If there is one standard setter in the van category, it's this: the Toyota Hiace.
For the last 10 years, the current generation Toyota Hiace has sold very well with its three primary versions with the Commuter, the larger GL Grandia and the more luxurious Super Grandia.
Now Toyota has launched a newer, more luxurious version of the Hiace: the bubble roof Super Grandia LXV. Let's see how this version gets on.
Design-wise, the Super Grandia LXV still looks very similar to the recently facelifted Grandia line with the boxy body, the chrome grille and other details. There's not really much to talk about because it's really a straightforward van, but the changes are quite clear over the standard Super Grandia.
For starters, the Super Grandia LXV is longer than the Grandia. The width is the same, but the wheelbase has been stretched from 2570mm up to 3110mm; an increase of 540mm. The longer wheelbase makes for a longer car, and as such the LXV measures a gargantuan 5380mm long, likewise a 540mm stretch from the Grandia. The major difference is the roof which has been raised by 180mm, bringing the LXV to a total height of 2285mm, the benefits of which become apparent when you step inside.
Open the lone sliding door on the passenger side and there are seats for 8 people in the main cabin. There are two pairs of stand-alone seats in the middle, followed by a 4-seater bench in the back. Along with the driver and front passenger there are 10 seats total in the LXV, all of which are lined in light gray leather.
The thing with the LXV is that the high roof configuration allows average height individuals (about 5'5”-5'7”) to move about the cabin without having to crouch down. The main attraction with the Super Grandia line has always been the pair of captain's seats in the middle, but the LXV goes beyond that by having two pairs of captain's seats with armrests and spring-loaded ottomans for comfortable cruising. Both pairs can slide forward and sideways, and even have folding tray tables with cupholders between them.
Powering the Hiace Super Grandia LXV is the same 2KD-FTV 2.5L DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 turbo diesel engine found in the other Hiace models. In this version it makes 102 PS at 3600 rpm and 260 Nm of torque from 1600 to 2400 rpm and comes matched with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. It doesn't sound like much, but the Hiace was never designed for speed and acceleration anyway.
For features, the LXV comes with a 2-DIN DVD Navigation system from AVT, but customers will have to opt for a separate headrest or drop-down monitor to be able to watch any movies in the back. The front windows are powered, though the ones in the main cabin are of the port-hole variety that tuck in and slide out. The airconditioning is the dual manual type but very powerful, easily cooling down the cabin in minutes; of course it takes longer if the van is parked in the hot sun, but not by much.
Driving the LXV around town, it's clear that you have to be very much aware of the length of this behemoth. Negotiating 90-degree city streets means having to give yourself a wide berth and constantly checking your mirrors which, as I learned, necessitate putting your hand out to adjust it manually. Power is good and so is the economy; there wasn't a fuel eco meter, but a quick trip to the station yielded a consumption of 9.8 kilometers per liter in city conditions.
Of course a vehicle like this will never really be enjoyed by the driver, so it's best to really have someone else do the driving for you. Riding in the back with the ottoman up is a relaxing experience as opposed to driving it, but I do wish Toyota upgraded the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) lessening on the LXV.
A bit more sound padding around the cabin and heat insulation for the engine bay under the front seats would have gone a long way. One peculiar feature is the use of all-terrain tires; granted they're of the good Bridgestone variety, but blocky A/T's are just noisier compared to good quality highway tires. The latter are cheaper too. Lastly the rear suspension needs a significant upgrade to something more sophisticated like coil-springs and a multi-link setup. The reason for that is because the leaf spring setup meant for trucks and pick-ups just wouldn't offer the ride comfort befitting its status and its target clientele.
Nevertheless, the 2015 Toyota Hiace Super Grandia LXV is priced very well at PhP 2,420,000, considering that it can carry 10 people inside with plenty of space and legroom to spare. But the LXV does need a dose of NVH so as to serve as a better bridge between the “standard” Hiace and the supremely comfortable Alphard.