When based on the 70 series, the Prado was designed to be a much heavier duty alternative to the 4Runner/Surf, but a lighter duty and cheaper alternative to the Land cruiser 80 models.
In 1996, the Prado broke away from the 70 series line and underwent a complete redesign, independent of any of the Land Cruiser models.
The new Prado introduced an all new chassis design that used a front suspension and chassis similar to the brand new 4Runner/Surf. In fact, both models may actually be based on the exact same chassis and platform (although I’m not positive on this.) The Prado would be marketed in most countries, except the U.S. were it wasn’t sold at all, as an upscale alternative to the 4Runner/Surf.