No one expected the outpouring of online affection when Toyota announced it would be retiring the beloved Tarago people-mover.
It seemed everyone had a Tarago story to tell. Mine involves a drive from Sydney to the Gold Coast with the wife, five kids, a cat and a dog. It wasn’t the most relaxing road trip but we made it in one piece and the Tarago didn’t miss a beat.
So Toyota’s replacement for the Tarago, the Granvia, has some big shoes to fill. Fortunately it has a pretty sizeable footprint itself.
At more than 5 metres long and weighing more than two and half tonnes, it looks as if it could swallow a footy team.
Slide open the power-operated rear doors of the top-spec VX and it becomes apparent this people-mover is built for comfort rather than kid-carrying.
There are four rows of seats and the front three look as if they were lifted from a corporate jet; the second and third rows have individual recliners with armrests, while the second row pews even have electrically operated foot rests.
There’ll be no pinching and pulling hair in the Granvia because the kids will have trouble reaching each other. Getting into the second and third rows is relatively easy but access to the fourth bench seat is through a narrow aisle in the row ahead. There’s also no room for luggage behind the fourth row, limiting the appeal to regular people-mover buyers.
The tailgate is big, heavy and manually operated, while the grab handle is likely to prove a tippy-toe stretch for smaller people.
Also limiting the appeal to big families is the price tag. You could have bought the cheapest model Tarago for roughly $45,000 — the Granvia starts at $62,990 for the base six-seater and stretches to $74,990 for the VX model.
Toyota says the Granvia is aimed at family buyers looking for space and premium features but, at least in eight-seat configuration, it appears better suited to airport-hotel transfer operators with a trailer in tow.
In six-seat mode it makes more sense, as this liberates a giant luggage area behind the third row.
The cabin is reasonably well appointed. Front and rear airconditioning can be adjusted separately while all four rows have their own vents. Satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android auto are standard, although the seven-inch centre screen looks a little dated against similarly priced seven-seat SUVs.
There are seven USB charging points for digital devices but the rear entertainment screens that featured on the top-spec Tarago are missing.
Safety equipment is comprehensive. The Granvia has nine airbags and has been awarded a five-star crash rating.
The autonomous emergency braking can detect cyclists and pedestrians, while other driver assistance items include blind spot and lane departure warning, active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, speed limit warnings and automatic high-beam.
On the road
Toyota says the Granvia delivers “vast improvements” in ride comfort, handling and refinement over the Tarago.
However, it shares its underpinnings with the HiAce work van and its 2.8-litre diesel engine with the HiLux ute.
There’s nothing wrong with the diesel — it gets the Granvia off the mark smartly and noise suppression is pretty good, save for the distinctive diesel rattle at idle — but those who drove the V6 version of the Tarago might argue that was the better engine.
It is commendably efficient for a people-mover. Toyota claims 8.0L/100km, although you’ll see low teens in city driving.
The Granvia is reasonably comfortable, absorbing bumps well and settling quickly over speed humps, but it’s not the kind of vehicle that relishes corners. It’s stable and predictable but it’s also a big, heavy van that leans when changing direction and pitches under brakes.
It’s on par with other people-movers in this regard.
The steering is true and the turning circle is reasonably tight for such a long vehicle but some drivers will feel intimidated negotiating shopping mall carparks. It only just sneaks under the height limit and its length can require a bit of back and forth when parking and turning.
The Granvia is a fit-for-purpose people-mover that will appeal mainly to commercial operators but it lacks the versatility and accessibility of the Tarago it replaces.
Originally published as Tested: Toyota Tarago replacement