What is the Land Cruiser 120 Prado?
A European-style body with an emphasis on a roomy interior
The Land Cruiser 120 (Ichinimaru) Prado (Prado is a Japanese name for the Land Cruiser) is a lightweight Land Cruiser that debuted in October 2002 as the successor to the Land Cruiser 90 (Kyumaru) Prado. The Land Cruiser 120 Prado was developed for expansion of the European market. Exports of lightweight Land Cruisers, which began in earnest with the first 70 Prado, were mainly for Oceania and Southeast Asia. Even during the Land Cruiser 90 Prado era, it had not yet been embraced by Europe. In addition to the fact that rival manufacturers had already taken root in Europe, Europeans were more interested in holding on to traditions rather than being willing to accept outside manufacturers.
For Toyota, this situation was not limited to the Land Cruiser. In November 1998, Toyota established the new design center ED2 (Edie Square) in Nice, France as part of its European strategy. ED2 was in charge of almost all of the design of the Land Cruiser 120 Prado, and as a result worked towards appealing to the European markets, which helped them increase their market share. The Land Cruiser 120 Prado was available in more colors than the conventional LC120 and its off-road colors emphasized its sportiness and quality. The front and rear over fenders, which stood out from the body, clearly emphasize the Land Cruiser 120’s origins. The Land Cruiser 120 Prado in the Japanese market was well received because its style and comfort were closer to a passenger car the 90 Prado, which solidified its position as a lightweight Land Cruiser.
Land Cruiser 120 Prado exterior and interior comparison with successive models
|Model||Land Cruiser 90 Prado||Land Cruiser 120 Prado||Land Cruiser 150 Prado|
|Sales Period||May 1996 to September 2002||October 2002 to August 2009||September 2009~|
|Full Length||185 inches||186 inches||187 inches|
|Width||72 inches||73 inches||72 inches|
|Height||75 inches||73 inches||72 inches|
|Minimum turning radius||224 inches||224 inches||228 inches|
|Vehicle Weight||3,836 – 4,497 pounds||4,144 – 4,541 pounds||4m497 – 5,070 pounds|
|Boarding Capacity||5~8 people||5~8 people||5~7 people|
|Engine Type||Gasoline: 2.7L (straight 4: 3RZ-FE) / 3.4L (V6: 5VZ-FE) Diesel: 3.0L (straight 4 turbo: 1KZ-TE) → 3.0L (straight 4 turbo: 1KD-FTV)||Gasoline: 2.7L (Straight 4: 3RZ-FE) → 2.7L (Straight 4: 2TR-FE) / 3.4L (V6: 5VZ-FE) → 4.0L (1GR-FE) Diesel: 3.0L (straight 4 turbo: 1KD-FTV)||Gasoline: 2.7L (straight 4: 2TR-FE) / 4.0L (V6: 1GR-FE) Diesel: 2.8L (straight 4 turbo: 1GD-FTV)|
|4WD system||full time||full time||full time|
|MSRP||$18,900 – $25,000||$21,600 – $31,000||$23,800 – $36,400|
*90 Prado, 120 Prado, and 150 Prado each have 4-door specs.
*Body size is the typical finished model (excluding optional equipment, etc.)
*Vehicle weight does not include optional equipment
*The price when new is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (tax included) of the final model.
An expanded wheelbase improves comfort
The 120 Prado has a newly developed frame and body. The basic style is the same as its predecessor, the 90 Prado, and there are two types of body configurations: a 2-door short 5-seater and a 4-door long 5-seater or 8-seater depending on whether or not there is a third-row seat. The body size is only slightly wider than the LC90, but the wheelbase has been extended for both the short and long wheels. The wheelbase of the 90 Prado is 93 inches on the 2-door short and 105 inches on the 4-door long. The 120 Prado is 97 inches and 110 inches respectively; the 4-door long is 4.5 inches longer. The wheelbase was expanded without increasing the overall length, and while the comfort from the second row onwards was improved, the minimum turning radius was the same as that of the 90 Prado, ensuring good maneuverability. The RX and RZ 2-door shorts are the base models.
The 4-door long is the same previous TX, TZ, and TZ-G models, and they are powered by either a 2.7-liter straight 4 or a 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engine that was inherited from the 90 Prado; there are a total of 3 models with a 3.0-liter straight 4 diesel turbo, too.
One of the features of the Land Cruiser 120 Prado is that all trim levels of the 4-door long car are equipped with a 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engine. In 2004, the Land Cruiser 120 Prado switched to the latest 2.7-liter in-line 4 along with the 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engines, and the 4-speed AT was upgraded to a 5-speed with AI-SHIFT. Furthermore, the TX size increased and the 2-door short model was reduced. There were other improvements and changes in the seating arrangements that were included in the Land Cruiser 150 Prado when it was introduced in September 2009.
Torsen + new electronic control technology realizes multi-level driving
Toyota incorporated the latest technology for drivers in the Land Cruiser 120. The 4WD system is the same full-time type as the 90 Prado, but the center differential in all models is an LSD Torsen that distributes torque-sensitive driving force, which improves driving stability. In addition, the top model has H∞TEMS (H Infinity TEMS) + rear electronically controlled air suspension with a vehicle height adjustment function, as well as active TRC (traction control) + VSC (vehicle stability control).
H∞TEMS adjusts the damping characteristics of the shock absorber based on driving and road conditions. In addition, the rear electronically controlled air suspension with vehicle height adjustment function suppresses changes in vehicle height based on the number of passengers and load capacity. These features automatically adjust the function of the suspension in total, achieving both a comfortable ride and driving stability at a high level.
Active TRC + VSC is an electronic control technology that works on the drive system. Active TRC automatically applies the brakes to tires that slip during off-road driving and distributes the rotational force (torque) to the tires to add grip for an improvement of the driving performance. VSC detects skidding when turning a curve, regardless of whether the vehicle is on or off-road, and automatically applies the brakes to the tires that are no longer in contact with the road, ensuring smooth and safe cornering. The Land Cruiser 120 Prado combines advanced mechanical technology and ABS electronic control technology to further improve off-road driving performance in harsh environments, while simultaneously improving a comfortable on-road driving experience.
Land Cruiser 120 Prado changes in specifications and equipment
The Land Cruiser 120 Prado succeeds the Land Cruiser 90 Prado. Although it is the third-generation Prado (LC, Land Cruiser), it is the fourth-generation lightweight Land Cruiser when you consider the pre-LC70 Land Cruiser wagon. The style emphasizes sportiness while wearing an air of sophistication. In addition to the newly developed 3.0-liter in-line 4 diesel turbo, it can be equipped with a 3.4-liter V6 or a 2.7-liter in-line 4 gasoline engine.
The popular 2.7L straight 4 gasoline engine, 3RZ-FE, in combination with the best-selling model 5-door TX has been replaced with the 2TR-FE using the same displacement. While the power performance was improved, the engine still met the new emissions regulations. Furthermore, Toyota added a TX-Limited edition is added to the TX lineup.
The 3.4L V6 gasoline engine, 5VZ-FE, was scaled up to the 4.0L V6 gasoline engine, the 1GR-FE. The 4-speed AT has been replaced by a 5-speed AT, and the 5 Super ECT equipped with AI-SHIFT control works in conjunction with the car navigation system to shift based upon the driving surface.
Land Cruiser 120 Prado engine type
The Land Cruiser 120 Prado is equipped with a 3.4-liter V6 5VZ-FE (185PS/182HP 30.0kgm) or a 2.7-liter straight-4 3RZ-FE (150PS/147HP, 24.0kgm). The Diesel engine is a 1KD-FTV (170PS/167HP, 35.9kgm) 3.0 liter straight-4 diesel turbo was also available. All three models were inherited from the previous Land Cruiser 90 Prado, but in the first minor change in 2004, the 2.7-liter gasoline was changed to the 2TR-FE (163PS/160HP, 25.1kgm) with the same displacement. This is a newly developed engine that is also installed in the Hiace and Hilux Surf.
Although the 2TR-FE shares the same basic design as the 3RZ-FE, its major attribute is its use of the VVT-i (Continuously Variable Valve Timing Device) that generates more torque in the mid-to-low speed range. Of the three models, models equipped with this engine, which is less than 3 liters (like the 4-door TX), became the best-selling trim level because the vehicle price and the Japanese automobile tax were reasonable.
The next engine that was changed was the 5VZ-FE, which was changed to the 1GR-FE 4.0-liter V6, which caused the automobile tax to go up one rank. Thanks to the adoption of the dual VVT-i, the power has been greatly increased to 249PS/245HP and 38.8kgm, making it easy to handle its 2-ton weight.
The 3.0-liter in-line 4 diesel turbo 1KD-FE model boasted excellent performance as the top two in the series, along with the V6 gas-powered engine. The turbo is equipped with an intercooler, and the fuel injection system is an electronically controlled common rail type. A timing belt was used to drive the camshafts, etc., and the quietness was excellent. Therefore, Toyota continued to equip the LC120 with it until the next model changeover.
Land Cruiser 120 Prado test drive impressions & report
Active TRC is the ultimate off-road weapon
Most of the Land Cruiser 120 Prado TX, TX-Limited, etc. were sold with a 2.7-liter straight 4 gasoline engine. This is true for both of its predecessors, the LC90 Prado, and its successor, the 150 Prado, and in addition to its affordability, it was also attractive thanks to its fuel efficiency and the Japanese taxes on it. However, in terms of performance, the V6 gasoline is quieter than a straight-4 diesel.
With a 2-door short car, the slightly lightweight body does not feel stressed, but the 4-door long car feels like it is underpowered.
The most powerful is the 4.0-liter V6 petrol engine. You can enjoy powerful acceleration with sensitive response in any range, and plenty of torque, even off-road, you can drive at low speed like you would a diesel engine. Also, the power of the 3.4-liter V6 gasoline engine and the 3.0-liter straight-4 diesel turbo are almost even. The V6 gasoline has moderate low-speed torque, and it powers up quickly like a gasoline engine. The straight-4 diesel turbo reacts similarly, but the torque peak is a little lower like a diesel engine.
Gasoline and diesel engines have three different characteristics, but if you put the transfer gear into the low range and step off-road, you will hardly feel the difference in performance. That’s because the torque is amplified by the low range, but the work of the active TRC makes the Land Cruiser 120 Prado run sportier than you can imagine.
The later Land Cruiser 150 Prado and Land Cruiser 200 are equipped with more advanced off-road driving support devices, but you can also enjoy the active TRC. Originally, with a full-time 4WD using the locking center differential, the performance could be improved, but even then, the tires grip well on uneven terrain, riverbeds with large rocks, or muddy ruts in forest roads. Even if all the tires are slipping or the tires are gripping, there will be times when the weight alone can get you stuck. However, the Land Cruiser 120 Prado can go on most roads unless the road is impassible. It makes me feel like I’ve improved my driving skills on rough roads. If you get a model with active TRC, I would like you to take it off the road at least once.
Land Cruiser 120 Prado Tips for choosing a used car
Mid-grade TXs are abundant in the used car market, although they are a minority
It has been 14 years since the new car debuted and 7 years have passed since the sale of the Land Cruiser 120 Prado. Even so, the TX and TX-Limited with 2.7-liter in-line 4 gasoline engines are still the most common. There are also vehicles with diesel engines, but please note that they can only be registered in certain regions of Japan due to emissions regulations.
The 90 Prado seems to be more popular in the used car market, but if you want high-tech driving options such as Active TRC and H∞TEMS, you should choose the 120 Prado. The style is more urban than the 90 Prado, but it has better off-road running performance. LC120 owners find the interior much more luxurious. The 120 Prado is the first Prado derived from Lexus, the GX460, so the interior would be more luxurious. There is also an opinion that the quality of the 120 Prado is better than the 150 Prado in terms of luxury. When switching to the Land Cruiser 200 and Prado 150, the interior differs from the Lexus cars. The Lexus is geared toward luxury while the Land Cruiser is more robust. Depending on how you look at it, the 100 Prado looks more expensive than the 200, and the 120 Prado looks more expensive than the 150 Prado.
Toyota embraces a fresh European design
The Land Cruiser 120 Prado is far from outdated. The gas engine is still installed in other new cars, and the electronic control technology has the same basic function as the modern Land Cruiser. The 70 Prado and 90 Prado are popular for their off-road style and retro feel, but the urban and sporty 120 Prado has a European design that can be used every day. Moreover, the used car is very reasonably priced compared to the 150 Prado, which has become much more expensive than the new car prices. If you want to enjoy a long ride and want something new at an affordable price, the Land Cruiser 120 Prado is definitely recommended.