Toyota Alphard Review

Why buy an Alphard?

  • If you want luxury motoring for your family and chattels in a superbly well-built vehicle, you’ve found it.
  • Hugely flexible and comfortable seating arrangements for up to 8 people.
  • Powerful, smooth and quiet, with the option of four wheel drive.
  • Can be converted into a campervan.
  • Also works quite well as a driveable office!
Picture of nearside - Toyota Alphard Review

Background to this Toyota Alphard Review

The Alphard is Toyota’s luxury 8 seater minivan / MPV / people carrier.  This Toyota Alphard review is going to focus on the first generation car, produced between 2002 and 2008.  Why?  The first generation cars are currently the most frequently imported, due to the UK rules about cars over 10 years old only requring an MOT prior to registration.  You can read more about this here.

The Alphard is still in production today and is now in its 3rd generation.

Engine and Drivetrain Choice

Picture of the engine bay - Toyota Alphard Review

The Alphard has 2 engine choices, both petrol: a 4 cylinder 2.4 litre or a V6 3 litre.  The 3 litre V6 1MZ-FE also features on the Lexus RX300 and Toyota Camry, amongst others.  The 2.4 2AZ-FE has previously been seen in the UK in the Previa and RAV4.  All Alphards have automatic transmission and both engine options are available with 2 or 4 wheel drive.

“Should I buy the 2.4 or 3 litre?”

I see this being asked frequently.

My answer will always be the 3 litre.  The V6 has a very satisfying, purposeful burble that feels completely in keeping with the grandeur of the whole car, and that isn’t matched by the 4 cylinder engine.  It has plenty of power but doesn’t shout about it.  The choice really depends on what you’re used to driving, and how much emphasis you place on running costs, but I think the 2.4 Alphard is underpowered.

Want a more numbers-based answer?  Look at the power to weight ratios:

  • The 2.4 litre 4WD has 85 bhp/tonne (and 144 lb.ft torque).
  • The 3.0 litre 4WD has 113 bhp/tonne (and 230 lb.ft torque).

In its favour, the 2.4 litre has cheaper maintenance costs.  Only 4 spark plugs to buy instead of 6, and no timing belt to replace.  Finally, the 2.4 is intended to run on standard unleaded, whereas the 3.0 is intended to run on super/premium higher octane fuel.

Interior accommodation

There is so much flexibility in the Alphard’s seating arrangements: bed, cafe, table, straight forward 3 rows and a boot space big enough for a chest freezer are all possible.  The middle row of seats has 2 ISOFIX points and can rotate to face the rear of the car. This video explains the options.

Need an owner’s manual?


There are a lot of variations in equipment levels, but in most cases ‘loads’ would be a good summary.

Driver aids

  • HID headlights (dipped beam) and driving lights.
  • Lane assist.
  • Cruise control (only on some models).
  • Reversing camera and/or parking sensors.
  • Front blind spot cameras.
  • TEMS (Toyota Electronically Modulated Suspension, only on some models).
Picture of the driver and passenger seats - Toyota Alphard Review


  • Space to seat 8 adults in comfort.
  • Power sliding rear doors.
  • Dual zone climate control, with separate controls for the rear seat passengers.
  • Power curtains (some models only).
  • Adjustable arm rests.
  • Dimmable ‘room’ lighting.
  • Front and rear AV screens with headphone sockets.
Picture of the rear seats - Toyota Alphard Review


  • Driver and passenger airbags (plus side/curtain airbags on some models).
  • 2 x ISOFIX points (on the outer middle row seats).
  • ABS.
  • The rear seat passengers aren’t sat right up against the boot lid – much safer should something crash into the back of the car.

Driving the Alphard

There is a real sense of occasion in driving the Alphard.  I think the burbling V6 engine adds to this.

Once you’re behind the wheel, the Alphard doesn’t feel as big as it looks from the outside.  The 3 litre V6 engine has plenty of power and is quiet, smooth and feels effortless.  It can pick up speed surprisingly quickly and without any fuss when required.

Unsurprisingly for a 4WD car weighing 2 tonnes, there are disc brakes all round.  They pull the car up well, but there is almost no pedal feel under braking.  I think this is fairly typical for this type of vehicle.

Cornering performance is OK for the size, weight and intended purpose of the car.  There is some body roll and it doesn’t like being asked to change direction quickly.  Setting the TEMS to sport helps matters a little.  I think expecting amazing cornering performance from a car like this is missing the point of the car really!

Why you might not like the Toyota Alphard

Reason #1: fuel consumption

Despite fuel prices being (relatively) low in the UK of late, most people are concerned about fuel consumption on a car like the Alphard.  If you budget for about 25 mpg, you should be in the right ball park.  Some will get less and some more.  It isn’t necessarily the case that the 2.4 litre engine will give better fuel consumption.  Unless you’re really light with your right foot, this engine will need to be worked much harder to get the car moving, resulting in more fuel being used.

Reason #2: looks

I’ve seen a variety of less than complimentary words used: the Alphard ain’t that pretty when viewed from the front.  Viewed from the side, back or any 45 degree angle its just fine, but the front view isn’t so great in my opinion.  This is something I could easily overlook as the overall ‘package’ is so impressive, but you might not be so forgiving.  I certainly concede the Alphard’s main competitor, the Nissan Elgrand, is a better looking vehicle.

Reason #3: driving dynamics

Picture of the nearside and front - Toyota Alphard Review

Definitely built for wafting along rather than pressing on, so if you’re looking for sporty handling, particularly in corners, look elsewhere.  Remember it is a 2 tonne van with 2 sofas, 2 armchairs, 2 TVs and a carpet better than you’ll find in most rented accommodation.


I hope this Toyota Alphard review has been an interesting / useful read.  I’m certainly a fan of the car and I’d love to know what you think of it.

If the Alphard is a bit too much for you but you want a similar type of vehicle, have a look at a Toyota Noah.


  1. I thought I’d update this post following a question I received recently. I was asked which version of this 1st generation Alphard has leather seats. This is most likely to be the top specification MZ G edition trim level, which is listed as having leather seats as standard. Leather seats may also have found their way into some of the slightly lower trim levels too, and there are also some very good quality leather seat covers around.

    Hope this helps if you’re looking for leather!


    • Hi Andrew enjoyed your review- I am thinking of buying a55 plate 3.0 V6 MZG but previous owner has put 18” alloys on it and I am worried about the clearance from chassis when fully laden with 6 people and luggage- would you advise swapping back to 16”?

      • I would probably switch back to 16″ – partly for the clearance (although I’d hope the wheels were selected carefully so there wouldn’t be any chafing) but also because 18″ alloys will probably mean lower profile tyres, which will make for a harsher ride than Toyota intended and more stress on the suspension.

  2. I largely agree too, having been a happy owner since earlier this year, 3 litre was essential to us as were 8 seats (not 7). Having previously owned a different Toyota MPV the abilities of the Alphard are outstanding!
    When compared with the Elgrand there was no comparison, subsequent experiences confirm this.
    Now there is quite a number around care needs to be taken to peer beneath showroom gloss & excitement to see what you are really getting – TV & GPS are great but will they work here? for example.
    Anyway we have absolutely no regrets with our purchase – we bought from Japan directly & would also recommend this route.
    Only problem is what model (of Alphard or Vellfire) will we be replacing this with in a few years time?

    • hi phil w
      we are thinking of importing one from japan, what tips would you give for doing so?
      The Thompson’s

      • Id like to investigate doing that as well. Have you already done so?
        Paul laker

  3. The engine in my 2.4 litre Alphard camper cuts out in extremely high temperatures (29C +) and externally there is a strong smell of petrol. This has happened to me twice in recent days and I’m obviously concerned that petrol vapours-if that’s what they are-could ignite. The temperature gauge in the vehicle is normal. Any idea what’s causing the problem. I’m currently travelling in France with my vehicle-not due to return to the UK until late September. Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Hi Quentin

      Sorry to hear your Alphard is giving you bother. It is quite difficult to give an accurate answer about the car without seeing it, but in the first instance I would be looking at the oxygen sensor, idle air control valve and also looking for any splits in the air, vacuum and fuel hoses.

      Is the engine management light coming on?
      Is it stalling under load or at idle?
      Any other symptoms?

      In view of your concerns over possible petrol vapours I suggest you get the car checked out as soon as possible. Hopefully you will be able to find a competent mechanic with a fault code reader. A Toyota garage in one of the cities or larger towns should be able to help if no one else can.

      Best of luck with getting it fixed. I would be interested to know the cause when you find out.


  4. Hi Andrew,my choice is the 05 v6,I think the five speed auto will be worth it.
    My concern with the later models,is with the HID/Xenon headlights.The law states these must have washers,and have some sort of self levelling system.I would not like to spend a lot of money on a late model,then have to shop around for a sympathetic MOT tester.

    Thanks Colin Oliver

    • Hi Colin

      Thank you for your contribution. However my understanding of the MOT testing requirements for HID headlights is different to yours.

      The MOT testing manual states that HID headlights may have washers and self levelling systems fitted, and that they must work correctly if fitted. It doesn’t state that HID headlights must be fitted with washers and self levelling systems. You can access the manual online here. Section 1.7 deals with testing headlights.

      So from my point of view, there is no need to worry about an Alphard with HID headlights. By the way, some Alphards right back to 2002 have HID headlights.

      I’ve never had a problem getting an imported Japanese car with HID headlights through the MOT and I don’t search around for sympathetic testers! The situation is stricter for cars under 10 years old going through the IVA test.

      I hope this is good news for your car choice, and please let me know if you think I’ve got the above wrong!


  5. Thanks. You’ve made up my mind on not just this vehicle but also on hte features I require, and, engine capacity. 3 ltr.

    • Hi John

      Great, thanks very much. I’m really pleased the article was helpful and I hope you enjoy your Alphard.


  6. hi Andrew ive just purchased a 2.4 hybrid and I love it . Its done 77000 miles and has a full jap service history and is in amazing condition for 2004. I also have a 3.4 ltr grand hiace which I had converted to lpg 7 years ago when I first bought it , its been totally reliable which is why I think I can trust the hybrid to be reliable after all it is a Toyota . is there any reason why you haven’t mentioned the hybrid version in your appraisal , or is it because you haven’t had any experience with them .

  7. Hi
    Have a 2.4 2002 Alphard for a year now, fitted out as a camper, so far so good pleased with it if you don’t race about,
    One problem I have is obtaining a full set of spare bulbs, to go abroad with, could you suggest a suppler.
    Is it possible to chip this engine for a little more power, also is lPG worth the expense for better fuel costs.

    Your article was very good.

    • Hi David

      Thanks for your comments on the review. To answer your questions:

      Bulbs – I don’t know of a supplier of a kit. I usually just make my own by buying individual bulbs from eBay sellers. This does require taking the bulbs out to see which ones you’ve got, but this has 2 benefits: 1. you learn how to change the bulbs. 2. you know you’ve definitely got the right bulbs.

      Chip tuning – I have no previous experience of this unfortunately.

      LPG – depending on the quality (and therefore cost) of the conversion fitted, I reckon it would take 17-20k miles for the saving to pay back the installation costs. Only you can decide whether this is worthwhile, depending on how many miles you drive a year and how long you intend to keep your Alphard.


  8. i am a handyman who is looking for a replacement to my old hi ace van, but as new(er) Hi ace vans are incredibly pricy, would the Alphard be an option ? I like the idea of some superior comfort as I am not a young man anymore !

    • Hi John

      As a Toyota HiAce owner I can say without doubt the Alphard is significantly more comfortable than the HiAce. It is also a lot quieter.

      The Alphard could definitely be an alternative. The rear row of seats can be unbolted or kept folded to the side and the middle row kept ‘flopped’ forwards to give a sizeable load area. You could make some covers to velcro in place if you wanted to keep the seat cloth in good condition whilst in van mode, or just buy one with a slightly ropey interior to start with.

      A few other things to consider:

      Will the conversion to van be permanent or will you want to make use of the rear seats sometimes? If you will, this will limit your options for racking etc. inside the ‘van’.

      Load area – if you use all of your HiAce’s load area at the moment, I don’t think you’d get quite as much space in an Alphard.

      Towing – the Alphard wouldn’t have as high a towing weight as the HiAce.

      Security – you may need to obscure the rear windows.

      Bulkhead – if you carry heavy stuff you might want to consider the safety implications of not having a bulkhead to stop them flying forwards in an accident or under heavy braking.

      Good luck with your decision. I think there is someone on the Facebook Alphard Owners’ Group who uses their Alphard as a van for work so you could have a look on there for some more insights.


  9. Wonderfully accurate review and well analysed.
    I have the 2.4 and I can’t wish myself to get rid of it as there is nothing in the market quite like it! The 2.4 engine married wth the non CBT gearbox in earlier models is a marriage made in hell. They seem to quarrel often and get the ratios right. Would love the 3.0 V6 but with more in-town driving and school runs and acting as ‘the wife’s car’, we still find it thirsty.
    0 on performance and top speed but then again this MPV isn’t meant for that and don’t let any ‘sporty body panels and spoilers’ fool you.

  10. Hi Andrew
    just bought a Alphard 2.4 2002 plate converted to camper amazed how easy it is to drive. sat nav is still doing my nut in any advice on getting the sat nav sorted would be appreciated reversing camera works fine as does the radio everything else is in Japanese which is to be expected on an import ,is there a way to get this sorted for UK roads , is there any publications on the service manual in English that you could point me in the direction of.
    Brian Ingham

    • Hi Brian

      Congratulations on your purchase. In most cases the head unit needs to be removed and replaced with one in English with UK navigation software. It is possible to do this and retain a fully functioning reversing camera. There isn’t a way of converting the factory fitted Japanese head unit to English.

      There is a translated owner’s manual available, but not a service manual as far as I’m aware.

      Enjoy the Alphard!

    • I am buying Toyota Alphard 2005 from an importer here in Nigeria, my concern now is conversion side of it from right hand drive to left hand drive, hope it won’t give me challenges in the future after conversion?

  11. That is a really useful review. Thank you. We have a Granvia and we do think we will upgrade

    • Hi Martin

      The official MPG figure was 17.2 km/L which equates to 48.5 miles per gallon. I think most Alphard hybrid owners would be over the moon if they were achieving this fuel consumption.

      Back in the real world, most of the figures I see reported are between 30 and 35 mpg.


  12. Hi Andrew, thanks for this review. I am planning on getting an Alphard, one already used in the UK. Before I conclude I wanted to get an insurance quote, however I can’t even get these as listed type of vehicles. Any thoughts about insurance. Also would these makes be easily repaired if anything goes wrong. I’ve tried calling some of the main dealers to see if I can get any kind of comfort about getting support and what I hear is that they cannot run any type of technical diagnostics on these. I don’t know if this is normal. I am based in Rochester, i.e. if that helps in identifying any garages near me that have experience in dealing with Alphard. Interestingly yesterday 19/Mar/2017 was the first time I have heard about the Alphard. I am in the market for an 8-seater and the Alphard seems to tick all my boxes, except the fact it is imported and the likelihood of not getting technical support or ready insurance.

    • Hi Ugochukwu

      Getting insurance for a car imported from Japan is slightly more involved than for a UK car, but there are plenty of companies that will provide cover now. I’ve suggested some companies to try elsewhere in the comments on this post.

      Regarding your experience with the dealer, unfortunately this is an all too common experience. There are plenty of fault code readers and other diagnostic equipment available to buy in the UK that will work on Japanese imports. It is just a case of looking for a mechanic with an open mind and a willingness to work on an imported vehicle. Many of the more expensive pieces of diagnostic equipment already have JOBD capability.

      I’ve written more about parts availability here.


  13. Hi Andrew,

    I am looking to buy an alphard as seen by a friend and I do like the smooth driving as I had driven this vehicle, but I wondered regarding the petrol would it be a good choice to buy an Hybrid and what is your recommandations regarding the Hybrid?

    Best regards,


    • Hi Isaak

      If you are referring to a first generation Alphard Hybrid (ATH10W), several contacts in Japan have advised against these due to reliability problems. I am a stickler for reliability and as such wouldn’t buy one. My thinking on this is as follows: it isn’t that the hybrids go wrong all the time, just that when they do, it often seems to be a big problem which can quickly become more expensive than the fuel costs saved.

      Having said that, there are plenty of people who have one and are very happy. The real world fuel consumption seems to be about 5 mpg better than the regular 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine and probably about 10 mpg better than the 3 litre V6.

      So my recommendation (i.e. what I would do if I was buying) if you’re looking for a 1st generation Alphard is to avoid the hybrid and trade fuel consumption for reliability / ease of fixing.

      I’d be interested to hear what you end up buying!


  14. Update of my June 2016 review. I think your review is spot on Andrew. Having owned “the best car we’ve ever had” (a 3 litre 2002) for jus over a year now. It has done the school run daily, usual local trips & also Essex to the Isle of Wight, Cornwall & the Peak District, over 12000 miles in it’s first UK year. No faults apart from a brake bulb & regular 25mpg plus. It has been driven empty & fully loaded with no complaint. We have the pale “Alcantara” covered seats & they are still as new & look really classy, in fact it would be a sin to cover them!
    Lastly, but very importantly, our local trusted garage is quite happy to work on this vehicle, they even have it on their “Hunter” tracking & alignment system.
    What to replace it with in a few years? – simple another one!

    • Hi Phil

      Thank you very much for the update – I’m really pleased to hear you’re enjoying the Alphard. Also good to read your mpg figure, which I think is very reasonable for a 3 litre V6 engine.

      Happy motoring!

  15. Hi Andrew,
    Do you have a recommendation for the best transmission or are there any I must avoid? There was a 4-speed Alphard, then a 5-speed. More recent models have a 6-speed, or a 7-speed CVT, although I imagine these are still pricey. “ZC” in the comments remarked that the 2.4L didn’t work with the (4-speed?) auto box very well. I’ve read in general that CVTs are like driving an elastic band powered car because the revs change with no change in speed, and that CVTs rarely achieve a high mileage without wearing out, and no-one will repair them.
    On the other hand, I could imagine a CVT having better fuel economy, and I could get one if I splashed out a bit more cash, or I could have one cheaply if I went for a Serena or Noah instead.

  16. Thank you for the reviews and I am convinced the Althard is my next car. Probably the 2005 facelift model with 5 speed box. There are plenty available across the country. The one issue I have is how to know an imported car is not stolen before shipping or have outstanding finance. Not all dealers are BITMA members. Any advise would be appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Dave D.

    • Hi Dave

      Thanks for your comment and question. You mentioned BIMTA and indeed not all dealers are BIMTA members. But you as an individual can get your own BIMTA check on any car you’re looking to buy, which may help give peace of mind about the issues you mention. Also have a look at this post, which gives some tips on checking the odometer reading of an imported car.

      Best wishes

    • Hi Denis

      I presume you mean LPG? If so, yes this can definitely be done, plenty of Alphard owners have chosen to do this with both the 2.4 litre and 3 litre engines. In most cases I understand the tank goes in the spare wheel well. In general there is a slightly lower MPG figure with LPG but this is more than compensated for by the (much) lower price of LPG.

      People choose a variety of locations for the filling port: I’ve seen some mounted to the tow bar, others in the bumper and others inside the existing fuel door.


  17. Hi Andrew, Very useful review, many thanks, we are considering our options at the moment and the one thing we’re having difficulty with as regards the seating is, can the 7 seater be used as a double bed/how much would it take to adapt it so it did, thanks, Alan.

    • Hi Alan

      As far as I know the 7 seater wouldn’t convert into a double bed. Adapting it would be tricky because the seat runners are in different configurations in the 7 seater compared with the 8 seater. So it isn’t just a case of unbolting one of the middle row single seats and swapping it for a double. If you want to use your Alphard in double bed mode, I’d go for an 8 seater.


  18. Worst engine of toyota ever,just the slightest friction and the head bolts loosens also blowing head gaskets and leaking coolaint after 150k miles

  19. I am interested in buying an alphard. Which insurance can I get? I tried my current LV and they won’t insure it. Regards, Brigitte

    • Hi Brigitte

      This is often a problem with insuring imported vehicles. Many of the price comparison sites and volume insurers only have a database with UK vehicles so cannot find imported cars and default to a ‘computer says no’ approach.

      I have seen imported car owners have success (and reasonable quotes) from the following (I have no affiliation with any of them):

      Liverpool Victoria
      Direct Line
      Sky insurance
      Adrian Flux (sometimes reasonable, sometimes expensive!)

      I hope you manage to get a competitive quote.


      • Good info Andrew, thanks. I will definitely avoid the hybrid, as I need to travel abroad and don’t want complications. Again 3L looks better than 2.4. Only question now is whether to go LPG?

        • Hi Marcus

          A lot of Alphard owners have had their vehicles converted to LPG and seem very happy with the results. I guess it depends on how many miles you’ll be doing and how long you envisage keeping the Alphard (and in your case how much fuel will be in the other countries you’ll be visiting) as to whether the LPG conversion will be worthwhile.

          The 2.4 does have the advantage of simpler (and therefore cheaper) servicing, e.g. no timing belt and only 4 spark plugs which are much easier to access than on the V6. So it might be worth factoring this into your calculations.


      • Just thought I would update you that Churchill wont insure Alphards any more as they don’t appear on there list of cars!
        L and V might be able to but only with a registration so you can get a quote before you buy. I Hope that helps,

  20. Great review and very helpful, I drive back and forth between the UK and Austria regularly. I am looking to change my old Regius 3 litre for something a bit younger!! Your review advises very well.

  21. Hi andrew, greetings from finland!
    I got question that maybe you can help me.
    I just little while ago bought a 2004 2.4 alphard and it have been great so for:)
    And the the question, i noticed in the power door on the left side that it wont open at the button inside and also it wont open in the button that it is in the key. The door is trying to open (open up like couple mm and then closed) when i press the inside button or the button on the key.
    But when i use it manually at the door handle it works when i help the door little bit (pulling)
    And closing works well when i use it in manually, same thing closing with the buttons moves little bit (few mm) and then comes back.
    Hope you understand even little bit what im trying to ask:D

    • Hello!

      Glad you’re enjoying your Alphard.
      Always difficult to diagnose from a distance, but if you can still hear the motor running when you press the open button, it sounds most likely that the cable has snapped or its running gear has broken.

      I hope you manage to get it sorted.

  22. Hi, just checking does a alphard 04 plate running on a 2.4 engine have a cambelt cheers

    • Hi Michael

      No this engine has a timing chain. Regular oil checks and changes with good quality oil are the key to looking after it!


  23. Hi Andrew,

    I thinking of purchasing a camper and have read a lot of reviews. Yours is concise and clear and covers all the relevant points.

    I have decided from your review to purchase a 3.0 litre, automatic Alphard and due to doing around 1400 miles a month will opt for an LPG conversion. I don’t plan on changing the vehicle for a good few years.

    Thank you

    • Hi Steve

      Great to hear, thank you. If I was doing nearly 17k miles per year I think I’d go for LPG too!


  24. No talk of the Hybrid option that would have been helpful in the article. I own this version and have only praise for it, the 3ltr is as you say a better option but you need deep pockets for fuel unless your prepared to spend £1200.00 on a LPG conversion.

    • Hi Roger

      Thanks for the feedback. The hybrid really divides opinion but I’m glad you’re enjoying yours. I’ll try to gather some more information and opinions on the hybrid, then write it up into a separate article.


    • Great, give one a go! Most of the owners I speak with are really pleased with their Alphards!

    • I have just ordered a 2.4 AWD 2004 model on recommendation of a great friend and highly reliable Japanese company. His advice is the Alphard I am getting is the most ideal vehicle for my needs (family, power & luxury) and budget. I am sure I will one day get a 3L V6 for the power if the budget allows. He recommended Alphard with no alternative to consider, I trust him and longing for the experience. Thanks to Andrew for confirming what I thought. I will share my experience with you.

  25. Hi, wanted to know how can I change my radio from Japanese to English, upgrade the navigation etc.

    Thank you

    • Hi Ebrahim

      I’ve replied to your email, but for the benefit of other readers, here is my answer:

      The stereos fitted in the vast majority of Alphards cannot be converted from Japanese to English.

      You can fit a band expander to enable listening to UK radio stations, or a bluetooth to FM modulator to enable listening to audio via your phone. You can also play videos (must be NTSC not PAL) via the AV sockets in the back of the centre console. If you want a fully functioning stereo with PAL video playback, reverse and blind spot camera and UK navigation, you’ll need to buy a new head unit.


  26. Hi we are thinking about buying an alphard converting it then driving to Mongolia onto a Japan etc but are worried about the ground clearance , do you know if it is possible to be raised.

    • Hi Christopher

      I haven’t driven in Mongolia so I don’t know how good or bad the roads are. Based on the videos I’ve seen, some of the roads are great, and some less so. I think you’re right to be concerned about ground clearance. I’m sure things could be improved by removing/modifying the lower plastic bodywork, but don’t know whether that would be sufficient. I’m sure it would be possible to raise an Alphard, but I doubt it would be easy or cheap. I haven’t ever seen it done. Even once raised, I’m not sure the transmission would be up to the task, especially if you’re going to need 4WD.

      Alphards are great, but if I was going to make the journey you’ve described, I wouldn’t choose an Alphard. Sticking with Toyota, I’d have a 4WD Hiace at the top of my list: less refined but a lot more rugged.

      Whatever you choose, I hope you have a great time!

  27. With the 2nd Generation having been launched in 2008 would you recommend waiting until the end of they year to see ten year old cars coming through? I’m particularly interested in a hybrid – do you know if the reliability issues you mention on the 1st gen were any better for the 2008 cars? Thanks!

    • Hi James

      If you’re set on a hybrid, I’d definitely wait for the 2nd generation cars to be over 10 years old. Everything I’ve heard is that they are more reliable, and waiting until they are over 10 years old will save you a significant amount by avoiding the IVA test fee and additional preparation costs.


  28. Hi
    do you know the tow eight for the 3L 4wd derivative please ?. I cant find any information anywhere . I’m looking to tow a car triler and track car weighing a little below 2000kg

  29. Hi,
    I currently own Toyota Noah after inspired by your review and got one, very happy for the decision. Just thinking of next upgrade, just wondering if you have experience that Alphard will be in trouble to go to some car park ie airport parking which has height limit 1.8 -2m? The height of Alphard is 1935mm, am I right?

    • Hello

      Yes you’re right, the ‘official’ height of the 1st generation Alphard is 1935 mm. This means there will be some car parks that will be out of bounds for the Alphard owner. Some have a 1.8 m limit, but a lot are 2 m or 2.1 m, which will obviously be fine. I’d make sure I had someone watching if I was going under a 2 m barrier mind you!

      I don’t think the height would rule out any destinations completely, but you might need to do a little bit more forward planning, i.e. to check the car park height before you set off. Something like Parkopedia can be helpful as it often has details of car park height restrictions.


  30. Hi,
    I imported a ANH15 collected it from the port it had a dead battery. Drove it 2 miles to buy a battery fitted it n drove about 4 miles in traffic n the car stalled. There was plenty off smoke n some oil leak above the gear box. Called out the AA n the confirmed the engine over heated even though the temp guage didn’t show any sign in temp rise. The head gasket is fried n am looking to replace the engine. Any suggestions and or tips to how and what to do and not do as I have it replaced especially when filling up the coolant n not have air pockets. Can’t afford to have another engine fried?. Can I take the root of replacing the head gasket n will it be feasible? If at all.

    • Hello

      Wow! Sorry to hear of your issues with the Alphard.

      You might get away with replacing the head gasket on the existing engine, depends on whether the overheating warped or cracked anything. The head and block would need to be checked very carefully.

      In terms of filling with coolant, you could use a vacuum/pressure fill method to get as much trapped air out as possible. The other thing to do is wiggle all the hoses when you’ve started the engine after filling (and before replacing the radiator cap). Make sure the radiator top hose is getting hot before putting the cap back on.

      Did you work out what caused the problem?


  31. Hi , Great source of info for the Alphard, the 2005 3 V6 is that engine shared with any U.K. vehicles?

  32. hi I’ve just purchased a alphard 2.4 petrol 2002 model does this only have 3 forward gears as mine is revving hard at around 60-70 mph like it’s desperate to change up is this normal

    • Hi Mark

      Thanks for your question. This is something that I’ve been asked a few times before and I hope the following applies to you and offers a simple solution. Your Alphard should have 4 forward gears.

      When shifting it into ‘D’ if you accidentally push the lever across to ‘3’ you are telling the car you don’t want it to shift into 4th / overdrive / top gear. So it will rev quite high at motorway speeds. Next time you’re out driving, try making sure the lever stays to the left when shifting to D, rather than pulling it across towards you, because this is the 3 position.

      Hope this solves your problem!

    • I also found this recently on a hire Alphard – mine had P, R, N and D3 labels on the right hand side but no obvious D on the left hand side, and having used other “J” gates the stick always sat on the right side of the gate. Perhaps older age but I simply didn’t twig from looking at the dash or high revs either. Mine also sat at about 4,000rpm at 60/70mph. What do the revs normally sit at in 4th at 70’ish? thanks

  33. I am interested in buying a Toyota Alphard which is the most best to drive and the most economical model please.

    • Hi John

      It is often the case that driving pleasure and economy don’t go hand in hand!

      Looking at the MPG figures alone, a hybrid would deliver the best fuel economy. Personally I wouldn’t buy a 1st generation hybrid because I’ve seen a number of stories about them going wrong in a big and very expensive way. For me, economy is about servicing and repair costs as well as fuel consumption: bringing these things together, I’m not convinced the 1st generation hybrid is an economical option. There will be others who have had thousands of trouble free, economical miles from their hybrid. I’m told the 2nd generation hybrid is a much more reliable option, but I don’t have any numbers to back this up.

      Regarding driving pleasure, I haven’t driven a hybrid (see the last paragraph for the reasons why). I think the V6 gives the most driving pleasure, but definitely isn’t the most economical in MPG terms, compounded by needing to be run on high octane fuel. If you plan to keep your Alphard for a long time or cover a lot of miles, then a LPG conversion gives a good effective MPG. Obviously the initial conversion costs don’t make it feel like a particularly economical solution.

      The other thing to consider re economy is 2WD vs 4WD. Don’t get a 4WD unless you really need it, because this adds weight and drag to the drivetrain.

      In summary:
      -most economical: 2WD 2.4
      -most driving pleasure 3.0 V6

      but remember your driving style will make a big difference to the fuel consumption as well.


      • I would just like to add I have a 3.0l Alphard, which is excellent in every way except for fuel consumption. As a family we love it.
        We had an LPG conversion, and we currently pay 55.9p per liter from Morrisons petrol sites. Round town and country lanes we get a terrible 16.6mpg, but that doesnt’ work out too bad with the cheap price of LPG, the equivalent of around 35+mpg after adjusting for price. On a long run this is much much better I last worked out it was the equivalent of 48mpg after adjusting the figures for the cost saving. I have never got near 25mpg on petrol(and remember it is recommended to use high octane fuel) so I’m giving it a good service to try and get nearer that figure, including the dreaded spark plugs which are a real issue to get to.


      • Andrew, do you realise that the Hybrid 4wd system has no transfer case or driveshaft to the rear. It doesn’t carry the same weight and drag issue as conventional 4wds. The rear wheels are driven by a second electric motor in the rear – no physical connection to the front at all. Cheers John

        • Hi John, thanks for checking. Yes I am aware of the difference with the hybrid system. This article was originally intended to be just about the non-hybrid versions of the Alphard. I know a lot of people are interested in the hybrid and I have had several requests to write a review of the hybrid. Thanks for adding to the information available on here about the various Alphard options.


  34. Hi Andrew,

    Do you have any idea for converting of 1st geneartion Alphard 3.0L 4WD to 2WD by modifying drivetrain?


    • Hi Peter

      This isn’t something I’ve ever done or seen done. I think it would be simpler to buy a 2WD Alphard from the outset. Is that a possibility or is that something you’ve considered already?


    • Hi Chris

      Yes it has a chain. Make sure that engine oil is changed regularly!


  35. Hi there
    I’ve just bought a Toyota alphard 3litre v6 05 reg. The stereo is Toyota 56065 could anyone please help me convert it from Japanese to English if at all possible
    Thank you in advance

    • Hi Sarah

      Unfortunately I don’t think it is possible. If you want full functionality in English, this would require a change of head unit.


  36. Hi
    Can you check it is 4 wherl drive by the chassis number?
    There us no visible decal

    • Hi Gareth

      Yes, the 2.4 4WD will start with ANH15W and the 2WD ANH10W. For the 3 litre, the 4WD will start MNH15W and the 2WD MNH10W.


  37. Hi
    Have a 2002 2.4 litre petrol Alphard, converted by Fantasticcampers in Scotland. Need to top up oil, but struggling a little with the Japanese manual………. I think (??) I need 10W/30 oil, but am struggling to find it at local Halfords/other auto suppliers. Seems 10W/30 is more an agricultural grade oil according to 1 bloke i spoke to??
    Any advice?


    • It is a viscous coupling type system, so automatic with no means for the driver to control it.

    • The Hybrid 4wd system has no transfer case or driveshaft to the rear. It doesn’t carry the same weight and drag issue as conventional 4wds. The rear wheels are driven by a second electric motor in the rear – no physical connection to the front at all. Cheers John

  38. How do you change normal 12 v battery on the hybrids ?

    I cant find wr they placed them on this vehicle.

    Also there is no Youtube video online to show its location.


  39. Hi Andrew,

    First of all I must congratulate and thank you for a superb source of information. Your effort and dedication are very much appreciated.

    My question as a potential buyer is; can you remove the middle set of seats?

    Thanks in advance!

  40. Great article i’v learned a lot from this. Thank you for sharing. Just wana ask how to fix power sliding door of the alphard. Thanks

    • No problem! About the power sliding door, difficult to say what’s wrong with it without seeing the car. The most common problems are with the motor or the cable. If it works intermittently I’d guess at the motor being the most likely problem.


  41. I am about to buy an Alphard 3.0 Petrol Automatic 7 seater 2007 model in Mumbai. What is the running cost, Petrol mileage this vehicle gives. Is it a good bargain. Price quote is INR 15,00,000 around GBP 16,666 approx. Could I convert it into an CNG vehicle to bring the running cost down.Are the spare parts available in Mumbai and are they cheap to source.

    • Hi Edgar

      I’m no expert in parts availability in Mumbai unfortunately. Parts availability is generally good.
      £16k for a 2007 Alphard is expensive in UK terms but again I’m no expert on the market or import charges for your country.
      The fuel consumption is in the article above! About 25 mpg.
      They can be converted to LPG, plenty of UK owners have done this successfully.


  42. I have just purchased a Toyota Alphard and it seems very low at the front because it has a big skirt on it.
    The salesman told me to go slow over road bumps but has anyone experienced any problems in this area?

  43. Very helpful site, and great info on the Alphard. I am looking at changing my L200 for something with more seats, which of the many MPV’s would you recommend. It must be a 4×4 auto, preferably with low range

    • Hi Russ

      Thanks for your positive feedback on the site. If you need low range, then MPVs like the Alphard are out. They don’t have low range and 4WD capability will be much more limited than your L200. It’s a bit of a gas guzzler but if you need 4WD with low range and 7 seats there is only one answer: Land Cruiser! If you want to stick with Mitsubishi – a long Pajero (Shogun).


  44. The explanations provided for Alphard, has convinced me to buy the vehicle soon. Recently I sold my NOAH and I was wondering what to buy.

    • Not something I’d do or have done myself, but plenty of people use them for towing and seem to speak highly of their towing abilities.

      You can read more about towing with Japanese import vehicles here

  45. I bought my 2.4 in August 2018 I was recovering from a serious illness in my spine and chest so I needed a high seat vehicle adaptable as a combi van that I could sleep
    In anytime anywhere anyplace ! North Star conversions supplied a rear kitchen conversion their help and service was excellent . Bear in mind I was moving from
    A bmw cabrio 2.5 which I could. Not get in or out of it due to injuries.

    I just love this car it’s quiet lovely smooth suspension and comfortable and adaptable .
    It’s relatively cheap to run , in 15000 miles it has needed new rear door motors and a big service total cost £500’. Its reliable .

    Negatives ; you have to watch the blind spot on the front windshield pillar ; and looking over your left shoulder over the rear darkened glass window . Fuel consumption ; well you don’t buy it for that ! Worse 22 round town ; best 29
    Long run no aircon. Would I buy another ; yes ; would I change anything ? Probably a side kitchen is best .but I have managed to
    Configure a small double bed 48 inches x 62 inches but I’m 5ft 2 !!

  46. Hi. Just bought Alphard and wondering if I’ll get under a 2 metre barrier. Can you help?

    • Difficult to say for certain. The ‘official’ height of a 1st generation Alphard is 1935mm, so it should fit. But 2 metre barriers are measured with differing degrees of accuracy so each one is likely to be different.
      Tyres, suspension, number of passengers, amount of luggage etc. will all make a difference.

      I usually measure my vehicles’ height when empty, and when driving into a car park, stick my head out of the window, look up at the barrier and proceed carefully!

  47. We have 3 ltr v6 …beautiful car 4×4…and we have installed gas conversion .traveled to spain towing our caravan ..stayed for a month .alphard so comfortable…we love ours .

  48. Can you convert a hybrid to LPG? E.g keep the electric side for small journeys and the LPG for long distance? I’d be using the vehicle in the week for short journeys and the weekend for longer runs. The Alphard appears to tick all boxes bar fuel consumption.

    • I don’t know if this has ever been done with an Alphard but it has been done with other Toyota hybrids.

      Regarding your comment about long and short journeys – can I just check you’re aware that you can’t choose when the car uses electricity and when it uses the engine – it decides for itself. Even on short journeys the engine will start and run.

  49. Great website, thank you.
    I have a 3L 2004 Alphard – does this have a cambelt and if so how often should it be changed?

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. Yes it does have a belt and it should be changed every 100,000 km, or about 62500 miles. I’d also add an age limit to that of 10 years. If yours is a particularly low mileage Alphard, as some are, and it still has it’s original belt, I’d get it changed. The water pump should be done at the same time.


  50. i like so much this car. within this year 2021, i need one second hand alphad G 2010

  51. Would you be able to help me what is the towing capacity for Toyota Alphard Estima 8 seater MPV 2.4 Hybrid

    • Hi Kenneth

      There isn’t an official towing capacity as far as I know. It’s also worth noting that legal towing capacity and the weight the vehicle is capable of towing are 2 different things. Based on the research that I and other readers have done (see this post), the legal towing capacity is the difference between the actual vehicle weight and the maximum vehicle weight.


  52. Just wanted to thank you for your review. I’m going ahead to buy a 2005 model that’s been converted to a camper. I’ve done what I hope is the sensible thing and bought the 3 ltr, something I would’ve steered clear of. Assuming (as no doubt a lot do) that a higher cc engine is automatically ‘juicer’ than a lower one. I cannot wait to get out on the road with her and see some wonderful UK sights.

    • Thanks for your comment Jan and I hope you have some great adventures in your Alphard.

  53. The 3 litre V6 runs perfectly well on UK standard unleaded. Japanese premium fuel is around the same RON as our basic unleaded. Otherwise an excellent review. ?

    • Thanks for your comment Derek. You probably know this already but for the benefit of other readers, Japanese high octane fuel has to be at least 96 RON but is usually between 98-100 RON. UK standard unleaded is 95 RON and super is somewhere between 97-99 RON.

      So UK standard unleaded has a higher octane rating than Japanese standard unleaded, but it still isn’t as high as Japanese high octane fuel, although I acknowledge it is close.

      I’m glad yours is running well on the standard unleaded.


  54. Hi Andrew, thanks for the article, I am looking to buy a 2.4 version. I am undecided between petrol and hybrid.. I will want to fit a towbar and tow a small caravan. I’ve already checked the towing weights for suitability. I’m looking for something between 2005 and 2097. Could you please advise which one you would choose. Thanks derek

    • Hi Derek

      If I was buying for the purpose you described I’d go for the standard petrol. In general I’m a fan of hybrid technology but I think in the case of the 1st generation Alphard I wouldn’t go for the hybrid for towing. It’s a really tricky one because there are a lot of hybrid owners who are very happy with their vehicles. However I’m not convinced the hybrid transmission in the Alphard would tolerate the extra load of towing particularly well. If something were to fail, it would likely be a lot more expensive to repair.


  55. Great info about the Alphard, I drive the 3l: better better to purr away the miles. I have a question as you are expert on the vehicle. With the new E5 and E10 petrol designations coming on stream, what do you recommend for the 1MZ-FE engine?

    • Hi Richard

      I looked into this and Toyota UK have covered this in one of their magazine articles. If you look towards the bottom of the article they cover vehicles imported from Japan and advise that super unleaded is used.

      Toyota E10 petrol article


  56. Hello! Anyone have any experience of real world mpg for the 2nd Gen Hybrid? Many thanks!

  57. Can I change the bulbs in my 2006 Alphard reversing lights to LED? If so, what is the brightest bulb that fits. Thank you.

    • Yes you can, but I’m sorry I don’t know which is the best replacement option. There are so many LED bulbs available and a lot of them are rubbish or too big to fit through the bulb hole. I would measure the hole before purchasing, and it would probably be best to get a bulb that’s designed not to cause canbus errors.

  58. Hello Andrew, I have been looking into buying a 4wd Alphard. I see some are advertised as 3.5 litre – where do they fit in? Also, do you know if anybody over here keeps spare windscreens?
    Mnay thanks

    • Hi Graham

      The 3.5 litre cars will be second generation GGH2- model codes with the 3.5 litre V6 2GR-FE engine. Random fact: this engine also features in a number of Lotus cars!

      The screens are quite often available on eBay.

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