The elegant and protective design of the vehicle ensures royalty to the passengers and a privileged experience. The appearance is stylish and luxurious and reflects inner beauty and comfort from every angle
There has been a rivalry between luxury 4WD Sports Utility Vehicles and sedan saloon cars on the Ugandan used car market for a while, but today the race has been joined by a new car segment, the luxury MPV – Multi Purpose Vehicle. This concept of transporting both passengers and luggage with luxurious style, comfort and bus-like spaciousness was joined by the Toyota Alphard and its main rival, the Nissan Elgrand.
Launched by Toyota in 2002, the first generation Alphard was a reinvention of sedan-like comfort and luxury with better headroom, passenger space and a higher command seating position. The 2008 second and 2015 third generation Toyota Alphards built upon the success of the predecessor Alphard to continue capturing the car market with sharper new age looks and more luxury with modern electronic gadgets.
The 2002 generation I Toyota Alphard does not have your typical fairy tale prince charming facial looks, thanks to the mean gladiator looking short snout and wide front grille, large clear head lights and very big bumper. The wide boxy body behind the no nonsense looks completes the statement of aggressive approach to the competition with Nissan Elgrand.
But there is something practical about the exterior design. The short face allows for wider doors all round and better driver or passenger view thanks to the deeper front windscreen and larger windows. Toyota sacrificed handling with the boxy wide and high roof to accord the passengers enough leg, shoulder and headroom as well as versatility to accommodate sufficient luggage space.
Comfort and practicality
Toyota Alphard is a one stop solution for vehicle comfort, functionality and versatility in wider space. The driver and co-driver have easy access through wide doors to a spacious dashboard and comfortable wide seats with a captain’s view of the traffic ahead. The driver-operated knobs and switches are all within easy reach.
The gear lever is conveniently dash mounted and radio control switches fitted on the wood grain impression and leather bound steering. The driver cup stowage is not easily accessible but there is ample stowage in the doors, dashboard and floor space between the front seats. The two wide sliding side doors are electrically opened and closed to allow passengers access the three row wide cushy eight bucket seat configuration.
The seats are either manually or electrically adjustable with the second row offering wider adjustment to provide better legroom for third and second row passengers. The third row seats can fold flat to form part of the cargo space and all seats are easily removable, in case you need to move only cargo. The rear passengers are treated to ample stowage and cup holders and the front seat backs provide fold down tables for the second row passengers, air plane style.
There are three rows of LED side lights that can also provide the moon beam light effect and an optional 14-inch fold down LCD television for the rear passengers. There are air conditioning climatic controls for front and rear compartments.
The Alphard comes with twin airbags and seat belts all round. ABS brakes ensure braking without skidding on slippery roads. A tail gate fitted convex mirror and reverse camera give you a good view of the rear space to help you park safely.
Performance and handling
The 2002 Alphard comes with Toyota’s 2AZ-FE 2.4 Litre line 4 and 1MZ-FE 3.0 Litre V6 petrol engines. The 3.0 litre V6 engine delivers an instantaneous but fuel thirsty 220 horse power, however the more popular 2.4 litre line 4 engine mated with a 4 speed automatic transmission is more economical to run fuel wise, easier to maintain and provides moderate 160 horse power enough for Ugandan highway and city driving.
The steering feels light and responsive while front wheel drive and four wheel drive improve handling both on tarmac and slippery off road terrain. Maneuverability around tight corners and roundabouts has to be done with consideration of the size and shape of the Alphard to avoid excessive sway. The low slung front and rear bumper spoiler restrict off road access due to the low arrival and departure angles.
Maintenance and affordability
The Alphard is easy to maintain as its genuine service and repair spare parts are affordable and readily available. A used Alphard generation one (2002-2005) will cost you Shs35m at the customs bonded ware house. The second generation (2006-2008) will cost you between Shs45m and Shs55m, depending on mileage and optional extras.