Car reviews - Toyota - Granvia - eight-seater
Cavernous interior space, can seat eight in comfort, clean dashboard layout, settled ride quality, comprehensive safety equipment
Room for improvement
Intimidating exterior dimensions, noisy and thirsty diesel engine, bulky tailgate, segmented carpet trims, vehicle weight
Toyota moves on from Tarago with bigger, more luxurious Granvia people-mover
14 Oct 2019
FOR a long time in Australia, the Toyota Tarago has been one of the most familiar and fondly remembered nameplates in the industry, serving as a dependable hauler for large families over its 36-year production run.
However, the Tarago’s time in the sun has come to an end, with the venerable model put out to pasture and replaced by the all-new, HiAce-based Granvia.
The Granvia has increased in size, luxury and price over the Tarago, with Toyota giving its people-mover a clear shift upmarket. Can it carry the torch for the Japanese brand, creating a beloved legacy of its own with Australian buyers?
First drive impressions
At launch, Toyota will offer two model grades in the new range – the entry-level Granvia and the more luxurious Granvia XV, with both able to be specified with either a six or eight-seat set-up.
We tested the base-level version in eight-seat guise, which is $2000 dearer than the six-seat version at $64,990 plus on-road costs.
The eight seats are arranged in four rows with two seats each – a feat that one might think may be difficult to package into a passenger vehicle, that is until you see the size of the Granvia.
As mentioned, it is based on the new-generation HiAce van that arrived locally in May, and measures 5300mm long, 1970mm wide and 1990mm tall with a 3210mm wheelbase, which is 545mm longer, 170mm wider and 240mm taller than the Tarago, with a wheelbase extension of 260mm.
It also tips the scales at 2660kg, a whopping 790kg more than the V6-powered Tarago GLi automatic.
Before even getting into the vehicle, the Granvia’s exterior dimensions look intimidating, and potential buyers looking to upgrade from something in the mid-size- or large-SUV segment might have reservations about selecting a vehicle with such an imposing road presence, particularly when conducting day-to-day activities like parallel parking or navigating tight underground car parks.
Visually, the Granvia’s exterior styling is typically Japanese, with sharp, angular lines, LED lighting and plentiful chrome on the grille, which while perhaps to striking for some, comes as a welcome change to the Tarago’s soft, dated look.
The Granvia’s hulking exterior visage has a purpose, however, as stepping into the cabin reveals a huge amount of interior space, with eight full-grown adults able to fit comfortably – just – in any of its four rows of seating.
Fore and aft-sliding rear seats allow for legroom to be given and taken as needed, and air-conditioning vents running along the length of the roof, six USB charging ports and cupholders for all occupants ensure any journey can be completed with little complaining from the ankle biters.
While luggage space is basically non-existent with all eight seats in use, some extra space can be liberated by folding the rear bench seat and pushing it forward, which creates a respectable amount of room for luggage, provided you have no more than six occupants on board.
One problem that could occur for owners who garage their vehicle is the Granvia’s enormous, upward-opening tailgate, which requires plenty of space behind to open, and when combined with the vehicle’s 5300mm length, could create some headaches for users.
With cloth upholstery and plentiful hard plastics, the rear of the Granvia is comfortable if not flashy, however the overlaid floor carpet that is segmented to sit around the sliding seat rails is not properly secured to the floor and can slide out of place or even out of the car if occupants are careless, which children tend to be.
As for front-seat occupants, it seems that Toyota has finally got the memo about its dashboards being too busy and cluttered, with the centre console neatly integrating the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, air-conditioning controls and gear lever into a large piano-black panel.
Toyota’s new-generation touchscreen system is probably still not the best in the game but is a huge step up over the system used a couple of years ago and will be perfectly suitable for all but the fussiest of users.
Controls are nicely laid out with a series of buttons and a pair of dials flanking the touchscreen for optimum usability, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included as standard for those who prefer smartphone mirroring.
The air-conditioning panel is also easy to operate, and a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display also provides additional information and readouts.
Given the low-set transmission tunnel, huge amounts of storage space are liberated in the centre console, with a generous storage box as well as a flat cargo area along the floor and dual cupholders behind the storage box.
Given Toyota has marketed the Granvia as a more luxurious vehicle, we would like to have seen more premium touches inside given its $64,990 sticker price, however we do understand a lot of the price increase would come from the sheer amount of metal in the new model.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are generally good for a car that shares its underpinnings with a commercial van, providing a relatively quiet and serene cabin environment with the exception of some noise intrusion from the Granvia’s diesel engine.
Speaking of, all Granvia models share the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine found in a number of other Toyota offerings including the HiLux, HiAce, Prado and Fortuner.
Like its stablemates, the Granvia’s oil burner develops 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2400rpm, driving the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The diesel engine is not the last word in refinement or performance, however it is well suited to the Granvia considering its hefty weight and size.
While sticking the boot in can get the MPV up to higher speeds in a respectable amount of time, the diesel does its best work cruising around town with a gentle driving style, slowly letting the 450Nm on tap do the work in shunting all 2660kg of the Granvia along.
Toyota claims an average combined fuel consumption of 8.0 litres per 100km while emitting 211 grams of CO2 per km, however in our week with the Granvia we recorded a much higher figure of 12.1 litres per 100km, which is not really a surprise given the engine’s size and car’s weight.
However, it should be noted our driving was done exclusively in city and suburban traffic, with no real high-speed transit occurring at any point.
Given its size, weight and powertrain, the Granvia was never going to be a dynamic masterpiece – nor should it be – but we nevertheless found it to be a relatively comfortable car to drive around in day-to-day.
The independent-front/four-link solid-axle rear suspension does a good job of soaking up bumps, while the considerable kerb weight helped give it a well-settled feel.
Toyota did a good job of calibrating the Granvia’s steering, giving it a light but responsive feel that helps make the car feel smaller than it is. Drivers still need to be wary of tight corners and parking in 90-degree spaces, but the steering calibration certainly helps.
Of course, for a car its size, the Granvia handles like – no surprises here – a van, so parents looking to moonlight as a street racer best look elsewhere.
However, for a comfortable family hauler, the Granvia fits the bill quite well and rivals SUVs for its solid and settled ride quality.
There is no doubt the Granvia is a step forward from the trusty Tarago – after all it needed to be given the Tarago’s age – however its massive exterior dimensions and increased asking price might see it fall short of its predecessor’s sales performances.
Whether it becomes a family favourite like the Tarago remains to be seen, but its massive interior space and comfortable seating for up to eight should appeal to a broad range of buyers.
Model release date: 1 October 2019
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