What is it?
But it’s poles apart in terms of size and design and is really a HiAce van under all the glitz.
When people movers became a thing back in the early 1980s, Tarago was the undisputed king.
When the kids were young, we opted for a Mitsubishi Starwagon, which had a cavernous amount of luggage space with the third row of seats folded.
As time moved on car companies started to extol the virtues of dedicated people movers, purpose-built vehicles that did the job better than their van-based opposition — they were safer and more car-like to drive too.
Now, with Granvia, however, Toyota is attempting to turn back the clock with another van-based offering, which interestingly is called the GranAce back In Japan — but that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
What’s it cost?
Prices start from $62,990 for the base six-seater. Add two seats and it’s $64,990.
The better equipped VX, in either six or 8-seat form raises the price to $74,990 plus on-roads.
Compare this with the price of the Tarago which currently tops out at $65,261 for the Ultima with a 3.5-litre V6 and an auto.
Granvia’s spacious rear cabin features four separate rear seats and an additional two-seat bench in 8-seat versions, rear access via dual sliding doors, front and rear climate air conditioning, auto lights and wipers, plus a 7.0-inch infotainment system with digital radio, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
VX adds luxury touches such as quilted leather-accented upholstery, panoramic view monitor, digital rear view mirror and a 12-speaker Pioneer sound system.
In the six-seat versions, the rear seats are all power adjust, with ottoman style, extendable leg rests, armrests and adjustable headrests.
In the eight-seater, only two of the rear seats are powered.
Granvia gets five stars for safety with nine airbags and Toyota’s pre-collision safety system (PCS) with daytime and night time pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection.
There’s also a rear view camera, automatic high beam, lane departure alert, blind spot monitor, rear cross alert, high-speed active cruise control and road sign assist.
What’s it go like?
Big, black and shiny, our Granvia was indeed a whopper, with four rows of seats and an intimidating road presence.
Rather than mainstream, the styling has more in keeping with the funky grey imports you see running around, with a Manga-inspired bullnose — but none come close to this monster in terms of size.
Granvia is not just long, it’s wide and tall too, and that means keeping a watchful eye on the extremities when it comes to navigating busy town centres and car parks.
It’s 35mm longer than the donor HiAce, at 5300mm long, 1970mm wide and 1990mm high, with a 3210mm wheelbase and 12 metre turning circle.
Suspension is Mac strut at the front and four links with coils down the back, and stabiliser bars at either end for good measure.
It has disc brakes front and back and rides on 17-inch alloys with 235/60 profile tyres.
Toyota’s Sean Hanley said the new model is aimed at high-end hospitality, family and corporate buyers, who would appreciate the Granvia’s sense of style, cabin comfort and premium features.
“The Tarago has served us well but when it came to its replacement, we knew we had to deliver a markedly better vehicle and Granvia does this in every area from its stylish looks to its refined and functional cabin,” he said.
Now, Sean’s an affable, positive sort of bloke, but we’re not convinced by his words.
We’re not sure Aussies will warm to this vehicle, in the way they have to Tarago over the years.
Getting in to the vehicle requires a plan and a couple of steps up, but once you’re up there the view is worth the effort.
They talk about the command driving position offered by SUVs. Well, this is the commander in chief version, with an expansive view to the front and sides.
The rear window looks a long way back, separated from the front by a forest of headrests.
We’d like to think the circa 1970s wood trim is a delete option, while the plush leather trim, quilted in the back, promises the finer things in life.
And the front driver’s seat is indeed power adjust, with a steering wheel that is reach and height adjustable and push-button start, but there’s no provision for the passenger and no sign of the heating or cooling normally associated with top of the line models.
Sliding doors either side provide rear access and in the VX are power operated.
Whether you opt for the six or eight-seat version, the second and third rows are still individual seats and there’s zero luggage space behind the fourth row.
Luckily this can be folded when not in use.
Moving off for the first time it’s not apparent from get go whether it’s a diesel or petrol engine, but the numbers on the tacho suggest diesel, and it’s not as noisy as the Hiace.
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generates 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque, with drive to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
With a 70-litre tank, it’s fitted with fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start and offers a claimed 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle — with CO2 emissions of 211g/km.
Plenty of sound insulation has been applied to subdue the noise of the diesel, and with 450Nm of torque on tap it’s responsive to the throttle and sails easily up hills.
Hairpins, however, could pose a problem.
The steering is light, it’s easy to steer and the ride is a bit roly-poly — at least unladen.
We clocked up about 400km, at a rate of 12.3L/100km — but it was often left parked in the driveway because it was too much of a hassle to take and park.
In case you’re interested, it can tow a 1500kg braked trailer.
Capped price servicing costs $240 per service for the first three years/60,000km, with 6-month/10,000km intervals.
What we like?
- Easy to drive
- Good turning circle
- Front and rear park sensors
- Digital speedo
- Easy to operate controls
- Relaxed drive experience on the open road
What we don’t like?
- Sheer size
- Too big for a standard parking space
- Height could be an issue in undercover parking
- Awkward access to rear seats
- Individual rear seats a waste of space
- Interior takes a while to cool down
- Not the car you’re going to take to nip up the street for some milk
The bottom line?
Family friendly? Perhaps not.
A shiny black corporate wannabe — much more likely.
It’s certainly roomy but this space comes at a cost, with a vehicle that is large and awkward to drive and park in a city environment.
Apart from the rear ottoman reclining armchairs (totally irrelevant to families), it also doesn’t offer terribly much in the way of luxury — not even heated or cooled front seats.
And, at $75K plus on-roads for the top of the line model, we’d be more than a little worried about the resale value once it has served its purpose.
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Toyota Granvia 2.8 VX 8-seat, priced from $74,990