The Toyota Prado might not share the same heritage as its bigger brother and the car it’s based on, the legendary Landcruiser, but it’s proven a popular contender, especially among larger families. You can get the car either as a five or seven-seater, with heaps of interior space, and even more in the boot. The car carries on the trusted diesel powertrain found in the Hilux, the reliable yet frugal 2.8 turbodiesel mated to an auto tranny, and the full-time four-wheel drive takes the honours off-road. The interior may not be as lush as some European rivals, but you’re treated to comfy seats in the first and second rows, a lot of standard tech (Apple Car Play and Android Auto from the 9-inch touchscreen), and even a fridge in the centre armrest.
The front seats are electronically adjustable for both the driver and passenger, there’s heating and ventilation, and a memory function. Third-row seats are a squeeze-in but can still manage two kids and have a 50:50 split when you’re carrying more goodies at the back. Higher trim levels (from the GXL all the way to the Kakadu) have partial or full leather seating. All that’s missing for the package to be complete is a set of seat covers to keep those seats as new as possible and the interior as a whole squeaky clean.
Why Have Seat Covers for Your Prado?
There are three basic reasons to have seat covers in any car – protection, added comfort and improved styling. All cars pick up stains, spills, mud and grime from everyday trips, and if you’re harder on your Prado and use it for light trail work there’s more of this to worry about. Then there are tears, cuts and burns that can disfigure the seat cloth or leather and are potential eyesores that wreck the whole interior aesthetics. Aussies also have to consider fading due to harsh sunlight. To protect the seats underneath covers need to be made of the right materials and have a snug fit. This also means different materials for different uses.
Older Prados and lower trims in something like the j90 and J120 are more utilitarian than the comfort you see in the 200 or 300 series Landcruisers. You’ll have to spend a little more for seating comfort and get seats that are pleasant to spend longer trips in with the added bonus of side bolstering and lumbar support. This is what comes as standard in higher trims but at a price. While a Prado seat cover can’t replicate the comfort you see in luxury leather Kakadu seats, they still have layered padding in the right places. Add to this the breathable, non-slip surface and you have a package that does a decent job on different surfaces, soaking up the bumps the spectacular suspension misses.
Lastly, when it comes to looks, you can get OEM or aftermarket seats with a bit more flair. Base-spec and older Prados (again) miss out on a lot of the interior trim higher up, but you can add some visual appeal with covers in varying colour schemes, and interesting details, such as double-stitched seams in contrasting colours. This is one way to personalise the car’s interior while moving away from a muted and lacklustre look.
What to Look for
Universal or Custom Options?
When buying seat covers you’re faced with two distinct options – universal covers designed to fit the seats of multiple vehicles, generally in the same category, and custom covers tailored to the exact dimensions of the seats in particular makes and models.
The only benefit of universal covers is the lower price. They are, however, harder to fit, if they do so at all, and are prone to creasing, wrinkling and slipping, so could be a potential safety risk as well. Custom Prado seat covers are designed to fit all three rows without issue, so are easy to get on and off when the time comes to throw them in the washing machine. In addition, you’ll find matching centre console covers and integrated arm and headrests that also take into account additions like screens in higher trim models like the Kakadu. On the whole, custom covers are safer, better made, easier to clean and maintain, and are generally better thought out, without costing much more.
Option your next Prado seat cover set in neoprene if you need something that’s comfortable, soft to the touch, waterproof, durable and stylish. Neoprene seat covers consist of durable synthetic rubber of the same type found in quality wetsuits and easily deal with stains, dirt, grime and other nasties. The material is also breathable, sweatproof and UV-resistant, so good in hot weather and flexible for a snug and secure fit. Look for covers with ample padding as well as a non-slip top layer, especially if you’re using the Prado off-road.
The covers are easy to clean and are machine-washable. And can be had in quite a few colours to suit any taste. If you’re concerned about wear and tear resistance, have a good look at canvas covers. These do better in demanding uses but often lack the comfort, easy maintenance or good looks of neoprene options. And if the price is a priority, cheaper Nylon and polyester seat covers are for Prado owners that need simple solutions to protect the seat fabric without the added frills of either neoprene or canvas. Just have in mind that you’ll be changing these more often in the long run.