Best buy: used car to tow

Toyota Prado Land Cruiser

If it’s a bulletproof off-roading tow vehicle you’re after, the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado won’t disappoint

Price range:


Price Range

Prado Gx Diesel (2006 - 2010) 

$13,900 - $24,700

Prado Gx  Diesel (2010 - 2017)

$27,400 - $55,300

Prado Grande (2006 - 2009)

$25,100 - $35,900

Prado Kakadu (2009 - 2017) 

$31,100 - $78,800


The Toyota Landcruiser has been a part of Australia’s motoring history since the Thies Brothers imported 13 to work on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric system in 1958. But it wasn’t until its launch in 2996 that the LandCruiser’s little brother, the Prado, became its own success story.

Early Prados ran a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder with a four-speed auto and, compared to today’s model, power and torque figures were modest at just 96KW and 343Nm. In 2007, the 150 series received a more powerful 127kW/410Nm engine and five-speed auto. From 2015, power and torque increased to 130kW/450Nm, and a six-speed auto was introduced.

The diesel engines are better for towing, as fuel consumption won’t skyrocket or even double like it can for petrol versions. While not towing, expect to average 9-10L/100km if you drive for economy. Towing capacities remain conservative – models back in 2000 were rated for 2500kg and it’s the same for current models.

If you’re buying it purely for its seven-seat capability, have a rethink – AWD SUVs, with their superior on-road dynamics and interior design, are a much better choice. If the vehicle has been fitted with a tow hitch and an electronic brake controller, it’s likely it has been towing a caravan, boat or horse float, so check the rear suspension bushes for any sign of excessive wear and the shock absorbers for signs of leakage.

Many owners opt for a more aggressive off-road tyre that’s better at coping with muddy conditions and unsealed roads. The resulting increase in tyre noise can be off-putting and will sometimes wear unevenly. It’s probably best to stick to factory tyres, unless you’re planning to drive in extreme conditions.

While ‘traditional’ 4WDs like the Prado are not the best choice for an everyday suburban driver, they will provide sterling service off-road or hitched up to a caravan. However, they also look and feel more contemporary than most of the opposition, so their slightly higher used prices reflect this sentiment.

Let's say you had a $50,000 budget to purchase a vehicle to tow off-road. What are the other suitable candidates? Let us know.