Toyota Granvia review | Is this the the ultimate family van?

Does the Toyota Granvia VX 2020 3.0 diesel have what it takes as the main car for a family of two grown-ups and four boys under 10?

Does the Toyota Granvia VX 2020 3.0 diesel have what it takes as the main car for a family of two grown-ups and four boys under 10?

We chat with Jonathan about his experience with the 2020 Toyota Granvia as a family car after 10,000 kilometres on the road for school pickups, commuting and family trips.

Depending on where in the world you are, you may also know the Granvia as the Toyota GranAce, Toyota Hiace Super Grandia Elite, or Toyota Majesty.

The interview

How long have you had your Toyota Granvia?

We bought it brand new from a dealer just under a year ago, in April 2020 and we’ve done 10,000 kilometres.

When you were shopping for your new car, did you consider other brands or models too?

We looked at a few cars in the people-mover segment. There are a few popular choices in there, which we looked at.

The KIA Carnival would be the most popular, so we definitely took one of those for a drive. It’s a good car. I think what held us back the most was the seats aren’t all full size, so there’s one in the centre middle row which is smaller. The ones in the back are smaller still. They’re fine for our kids now, but we are looking for a long-term car for when the kids grow into 6 foot teenagers like me. You know it’s going to be tight for them in the back.

We looked at a couple of other cars too. The Hyundai IMAX was big on space, but safety was an afterthought with that one. It was the only one with a four-star ANCAP safety rating and it didn’t really have any safety equipment at all.

We also looked at the Mercedes B250, which was a second-hand car. We took it for a drive, and we liked it. It had good seating and a decent sized boot. But we were unsure about Mercedes and ongoing costs, and that it had only one year warranty left because it was a second-hand car.

In the end, we went with the Toyota Granvia. The warranty on that one is five years, which I think is pretty standard for Toyota. It also comes with unlimited kilometres, so that’s not bad.

Which Toyota Granvia variant did you go with?

There’s the base model Granvia, and then there’s the Toyota Granvia VX, which is the one we have. We would have been happy with the base model, but we really wanted electric sliding doors to help load and unload the kids. That wasn’t an option on the standard model, so it swayed our decision to get the Granvia VX instead.

That, and we could bargain them down a bit on the 2019 plate, as it had been sitting around the shop for a little while.

What do you think about the Toyota Granvia’s design?

It will not win any beauty contests, but it is growing on us. And a rectangular box is going to give you the most space, which is what we were after.
A couple of its rivals, like the Kia carnival and the Mercedes, were probably better looking cars, but we went with this one in the end.

It’s a big car. Bigger than anything else we really looked at. At 5.3 metres long, it can get tricky in carparks with smaller car spaces. It’s easy to manoeuvre because of all the driver assist features and the 360 degree cameras, but you can’t physically fit in some smaller parking spaces.

I think the wheels are underdone for the size of the car. I think they are 17 inch wheels, so they could be a little bigger, because it’s quite a heavy car.

Also, it’s a tall car as. It’s 1.99 metres, so you can just squeeze into most car parks that are sitting at two metres. But anything above that and it will hit the top. And it makes washing it by hand very difficult as I can’t actually reach the centre of the top, so I have to get the ladder out.

Talk us through the boot space.

When all eight seats are in place, you don’t get a lot of boot space. The last seat row needs to come all the way back when someone sits in it, so that removes almost all the boot space. It’s probably one of the major shortcomings of this car.

I’ve physically removed one of the two rear seats to give us a decent boot space, so we’ve cut down the passenger numbers to seven. We’re a family of six, so we can make do with that, and I can always pop it back on if we need that extra seat.

Another thing is, the tailgate is not powered. It’s a big, heavy, square design as well, so it’s cumbersome if you reverse up against a wall. You always have to either park nose in or check if you’re going to open the tailgate. So it’s probably not the best design.

It does keep you sheltered from the rain though.

How about performance and fuel economy of the Toyota Granvia?

There’s only one engine option: a 2.8 litre turbo diesel, which is the same engine you find in the Prado and the LandCruiser.

The Toyota Granvia is the first diesel I’ve owned, so I wasn’t really sure about it at first. It has that typical diesel truck sound that you get, and you hear it in the cabin under throttle. But when you’re cruising, it’s pretty quiet and it’s got enough power to move us around.

The Granvia’s a big, heavy car though, so I don’t think petrol would have been an option for it, anyway.

In terms of fuel economy, we’re averaging about 12 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. I think the official figures are quoting around 10 litres.

It would be nice to have a hybrid option though, and I know some of the overseas people movers from Toyota have that, but they haven’t brought them to Australia just yet.

The gearbox is a six-speed automatic standard torque converter setup, which is driving the rear wheels. It’s the same as you find in the Hiace, which is the work van alternative. It seems to shift well most of the times, but I find a couple of shifts rough in the morning when it’s cooler. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the downshift you get when going downhill. I guess it’s using the engine to do some of the braking, but the noise intrudes on the cabin when it’s downshifting aggressively.

What do you think of the cabin and passenger space?

The key thing for us – with four kids – was to have six good single seats that could accommodate car seats as well. We’ve got the two younger ones in the second row and then the two older ones are in the third row with their booster seats. It’s also nice to have the extra seats in the fourth row in case we need to take anybody else.

The seats themselves are pretty flash – more than I think we needed for having young boys. It would have been nice to have a more barebones option with just cloth fabric.

The layout with four rows of two single seats each has its pros and cons. A big pro is that the kids can jump in and out easily via the centre aisle, which is great at school pickup as we don’t need to fold or slide the seats around like in seven-seat SUVs. The biggest disadvantage is that it eats into your cargo space. So ultimately it would be nice to have the option of having three seats per row and remove the fourth row altogether.

The air-con works great, even in Australian summer. And the kids can control their AC independently. It definitely keeps the kids cool, which is important because you can only open the front windows in this car. The rear windows can’t be opened. I guess that comes from it being a commercial van.

Let’s talk infotainment!

The Toyota Granvia infotainment system has everything you need essentially. It would be nice if the screen was a little bigger, like most cars these days are packing. But it’s big enough that you can read everything and hit buttons without making errors.

The inbuilt sat nav has led us on wild goose chases a few times, so I would improve on that. But you can hook your car up with Android Auto or Apple Carplay and use their sat nav instead.

How about safety features?

It’s got all the safety features expected of a car to get a five-star ANCAP rating. It has airbags everywhere, auto emergency braking.

It’s got lane departure control too, which I find annoying. We tend to turn that off before we go for a drive, as it doesn’t always do so well with lane changes when you’re driving around the city. It would definitely be useful on the highway, but we turn it off most of the time.

It’s got automatic speed sign recognition too, which is part of the SafetySense suite from Toyota. It reads speed signs and displays them on the dash. And it will tell you if you’re speeding as well.

It doesn’t always get the speed signs right though. For example, if you’re driving on the motorway, it might read the speed limit on an offramp even though you’re still on the actual highway.

It picks up on school zone speed limits too, but it doesn’t read the timing of those speed limits, so it’ll tell you to slow down even on weekends.

Tell us about servicing and any issues you’ve had with the Toyota Granvia

So the Toyota Granvia turbo diesel needs to be serviced every six months, but at least the cost per service is capped at about AU$245 for the first three years. I think it goes up after that.
We had to take it back for one minor issue with the plastic capping over one of the seat belts, which had come off. The assembly wasn’t ideal, and it popped off the first day we got it. Toyota had to order in that part from interstate and it took a couple of weeks to get there, but they booked us in and sorted it out for us.

There was another potential issue with the auto emergency braking system. It’s supposed to hit the brakes if the car in front of you suddenly stops or something like a kangaroo hops across the road, but it’s kicked in a few times for no specific reason. I flagged that with Toyota, who did their diagnostics and couldn’t find any issue. It’s a little disconcerting that it’s happened, because you just want it to work. So I’ll need to monitor that.

Overall, how would you rate this car out of 10?

It would be nice to have the option of three-seat benches across two rows instead of the four by two arrangement, which takes up most of the boot space. But I think it’s a good car for us, so I rate it a seven out of 10.

I know how to drive a car, but I'm definitely not a car expert. So instead, I pull my weight as OwnerDrive cofounder by being the channel producer and everything else digital person type thing... When I'm not filming and editing OwnerDrive videos with Jonathan, I do copywriting and creative writing, practice martial arts, build websites and intranets, and work for The Man.

Latest updates

Related updates

Jonathan gives his Toyota Granvia 2020 a 7 out of 10!Toyota Granvia review | Is this the the ultimate family van?