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[Test Drive] Toyota’s minivan Alphard boasts sedanlike drive

Japanese carmaker makes grand upgrades to the 4th generation model

Sept. 24, 2023 - 14:37 By Byun Hye-jin
Toyota’s premium minivan, the Alphard 2.5-liter Hybrid (Toyota Korea)

Toyota launched its fourth electrification model in Korea for this year, the luxury hybrid minivan Alphard that features a chauffeured, sedanlike driving experience.

The fourth generation of the multipurpose vehicle that has sold some 150,000 units in Japan and abroad hopes to offer “omotenashi” -- a Japanese expression that describes hospitality and mindfulness -- to customers ranging from company executives who need private space, to family car lovers.

“Compared to the previous model, the new Alphard has improved the body rigidity by 50 percent and reduced the vibration by one-third,” said Takahiro Sugama, project general manager at Toyota Motor Corp. The car also has turned down the road and car noise by using sound deadening materials, Sugama added.

Stressing that the car was also designed to give a pleasant experience for drivers, Alphard Chief Manager Kenichi Yoshioka noted that it improved the steering response with the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. It has three Proactive Driving Assist system modes: Obstacle Anticipation Assist, Deceleration Assist and Steering Assist.

The car’s official gas mileage is 13.5 kilometers per liter, which was drastically improved compared to the third-generation model, according to the automaker.

A view of the driver’s seat in Toyota’s premium minivan Alphard 2.5-liter Hybrid (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald)

A test drive of the Toyota Alphard 2.5-liter Hybrid was conducted last week from Gyeonggi Province to Gangwon Province, a round trip of some 144 kilometers.

Sitting in the spacious second row, The Korea Herald's reporter was able to enjoy a wide range of features in the car. The smart control, a hand-sized portable device, could change the interior lighting and adjust the passenger seats, which had five modes of recline from "relax" to "focus" modes.

A notable feature was the interval back and rear massage options. There is also a 14-inch center display wide enough to entertain passengers in the back seat. A hidden folding table with a built-in mirror for each of the second-row seats allows for the setting up of a tablet or eating food.

For the driver, the drive was as quiet as if one was sitting in the back, with a minimum level of road and wind noise except for the distinctive engine sound during full acceleration. The car was stable even in slippery road conditions during rainfall, and on bumpy roads.

A view of the second and third-row seats in Toyota’s premium minivan Alphard 2.5-liter Hybrid (Byun Hye-jin/The Korea Herald)

As for the exterior, the Alphard Hybrid boasts a powerful and sporty image, with a triple-LED and black glossy mesh grille. The car’s side accentuates a dynamic style, while maintaining a one-box minivan design. For the first time for Toyota vehicles, the minivan’s rear has a new hybrid electric vehicle logo that was unveiled under the carmaker's "Beyond Zero" initiative, conveying its aim to move toward net-zero emissions and living in harmony with nature.

The Toyota Alphard 2.5L Hybrid is priced at 99.2 million won ($74,200). Although there are several van lineups such as Hyundai’s Palisade and Kia’s Carnival made by Korean carmakers, they are hardly a match for the Alphard, as they do not offer hybrid car options.

The high-end minivan comes in a single trim called Executive Lounge and three colors: platinum white pearl, black and precious metal.