The Toyota Granvia eight-seater people mover is the replacement for the long-running Toyota Tarago, promising to be a great family car. Let's see how it weighs up as a BabyDrive…
The Toyota Granvia has the definite feel of a white van to drive, it's very boxy and slow but with a surprisingly good turning circle which made it quite nimble around town and relatively easy to park.
Being so big and an eight-seater I was keen to find out how practical the back would be and how many child seats would fit but I was quite disappointed. There are ISOFix and top tether anchorages in the two seats in both the second-row and third-row, so I could install four child seats.
However, legroom was really quite tight. With the front seats in my seating position (I'm 162cm) there was room for a rear-facing seat in the second-row, forward-facing seats in the third-row and only just enough room for someone my height in the fourth row.
I also found the aisle down the centre of the Granvia to get between seats is really narrow and I could only just squeeze myself through it (and I am not a very big person).
I also found that when I went to use the boot, the boot door is enormous and heavy and opens with momentum so you have to move out of the way so you don't get hit by it and to my surprise, there is no boot to speak of in this eight-seater version?! It's quite a contrast to the VW Multivan I tested, which could accommodate a stroller behind the rear seats without even having to fold it! The Kia Carnival has a much better layout too, where the rear row disappears into the floor or leaves behind a deep well for storage when in use.
You can slide the rear row of seats forward slightly and fold the seat base up but as legroom is minimal in the back anyway it would render the whole fourth row unusable and I'm sure anyone who buys a people mover for their family needs all the seats.
There are some, I'm sure, unintentional comedy elements we discovered to the Granvia seating which resulted in endless japes on a journey with big kids in the back. There are pedals on the back of the second and third-row seats to enable you to put the seat back up and down. This is, of course, a very comical thing to do to your siblings and fellow passengers while driving along! It's a little like reclining a dentists chair! The passenger can of course retaliate, having removed the simple spacers that are in the runners in the floor (that look like an afterthought to me), allowing their seat to slide backwards and forwards.
So if they time it well for when Mum drives up a hill and release the lever on the side of their chair it will slide all the way back, crushing the legs of the passenger behind them and seeking revenge! This may sound childish (not to mention potentially dangerous) but the inner child in me laughed for at least thirty minutes at the fun I would have had with my siblings if we'd had this car as kids!!
There are some fantastic features in the Granvia, starting with the ventilation that runs along the sides of the ceiling to all rows of seats which is fantastic for keeping rear passengers cool.
There are also lights all the way along with the air vents too and they have three strengths of brightness which is good for little ones at night. They are not reachable by the driver but you could turn one on before you start your trip.
The storage is fantastic in the Toyota Granvia too. The dashboard is littered with my favourite cup holders and the central console storage box is enormous.
There is a lot of oddly shaped plastic in the front dash and central console which I found jarring but the size and quantity of storage are definitely there.
In the rear rows of seats, there are cup and bottles holders for all rows that would easily hold a large refillable water bottle and a fold-out tray in the second row with plenty of cup and bottle storage too.
There are some hidden storage boxes in the side panels of the Granvia too.
The media system in the Toyota Granvia is quite simple and basic but it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too which was great over the week I drove it.
The reversing camera image is quite good, it fills the whole screen and you can turn the sensors beeping off with a button on the dashboard.
The Toyota Granvia scored a five-star ANCAP Safety Rating. It has a large and clear seatbelt removal visual on the central dash which is great for warning you if anyone in the rear three rows takes of their seatbelt.
Seven airbags come as standard in the Toyota Granvia and this includes head protection airbags that extend to all four rows of seats.