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Toyota Granvia 2020 review: VX eight seater

EXPERT RATING
7.6
The Toyota Granvia is the HiAce-based people mover and the VX is the top dog in the line-up, but it is the right choice for your family or business?

Never talk to strangers. That's (hopefully) what your parents taught you. Luckily some people ignored that good advice when it came to the Toyota Granvia VX people mover and me.

As you'll see in the video above, I tested it on the public – people I didn't know from a cake of soap or whatever the saying is. Seriously, I drove a bus route and somehow talked people into not getting on their regular bus and letting me give them a lift to wherever they were going instead.

I don't often conduct social experiments like this, but I figured the Granvia VX was different. First, here was a new-generation people mover based on the Toyota HiAce that effectively replaces the long-serving Toyota Tarago. Second, it's different from the Tarago and rivals such as the Kia Carnival and Hyundai iMax in that it seems like it's purpose in life could be more of a hire car 'shuttle bus' as it is for a Mercedes-Benz Valente.

So, either way its job is to carry more than one person nearly all the time and that's what I did. You can watch the video above and below is the full review taking into account how I found the Granvia VX to drive, along with its practicality when it comes to cargo capacity, fuel economy and passenger comfort.

Toyota Granvia 2020: VX eight seater
Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating8 seats
Price from$74,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

We tested the Toyota Granvia VX eight-seater which lists for $74,990, before on-road costs, and sits at the top of the range. That said, there are only two grades in the line-up – the entry point known simply as Granvia which comes in six- ($62,990) and eight-seat ($64,990) versions and the Granvia VX which also comes in those two seating configurations and costs the same for both.

Standard features on the VX eight-seater include LED head and tail-lights, proximity unlocking, auto sliding side doors, power retractable heated wing mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, sun shades for all rear side windows, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 12-speaker Pioneer stereo.

The VX eight-seater includes 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. (image: Richard Berry) The VX eight-seater includes 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. (image: Richard Berry)

A special shout-out goes to the seating. Coming standard are quilted leather seats for the first, second and third rows, while the rear (fourth row) is a vinyl bench seat with a 60/40 split.

The second row consists of power adjustable ottoman style recliners - think business class airline seats, while the third row is a pair of manually adjustable captain's chairs, similar to the front seats which are power adjustable. My passengers loved the second-row seats. One even said, "I've never flown business class by I feel like I have now."

The cabin of the VX is impressively plush. (image: Richard Berry) The cabin of the VX is impressively plush. (image: Richard Berry)

Is it good value? Well, not really. See $75K is a lot to spend on a Toyota people mover, especially considering the Tarago (which has been axed and effectively replaced by the Granvia) at its priciest is $65,261.

The top-of-the-range Kia Carnival Platinum lists for $62,790 and a Hyundai iMax Elite is even cheaper at $48,490. But the Granvia is a more premium offering, up there with the likes of the Volkswagen Multivan Highline for $79,890 or Mercedes-Benz Valente for $59,850

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The Granvia is a new-generation people mover based on the Toyota HiAce commercial van and arrived in Australia in 2019. The resemblance to the HiAce is obvious although dressed up in its Granvia clothes it's a handsome and professional looking little bus.

I'm a fan of the protruding nose (which helped it earn the five-star ANCAP rating, see more on safety below) and I even like its big, shiny Transformer face and the 'L-shaped' tail-lights which aren't to everybody's taste.

  • The Granvia is a new-generation people mover based on the Toyota HiAce commercial van and arrived in Australia in 2019. (image: Richard Berry) The Granvia is a new-generation people mover based on the Toyota HiAce commercial van and arrived in Australia in 2019. (image: Richard Berry)
  • The resemblance to the HiAce is obvious although dressed up in its Granvia clothes it's a handsome and professional looking little bus. (image: Richard Berry) The resemblance to the HiAce is obvious although dressed up in its Granvia clothes it's a handsome and professional looking little bus. (image: Richard Berry)
  • I'm a fan of the protruding nose and I even like its big, shiny Transformer face. (image: Richard Berry) I'm a fan of the protruding nose and I even like its big, shiny Transformer face. (image: Richard Berry)
  • Compared to a seven-seater SUV such as the Kia Sorento or Toyota Kluger, the Granvia is enormous. (image: Richard Berry) Compared to a seven-seater SUV such as the Kia Sorento or Toyota Kluger, the Granvia is enormous. (image: Richard Berry)

Also, when I say little bus that's only in comparison to actual buses, like the one I convinced people not to get on in my video. Compared to a seven-seater SUV such as the Kia Sorento or Toyota Kluger, the Granvia is enormous.

Look at the dimensions. The Granvia is 5300mm long, 1990mm tall (not counting the aerial) and 1970mm wide, not counting the wing mirrors (which can be folded in).

  • Seating, while undeniably comfortable and luxurious in the second and third rows, doesn’t offer great legroom when you have a full load of people on board. (image: Richard Berry) Seating, while undeniably comfortable and luxurious in the second and third rows, doesn’t offer great legroom when you have a full load of people on board. (image: Richard Berry)
  • During my test I played bus driver to a number of passengers and all were impressed by the Granvia’s premium-feeling interior. (image: Richard Berry) During my test I played bus driver to a number of passengers and all were impressed by the Granvia’s premium-feeling interior. (image: Richard Berry)

While the length was hardly ever a problem for me while driving it over the week, the height saw me just make it under the 2.0m clearance in our underground carpark and I had to fold the aerial down to do it. Beware, many carparks have a max headroom of just 1.9m.

The cabin of the VX is impressively plush from the quilted leather reclining second-row seats to the 'woodgrain-look' trim throughout.

During my test I played bus driver to a number of passengers (no, seriously I picked up random strangers off the side of the road – see the video) and all were impressed by the Granvia's premium-feeling interior.

The small table between the second-row seats blocks the aisle, so the only way to get to the third row is by sliding the second row forward. (image: Richard Berry) The small table between the second-row seats blocks the aisle, so the only way to get to the third row is by sliding the second row forward. (image: Richard Berry)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The Granvia VX tested was an eight-seater (four rows of two seats) and being so tall and long would mean the space inside is going to be good, right? Nup. The Granvia doesn't seem to make the best use of its enormous cabin.

Seating, while undeniably comfortable and luxurious in the second and third rows, doesn't offer great legroom when you have a full load of people on board. I could only just sit behind my driving position in the second row and then behind that in the third row, but there was no way I could then fit in the fourth row.

And while cabin storage is great with the biggest centre console bin I've ever seen – I could fit my head in it (see the video) – and there are 10 cupholders, six coat hooks and a folding table, there isn't a boot or any room for cargo, not in the eight-seater (with all seats in use) I tested anyway. With all four rows in place there is only enough room for a few items no wider than a box of cereal (watch the video, to see what I mean).

With all four rows in place there is only enough room for a few items no wider than a box of cereal. (image: Richard Berry) With all four rows in place there is only enough room for a few items no wider than a box of cereal. (image: Richard Berry)

Folding up the base on the fourth row seats means they can slide forward and that does free up a little bit of space for cargo, but if you are only going to be using the Granvia for six people, then my advice is to go with the six-seater and have a big boot at your disposal all of the time.

The Granvia VX is outfitted well with charging points – there are seven USB ports all the way back to the third row and two 12-volt outlets.

We'll get to what the Granvia is like to drive in a moment, but what I can say here is that the driver and passengers sit high, like looking-down-on-four-wheel-drive-utes high.

I could only just sit behind my driving position in the second row and then behind that in the third row, There was no way I could then fit in the fourth row. (image: Richard Berry) I could only just sit behind my driving position in the second row and then behind that in the third row, There was no way I could then fit in the fourth row. (image: Richard Berry)

Access into the front seats is a bit of a climb up and proved tricky for my 75-year-old Dad with his gammy knee, but entry into the second-row seats was easy thanks to a wide step and a large aperture.

The small table between the second-row seats blocks the aisle, so the only way to get to the third row is by sliding the second row forward. Fourth row access is more difficult but compared to entry into the back row of most seven-seater SUVs it's a breeze.

There are 10 cupholders, six coat hooks and a folding table. (image: Richard Berry) There are 10 cupholders, six coat hooks and a folding table. (image: Richard Berry)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Granvia has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine – the same one found in the Toyota HiAce van and with 130kW/450Nm I found there was more than enough grunt to handle city duties or overtaking on motorways.

Equipped with a diesel particulate filter there's a burn-off switch located near the driver's right knee. The Granvia will tell you when it's time to activate the burn-off function.

The 2.8-litre diesel is fairly quiet and responsive while the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. There's not much to complain about in terms of the usability of the engine and transmission, they performed well – it's just that with it having to carry around a vehicle weighing nearly 2.7 tonnes fuel economy was never going to be great (you can read about this below).

The Granvia has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image: Richard Berry) The Granvia has a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (image: Richard Berry)

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

The specifications given by Toyota give the Granvia's combined fuel consumption as 8.0L/100km from the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

That sounds fantastic, but in reality after a combination of motorways and urban use the trip computer was reporting 12.9L/100km. A separate fuel test (carried out by myself) saw the Granvia use 21.4L over 127km of city and urban driving (measured at the fuel pump), which comes to 16.8L/100km.

That sounds like a lot, but it makes sense when you consider how heavy the Granvia is. It's 2660kg without anybody on board! If you're carrying eight people weighing 60kg your total mass is tipping the scales at 3140kg and your fuel economy is going to be significantly higher again. The GVM, by the way, is 3500kg.

Really, the Granvia is the perfect argument for a hybrid powertrain, because tour operators or parents ferrying their family around the city are going to want better fuel economy.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Granvia scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019. The amount of standard safety equipment is outstanding, particularly for a van with commercial origins.

Coming standard are nine airbags including ones which go all the way back to cover the fourth row and for child seats there are four ISOFIX points (second and third rows) and four top tether points (second and third rows).

The level of advanced safety equipment is also outstanding. Coming standard is Toyota's 'Safety Sense' pack which brings AEB with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assistance, road sign recognition, auto high beam and active cruise control.

A full-sized spare wheel is located under the Granvia VX.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The Granvia is covered by Toyota's five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended by Toyota at six-month/10,000km intervals with capped price servicing of $240 per service for three years or 60,000km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

For a 5.3m long, 2.0m tall box on wheels the Granvia sure is easy to drive. I live in Sydney's Inner West (get your chai latte jokes out of the way now, please) and drove it daily through horrendous traffic on potholed roads, navigated through the tiniest streets and squashy car parks, went fishing in it and ate up motorway kays on the weekends.

There are going to be people who snort at that eight of 10, but I'm telling you  it's down to three things: comfort, ease and engine.

There are seven USB ports all the way back to the third row and two 12-volt outlets. (image: Richard Berry) There are seven USB ports all the way back to the third row and two 12-volt outlets. (image: Richard Berry)

The seats were comfortable and supportive (my passengers felt the same way – again see the video of me being a bus driver), the ride is composed thanks to the suspension and no doubt the weight and the wheelbase of the Granvia.

The visibility is excellent thanks to those giant windows, the ride height and tech such as that digital rear view mirror, while the steering is light, and the turning circle is excellent at 11.0m.

Access into the front seats is a bit of a climb up and proved tricky for my 75-year-old Dad with his gammy knee. (image: Richard Berry) Access into the front seats is a bit of a climb up and proved tricky for my 75-year-old Dad with his gammy knee. (image: Richard Berry)

Finally, that 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. Yes, it's thirsty but from a driving perspective only it's great – smooth and responsive.

Often vans are prone to a booming sound reverberating around the cabin and the Granvia VX was also a victim of this phenomenon with road noise echoing around inside. It's not bad and I could still hear people in the second and third rows, however.

Verdict

The Granvia VX is great at being plush, comfortable and easy to drive, but it's not as practical as a people mover should be. And while the engine provides a great driving experience, you'll be filling up the tank often if your trips are mainly urban and city focused.

Does the Toyota Granvia miss the mark or is it the perfect combination of family hauler and professional shuttle bus? Tell us what you think in the comment below.

Pricing Guides

$74,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$74,990
Highest Price
$74,990
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption6
Safety9
Ownership8
Driving8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$74,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
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