Toyota Alphard – Is It Worth The Hype?

Interested in the Toyota Alphard and want to learn more about this JDM gem? Then buckle up Rūkī, because there is a lot to cover!

front toyota alphard

If you watch the Juicebox YouTube channel (we love it), then you almost certainly caught the episodes of “Japan In a Van“, the true star of which was the unassuming Toyota Alphard:

juicebox japan in a van

You can click on the image above to support Juicebox by buying their “Japan In A Van” sticker.

Introducing minivans and the Toyota Alphard

Minivans were a popular class of car just a few years back but more recently they started to fall out of favor. I believe this is mostly because market demand is shifting more towards SUVs. This is sad to see since minivans left a mark in US automotive history during the late 80s and 90s.

During these years there was a lot of hype around these vehicles and everybody wanted one – especially people with a lot of kids!

With that brief history lesson over, if you are into minivans, you are almost certainly familiar with the mighty Toyota Alphard.

Let’s dig deep into the Toyota Alphard and uncover what makes this JDM minivan special.

What is the Toyota Alphard?

Now, before we dive into the specs of the Toyota Alphard, let’s take a look at what this model is all about.

So, what is the Alphard?

The Alphard is a luxury minivan produced by the Japanese automaker Toyota.

It got its name after Alphard, the biggest and brightest star of the Hydra constellation. This model also uses a different emblem than your regular Toyota, the logo features a lowercase “alpha” letter.

The Alphard was aimed at the luxury segment of the minivan market, so if you are looking for a comfortable minivan full of luxury features and Toyota’s enviable build quality, this may be the perfect model for you.

Before you get too excited, there is some bad news… US buyers were not given the opportunity to snag an Alphard from new. In the US Toyota sold the platform as the Toyota Sienna; a decent replacement but it is not at the level of the Alphard.

The only way you can get an Alphard into the US (or most countries outside of Japan) is to import it directly from Japan. Handily, there are plenty of companies in Japan that will work with you to export your very own Alphard.

But before you reach for your online banking details, hold up – remember that some countries and most especially the United States have import restrictions, 25 years in the case of the US.

So make sure your dream Alphard has matured in age before you try to bring it stateside.

Now, let’s take a look at the plucky JDM minivan in more detail. This is a model that has been in production for quite a while and has three generations available on the used market.

The first generation debuted in 2002 and was produced until 2008. This model created an Alphard-shaped legacy which the two following models built upon.

The second generation of the model was introduced in 2008 and was produced until 2015. And the most recent generation (gen 3) was introduced in 2015 and is still in production, today.

Third-generation Toyota Alphard

Let’s take a look at the third-generation Toyota Alphard in more detail.

Drivetrain, dimensions, size & practicality

The Alphard is based on the Toyota MC platform. This is a front-wheel-drive platform that is equipped with modern suspension and is designed for both comfort and for maximum fuel efficiency.

It implements MacPherson strut independent suspension at the front end and a double wishbone suspension setup at the rear.

When it comes to the dimensions of the Alphard, the model has a wheelbase of 118.1 inches. The overall length is about 195 inches. The model is 72.8 inches wide and 76.8 inches tall. The curb weight is between 4,233 and 4,894 lbs, depending on the engine you go for.

This places the Alphard in the mid-size (minivan) category.

rear toyota alphard

When it comes to the room inside, we can say that this model is quite roomy. A lot roomier than the Sienna sold in the US, as well as other models like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica. This is the case because the Alphard is taller by a few inches than the American minivans.

The Toyota Alphard resembles more a van than a minivan, to be honest. So, it is perfect for a campervan conversion.

As we noted, this model has third row seats where you can fit up to 8 passengers. The rear seats also fold down and allow you to get some extra space for luggage.

If you fold the last row of seats, you will get about 616 litres of cargo space. This is about 21.7 cubic ft of cargo space.

Unfortunately, this model does not have Stow-N-Go seats like in the Chrysler Pacifica. So, you can slide the rear seats forward but you cannot make the rear completely flat.


When it comes to features, it is fair to say that the Toyota Alphard is fully loaded.

This is a luxury minivan after all,  so it offers a ton of options from new. But hold onto your seat, because a new and well-specced third-generation Alphard can set you back more than $100,000 USD.

When it comes to the interior, Toyota must have let their Lexus teammates get involved as the surfaces all feel premium. There are comfortable leather seats with two “captain’s chairs” for the second row. There are no compromises when it comes to comfort with this model.

These seats can also be optioned with heating, cooling, power adjustment, and whatnot. Allegedly riding in an Alphard is like being driven around in your favorite comfy chair or sofa.

For safety features, you get ABS (anti-lock brake system), vehicle stability control (VCS), Hill-Start Assist Control, and a full complement of airbags to keep you safe. You can also option some extra special extras like dynamic radar cruise control, roadside assistance, and lane tracing assist.

On the entertainment side, you have a large, modern infotainment system in your Alphard that offers both Apple Carplay and Android Auto, taking care of your navigation, music and voice commands.

And last but not least, there are 12 cup holders on this model – 4 cupholders for each row!

What engines power the Alphard?

The model is offered with three engines, the 2.5-litre 2AR-FE petrol engine, the 2.5-litre 2AR-FXE petrol-hybrid engine and the 3.5L petrol V6 from the previous generation – the 2GR-FKS 24-valve DOHC engine with VVT-i.

While the smaller 2AR-FXE and hybridized 2AR-FXE are interesting engines, the one I would go for is the 3.5L V6.

This engine produces 296hp and 361 nm of torque (roughly 266 lb-ft of torque). This is generally, the same engine used in the Toyota Tacoma as well as in many other Toyota products. The maximum RPM is rated at 6,660 rpm.

While this isn’t going to set your hair on fire when you give it the gas, for a minivan, 300hp is plenty to make rapid progress. After all, if you squeezed a torquey V8 in there, imagine the mess when those 12 cup holders emptied themselves of their contents when you floor it…

The 3.5L 2GR-FKS engine comes with an 8-speed standard automatic. There is also a CVT transmission for the hybrid version of the Toyota Alphard.

When it comes to reliability, the Alphard is no exception to Toyota’s envious reputation for high reliability. While there are some common issues to keep your eye on, the biggest gotcha is not keeping the oil level topped up in higher mileage examples.

Why can’t all manufacturers build cars like Toyota does?!

Fuel economy/consumption

For fuel economy, the newest Toyota Alphard is reasonably efficient for the size and engine configuration. The V6 model gets about 16 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and about 22 mpg combined. For a minivan, we think that it is really good.

Still, this is a Toyota and Toyota never disappoints when it comes to creating efficient cars. And this model should definitely be in consideration if you want to import one here in the US.


In terms of safety, this model has a lot to offer, but unfortunately being a JDM market car, I couldn’t find any tests for this model from Europe or the US.

I did find a for the 2014 model of Alphard, which is the second generation. This test was reportedly done in Japan. And as you can see in the video, they annihilated the car. But overall, from observing the tests, passenger outcomes in a crash hold up well.

When it comes to safety features, this model comes with airbags including curtain airbags to protect you from a side impact. The model has disc brakes, ABS, VSC, and a lot more.

The Alphard also utilizes the Toyota Safety Sense.

This is a system that has a ton of sensors that are monitoring your driving and help you drive more safely.

The sensors monitor the distance between your car and the car in front of you, there is lane-keeping control and lane departure alert. As well as pre-collision warning.

Overall, the Alphard is a pretty safe bet on the road.

Toyota Alphard price

The price of the Alphard is going to vary a lot, not just due to the normal factors of mileage and condition but also because of the three generations that are on the market today.

What is good for US fans is that the newer models are available in left-hand drive configuration, chiefly to operate in the Chinese market.

The price range for a Toyota Alphard is between $2,000 and $100k+. The prices are dictated by the model year, the mileage and the car’s condition.

Shipping goes in the range of $2,000 to $3,000, in order to get the model shipped from Japan. But port fees and registration costs are going to vary wildly depending on where you are importing your Alphard into.

Wrapping up with the Toyota Alphard

Overall, the Toyota Alphard is a JDM van that surpasses the competition when compared to US market minivans like the Sienna, Odyssey, and the Chrysler Pacifica.

The Alphard offers a luxury level that is unmatched in this market segment, it offers supreme comfort and a range of engines including the howling 3.5L V6 which is capable of reasonable economy while delivering impressive performance.

It also boasts a high roofline, so headroom will not be a problem for taller passengers.

But let’s be honest, the big selling point is the unique looks of the car, it is SO JDM it almost hurts. What a wonderful car Toyota has built for us!

Good luck with importing your very own Toyota Alphard, feel free to send in your own Alphard pics!

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author avatar Written by

Joe is an avid writer and car enthusiast. When he's not cruising the streets alongside his friends in his Nissan Silvia S15, he's drifting on his VR racing simulator.

Joe's passion for cars is always on display. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the automotive industry, he hopes his writing conveys his excitement and knowledge of cars and games.

Joe's work has been featured on many platforms including,,,,, and

When he's not behind the wheel or at his keyboard, he's likely daydreaming of his ultimate ride - the legendary Lexus LFA.

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