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Prado TX: Its power, strengths and weaknesses

 The 2015 edition of Land Cruiser Prado TX costs between Sh5.3m and Sh7m. [File, Standard]

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado TX is a vehicle associated with the genuinely powerful, impatient or in some cases the wannabes.

The waheshimiwas on Kenyan roads, especially MPs and governors, love this car to a fault.

Those who own the vehicle, tell The Standard that it accords you a mheshimiwa status in almost all social venues that you’d go to. Be it malls, weddings, the market, funerals, restaurants, or even political gatherings, the TX will shore up the respect people have for you.

Its commanding presence is one of the main features that the TX owners cite when challenged to defend their choice for the vehicle.

Its off-road capabilities are not in doubt. Its ground clearance is legendary. Its resilience is tested and proven.

The sport utility vehicle dates back to 1990, when the first in its line, the J70, was produced.

At the time, the car was marketed toward on-road use despite its body-on-frame design that made it highly capable off-road.

Today, the Land Cruiser Prado is in its fourth generation, the J150. The J70, which was the first generation, ran between 1990 and 1995. The second generation, the J90, was produced between 1996 and 2001; the third generation, the J120, was manufactured between 2002 and 2008, and finally the fourth generation which is still in the market, the J150, started being produced in 2009.

The TX comes with either a petrol or diesel engine.

The petrol version of the vehicle has a 2,700cc four-cylinder engine that produces 163 horsepower, accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in an average of 11.2 seconds.

The diesel version of the TX comes with a 2,800cc four-cylinder engine that produces 161 horsepower and 410 newton meters of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in 9.9 seconds.

There are trims of the TX that come in 3,000cc diesel engines, and some with 4,000cc six-cylinder (V6) petrol engines.

However, the most common ones are the 2,800cc diesel version and the 2,700cc petrol version.

The TX produced between 2011 and 2018 has a tank capacity of 87 litres. The petrol price in Nairobi in the month of May-June was Sh150.12 for a litre of the fuel. That would mean that for one to fill the tank, he or she will need Sh13,060. For the TX motorists whose vehicles are diesel-powered, they’ll need Sh11,400 to fill the tank at the cost of Sh131.0 per litre of diesel.

The 2,700cc TX, on good driving, could give you up to 8.9 kilometres per litre. That would mean a full tank could take you some 730 kilometres. Its diesel equivalent is more economical, giving an average of 11.8 kilometres per litre. That would mean a full tank would return almost 1,000 kilometres.

The 4,000cc petrol version of the TX is, expectedly, the least economical, giving some 7.5 kilometres per litre. On full tank, the vehicle could take you some 650 kilometres.

The vehicle offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance, making it ideal for off-road drives, including on rocky or muddy rural roads. This is the TX’s major selling point.

The five-door vehicle can sit either five or seven people depending on the specifications of the car.

The TX can tow a load that is 2,800kgs heavy, and carry cargo, including people, who are collectively weighing 750kgs. Its kerb weight (weight while empty) is 1,920kgs, making it a fairly heavy car.

In Kenya, the common model of the vehicle in bazaars is the 2015 edition because of Kenya’s minimum import age policy of seven.

A 2015 edition of the TX will set you back between Sh5.3 million and Sh7 million, with the diesel-powered version more expensive than its petrol equivalent.

The TX’s rivals include Volkswagen Touareg, BMW X3, Mitsubishi Pajero, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes ML250, Nissan Murano, Audi Q7, Toyota Kluger, Renault Koleos, Hyundai Palisade and Chevrolet Trailblazer.

The work rate, the ruggedness and the ground clearance give the TX an edge over its competitors. However, concerns on its stability, especially at high speed, have often been raised.

Several mechanics, who spoke to The Standard, said unstable driving experiences have been reported to them by their clients on several instances.

Stephen Ouma, a 39-year-old mechanic based at Baricho Road in Nairobi, said: “The TX’s height is raised too much compared to its wheelbase and width. As a result, its centre of gravity is compromised, especially when driving at a high speed.”

Saidi Abadallah, another mechanic based in South B, Nairobi, said the latter versions of the car come with stability-control sensors and a hydro-pneumatic suspension, which allows the vehicle to drive comfortably at high speeds.

“The hydro-pneumatic suspension lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity, especially at a high speed. That, in turn, increases the base of support,” he said.

Nyali Member of Parliament (MP) Mohamed Ali said waheshimiwas love the TX because it’s fairly affordable compared to its German peers, its four-wheel drive capability and the big sunroof through which the leaders can address their supporters, especially during roadside rallies.

Ali, a former journalist of the famous Jicho Pevu investigations that aired on KTN, owns a 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado TX.

“The TX is a hardy car. However, it’s quite expensive to maintain. Its spare parts are costly and their wear and tear is more frequent compared to vehicles manufactured by the TX’s rivals, especially in Germany. I recently replaced my height sensors. One costs Sh15,000,” he said.

Emmanuel Kangi, who is Mohamed Ali’s driver, said the TX’s acceleration response is “slow”.

“The acceleration drags, yet it’s consuming a lot of fuel,” said Kangi.

Besides stability concerns, the other common problems reported by TX owners include rough shifting, transmission troubles; with some vehicles shifting to the wrong gear once they pass the 190,000-km mark, the engines of some versions of the TX, including the 2011 model, often experience abrupt failure, too much oil consumption, a leaky power steering pump, and bad electrical junction block for power windows and mirrors.

However, with proper maintenance and prompt replacement of worn out parts, most of these problems can be managed.

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