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Journeys : April May 2010
Life on the move Pickles Auctions For real peace of mind, purchase an RACT roadworthy inspected vehicle. See your local paper every Saturday for over 80 vehicles. Or for a detailed listing and photographs of vehi- cles visit our website. www.pickles.com.au GOVERNMENT & FLEET VEHICLE AUCTION Fixed Price Sales Saturday 9am to 2pm and Monday 8am to 4.30pm 56 Sunderland Street, Derwent ParK 7009 Ph: (03) 6108 8444 readout was telling me low range had been selected, so onward and upward! After a long dry spell, two hours of heavy over night rain was just what the doctor ordered. First a little bit of mud and a few puddles -- then 'bottom of the doors' water crossings. The 127kw 410Nm T/D power- plant, which is noticeably quieter in this model, was dealing with the change in terrain with a minimum of fuss. The auto transmission in low range was alternating between third and fourth gear with a very aggressive up-shift, although you could hold either gear manually. About ten kilometres in I came across a father and son on a quad bike. We stopped for a brief chat and he asked me how far in I was going. I said I wasn't sure. I could see it in his eyes -- what's this city bloke doing out here, with a brand new $75,000 vehicle? Well, as it turned out I wasn't going much further. Soon after there was a 'bridge' crossing that wasn't much more than two very big trees across a fast flowing river. I decided that if I managed to put it in the water, it might be the last Toyota I get for a test drive. The track was narrow and I had to reverse for a reasonable distance before I could turn. I challenge anyone to use a reversing camera for a task like this -- it is near impossible! Luckily visibility via windows and mirrors was excellent so I did it the old-fashioned way. I meandered back along the track looking for deeper mud and water holes. While I didn't have to engage the centre diff-lock, I did manage to use the hill descent function to great effect on a slight detour. I managed to bottom out a couple of times, but the underside does have stone-guards so no vital organs were damaged. I did slightly re-position one of the side steps, but probably better this than the under- door sill. I'm not by any means even a moderate four-wheel driver and I don't believe I was anywhere near the limits of this 'off the showroom floor' SUV. This vehicle has serious off-road credentials -- so it has the potential to make people like me look extremely competent. The only factor in your decision to go seriously off-road in one of these would be the price you pay for it. The base model starts at around $56,000, the VX (on test) around $75,000 and the top of the range Kakadu is just under $90,000. All models have the full list of safety features, including six airbags. Vehicles fitted with third row seats have curtain airbags for those passengers. Also standard across the range are ABS, TC, BA VSC* and front seatbelt pre-tensioners. Depending on the model you choose (there are fourteen variations!) or the size of your cheque account, there is Multi-terrain Select, which allows you to dial in the type of surface you are on; Multi-terrain Monitor, which has multiple cameras allowing you to see exactly what the terrain is like around the vehicle from the driver's seat; and Crawl Control, which basically lets the electronic smarts control the speed and traction, leaving steering the only chore left for the driver. Another interesting note (and a first for Prado) is a three-door version available in turbo-diesel only. With seven years between serious model upgrades, the Prado had slipped a few rungs on the SUV ladder. The new model sees almost every part and panel getting some sort of treatment, not to mention bundles of technology. This Prado is a step up from the previous model and despite the higher pricing, they will walk out of the dealership in large numbers, so you might have to be prepared to wait if you want one. Anyone who has tried to buy a second-hand turbo-diesel Prado in the last few years can tell you how hard they are to find, and what sort of a premium you pay for the privilege. That might have just become a whole lot easier, as I am sure plenty of loyal owners have traded their old model for the latest model -- the December 2009 VFACTS has Prado up from 36th to 10th in total sales. * ABS Antilock Braking System TC Traction Control BA Brake Assist VSC Vehicle Stability Control 25 April / May 10 October / November 09
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010