The Toyota Alphard (Japanese: トヨタ・アルファード, Hepburn: Toyota Arufādo) 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 third-generation model has been sold as the Lexus LM for several Asian markets outside Japan.
The vehicle was named after Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra. The Alphard also received a special front emblem, which depicts the lowercase alpha letter. The name "Vellfire" was derived from "velvet" and "fire" to emphasize "smooth" and "passionate" as characteristics of the vehicle.
The Alphard was launched by Toyota in May 2002. Developed under the lead of chief engineer Hideyuki Iwata, the first-generation model was based on the second-generation Previa/Estima, which in turn shares many components with the Camry.
The first-generation Alphard was designed with curvaceous styling, which was chosen to make the vehicle appear smaller, to attract younger customers in the 30-40 years old range. By adopting a front-wheel drive-based layout, the Alphard avoided the drawback of its predecessor, the Granvia / Grand HiAce, which requires a drive shaft that takes up significant space in the floor. Toyota considered including a diesel engine in the line-up during its development before dropping it due to concern in regulations relating to emissions and fuel efficiency standards. Then-president of Toyota, Fujio Cho, notably mentioned that the Alphard competes in the same segment as the second-generation Nissan Elgrand, which was released the day before.
The first-generation Alphard is equipped with rear side windows that can be rolled down, and an optional electric-powered tailgate, both uncommon equipment in the segment at the time.
The Alphard V was exclusive to the Netz Store, while the Alphard G has a different grille design and was exclusive to Toyopet Store. Targeted monthly sales volume in Japan was set at 4,000 units and 2,500 units for the V and G models respectively.
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 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 was offered since February 2020 as the brand's only import model in the country with the 2.5-litre hybrid engine with four-wheel drive.
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.
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. The LM features newer and stronger structural components, along with additional soundproofing elements such as dual-pane windows. There are 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 LM features a new suspension setup featuring Swing Valve technology.
Two engine options are available, a 2.5-litre 2AR-FXE hybrid four-cylinder in the LM 300h, and the 3.5-litre 2GR-FKS V6 in the LM 350 (2GR-FE for the Hong Kong market).
For the fourth generation released in 2023, the Lexus LM was released ahead of the Alphard/Vellfire.
The second-generation Lexus LM debuted on 18 April 2023 at the Shanghai Auto Show. The LM features the latest iteration of the "spindle grille" that is hexagon-patterned, replacing the large spindle grille of the outgoing model, while the Lexus emblem moves from the grille to the hood. The A-pillars are blacked out to create a full floating roof effect.
A first for Lexus, the LM debuts "Rear Climate Concierge", which integrates controls of the air conditioning, sunshades, lighting, seat position, etc. The LM also features heated armrests and ottomans, another Lexus first, and is available with a 48-inch rear screen.
Two models will be offered, which are LM 350h and LM 500h, with available Lexus' Direct4 electric four-wheel drive technology. It will be available in three configurations: 4-seater, 6-seater, and 7-seater. With the new generation, Lexus has expanded its availability by launching it in over 60 countries, including in Europe and Japan for the first time.
The LM will be available for the Japanese market in the third quarter of 2023, where the 4-seater model will be available first.
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