Fuel economy 90 series Prado towing

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 18:35
ThreadID: 64859 Views:14037 Replies:16 FollowUps:4
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Hi everyone,

we are planning 'the big trip' and are looking for the economical medium sized fourby to do it - we are going second hand with a 20K budget and are towing a small caravan, fully laden about 950kg.

We were thinking of a 90 series Prado 3.4L petrol - has anyone got an idea of the fuel economy or a suggestion for a better vehicle?

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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:08

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:08
Would be a verrrrrrrrry small van if its loaded weight is only 950kg.
My trailer weighs more than that when I go to the tip

It all depends how u drive it and how heavy your right foot is.

So many variables so little time.
AnswerID: 342920

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:50

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:50
Thanks Graham,

the dry weight of the van is actually 720kg (we got it checked on a weighbridge) so we've allowed for a full tank of water and some gear, which wont exceed 900kg. we are travelling pretty light.
AnswerID: 342927

Reply By: westozal - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:54

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:54
In July school holidays in 2005 I went to Exmouth towing a tandem axle 17.6 ft Jayco Starcraft poptop with my auto 1996 4.5 80 series. Had two teenagers and wife n me on board plus gear.
Heading north out of Carnarvon slowly caught a 3.4 Prado towing a single axle Jayco freedom van about 16 ft, Husband n wife doing a trip around OZ. Didn't look too loaded up.
Anyway I passd him, one of the boys wanted a pitstop so he passed us and basically I caught him again and followed him into Manilya roadhouse. Speed guestimates were him about 85kmph ,myself 90 to 95.
We filled up and I worked out my consumption and as he was next to us he asked me to work out his, cant remember what they were but I had used about 7 litres of petrol less to travell the approx 200 km.... we had filled at the same garage on the way out as well.He was not happy as I had extra passengers and a bigger van travelling marginally faster.
I guess my point is dont expect great fuel economy from your 3.4 if towing as it seemed to be working harder than the bigger Cruiser which in itself is not noted for wonderfull economy.
Just thought I would share this with you.
Regards Alan.
AnswerID: 342931

Follow Up By: westozal - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:56

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:56
Hi ,
His van was a poptop as well, I didnt say that originally. Also my 80 series was Petrol model.
FollowupID: 610652

Reply By: Madfisher - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:58

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:58
Lotsof info on 90 series fuel economy on prado piont.
They are a very reliable vehicle which is more importent. The later 4l v6 is more economical.
Remember with this model the manuals are quite a bit better on fuel then the autos. My Jack manual will do an extra 50 to 100ks per tank then an auto
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 342934

Reply By: kk13 - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:59

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 20:59
Hi Joel,

We have a Prado 3.4L petrol and it is a great car but pretty thirsty. We are currently getting about 15l/100k unloaded and not towing anything. In comparison we also have a 100 series turbo diesel which gets about 11 - 12 l/100k with a roof top camper permanently mounted. A prado would be good for what you want but suggest you maybe look for diesel for better fuel economy.


AnswerID: 342936

Reply By: Tenpounder - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:04

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:04
Hi there. We have a 90 series Prado manual petrol. Our van weighs in at 1400kg ATM. We have done about 35,000km towing in the last 4 years (the joys of retirement!!). The result is fuel consumption that is HUGELY dependent on travelling speed. Slow travel, even up steep hills isn't a problem. Our van is a poptop, which is about the same height at the Prado, which may be significant.
Our fuel consumption is around 17 to 18 litres at 85km per hour with the roof rack fitted to the Prado, and a bit better without, say around 16.5 litres or better. I could be wrong, but I think our best ever without the roof rack was around 15.6 litres at 80 to 85 in 4th gear, or back to 3rd when ever we hit a slope, light throttle all the way. That was the early days! We still never use 5th gear. The Prado is fine, but needs 3rd on hills (even 2nd at times) to keep the revs over 2500 rpm.
Head or tail winds make a difference of course (up to a couple of litres difference). If you get to be in a hurry, and build up to 100kph, then your fuel will jump to around 20 litres per hundred or more.
We travel with the kitchen sink, so the vehicle is well loaded.
We are very happy with the stability of the rig, with a tow vehicle mass well above the van mass, and a low profile van that does not get blown sideways. We use a light WDH, but it is probably not necessary.
Any further questions, please fire away.
Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 342940

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:05

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 21:05
Hi everyone, this is great info and will help us a lot in our decsion - might need to rethink our choice of vehicle
AnswerID: 342942

Reply By: Patrol GU IV - Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 22:33

Tuesday, Jan 06, 2009 at 22:33
Last trip with our 1997 Prado RV6 manual towing a 17'6" pop top with a loaded weight of 1500 kgs fuel consumption averaged 17.24 ltrs/100 klms over 12,000 klms.

Towed at 90 - 95 kph in 4th gear. Apart from the lacking a little power up larger hills the Prado was a good reliable tow vehicle.

AnswerID: 342964

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 09:06

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 09:06
Thanks for this Neil - do you have an opinion on how much the figures for an auto would change - my girlfriend is prefrring an auto if we can get one, I'm not sure...
AnswerID: 342998

Reply By: StormyKnight - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 09:34

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 09:34
Just a little outside the square I can advise some info re the older 3L diesel 4 speed auto.

Firstly the auto does lockup in 3rd (1:1) & 4th (overdrive) gears so economy can still be obtained if only using both those gears. Steeper hills with heavy loads under 60km/h will however get it to select 2nd gear.

Fuel economy unfortunately is not all that great as the older Diesel is underpowered at 96kw but does have 343Nm of torque....

If I was looking at a Diesel I would also consider a Ditronic aftermarket performance chip to give it a little more punch & in turn this can actually improve fuel economy as you can often use a higher gear eitherup the hills or on the flat using more of the torque than the power of the engine.

I did a recent trip from Gundagai to Oberon via Goulburn, with a full length roof rack loaded to a foot high, a 4 berth dog trailer with two dogs in two berths & the other two jammed with chairs, dog food, tool boxes etc & 2 adults & 4 kids + the required 2 tents, clothes etc for all for 4 days.

We filled up at Gundagai (159L) & proceeded down the freeway. We had a mild headwind too which didn't help! On the flat we could obtain 105km/h only....the hills meant 2nd gear was often used. For that trip we got 20L/100km & had to switch to the sub tank before Oberon meaning we had used about 80L at that time.

The same car empty has returned 10.4L/100km on a flat country trip with two adults sitting on 100km/h & having to go thru about 8 towns. Also it returned 11.5L/100km on a return trip to Windsor (Sydney) from Wagga with cruise set to walking pace (5km/h) over 110km/h.

Hope some of this is helpful, cheers.
AnswerID: 343009

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:11

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:11
Thanks a lot for this info, its really helpful hearing from people who have used Prados for a similar purpose to what we are planning
AnswerID: 343038

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:47

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:47
Hi again.
Good luck with your decisions!
I should add to my reply above that we also appreciate the Prado with the van unhitched as a 'real' 4wd, with enough space to carry camping gear and go anywhere, whether as a detour during long caravanning trips (Bungle Bungles; Gibb River Road), or as a strict 4wd trip (Simpson Desert).
Also, the range (1000km at 110 kph without the van) has proved very useful at times.
But no 'right answers'!!
FollowupID: 610760

Follow Up By: Wizard1 - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:50

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 12:50
I stopped the sleepless nights worrying about fuel economy when towing my van years ago. The terrain, climate, load, etc differ so much you can never be sure you'll get the same from one day to the next.

Using the words "economy" and "towing" in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

Just plan your fuel stops well and carry extra just in case.
FollowupID: 610761

Reply By: Member - Alanc - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 17:27

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 17:27
Joel- my 2 bobs worth
We have a 2001 3.4 petrol prado and tow an offroad Coromal poptop (Seca Pioneer 445 ) which weighs around 1600kgs (Guessing here). We have just returned from a three month (Aug - Oct 08) trip around Aust. in which we did 18391kms for a total fuel bill of $5412.00 - haven't work out yet how many litres that was , the cheapest fuel was on our return to Perth - $1.34cpl (was $1.45 when we left), the most expensive was $2.09cpl out on the Barclay H'way. Unladen around Perth metro I get around 15lts / 100kms which gives a range (with both tanks) of 1000+kms before you need to look for a petrol station. Out in the country (at 100kph) you can add another 100/150 kms to that. Towing our van (at 90kph) we were getting around 450/475 out of the main tank and 300/325 out of the sub which is around 17 to 18lts / 100kms . Figures vary because you also need to take into account the terrain / winds & speed at which you travel . I find the Prado to be an excellent vehicle for our purposes, its very capable off road and meets our towing requirements with ease. Regards Alanc
AnswerID: 343086

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 19:49

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 19:49
Hi, thanks for such detailed figures! This is helping us a lot, do you have a manual or auto? I've been told it makes a big difference?
Cheers Joel
AnswerID: 343119

Follow Up By: Member - Alanc - Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 01:19

Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 01:19
Joel - oops! left that bit off , we have an auto and like John mentioned some hills will slow you down, you get that. The only hill that took us back to 1st was our first lap around Mt Panorama in Bathhurst, on the second lap I knew what was coming so I put the power on earlier. In hilly country I use the auto as a manual and I never use overdrive when the van is on the back.
Regards Alanc
FollowupID: 611168

Reply By: westskip - Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 20:46

Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 at 20:46
Hi Joel

We have a 2001 Prado diesel auto and have just completed 6months around Oz towing a 16' Jayco. Vehicle and van pretty well loaded so I guess the van was about 2000 kg. Overall we averaged around 16l per 100km and found the most efficient speed was 90 kmh which gave us enough momentum for most hills - but not all. Down to 2nd & 3rd for some. Most impressed with the performance and we had absolutely no problems with the vehicle.

Happy travelling

AnswerID: 343136

Reply By: JoelandMelissa - Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 09:13

Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 09:13
Hi everyone, we are considering an LPG conversion to a Prado. I've heard one or two horror stories online about valves not coping and engines blowing up but not sure if these are isolated cases or even true. Any thoughts?
AnswerID: 343355

Reply By: kk13 - Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 10:52

Friday, Jan 09, 2009 at 10:52
We've had two cars converted to gas over the past 8 years (admittedly not Prados) and they have both had cracked heads from the experience. Our advice would be to steer clear of gas unless it is factory fitted.

AnswerID: 343375

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