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A whale on wheels

There’s a whale of a difference between Toyota’s latest iteration of the Alphard and the previous model. One thing  that  hits you is the massive “In your face” chrome grille design. You would think that this luxury van is part of Optimus Prime’s crew  that  would transform any time a Decepticon decides to spring a surprise and ambush the Autobots  on the road. 

While the domestic market is not that big on luxury vans such as the Alphard and would rather stick to the traditional ones  like the Hi Ace Grandia, a discerning few would prefer to travel  in style sitting on a Captain’s chair while stuck in a horrendous traffic jam. 

The Alphard is a star in countries like China and Hong Kong where the it is the preferred choice of limousine services and companies for their VIP fleet. In Japan, where the van culture is a bit on the wild side, owners slam their Alphards to the ground with coilovers, wide wheels and a sound system that can be heard a block away. 

The Alphard was designed and built to compete with the Nissan Elgrand and Honda’s Elysion, a luxury van related to the Odyssey but not in the same mold. “The Alphard interior emphasizes luxury, while its exterior emphasizes boldness in design,” says Satoru Suzuki, president of Toyota Motors Philippines. 

Although the Alphard has a four-banger version, it’s a good thing that Toyota supplied this third generation to the local market with its high end variant  that comes equipped with a powerful 3.6 liter V6. For a  passenger van that weighs 1,790 kilograms, this luxury on wheels is  agile  and has no qualms driving up a hill on a full load of six adults and more.

When you buy this luxury yatch on wheels, expect VIP treatment all the way. Like a seat at a hotel lounge, the suspension is cushier than the average van, luxurious and wide second row Captain’s chairs with a wood grain finished side table with a power ottoman function; plus an abundant trim of 3-D printed olive burl woodgrain panels with a metallic base layer which spells out a luxury-techno nature experience. It has a superb sounding 17-speaker JBL system and twin moon roofs complimented by a roof mounted LED lighting system for that nighttime visual experience. 

Known as the Toyota Arufado in Japan, this full-size MPV has been in production since 2002. It is available in either seven or eight seater and primarily sold in Japan, South East Asia, UAE and in  Russia, the model’s only European market.  It has grown in length by 60mm, width by 20mm and a longer 50mm wheelbase in comparison with the previous generation. 

The Alphard retails at P3.277 M, not much of a difference from the  special White Pearl  version that fetches P3.292M.

Topics: A whale on wheels , Toyota Motors Philippines , Toyota Alphard

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