The Toyota Alphard (Japanese: トヨタ・アルファード, Hepburn: Toyota Arufādo) (/alfærd/) is a minivan produced by the Japanese automaker Toyota since 2002. It is available as a seven or eight-seater with petrol and hybrid engine options. Hybrid variants have been available since 2003, which incorporates Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. It is Toyota's flagship minivan.
The Alphard is primarily made for the Japanese market, but is also sold in many Asian countries, Belarus, Russia, and the Middle East. Similar to the Camry, it is often regarded as a luxury car in Southeast Asian markets.
Since the second generation, a twin model called Toyota Vellfire (Japanese: トヨタ・ヴェルファイア, Hepburn: Toyota Verufaia) has also been available, which is marketed as a sportier alternative to the Alphard and exclusively marketed by the Netz Store dealership chain until 2020. Since 2019, a modified and more upscale version of the model has been sold as the Lexus LM.
The vehicle was named after Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra. The Alphard wears a special front emblem which depicts the lowercase alpha letter. A prominent design feature of the Alphard is its shield-like grille, which it's had since the launch of the AH30 generation in 2015.
The name "Vellfire" was derived from "velvet" and "fire" to emphasize "smooth" and "passionate" as characteristics of the vehicle. Starting from the AH30 generation, the Vellfire has been given aggressive styling to reflect being the sportier version of the Alphard. As of the AH40 generation, the Vellfire received its own unique insignia in the form of a stylized 'V', in an effort to further distinguish it from its twin.
With the launch of the AH40 generation, the Alphard and Vellfire, along with the LM, now ride on the TNGA-K platform, and are now related to the US designed and manufactured Sienna.
The Alphard was launched by Toyota on 22 May 2002. Developed under the lead of chief engineer Hideyuki Iwata, the first-generation model was based on the second-generation Previa/Estima, which shared turn shares many components with the Camry.
The first-generation Alphard was designed with curvaceous styling that created the illusion of a smaller vehicle, to attract younger customers in the 30–40 years old range. By adopting a front-wheel drive layout, Toyota eliminated the need for a space-consuming drive shaft, which was a drawback in its predecessor, the Granvia / Grand HiAce. Although Toyota initially considered offering a diesel engine option, concerns regarding emissions and fuel efficiency regulations led to its exclusion.
Former Toyota president Fujio Cho acknowledged that the Alphard competes in the same segment as the second-generation Nissan Elgrand, which was released the day before. Notably, the first-generation Alphard introduced rear side windows that could be rolled down and an optional electric-powered tailgate, distinguishing it from other vehicles in the segment at that time including the Elgrand.
The Alphard V was exclusively available at the Netz Store, while the Alphard G featured a distinct grille design and was exclusive to the Toyopet Store. Toyota set a monthly sales target of 4,000 units for the V model and 2,500 units for the G model in Japan, totaling 6,500 units.
The Alphard was refreshed in April 2005. The design of the front grille, bumper, headlamps, and rear combination lamps and garnish was updated. For the 3.0-litre model, the 4-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a 5-speed.
In 2006, a Royal Lounge Alphard was introduced. It is a more upmarket, four-seat version of the Alphard G.
For model year 2007, on Japanese models only, G-BOOK, a subscription telematics service, was offered as an option. The Alphard is also the first Japanese market minivan to feature a laser-guided Adaptive Cruise Control, although only as an option on V6 variants.
A hybrid version was also added to the lineup in MY 2003, featuring a 2.4-litre 2AZ-FXE Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a power output of 133 PS (98 kW; 131 hp) and 190 N⋅m (140 lb⋅ft) of torque which has been developed specifically for use in Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology and features a high-expansion ratio cycle that raises efficiency and reduces friction; however, this led to reliability problems of pistons' rings premature wear and consequent high oil consumption due to the poorly designed ring in order to minimize friction.
The Alphard Hybrid uses "by-wire" technology that monitors brake pedal pressure and vehicle speed in order to calculate the optimum hydraulic pressure. By-wire works with the E-Four AWD system to maximize the collection of kinetic energy from braking for conversion into electric power. The Alphard Hybrid can also generate up to 1,500 watts and is equipped with 100-volt AC power outlets, to power external appliances such as laptops and emergency lights.
In Japan, the Alphard Hybrid locally qualifies as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), achieving emission levels 75% lower than the Japanese government's year 2000 benchmark.
After being previewed as the FT-MV in 2007, the second generation Alphard went on sale in May 2008. For this generation, a twin model called the Vellfire, was introduced as the successor of Alphard V. According to Toyota's press release, the Alphard is described as having an "elegant and sophisticated" design while the Vellfire emphasizes on "strength and strong individuality".
Developed under the guidance of chief engineer Yuzo Nakagoshi, the second generation Alphard adapted many similar design cues from the first generation, featuring similarly-designed headlights and taillights. Both models are sold via separate distribution channels, with the Alphard sold by Toyota's Toyopet Store dealership chain, while the Vellfire is sold at Toyota's youth oriented Netz Store dealership chain.
Variants of the Alphard/Vellfire include:
The second generation Alphard was launched in the Philippines on 3 August 2010.
A facelift model was announced by Toyota on 27 September 2011, with sales in Japan started from 1 November 2011. Also introduced a hybrid version of both the Alphard and Vellfire.
The hybrid version was reintroduced in November 2011 and whilst the model variants remained similar, all specs were available in all three drivetrains, 2.4/3.5/2.4 Hybrid. The Hybrid was the later generation of THS2 with Eco Mode and EV mode. The petrol variants also received Eco mode buttons on the dash, helping to smooth out acceleration and to improve efficiency. Styling differences introduced across all models and interior trim colours and materials improved. Nanoe air purifiers were available in almost all variants.
JNCAP has rated the Alphard a full six stars for occupant crash safety and outstanding safety features. Safety features such as Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control and seven airbags (Dual front, Driver and passenger side airbags, Driver's knee and curtain airbags) are standard across all variants. Higher end variants offer a first-in-class Pre-Crash system as an option (only for Japanese models). Features include a radar-guided Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Pre-collision Warning with Semi-Autonomous Emergency Braking, which only helps apply a moderate amount of brake pressure, and does not completely stop the vehicle.
Toyota released the third-generation Alphard on 26 January 2015 with a completely redesigned exterior and 2 new engines, including a 2.5-litre 2AR-FE petrol engine and a 2.5-litre 2AR-FXE petrol-hybrid engine. The 3.5-litre 2GR-FE V6 along with the 6-speed automatic was carried over from the previous generation. A new top-of-the-line Executive Lounge grade was added for both the Alphard and Vellfire.
Toyota stated the vehicle was developed under the "luxury saloon with a large space" theme, to emphasize their focus on improving its ride comfort levels and styling. The length has grown by 60 mm (2.4 in), the width by 20 mm (0.8 in), and the wheelbase has grown longer by 50 mm (2.0 in); but the height is shorter by 10 mm (0.4 in) compared to the previous generation.
The platform of the third-generation Alphard was updated, featuring a newly developed double wishbone rear suspension to replace the previous torsion beam setup. The new suspension is chosen to maintain a quiet and rigid body. The floor of the new platform has been thoroughly flattened, and as a result, the second row seats is able to slide forward and backwards up to 1,160 mm (45.7 in).
The third-generation Alphard is available in Japan and selected Asian markets including Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Hong Kong, being the first markets outside Japan to receive this all-new model. The third-generation Alphard was introduced in Russia, the model's primary, and only European market, but only with the 3.5-litre V6 engine. The V6 model is also available in other left-hand drive markets, like China and Taiwan. In India, the Vellfire has been offered since February 2020 as the brand's only import model in the country with the 2.5-litre hybrid engine.
The facelifted third generation Alphard and second generation Vellfire were unveiled on 25 December 2017 and released on 8 January 2018. Most of the changes are only to the exterior and powertrain, whereas interior equipment remains largely similar with minor changes. New rectangular taillights replace the horizontal ones on the Vellfire, mimicking the design of the second generation's taillights. The Alphard gets slimmer LED headlights and a larger grille up front. Both models get sequential LED turn signals as standard. Also new is an updated V6 engine, the 2GR-FKS that replaces the outgoing 2GR-FE (except for Hong Kong, due to the emission rules). Output has increased to 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp) and 362 N⋅m (267 lbf⋅ft). Also new is a Direct-Shift 8-speed automatic, that replaces the 6-speed Super ECT that is only found in V6-powered variants. Accelerating from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) can be achieved in 7.5 seconds. The debut of the second generation Toyota Safety Sense system is launched with the facelifted Alphard and Vellfire, which became standard equipment across all variants.
On 1 May 2020, the Alphard and Vellfire became available at all Toyota dealership sales channels in Japan (Toyota Store, Toyopet Store, Corolla Store and Netz), and the Netz logo emblem on the Vellfire's front grille was replaced by the Toyota logo emblem.
In April 2021, trim levels for the Vellfire in Japan were reduced to one special edition trim, Golden Eyes II, due to decreasing sales as the result of the dealership line-up unification in 2020.
In the same month, the Vellfire in China was renamed to Toyota Crown Vellfire (simplified Chinese: 皇冠威尔法; traditional Chinese: 皇冠威爾法; pinyin: Huángguàn Wēiěrfǎ), with the inclusion of the Crown logo replacing the front Toyota logo, and in other places such as the hubcaps and instrument cluster.
In June 2022, orders of the AH30 Alphard and Vellfire were suspended, and production ended, resulting in the minivans being unavailable for brand new purchase for a year. As a result, when the AH40 Alphard and Vellfire launched in June 2023, demand for the new minivans was huge, forcing orders to be suspended in late 2023 when the wait time for delivery of the models extended to a year.
The Lexus-badged version of the third generation Alphard, called the Lexus LM, was unveiled on 16 April 2019 at the 18th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition and first released on 20 February 2020 in China. The LM designation stands for "Luxury Mover". The LM is slightly longer than the Alphard it is based on, measuring in at 5,040 mm (198.4 in) long, and fitted with a new suspension setup. The LM is available in two seating configurations: a 7-seater configuration that is based on the Alphard Executive Lounge variant, and a 4-seater configuration named the "Emperor Suite", based on the Alphard Royal Lounge variant.
The fourth-generation Alphard and the third-generation Vellfire were released on 21 June 2023. It is based on the TNGA-K platform alongside with the more luxurious Lexus LM. The exterior dimensions are kept within 5 m (16 ft) in length and 1.85 m (6.1 ft) in width, to ensure the vehicle conform with the size constraints of standard vertical automated parking systems in Japan.
The vehicle is equipped with straight rockers and a V-shaped brace in the rear-lower part of the vehicle for a 50% improvement in rigidity compared to their predecessors. Toyota also optimised the use of structural adhesives to limit deformation of the body. It uses MacPherson struts at the front and an updated double wishbone rear suspension. With the other measures like the use of rubber bushings in the attachment portions of the cushion frames and memory foam in the seats, the minivan received a 30% reduction in vibrations.
A notable change to the Alphard is its insignia, which is moved from the front end to the front door window frames. The front of the Alphard now wears Toyota's corporate emblem. For the first time, the Vellfire receives its own unique insignia in the form of a stylized "V". It is located on the window frames of the front doors.
According to Toyota's Chief Branding Officer Simon Humphries, who also oversees design work, the company wanted to end the Vellfire nameplate in light of its decreasing sales in Japan. However, the decision was reversed during development due to the pushbacks from dealers.
The fourth-generation Alphard is offered in G, Z and Executive Lounge trims, while the third-generation Vellfire is offered in Z Premier and Executive Lounge Premier trims. In Japan, Toyota targeted the sales of the Alphard and Vellfire to number 8,500 units per month, of which the Alphard accounts for 70 per cent and the Vellfire for 30 per cent.
In late 2023, orders for the Alphard and Vellfire in Japan were suspended due to overwhelming demand after orders of the previous generation were suspended in June 2022. When the wait time for delivery of the models extended to August 2024, the decision was made to suspend orders until the backlog can be cleared.
The Taiwanese market Alphard was launched in the same day as Japan launched the vehicle on 21 June 2023. It is only available in one grade and it is paired with 2.5-litre A25A-FXS petrol hybrid engine.
The Chinese market Crown Vellfire was introduced on 22 June 2023 with the 2.5-litre A25B-FXS petrol hybrid engine.
The Malaysian market Alphard and Vellfire were revealed on 6 July 2023 and officially launched on 23 October 2023. Unlike in most markets, the Malaysian-spec Vellfire is powered with the 2.5-litre 2AR-FE petrol engine, serving it as an entry-level grade. While the Alphard is only available in Executive Lounge grade and it is powered with the 2.4-litre T24A-FTS turbocharged petrol engine.
The Hong Kong market Alphard and Vellfire were revealed on 8 July 2023.
The Indian market Vellfire hybrid was launched on 3 August 2023.
The Indonesian market Alphard was launched at the 30th Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show on 10 August 2023. It is available in 2.5 X, 2.5 G and 2.5 HEV grade levels. The Vellfire followed later at the 31st Indonesia International Motor Show on 15 February 2024, available solely in 2.5 Executive Lounge HEV grade.
The Philippine market Alphard became available on 11 August 2023. It is only offered in a single grade level (2.5 HEV CVT).
The Thai market Alphard and Vellfire were revealed on 16 August 2023. It is offered in 2.5 HEV E-Four and 2.5 HEV Luxury E-Four.
The Bruneian market Alphard was launched on 18 August 2023. The car was offered in two variants, Standard with the 2.5-litre 2AR-FE petrol engine and Executive Lounge with the 2.4-litre T24A-FTS turbocharged petrol engine.
Pre-order sales for the South Korean market have been initiated. The Alphard is expected to launch in the second half of 2023 alongside the Prius plug-in hybrid.
For the Japanese market, the Alphard is powered by a 2.5-litre 2AR-FE petrol engine paired to a Super CVT-i automatic that is carried over from the previous generation, and a brand new 2.5-litre A25A-FXS petrol-hybrid engine. The Vellfire has a 2.4-litre T24A-FTS turbo petrol engine alongside the 2.5-litre petrol hybrid engine. The 3.5-litre 2GR-FKS V6 engine option was discontinued from the lineup.
In late October 2023, Toyota showcased a modified version of the AH40 Vellfire, called the Vellfire Spacious Lounge Concept, at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show. It is a 4-seater version of the production Vellfire, with a privacy curtain separating the driver and front passenger from the rear, a mini-fridge, floor trays, new carpeting, folding tables, power outlets and speakers integrated into the seats and headrests respectively, and a coat rack in the trunk. It is painted in a dark grey color. The Vellfire Spacious Lounge Concept was built by Toyota Auto Body.
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