OK so I guess most of the people that know me would already know that the Z would not have gone if I didn't have plans for something better. In this case they are.....correct! OK it is a change of direction for me going from a 2 seater sport car to well, am 8 seater SUV! But I'm loving every moment of it and really enjoying my driving now.
So I had this plan that this was going to be a more active year. To go places and do things that I have missed out on for the past few years due to injury etc. The Z was a fun car, but let's face it, it didn't have enough ground clearance to get into a Denny's car park, and not even sufficent storage room to order a decent drive through meal Enter Toyota and the Land Cruiser Prado, this is exactly what I was looking for.
So the main activity I wanted to start this year was some kayaking, so I needed something that I could through a kayak on the top of - I did not know at this point about folding kayaks....but that's another story.....and another purchase! So the new car had to be big. Living in Tokyo now for 3 years has taught me you need to be really comfortable because you will spend alot of time in traffic. A manual transmission was out of the question so this would be my first automatic. Big, luxurious, fun and a capable off road car....you know there aren't that many that fill this selection criteria really well.
Tokyo has a really nice Toyota showroom in Ikebukuro called the Amulux center. A big multi-level showroom with a different class of cars of each floor for you to go kick the tyres of and play with all the switches and dials. There were 3 main models I looked at, Surf, Prado and Cygnus (Japanese model names). The Surf was the car that I had rented with a friend a few years ago and made a dramatic river crossing in - don't ask! A nice car, but felt really plastically to me inside. The Cygnus, well a little too much luxury and not sure about the offroad ability of it. The Prado as goldilocks would say, was "just right". The staff there did an excellent job explaining the differences and options to me and put me in touch with the English speaking division of Toyota to help foriegners with making a purchase. This was just the start of an altogether excellent service from Toyota that continued all the way through the sales process.
So the new car is fully loaded. The TZ G is top of the Prado range, comes with heated, power leather seats. A nice 4 liter engine that is powerful, quiet, and actually gets better mileage than the Z did. Lots of options... a front guard for the engine to protect it from stones, metal protectors for the running boards and tail gate - see I told you it would be going off road. A cooler box that can hold 8 cans of beer , roof rack for the kayak, sun roof, wind protectors etc etc The audio/navigation system is amazing. A 9 speaker system that has TV/DVD/HDD/CD/MD/AM/FM, allows for wireless downloads of new music and even.....a karaoke system.
Well I've had it for a couple of weeks now and am still very happy with it. Easy to drive, quiet, good audio, Kayak fits in the back easily with all the associated equipment and can still carry 5 people. My biggest concern (no pun in tended) was parking it as it is huge. But it has great all round visibility and the rear video camera and parking assist system means it parks even easier than the Z. Will be going for a day down at the offroad center soon to try it on a 4x4 course to learn how to drive it properly and what the limits are. Highly recommended, and for those foriegners resident in Tokyo, I recommend Toyotas interpretation service too, best customer service I have experienced in a long time....and they gave me a coupl eof minutes of fame too.... http://www.japantimes.co.jp/ads/toyota/pr20070316a1.html