A non-car enthusiast guide to the Toyota Prado

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Warning: this car review has nothing to do with horsepower, engine size or specs. You’ll find plenty of official reviews for the Prado that cover those elements on the web. Instead, we’re looking at what mums really want – comfort and safety.

As soon as we begin driving from Sydney to Jindabyne in our loaned Toyota Prado, I know we are in trouble.

This car has more creature comforts than mine.

Alison Godfrey / Family Travel

Then again, that’s not hard. I drive the kids around in an old Mazda 3. I’ve refused to replace it until the children are old enough to look after it and not drop food, vomit or other bodily fluids on the upholstery. They are now 8 and 10. It’s time.

We had been debating getting a new car for months and my husband and I both put forward our list of “must-haves”. This trip just made that list longer.

The Prado had me sucked so much that we actually stopped off at a car yard in Cooma to check out options for seven-seaters.

Here’s why it was so good for parents. Safety first.

The Prado has sensors all over the car. This is key for me as I admit that I did once run into the skip bin in our front yard. In my defence, I ran into the handle and it was unexpectedly sticking out into my blind spot as I backed out of the driveway.

Pop on the reverse camera and you can see all around the car – not just the back. When you have small children that’s a big deal.

Alison Godfrey / Family Travel

It has “adaptive cruise control” my husband tells me. What that actually means is that the car breaks, by itself, when you get too close to the car in front. You pop on the radar, set the speed limit and just focus on steering. Genius.

The side mirrors have blind spot lights so you will always know if someone or something is in your blind spot. The mirrors are also extra large so you can see a lot more of the road than in other cars.

But where this car excelled with in the features that made my life easier as a parent.

Alison Godfrey / Family Travel

Above the rear-view mirror is a second mirror aimed at the back seat. I called it the “don’t make me turn around mirror”. One glance was enough to stop any shenanigans that started in the back.

The Prado has a TV screen in the back for kids and headphones are supplied. The kids also have their own drink holders (if you trust them with drinks in the car).

You can also lower the car down so little ones can climb out a little easier. I’m told this is for 4WD over rocks, but I’m a city mum of two.

Alison Godfrey / Family Travel

The boot also has two more seats so there are seven in total. This is one thing that is now firmly on my “must have” list. Seven seats makes it easier for kids to have playdates or for taking extra children to sport and birthday parties. It also allows you to separate cranky kids who just want to fight each other.

A week after we gave the Prado back to Toyota we found ourselves with one child too many after soccer. I had to walk home while my husband drove all the kids back. That wouldn’t happen if we had a seven seat car.

The Prado’s heated seat warmers delighted the kids. At one stage while walking around Jindabyne in near freezing temperatures, my son asked if he could “get back in the car to warm my bum up”.

And then we found the “chiller box”. Seriously this car has a fridge in the middle console – for chilled drinks. This is kid and mum heaven right here. This is post-soccer match awesomeness. Post road-trip, we put the leftover milk and butter in there. No wastage. If only it could heat as well and make coffee.

There was one thing that I didn’t like about the Prado and that was the back boot door. It opens to the side.  It’s fine on road trips or in the country. But in the big city, with parking at a premium, I could see that would be annoying. If a car parks too close – you won’t be able to open the boot.

Alison Godfrey / Family Travel

Still, it’s going on my new car wish list – so too is the chiller box.