Monday, September 21, 2015

Used Car Review - Toyota Alphard (2010-2015)

Once a luxury van, it can be a bargain. Myk Belmonte delves more of this car in this story.

2010-2015 Toyota Alphard

The Japanese are big fans of vans and MPVs of all sizes and price range. From the smallish Toyota Wish and Honda Stream to the luxurious Nissan El Grand, the Japanese have you covered. They value space and simplicity over else, since their streets aren't that wide to begin with.

Nissan's El Grand caught Toyota and Honda by surprise, in which they had pit in the Alphard and Elyson respectively. With Nissan having its second generation model launched in 2002, the other two introduced theirs during the same year period. Toyota's Alphard featured an electronic toll collection option for units with a navigation system, a hybrid version, and a telematics operation system called the G-BOOK. The first generation model lasted until 2008, with the second generation Alphard coming to the scene in April 2008 which gained a Vellfire model, a sportier model.

Due to requests from people (and somewhat its intended target market) who had seen this in some Asian countries like Japan and Hong Kong, Toyota Motor Philippines gave in to demand and launched the luxury van in 2010. Despite a stratospheric price of nearly P3,000,000, it was a success for the brand. The Vellfire didn't get its Philippine launch here, maybe because it may eat the Previa (whose popularity was starting to decline?) market.

Value and Costs
Good luck on finding a second generation model that costs below a million bucks. This Toyota can cost you for as low as P2,200,000 to P2,600,000 for later ones. High resale values are a charm of this van, which owners aren't letting them go of it. Most of the units sold are the 3.5 V6 models, with the 2.4 4-cylinder being a rare one (but we don't recommend buying it, more on this later).

Just like any van, check for worn-out parts like brakes (for such a large vehicle) and the rollers of the sliding doors. With this being a luxury oriented car, power amenities such as the sliding doors and power seats would have a tendency to break so look carefully if they give up before signing the bill. A prudent choice would be scouting at Toyota Pre-Owned's selection for full protection.

Exterior and Interior
Tall and elegant, these two words are to describe the Alphard's design. It does look luxurious without looking bulky (squint: Ford E150). They may look puny for such a big car but 16 inch wheels that contribute to a smooth ride come standard. Changing them may pose some risks so do it wisely. All models come with a dual sunroof, perfect during a night drive.

If there is a highlight of this vehicle, it would be going inside since the middle captain's chairs clad in leather come with ottoman and a foot rest that resembles the first class section of an airplane. The first two rows can recline using power controls, while third row occupants have to contend with manual adjustment. Other noteworthy features for a comfortable ride include cruise control, mood lighting, and Nano-E technology (Toyota's dust filter). While all gain DVD system, navigation system can be had for the 3.5 V6.

Just like in its home country, the Alphard can be had in two flavors (both are derived from the Camry): a 2AZ-FE 2.4 having 165hp at 6,000rpm and 227Nm at 4,000rpm was first made available with a 2GR-FE 3.5 displacing 271hp at 6,200rpm and 340Nm at 4,700rpm came a few months later. For all intents and reasons, go with the V6 since it can carry the van's weight well plus it is the common one. Unless you are scrimping with fuel, the 2.4 struggles with all the mass. Fuel efficiency isn't a strength, but if you can buy this one we assume you have the resources.

Driving Impressions
Both the driver and six passengers will feel at home at the Alphard. Thanks to its narrow body, navigating through city streets is a piece of cake plus a higher driver's seat coupled to a wide glass makes driving easier. The passengers would love its comfortable ride but can get choppy in some situations.

The price to pay may not be cheap, but every peso is worth it. Especially its luxurious aura and its presence, the Alphard is a viable alternative to an American van. While you can drool over the third generation model, well you can get this for less.

The Good:
  • Smooth V6 engine
  • Luxurious interior
  • Easy to drive
The Bad:
  • No diesel engine
  • Choppy ride at some situations
  • Limited units in the market
The Pick: 3.5 V6

Engines: 2,362cc 2AZ-FE I4 and 3,456cc 2GR-FE V6 gasoline
Power: 165hp @ 6,000rpm (2.4), 271hp @ 6,200rpm (3.5)
Torque: 227Nm @ 4,000rpm (2.4), 340Nm @ 4,700rpm (3.5)
Fuel Consumption: 3-6km/L (city), 10-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic (2.4), 6-speed automatic (3.5)
Suspension: Front McPherson strut with stabilizer, rear torsion beam

Price (New): P2,900,000-P3,100,000
Price (Now): P2,200,000-P2,600,000
Rivals: Chrysler Town and Country, Ford E150, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Previa
On Sale: 2010-2014

Toyota Makati - (02) 897-3333

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