Bluey and wife Joyce have returned from almost a month in the South Island on a cycle and tramping holiday with friends with his 2007 Toyota Prado diesel as the lead vehicle and work horse.
The roof storage box held camping gear plus bags, and Bluey had a portable fridge in the back. Four adults took up the remaining space. He also towed a heavy enclosed trailer loaded with gear including 10 bikes.
Over the 4000-plus kilometres covered on sealed and metal roads, the Prado's average fuel consumption was around 13.5l/100km.
Bluey reckons it averages around 9.5l/100km unloaded. The Prado has travelled 170,000km, has been regularly serviced and has given few problems during the seven years he has owned it.
"We live on a small rural block north of Auckland so I need a vehicle that can handle a bit of the heavy stuff while being easy and comfortable to drive into and around town," says Bluey.
He thinks it's a good time to update, and is asking if he should be looking at other similar vehicles or buy another new Prado (he likes the VX model).
Well, Bluey, the Prado has set the benchmark for those who want the ideal vehicle to tow such things as boats, caravans and horse floats. The budget:$95,000
The downside for many in the second-hand market is the fact they hold their price so well that cheaper alternatives are sometimes sought.
Selling at this age and mileage should bring an excellent trade-in price, especially if you decide to trade with the Toyota dealer who has serviced the vehicle.
It sounds like you are averaging around 24,000km year and if similar future trips are planned, it definitely looks like retaining a diesel engine is the way to go.
Toyota Prado VX
The 3-litre engine (127kW and 410Nm) has been around for a while and is starting to show its age a little in comparison to some of its competition.
But its longevity, toughness and durability cannot be denied.
It can also tow a decent load (2500kg with a braked trailer/750kg un-braked), and its claimed combined fuel consumption is 8.5l/100km. Retail price is $94,780.
The 2.2l Premium model (from $66,390) would be the one to consider. Don't let the smaller engine size put you off - the well-proven R series turbo diesel punches out 145kW of power and 436Nm of torque.
It's loaded with safety and comfort features, including reversing camera, parking sensors, leather trim, heated and electric seats and sun roof. It will even do automatic parallel parking. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.3l/100km. Braked-trailer towing capacity is less than the Prado at 2000kg, but un-braked is the same at 750kg.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Auto Elite Limited (from $79,990) has the same R series diesel engine as the Kia Sorento and has identical towing and claimed combined fuel consumption figures. It also has an impressive specification list that you would need to work through carefully to help justify the increase in price over the Kia. The Santa Fe was Hyundai NZ's best-selling vehicle last year.
Do your requirements justify the price tag and overall toughness of the Prado? The two Korean brands offer strong competition when it comes to drivability and all-round driver and passenger comfort. What price do you place on brand loyalty?