just as tough as the 100-series. Which is great, but is it really ? Well I'm about to find out.
The meaning of Prado
The term Prado is not a made up term. Prado means meadow in Spanish. I'm sure I don't need to explain what a meadow is ...
Why Toyota chose a Spanish derivative ? Probably because this version of the Land Cruiser is to compete with the Mitsubishi Pajero.
It is of course unfortunate that Pajero has crude meaning when translated from and used in Spanish. Read more about it here
To their defense they claim that it was named after a species of cat.
Mitsubishi is not the only car manufacturer to blunder in naming !
That said you can understand why manufacturers in particular choose weird names. But then again why not stick to just numbers and letters like BMW and Mercedes ?
In the case of the Toyota I guess they blundered on the series name because the more expensive model is simply known as the Series-100 Land Cruiser.
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