Monday, March 24, 2014

He owned 8 Land Rovers and then bought a Toyota...

How many times have you heard that a Land Rover owner has changed his or her vehicle and purchased a Toyota? In short, I have now purchased a Toyota after owning eight Land Rovers over the last two decades!
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 120 Series

Vehicle of choice this time is a 2007 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado D-4D (1KD-FTV).
And it was not based on the fact that Toyota owners are quick to explain the lack of tools needed, the reliability of the vehicle or the fact that they a perception to last forever.

Here's my thoughts on why I moved from Land Rover...

My 1996 LR Discovery 300Tdi was aging. She was well equipped for remote overland travel and certainly under my ownership explored many of the state forests and national parks that Australia has to offer but as with all old vehicles, this one was starting to cost a lot of money to maintain.
LR Discovery 300Tdi
I was doing preventative maintenance rather than waiting for the item to fail so it felt like I was visiting my local independent LR garage for a regular monthly visit!

I wanted to remain within the LR family but was struggling to find a suitable vehicle to purchase.
My thinking is depicted with this mind map...

Moving to a TD5 would have left me in a similar position - the vehicle is a minimum of 10 years old and would have required a lot of preventative maintenance to keep the vehicle in a reliable condition.

The Disco3 was an option but I want a vehicle that I can drive, rather than a vehicle that makes decisions for me! I enjoy making the driving decisions i.e. when to engage diff lock depending on the terrain etc. I felt the Disco3 removed that element of the drive. Plus, the cost of owning a Disco 3 in Australia (where I am currently resident) is high and the purchase cost is above average for a 7year vehicle.

Land Rover Defender 200Tdi
I have owned a 200Tdi Defender and love the shape, the accessories and the modifications available. Moving to the Defender Tdci was an option (except for the 2nd hand price tag). I opted not to purchase a Defender for two reasons only... I do a lot of city driving as part of my daily job and the Defender is a hard vehicle to drive in the city. The 2nd consideration is that distances in Australia are vast and getting to the start of your holiday often involves hours of driving. Subjecting my family to the pace and noise of the Defender put me off unfortunately.
I love the brand and the enthusiast clubs and forums.

The Transition...

My budget was $30k (did I mentioned vehicles were expensive in Australia?). For this price, I could purchase a new Mitsubishi Triton double cab or a 2nd hand Toyota. I, as you already know, opted for the latter.

Within the price point were plenty of Petrol Land Cruisers but I wanted a diesel powered Cruiser.

My next requirements were modifications...

I wanted a fully kitted vehicle rather than an empty shell. I might lose the experience of kitting a vehicle out but I save plenty of cash buying a fully prepared expedition vehicle. Plus, I know what I wanted... which was pretty much what many Australian 4x4 enthusiasts fit to their vehicles.

Eventually it came down to the Land Cruiser 76 Series, Prado 120 series or a Land Cruiser 100 Series. There was not much in it except timing.

Unfortunately no 76-Series Cruisers were available whilst looking. Plenty of 100-Series but none with the modifications that I wanted.

And then the Flinders Red Prado 120 became available. It had everything I wanted...
  • 180L Long range fuel tank (factory fitted)
  • ARB Bullbar and Warn Winch
  • 60L fresh water tank
  • Outback systems rear drawers
  • MSA Canvas seat covers
  • 2" suspension lift
  • Roofrack and Fiamma awning.
  • Mickey Thompson STZ
The engine is the 3.0l D4D Diesel with a five-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is considerably more powerful at 127Kw compared to the 80Kw of the Land Rover (I am comparing two very different generations of engine builds so the uplift is expected). The five-speed gearbox has a neat feature of 2nd gear start - useful in major traffic jams and useful when low-range 1st gear is too low for the terrain.

The vehicle is considerably bigger than the Discovery with the boot able to support 4x wolf boxes (without the water tank), plus fridge and misc items scattered about. The two Outback Systems drawers will be dedicated for cooking (crockery & cutlery) and vehicle specific items like the recovery kit, spares and tools.

My adventures in this vehicle begin in April and will logged under the page 'The Outback'.

Africa Overland Travel using a Prado 120 Series

Whilst researching vehicles, I used 'The Africa Overland Network' website to check which vehicles independent overlanders were opting to use.  Majority of trips using Toyota opted for the 80-series but only a few trips selected the 120-Series Prado (Deon Kotze) and the 76-Series (Our African Footprint & Honey Badger Diaries).
Deon Kotze

Technical learning...

I understand wheel bearings and solid axles having owned so many Land Rovers in the past.  The IFS on the Prado is new and looks very complicated.  It's something I will have to gain an understanding of, as these parts take a hammering on rough roads and I don't want to be left stranded with a failed 'something' :-)

That's it for now... more stories to follow as I transition into a very new vehicle...

Additional Reading