Since getting into four wheel driving many years ago with our trusty Nissan Navara, we quickly realised modifications and accessories were in order to make it more practical for our specific needs.
It’s not hard to imagine that the tough terrain we put our four-wheel drives through, demands some rugged gear to get you to those great Aussie outback destinations and beyond but also home again.
By the end of the ownership of our Navara, we had installed a multitude of accessories including a bull bar for frontal protection, a rear bar which incorporated a tow bar and step for both rear protection and rear access. Finally a canopy with a roof rack for storage of all the gear we will need to tackle our great country with ease. These modifications allowed us to complete some awesome and memorable adventures without any issues.
The good old Navs
Having outgrown the Navara due to it limited rear seat space, we reluctantly traded the Navara in for a Toyota Prado. This was a decision we now have no regrets. The difference between the vehicles are like night and day. The Prado was like jumping ahead in time with the technological advantages over the Navara which was a more than capable vehicle, particularly off road. The new Prado would take a bit of time to get used to with all of its fancy buttons.
Again, initial mods included the installation of the tried and tested bar work, which also included brush bars for extra side protection with tubular side steps. In addition, we also opted for some underbody protection to keep the undercarriage free of damage.
We quickly came to the realisation that without a suspension lift, the underbody now slung a bit closer to the ground and vulnerable to damage.
Pic of old underbody plates fitted.
An example of such anticipated damage occurred on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we were cruising up one of our favourite tracks near our weekend camp. We slowly tackled a bumpy rocky incline which we had driven many times previously to suddenly feel the impact of a rock on one of our underbody protection bash plates. After inspecting the caved in plate and sighting that the underbody protection had done its job, our thoughts then turned to the strength of the plates. It was a surprise to see such a dent on a plate that we thought was so solid. But then again, the rock shelf we impacted on must have been that much harder and shown the scars of previous adventurers that had tackled the same track. At this point we also decide a suspension lift would be a good idea
Another instance was a small to medium rock on a dipped track near a campsite that again impacted on one of the plates ever so softly. This impact resulted in yet another decent dent. Ultimately, the plates served a purpose and it isn’t to look all nice and pretty. Upon returning home, the plates came off and were bashed back into shape with a trusty sledge hammer before being painted and reinstalled.
Due to being unsatisfied with this underbody protection. We started researching some more heavy-duty plates and stumbled across the Aussie company KAON. KAON, based in Carole Park QLD, make a great assortment of gear for the Toyota Prado including underbody protection plates made from 4mm steel rather than the 3mm plates previously installed.
Due to the price being competitive with great reviews, the decision had been made to buy the KAON plates.
It would have taken no more than an hour to swap out the plates. A visual comparison of both sets of the plates, it is evident that the KAON plates appear much more rugged and offer a greater area of protection with ventilation for hot underbody components. An added advantage is also a large inspection hole to allow for easy servicing without having to remove the plates.
Comparison of underbody plates. Old on the bottom and KAON on the top.
During the installation process, it became evident that the KAON plates fit much closer to the undercarriage of the Prado compared to the previous set. The KAON plates allow for the removal of factory bracing due to the incorporation of welded in gussets which in turn allow for greater ground clearance and a much better approach angle for off road action.
Old plates on the left and KAON plates on the right. Note the greater approach angle on the KAON plates.
Since the installation of the KAON underbody protection plates, aside from being marginally heavier, no other disadvantages have been encountered.We no longer have concerns of the plates bending under minor impacts as we did previously and have a greater confidence off-road.
Pic of KAON plates installed.
With the great quality of the KAON underbody protection plates, we can rest assure that we will reach our off-road destination and return home again without the fear of being stranded with disabling underbody damage. Stay tuned in the future for the fitment of further KAON gear.
For more on KAON’s Toyota Prado gear, check out: https://www.kaon.com.au/store/c15/PRADO_150_%282009-Current%29_GX470.html
The plates described above: https://www.kaon.com.au/store/p78/Toyota_Prado_150_Under_Body_Guards_-_Heavy_Duty_4mm.html