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Toyota Granvia 2020 review: VX six-seat

The Granvia VX six-seater is the people mover version of the Toyota HiAce commercial van.

Once upon a time back in the 1980s you could burn all your rubbish in the backyard and family cars were station wagons. Good times.

If you had more than a couple of kids, you had a people mover like a Toyota Tarago. Then SUVs, which could seat seven people, became the big thing, but you could still buy a people mover like a Kia Carnival or the Tarago until Toyota axed it in 2019. Yep, the popular Tarago was replaced with the Granvia and I’ve family tested the top-of-the-range VX grade in this review.

Last year, I tested the Granvia VX eight-seater and found that it was so full of big chairs it didn’t leave any room for a boot. This time it’s the six-seater version I’m reviewing and it costs the same amount of money at $74,990.

Will less seats mean more boot? And if so, is there anything else stopping it being a great family car? Is the Granvia the new Tarago and the best reason not to get an SUV like everybody else? 

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✅ How does it look?

When I was a kid in the 1980s my parents couldn’t afford to buy me Transformers, so I ended up with cheap knock-off ones that just transformed into a broken toy.

The side profile shows off the prominent nose of the van. The side profile shows off the prominent nose of the van.

Anyway, with that big shiny metal face the Granvia looks like a Transformer that’s turned into a bus. Actually the grille is plastic, but there’s no doubt about it, the Granvia is a bus, it’s huge at 5300mm long, 1990mm tall (not counting the aerial) and 1970mm wide, not counting the wing mirrors (which can be folded in).

The side profile shot I took (see the images) of the Granvia shows off the prominent nose of the van, the 17-inch alloy wheels, the roof top spoiler and also my son’s grubby hand marks all down the side of it.

Yep, as much as black is my favourite colour and looks great on the Granvia, if you’re using it as a family car then it will constantly look like a crime scene that’s been dusted for fingerprints.

The Granvia is the people mover version of the Toyota HiAce commercial van and from the outside that’s pretty obvious with its flat-sided ‘rectangularness’. The Granvia is the people mover version of the Toyota HiAce commercial van and from the outside that’s pretty obvious with its flat-sided ‘rectangularness’.

The Granvia is the people mover version of the Toyota HiAce commercial van and from the outside that’s pretty obvious with its flat-sided ‘rectangularness’, but inside you’d have no idea the two were pretty much the same van.

Step into the cabin and it’s like being in a plush private jet, with four quilted-leather captain’s chairs with power adjustable back and footrests, and lashings of woodgrain trim. Again, white wouldn’t be my first choice for the colour of the upholstery in my car, but it does wipe clean, thankfully.

 

✅ How spacious is it?

The Granvia is more spacious than any SUV because it’s a 2.0m x 2.0m x 5.3m box on wheels, but the interior isn’t packaged as cleverly as most seven-seat SUVs.

Nope, instead there’s wasted space in that there’s only seating for four in the back. Those giant chairs take up a lot of room. That’s perfect if you’re picking up four 'heavyweight' VIPs from the airport, but I reckon two bench rows of three seats back there would be better for a family and offer even more legroom.

Those giant chairs take up a lot of room. Those giant chairs take up a lot of room.

The six-seater offers good legroom, but it’s still not fantastic – not if you want to leave some cargo space. Still, I’m 191cm tall and I can sit in both rows with enough room and leave enough space to fit the CarsGuide pram.

For more on cabin storage see the daily use section below.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

The Granvia VX is like a building with seat belts. You walk in, find a chair, and sit down. To gain entry into the third row of nearly all SUVs you need to be made of elastic or seven years old, because it’s akin to crawling into a cubby house. The Granvia is a lot easier to use no matter where you sit in terms of entry and exit than an SUV.

Proximity unlocking means you only need to touch the door handle while the key fob is in your pocket or bag to lock or unlock the van. The fob also remotely opens both power sliding doors.

  • I can sit in both rows with enough room and leave enough space to fit the CarsGuide pram. I can sit in both rows with enough room and leave enough space to fit the CarsGuide pram.
  • The six-seater can be set up to have a larger cargo capacity than the eight-seater, but the boot space could be more funtional. The six-seater can be set up to have a larger cargo capacity than the eight-seater, but the boot space could be more funtional.

Cabin storage is excellent in the Granvia with 10 cupholders, the biggest centre console bin I’ve ever seen (I could put my whole head in it), along with large trays, drawers, hidey holes, and even a flip-up table.

If only the boot storage was better. Sure, the six-seater can be set up to have a larger cargo capacity than the eight-seater, but the boot space could be more funtional. The area isn’t partitioned from the rest of the cabin, there isn’t a fold-down shelf as I’ve seen in other vans, nor grocery crates. I found myself putting the family shopping on the rear seats to hold it all in place.

The tailgate also causes its own problems. Take a look at it in the images, it’s massive and it’s not powered. The gas struts fling it open so quickly you need to step back fast, or you’ll get whacked, and pulling it back down again wasn’t easy for my wife despite the little hold strap.

The Granvia is a lot easier to use no matter where you sit in terms of entry and exit than an SUV. The Granvia is a lot easier to use no matter where you sit in terms of entry and exit than an SUV.

Let’s go back into the cabin. Rear passengers have ceiling mounted air vents and down lighting, plus pull-up sunshades for their windows and there are six USB ports back there, too – two in the rear of the centre console, and four in the side panels of the third row.

The driver and co-pilot have two USB ports and two 12V outlets.

The rear windows have dark glass, and all have pull-up sunshades – things I rate highly as a parent.

Only the six-seater Granvia VX tested here comes with heated seats in the second and third row. If that’s not a giveaway as to the business executive shuttle bus intentions of this van, then I don’t know what is – not even the driver’s seat is heated.  

While there are heated seats in the second and third row, the driver’s seat is not. While there are heated seats in the second and third row, the driver’s seat is not.

Every seat in the Granvia is power adjustable, but only the rear ones have fold-out ottoman-style footrests. I’ll say straight up that power seats aren’t a good idea for kids. My five-year-old discovered the buttons immediately and succeeded in lowering the back rest while his top tether seat was connected.

Those rear seats don’t swivel to face each other which is a bit of a family fail, too. I’ve tested vans in the past with swivel chairs that meant on rainy road trips the family could sit back there and have some lunch.

✅ How does it drive?

Probably the bit you were least looking forward to about owning the Granvia could be one of the best parts – the driving. Yep, nothing like being able to look out your window and being eye-to-eye with a bus driver. The visibility is excellent, but so is the comfort because that long wheelbase, soft suspension, cushy tyres plus those sumptuous seats (even the driver’s seat) mean speed bumps and potholes are nicely smoothed out.

The turbo-diesel engine is also smooth and it’s quiet. I never had the van fully loaded up, but with just my little family of three on board the 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre four-cylinder hardly seemed to know we were there. Acceleration was good and so was the pedal feel of the brake and accelerator.

The turbo-diesel engine is also smooth and it’s quiet. The turbo-diesel engine is also smooth and it’s quiet.

Great steering with a remarkably tight turning circle of 11.0m tops off a driving experience which is easy, comfortable, and fun.

What about parking and driving in the tight city streets? Okay, the Granvia is long at 5.3m, so really you need a gap of at least seven metres for a parallel park and that can be hard to find in the city, but the good visibility, front and rear parking sensors, the reversing camera and light steering make it fairly easy to maneuver into place.

The 1990mm height could also cause you problems – many multi-story car parks have a maximum clearance of 1.9m, some even lower. That’s something you’d never have to worry about in a Kia Carnival. The Granvia may not even fit into your own home garage.

The Granvia is a pretty hefty thing, too. To find out just how heavy and how much fuel you could use see the cost of ownership section below.

✅ How safe is it?

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

Coming standard are nine airbags including curtain airbags which go all the way back to cover the entire rear side window. For child seats there are four ISOFIX points and four top tether points (second and third rows).

The level of advanced safety equipment is also outstanding, including 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 adaptive cruise control.   

Shining the way are LED headlights with auto high beam. The tail-lights are also LED.

A full-sized spare wheel is under the van.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The in-cabin tech isn’t going to blow your mind. Sure, there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are family car must-haves these days, but that’s a 7.0-inch display screen which is tiny by today’s standards.

There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but the 7.0-inch display screen is tiny by today’s standards. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but the 7.0-inch display screen is tiny by today’s standards.

There’s also built-in sat nav, although it’s not all that easy to use - Toyota’s media system is tedious and overly complicated compared to some others.

Also onboard is a 12-speaker Pioneer stereo and Bluetooth connectivity.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

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.

The Granvia is a hefty thing at 2.6 tonnes and Toyota says over a combination of open and urban roads it should use 8.0L/100km. When I fuel tested the eight-seater (which is even heavier) it proved to be a pretty thirsty beast, but my 127km of driving in it were nearly all urban and mostly in the thick of Sydney’s CBD, resulting in a fuel economy of 16.8L/100km.

For this six-seater review, I started with a full tank as usual (70 litres) and drove 100.9km, but this time half of that was on the motorway and the other half was urban. After that I needed 9.7L of diesel to fill the tank back to full. That’s a mileage of 9.6L/100km. Keep in mind I did this test with just myself on board and no cargo.


The Wrap

The Granvia VX is no Toyota Tarago, it’s far better suited to work as a shuttle bus for tourists, businesspeople or taking celebs or sport stars to a venue, than family duties. Nope, despite the great safety equipment, good cabin storage and ease of entry the Granvia misses the mark as a family hauler. Those large seats take up too much room, the boot area needs to be better designed and more functional, and finally the sheer size of the Granvia could cause parking to be tricky. The steep price too, could put a lot of families off.

For these reasons I'm giving the Granvia VX a 6/10, but my son loved that it felt like a big room on wheels and wants to give it an eight out of 10.

Likes

Comfortable ride
Excellent safety equipment
Easy to enter and exit second and third rows

Dislikes

Needs better boot space
Big, fat seats reduce legroom
Giant size – will it even fit in your garage?

Scores

Richard:

3

The Kids:

4

$74,990

Based on new car retail price

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