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The new Prado TX from Toyota expands the range from just two top-of-the-range VX models to a four model range on the new Prado platform introduced in October last year.
This latest mid-sized Land Cruiser SUV platform follows the tried and tested formula of a strong, a! ll steel body mounted on a ladder type frame for the highest level of durability in tough operating conditions – the type of conditions that have led to the Land Cruiser brand laying claim to the title “Master of Africa”.
The design brief for the new Prado TX and VX required that any increase in overall size be kept to a minimum to preserve the excellent agility and manoeuvrability of the previous model and retain its true mid-size SUV character. In keeping with this brief length increased by 45 mm and width by 10 mm for the new model. Overall vehicle height is reduced by 20 mm.
The approach and departure angles, fundamental to the vehicle’s excellent off-road capability, are 32 degrees and 25 degrees respectively, which betters that of the previous model.
Within the slightly larger external envelope the Prado design team improved interior space and utility. The length of the cabin is increased by 35 mm, it is 5 mm wider, and the space between the driver and the front passenger is increased by 30 mm.
Safety from strength in construction
High tensile steel is used extensively in the body structure for a lightweight yet highly rigid body structure. Areas where this material is used to impart extra strength include the area around the engine compartment, the floor area, side frames including the ‘A’ and ‘B’ pillars, the area around the rear bumper, and lateral reinforcements in the roof area.
Galvanised sheet steel is used in all areas typically exposed to corrosion including door panels, vehicle side panels, doors, the bonnet and rear hatch. The extensive use of this material ensures excellent resistance to rust.
The new Prado is designed to protect vehicle occupants within a strong and rigid impact resistant safety cell. This safety cell (the vehicle body) is mounted on the ladder type frame which itself is design to adsorb and channel impact energy away from the passenger cell.
A key element of the passive safety protection afforded to occupants of both the new Prado VX and TX models is the provision of comprehensive SRS airbag protection. Dual stage driver and single stage passenger airbags provide frontal protection for the front seat occupants. These are supplemented by seat side airbags for front seat occupants and a knee airbag for the driver. Curtain side airbags provide side-on protection for all three rows of seats.
To provide protection in the event of a frontal impact the front pillar reinforcements feature a multi-layer construction between the roof rail reinforcement and the cowl for increased resistance to buckling and an improved resistance to crash e! nergy when buckled. This element assists in limiting body deformation in the event of a frontal collision. The lower front pillar reinforcements also feature a multi-layer construction and high strength outer rocker reinforcements are fitted.
The ability to absorb impact energy in the event of a side on collision is improved by the use of high-tensile steel sheet metal for the front pillars and super strength high-tensile steel for the centre pillar and rocker section. These ensure excellent lateral strength.
The position of floor cross members is optimised to effectively distribute impact energy and thus limit deformation of the cabin area. ! The roof header reinforcement employs a closed top and bottom ! section to optimally balance strength with associated components in order to minimise cabin deformation. The floor structure and cross members are designed to provide a highly effective, multiple load-path floor section that distributes impact energy from the centre pillar. Similarly inner rocker-to-frame load path brackets distribute impact energy from the outer rocker in a very efficient manner.
Foam-padded door panels and door trim are placed strategically to assist in reducing injuries in the area of the pelvis in the event of a side collision. Door profiles have been optimised and a crushable armrest construction is employed to help reduce abdominal injuries in the event of a side-on impact.
An energy absorbing structure and energy absorbing materials are placed inside the interior pillar and roof trim to assist in reducing head injuries.
Along with the numerous measures taken to protect the vehicle occupants in the event of a vehicle crash, measures have also been taken to reduce injuries to pedestrians in the event of a pedestrian accident. An energy-absorbing front bonnet profile and longitudinal inner reinforcement ribs are used in the bonnet structure.
Crush points and energy absorbing cut outs are placed behind the! bonnet striker reinforcement to ensure ample space beneath the bonnet to absorb pedestrian impact energy. The back of the cowl employs an energy-absorbing open cross section to reduce injuries in the event of an impact in the area where the lower edge of the windscreen meets the bodywork.
Also aimed at protecting against head injuries in the area of the cowl is the energy absorbing stepped design of the cowl louver. The windscreen wiper mechanism placed below this cowl louver has the motor mounted underneath the link assembly with an ample crumple zone between the mechanism and the cowl louver.
Crush points are incorporated in the fender bra! ckets to provide effective energy absorption in this area. Energy absorbing fender protectors are fitted. These fender protectors are designed to slip down in the event of a head impact to reduce any reactionary force sustained by the pedestrian.
Advanced active safety features
The 17 inch diameter alloy wheels fitted the Prado allow for large diameter brake discs and callipers to be fitted for superb braking and resistance to brake fade. Ventilated discs are fitted front and rear. A full suite of electronic driver aids is provided including:
- ABS anti-lock braking system
- Brake Assist
- Electronic Brake Force Distribution
- Active Traction Control
- Vehicle Stability Control
- Hill Start Assist Control
- Downhill Assist Control
ABS Braking: A latest generation ABS anti-lock braking system is fitted to the Prado TX to ensure optimised braking in the most adverse of conditions.
Of the driver it will automatically generate a heavier braking force through the system to assist the driver in bringing the vehicle to a stop in the shortest distance possible.
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) utilises the hydraulics of the ABS system to optimise the distribution of the braking force between the front and rear wheels according to driving conditions and vehicle load. When braking during cornering, the EBD control will optimise the distribution of braking force between the left and right hand side wheels to help maintain vehicle stability and thus achieve excellent braking performance.
The Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system detects any side slipping of the vehicle and then assists the driver in correcting this. When it detects an anomaly the VSC system automatically controls the engine output and the braking force to each individual wheel to suppress any unstable vehicle behaviour.
Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). This system prevents the vehicle from sliding back when the driver pulls off on a steep uphill gradient. The system detects any reverse movement when the driver moves his foot from the brake to the accelerator to pull away and applies a braking force to hold the vehicle on the slope.
Down Hill Assist Control acts to stabilise the vehicle and prevent it from running away from the driver on a steep descent in off-road conditions where a slippery surface may otherwise result in individual wheels losing traction and unbalancing the vehicle. Intervention by the electronic controls selectively acts on each wheel to restore stability.
The latest Land Cruiser Prado platform offers superb levels of reliability, off-road capability, and comfort.
A double-wishbone independent suspension setup is used at the front and a 4-link with lateral rod system is implemented at the rear. Both systems use coil springs and have been fine tuned to realise excellent handling, stability and ride comfort as part of this total overhaul of the Prado that has resulted in the new generation model. Suspension travel remains at the same high level as on the previous model for excellent all terrain mobility.
A great deal of attention has also been applied to reducing the transmission of noise vibration and harshness (NVH) in the quest to meet ever increasing expectations with regard to interior comfort and noise levels. To this end liberal use is made of foam insulation materials throughout the cabin area while sound dampening materials are applied to the various floor sections to limit noise intrusion. Attention has also been given to reducing wind noise and gaps between glass and body panels have been minimised and an acoustic windshield with an intermediate sound insulating film sandwiched within the layers of glass is fitted.