Toyota announced today that it commenced sales of the all-new Alphard and Vellfire gasoline and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) versions. They were launched on June 21, and to further contribute toward carbon neutrality, Toyota also plan to introduce plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in the future.
Toyota launched the Alphard in 2002 during a wave of minivan popularity; positioned as the ultimate Toyota minivan, it was targeted at customers who appreciated luxury. When the second-generation Alphard was released in 2008, the company developed the Vellfire as a new model for customers seeking greater individuality. In 2015, the third-generation Alphard saw the adoption of a new double wishbone rear suspension for exquisite ride comfort, as well as the introduction of a new top-tier Executive Lounge grade. By seeking even greater luxury, Toyota succeeded in transforming the Alphard and Vellfire from minivans into ultra-spacious luxury saloons with greater customer appeal.
When designing the improved fourth-generation models, the development team discussed the value they wished the Alphard and Vellfire to offer. The conclusion it reached was to use these vehicles to create spaces where all passengers could share consideration and appreciation. They named this “the joy of comfortable mobility” and moved forward with development by adding this with the values they had inherited.
In pursuit of that “joy of comfortable mobility,” the fourth-generation Alphard and Vellfire have a platform developed anew around the idea of elevating performance to a world standard. As “luxury saloons,” the new Alphard and Vellfire have been improved in terms of basic performance, such as vibration and noise reduction measures, fuel economy, and driving dynamics, while the interior and exterior design, spacious interior and exterior space, and user-friendliness have been enhanced to add value in line with that development concept.
The development team also worked to differentiate more clearly between the Alphard and Vellfire. The Vellfire was assigned an exclusive new Z Premier grade, whose primarily black equipment and aggressive demeanor were imbued with a new sophistication to further underscore its unique exterior. The all-new Vellfire features special tuning to its suspension and an exclusive powertrain unit to enable customers attracted by the uniqueness of the Vellfire to better experience the joy of driving.
The chief features of the Alphard, a classic minivan that has evolved into a world-class ultra-spacious luxury saloon, and the Vellfire, a unique model that caters to exclusive customer preferences, are outlined below.
The all-new Alphard and Vellfire conform to the size constraints of standard automated parking systems of 5,000 mm or less in length, and 1,850 mm or less in width, yet they make optimal use of the available dimensions to deliver an expansive interior space. Although minivans tend to appear flat when viewed side-on, the exterior designs embody a powerful, dignified styling.
Working to an exterior design theme of “Forceful x IMPACT LUXURY,” the team sought to establish a sense of solidity for the vehicles, akin to a fighting bull in full charge. To create that feeling of power, as if the vehicles were charging forward, the team designed a cutting-edge reverse slant for the emblem; stretching from front to back, the sides of the vehicles feature dynamic irregularities which evoke a strength firmly rooted in the ground.
The development team has succeeded in increasing the space between the front and second-row seats, and between the second-row and third-row seats by 5 mm and 10 mm respectively. They did this by implementing modifications to both the driving position and to the construction of the second-row seats, making both the side quarter trim on the third row of seats and the backdoor trim thinner, and trying multiple sizes at intervals of 0.1 mm.
The development team wished to ensure that the customer experience would be luxurious and comfortable at all times―from entering and exiting the vehicles to the ride itself. For this reason, the team carefully considered how the Alphard and Vellfire would be used by customers and what modifications would improve customer satisfaction. The team also committed to developing and installing a variety of equipment that would deliver hospitality.
In previous generations, the lighting, assorted switches, and air conditioning vents were located along both sides of the ceiling; now, the team has developed the Super-Long Overhead Console and concentrated these fixtures in the center of the ceiling. The Console also provides enhanced convenience and operability by enabling occupants in any seat to open windows on the opposite side of the vehicle and to adjust the lighting.
The Alphard and Vellfire are the first-ever Toyota vehicles to feature Universal Steps on both right and left-hand-side sliding doors, making it easier for small children and the elderly to enter and exit the vehicles in comfort. As the doors open, a step emerges approximately 220 mm above ground, lowering the height of the first step for customers entering or exiting the vehicle. Long assist grips designed for easy use by occupants of all shapes and sizes are also positioned on the C pillars and on both sides of the ceiling to ensure comfortable entry and exit.
To improve the riding experience for all second and third-row seat occupants, improvements have also been made to the cars’ shades. More specifically, the moonroof uses independently operable right and left-side shades, so that some occupants can choose to see the sky while others choose to block out the sunlight; Toyota’s first-ever pull-down side sunshades have also been installed, enabling customers to block excess sunlight while still enjoying the scenery.
When designing the fourth-generation Alphard and Vellfire, the comfort of the rear seats were prioritized, so that the vehicles could be used both as super-luxury mobile offices and as exquisitely comfortable private rooms. To this end, the fundamental design of the seats was overhauled, and thorough measures implemented to prevent vibrations and noise from being transmitted to the occupants. To achieve an environmental friendliness appropriate to a world-class ultra-spacious luxury saloon, the fuel efficiency of the vehicles has also been improved, and a new 2WD grade has been made available for HEV models.
The TNGA platform (GA-K) has been optimized for minivan use, with the adoption of straight rockers and a V-shaped brace in the rear-lower part of the vehicle improving rigidity by 50% over the third-generation models. By optimizing the use of structural adhesives―applying high-damping adhesives around the feet of the occupants, and high-rigidity adhesives where torsion is prone to occur in the rear of the vehicle―deformation of the body is limited, and outstanding maneuverability and stability are achieved.
The models now pair a TNGA-specific MacPherson strut front suspension with an updated double wishbone rear suspension. Shock absorbers that mechanically adjust damping force based on the frequency of vibrations transmitted from the road surface provide the twin advantages of superior maneuverability and stability, and of absorbing undesirable minor vibrations from the road surface. Vibration experienced by occupants in the second row of seats has been reduced through the use of rubber bushings in the attachment portions of the cushion frames, and through the adoption of memory foam in the backrests and armrests. In addition to increasing the rigidity of the vehicles, the development team has carried out all manner of anti-vibration measures to ensure that road surface vibrations are minimized for occupants. This array of improvements has resulted in an approximately 30% reduction in vibrations over previous models.
Diverse measures have also been implemented to minimize road and wind noise. Examples include newly developed low-noise tires and the addition of sound-absorbing materials in the cowls to reduce road noise and optimizing the shapes of the sections of the engine hood, door mirrors, and A pillars that are exposed to the wind to reduce wind noise. By suppressing the amount of noise generated, and by establishing a balanced soundwave frequency, the interior promises a pleasing quietness, akin to being in the middle of a forest.
The models use a Toyota Hybrid System that incorporates a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder DOHC engine (A25A-FXS) to deliver exceptional driving performance, with a maximum system output of 184 kW (250 ps). The Toyota Hybrid System also guarantees outstanding fuel efficiency, with the Executive Lounge E-Four grade achieving a fuel economy of 16.5 km per liter. A 2WD drivetrain is also newly available for even greater fuel efficiency, with the Executive Lounge 2WD grade delivering a fuel economy of 17.5 km per liter.
The Alphard and Vellfire are equipped with Toyota Safety Sense, the latest active safety package; they feature the most comprehensive safety and driving-support functions of any Toyota minivan.
Proactive Driving Assist – Intra-Lane Steering Assist
This function predicts driver inputs and adjusts the steering counterforce to provide support for smoother driving by limiting unnecessary operations and preventing operational delays.
Proactive Driving Assist – Deceleration Assist when Turning at Intersections
This function is activated when an approaching intersection is detected, and the driver releases the accelerator pedal and turns on a direction indicator light; when activated, it provides assistance for early vehicle deceleration, enabling the driver to turn left or right with greater ease.
The vehicles are equipped with Toyota Teammate, a suite of high-level driver-assistance technologies that provide support for parking and in traffic jams.
Advanced Park (with remote function)
Drivers can use the “Remote Park” smartphone app to remotely park the vehicle or exit parking spaces, even while outside the vehicle.
Advanced Drive (support during traffic congestion)
This function is activated when certain conditions are met: the driver is facing forward, driving on an expressway or other motor-vehicle-only roadway, Radar Cruise Control and Lane Tracing Assist are activated, and the vehicle is in congested traffic and moving at a speed of 0-40 km/h. It helps reduce driver fatigue in congested traffic and enables the driver to pay closer attention to his or her surroundings to achieve safe driving.
Understanding that customers who choose the Vellfire have exceptionally strong preferences, the development team carefully considered how to improve the model so that it would meet the expectations of these customers and incorporated unique design qualities and driving qualities befitting the fourth generation.
Exclusive to the Vellfire, the Front Performance Brace connects the radiator support and side members, providing added body rigidity and delivering outstanding responsiveness even when accelerating from a standing start. Combining high acceleration responsiveness with ample driving torque, the 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder DOHC turbo engine reacts to the driver’s accelerator input in a highly satisfactory manner. Compared to the previous generation’s 3.5-liter V6 engine, torque has been increased at low engine speeds, and the accelerator pedal stroke has been shortened―consequently, with minimal pedal input, the driver can experience a sense of acceleration that belies the weight of the vehicle. In addition, unwanted engine noises have been reduced when moving from a standing start and during normal RPM range; when accelerating, the engine has been tuned to deliver a sporty sound to enhance the joy of driving. The Vellfire now comes in an exclusive new Z Premier grade that embodies the model’s unique qualities. Thanks to design elements that utilize “jet-black plating,” its aggressive exterior styling is imbued with a modern luxury.
Since the lift-up seat protrudes only minimally beyond the vehicle when in use, it can be used to enter and exit the vehicle even when space is limited. To help occupants stand up from a sitting position, the seat also tilts, while the double-folding footrest reduces load on the occupant’s knees. For added convenience, the lift-up seat also features a new seatbelt plate arm to make the seatbelt easier to pull out, and a new remote control holder.