Time, at last for another used car review, with your host, Suburban Muscat.
This week we are reviewing 5 popular SUV's favoured by expat wives in MQ and Qurum. The Toyota Prado, The Jeep Wrangler, The Jeep Cherokee, the Landrover DIscovery, and the LR 3. Strappy top, Oversized handbag, and snotty attitude optional, but encouraged.
Today, The pervasive and bland Toyota Prado.
The Toyota Prados I test drove were 1998, 2002, and 2003 base models. 2 stick shifts, 1 automatic transmission, all in pretty good shape and dealer maintained.
A Toyota Prado is the first car people will reccomend that you should buy when you move here. And why not? They are reliable, economical, great on graded roads and in the sand, and have an excellent resale value. They are also boring and ugly.
I really enjoyed driving the prado, despite it's hideous looks and the fact that it made me feel like a total gomer. Good power, prompt takeoff, easy to park, and excellent air conditioning. The Gearbox on both the stickshifts felt a little loose to me, but slipped into gear easily both up and down, allowing me to engine break my way down some very frightening roads.
The turning radious and visual feild is great, meaning that I could always get into and out of parking spots, regardless of how the ass-clown in the next space over is parked. The brakes are sharp and responsive, but the steering feedback leaves something to be desired.
All three models had gone through a few clutches, something toyota R&D might be interestied to know about. All three were also beginning to loose some of the rubber trim around the doors and wheel wells.
Inside, it seats 2 in front, and 3 in the back, and another two in fold-down seats in the way-back. Life is pretty luxurious for front seat passengers, but I thought the back seats were very cramped. The prado claims a carrying capacity of 7 passengers, but 7 adults would be deeply unhappy crammed into the deceptively small interior space. And lord almighty, it's boring to drive and look at.
The cargo capacity is ok for getting groceries and short camping trips, but not for moving say, furniture or a washing machine. A Nissan Pathfinder has better, and more usable cargo space in my experience. The controls on the dash are simple, easy to understand, and sturdy.
Getting your Prado serviced means taking it to Bahwan Toyota in Wattiyah, which is the closest thing I can imagine to the seventh circle of hell. Seriously, it is Craaaaazzzzy there. I highly reccomend that you, yourself, double check that they have done everything they claim to have done, as we have occasionally received a half-serviced car back. The guys who do the servicing and washing have somewhat sticky fingers, so don't leave anything you want to see again in the car when you take it for service. Given the thousands of cars serviced there daily, they usually manage to keep track of your cars, and have only lost (temporarily) two of mine.
Bahwan Toyota also maintains the database from which there is no escape. I once took a friend's car in for electrical work there, and to this day I still get calls from them asking if I would like to buy a toyota, and reminding me that it's time to bring my friend's car in for an oil change. Bahwan Toyota usually has any part you can imagine in Stock. Because they seem to have a good system for inventory control they can find your part within say, half an hour.
Tomorrow, Two Jeeps. After the weekend, Two Landrovers, and later next week, A tale of Two Chevys.