The fourth-generation Prado has been around for a while now. Having been introduced back in 2009, it can be considered a bit long-in-the-tooth by conventional standards. But when you’re talking about a Toyota, especially one that belongs to the legendary Land Cruiser family, age seems to be an aspect that’s of no consequence. Just like its fabled big brother, the Prado has endeared itself to a vast and loyal customer base with its combination of remarkable off-road abilities and refined urban manners. In the all-important mid-size SUV category in the Middle East that’s seen an onslaught of new, tech-laden contenders over the past years, the Land Cruiser Prado still maintains a sizeable 25 per cent market share. This explains why even though it’s been eight years since its launch, Toyota has decided that it’s only time for a mid-cycle update.

The exterior updates are restrained but noticeable, and include tweaks to the bonnet, which now has a prominent scallop in the centre like the Land Cruiser’s, a revised radiator grille featuring wide, vertical slats, more angular headlights, restyled front bumper and fenders, and a new taillight cluster at the back. Although subtle, these changes do bring the Prado’s looks closer in line with the 200-series Land Cruiser, while keeping its individuality intact.

The revised centre console houses all the buttons and knobs to access features like MTS and Crawl Control

The changes are less subtle in the cabin, which gets a revised dashboard, restyled instrument panel, centre console, and switchgear. The seats are plush and supportive, and the driver’s seat is equipped with eight-way power adjustment and power lumbar support, while the front passenger seat offers four-way power adjustment. It also gains a new interior lighting scheme with LEDs lighting the front footwell, glove box, and door panels adding to the overall cabin ambience. There are a number of cubby holes and cup holders that have been provided throughout the cabin, but there is no flat surface where you can leave your smartphone.

But none of these matter for those customers who buy the Prado purely for its off-road prowess. And this set of buyers will definitely not be disappointed with the 2018 model, as it boasts an impressive array of technology features that add to its capabilities. The most significant among these is the Crawl Control System that helps maintain a low and consistent vehicle speed when driven off-road. This is done by automatically controlling the engine output and brake pressure, with the driver just steering the vehicle. There are five adjustable speed levels to choose from based on the nature of the terrain selected. This is a feature I have previously tested in the LC200 Land Cruiser, and it works equally well here in
the Prado.

Third row seats are not as supportive as the others, but they are big enough to accommodate two adults

There are even more features that the 2018 Prado has inherited from its big brother, including Multi-Terrain Select, which automatically modifies vehicle acceleration, braking, and traction control to suit five different terrain conditions. These modes include ‘Rock,’ ‘Rock & Dirt,’ ‘Mogul,’ ‘Loose Rock,’ and ‘Mud & Sand.’ Used together with the Multi-Terrain Monitor that lets you view the front, side, and rear cameras to check the blind spots, this feature puts the driver in absolute control off-road. Other features include Hill-start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control, Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Safety features abound such as a multi-terrain Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and seven airbags including driver’s dual-stage front airbag, driver’s knee airbag, passenger’s front airbag, front side airbags, and full-length curtain airbags.

The 4.0-litre engine offers enough power for most off-roading needs

Our tester in Limited trim is powered by the 271bhp 4.0-litre V6, which is good enough for pretty much every situation you’d encounter on your off-road ventures, and is also smooth, quiet and effortless on highways and city roads. A smaller 2.7-litre engine option is also offered, but I strongly suggest you pay that little bit more and go for the larger powertrain.

There are eight variants of the Prado available across four grades, with prices ranging from Dh129,900 all the way up to Dh204,900. Whichever of these you choose, you get a highly dependable, comfortable, practical, and above all extraordinarily capable utility vehicle.

And age becomes just a number that’s kicked high up in the air with all that sand and gravel.