Land Cruiser Prado: A Taste of the Forbidden Fruit

A family vacation is a time for relaxation, exploration, and new experiences. As big fans of Toyota and lovers of a good four-wheel-drive SUV, we were pretty excited when we found out that the Prado –– not available back home in the States –– would be our car for the duration of our scheduled rental.

Experiencing the Land Cruiser Prado was definitely an unexpected bonus. A taste of the forbidden fruit, however, has revealed some things about this coveted SUV that make it a little easier to swallow the reality that we can’t buy one back home (at least without a Lexus badge).

See Costa Rica with the Land Cruiser Prado

The Land Cruiser Prado is not available back home. However, it is widely available in the country of Costa Rica in Central America. Rolling around through the rainforest in a Prado will definitely give you a nice sense of pura vida.

While renting the Prado, we drove over 250 miles. We didn’t have any issues on any type of road, in any climate. I should add that the climate here ranges from chilly mountainous regions to dry farm country and coastal beach towns.

It’s a great vehicle that can fit up to eight passengers. We put two car seats in the second row with a passenger in between them with no issue. We never had to use the third row. I can say that with the third bench stowed, the Prado lent generous cargo space to our adventure.

Exotic appeal

The exotic appeal of this vehicle had my husband and I pretty excited when we realized this would be our family car for the duration of our rental. The idea of driving a vehicle that we have coveted from afar, yet never had the chance to encounter face to face is romantic.

As it turns out, although Toyota doesn’t manufacture them for the U.S. we still got our chance to drive one. We basically fell in love with it. Even the base model we rented had WiFi capabilities and a four-wheel drivetrain.

Japan is another place in which these SUVs are available.

Costa Rica is a country where people are laid back, the land is beautiful, and the Toyota Prado is on the mainstream market. While renting the foreign Land Cruiser, there was no need to worry about whether or not we could go somewhere if the roads were rough.

The vehicle handled virtually everything from winding country roads to traffic in high elevation. We were able to easily load cargo on the roof rack and the Prado easily took on the load. Even with the addition of two huge Pelican cases stuffed with family necessities causing us to be a little top-heavy, the rented Land Cruiser took tight turns on narrow farm roads like a champ.

A Taste of the forbidden fruit

Overall, it is a great vehicle. It served us well for the entire rental period. I’ll admit, we were disappointed when we dropped it off on the last day.

After about a week of tasting the forbidden fruit, the Land Cruiser Prado in Costa Rica, we envy people in the countries that sell them more than ever. The base level of this vehicle was enough. It’s fun to imagine the luxury of a more expensive trim level.

Still, there were a couple of negatives worth mentioning. The Prado was capable and spacious, it performed extremely well. The gas mileage wasn’t great, but it was comparable to other SUVs in its class. The worst thing about the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado was the weak air conditioning system.

That’s not bad, but come summertime, I have a feeling we might change our minds.