I run a children’s day care center. I used to drop and pick my children, and those of some of my clients from school in a Toyota Ipsum but it had started experiencing mechanical issues and I sold it off. I was in and out of the garage until one of my friends recommended a Toyota Alphard.
I was hesitant on acquiring one and first borrowed my friend’s for two days for road tests. By the end of the second day, I had already loved the car because of its comfort and the more than enough interior space.
The Alphard was manufactured to be a six seater but with the small size of the children, it can comfortably accommodate up to eight or 10. It is simply a family bus.
When I am planning to travel with children or relatives upcountry for weekend getaways or family meetings or any other emergencies, I don’t look beyond the Alphard.
I am the kind who sometimes carries a lot of office work back home and the many storage pockets of the Alphard come in handy.
All doors have slots where you can carry and keep office files. If they are not enough, the back of all seats also have storage facilities.
It also has air conditioner vents at all sitting positions.
The occupants are at liberty of controlling or regulating the kind of air they want from the AC without bothering the driver. It also has a number of cup holders for all passengers.
One of the downsides of the Alphard is that it is big and long. If you have never driven a long car, you may think you are driving a bus when you get into the Alphard.
Even though it has a rear view camera, it is challenging to park on the street because the gazetted parking slots are normally small and short.
I have two cars; a 2009 model Toyota Alphard and a 2010 Toyota Harrier. One of the things I like about the Alphard is its carrying capacity not only in terms of passengers but luggage as well.
I like multipurpose cars and the Alphard is one such. Much as it’s a family car and much as the middle and rear passenger seats can be adjusted to carry more luggage, it should be light. If you load it with heavy luggage, you will damage the suspension system because it was not meant for heavy loads.
The middle seats can be turned to face the back and this means you can have a small meeting in the car. It is more or less a mobile office.
My particular model runs on a 3500cc engine. It is stable on the road and can also be fast if you want speed. This will however, mean you will burn more fuel. It is a four wheel drive (4WD) car that when driving on a smooth murram road, it will not skid.
You however ,have to be careful when driving over potholes and humps. Its somewhat low ground clearance will not give you the liberty to drive at a high speed especially on dirt roads.
When doing Kampala rounds, I use fuel worth Shs200,000 in a week from home in Naalya to the city centre for work.
When it is due for service and maintenance, I spend approximately Shs400,000 per garage visit, normally once in four to five months because it is not my daily car.
This will cater for engine oil replacements, air cleaners, fuel and oil filters, spark plugs, transmission fluid and other fluid top-ups.
I sometimes take upcountry safaris to Kapchorwa and Kasese and it’s the Alphard I prefer using. One of the things I like about it is the ample leg room for the driver, co-driver and the passengers. There is nothing as irritating as being on the road for long and reaching your destination with hurting joints or leg pain. You can adjust the seats according to your comfortable posture.
I once travelled to Bundibugyo District and reached late. I found most hotel rooms had been taken up except those for my clients. I was too tired and I just looked for a safe parking place and I adjusted the middle seats and I used it as a bed for the night.
The downside of the Alphard is that its body is weak.
It is not like the Super Custom. This means that you have to be careful while driving and avoid getting close to errant motorists such as taxi drivers and trucks. A small scratch on the Alphard will not only make it look ugly but the damage will also be immense.
I have looked at an Alphard whose body was restored after an accident but it doesn’t look as beautiful and original as one that has never been involved in an accident.
It will get back on the road after being fixed but there are those dents that will still be visible when you look at the car from a distance.
The Alphard comes fitted with enough speakers spread all around the car interior. They are well amplified and there’s no need of installing external speakers in the car. Its passenger doors are electric and are controlled by the driver.
However, when handled poorly, these doors tend to get stuck and hard to open but can be open manually.
Because I am on the road for long trips at least three times a month, I always have the car inspected for anything that needs to be fixed after returning to Kampala without waiting to reach the mileage on the service manual.
On average, I spend approximately Shs600,000 for service, I replace all car lubricants, spark plugs, air cleaners and other important parts that enable the car to run smoothly.
From its premium design to its elite interior, the Toyota Alphard is a first-class experience on wheels. Coupled with a powerful engine, the Alphard takes you to your destination in style.
It is available as a seven- or eight-seater with petrol and hybrid engine options. Hybrid variants have been available since 2003, and it incorporates Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. The vehicle was named after Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra.