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Atrecord

Rental of MPV and driving in Hokkaido during winter

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Am looking for some advice:

We're going to Hokkaido next month, and are looking at renting a large MPV, so hope to get some tips and information on:

1) which MPV is good/best

2) any tips on driving in winter

There will be 7 of us on the trip. 6 adults/children who are 1.7-1.8 m tall, and one 6-yo kid who needs a booster seat. There will also be quite a bit of luggage, tentatively 1-2 pcs 28", 3 pcs 24", 2 pcs 20" luggages.

Looking at the options for MPVs, the larger ones are either Toyota Alphard or Nissan Elgrand, followed by the slightly smaller ones of Toyota Noah or Nissan Serena. Any bigger will be the Toyota Hiace van.

Is there any possibility of accommodating all 7, plus the luggages in Alphard/Elgrand, or is it necessary to go for Hiace?

I vaguely remember that @Heartlander had mentioned before renting Elgrand during a Japan trip, and also owned an Alphard before here? Care to share your experience please? Anyone else with knowledge/experience of these 2 - your opinion is welcome.

If we shift the 3 rows of seats to be more 'forward', will the luggage/boot space behind 3rd row seat, be sufficient for the luggages that we have?

 

Then on #2, driving in winter/snow, apart from going slow, and avoiding icy roads, what else should we look out for? Winter tyres are standard, and there's 4WD option for the vehicles.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi Bro ... I just returned from Japan. I have never driven in Hokkaido and was driving in Toyama in a Camry. Camry was a very nice drive. The electric motor was silent.

IMHO - I think don't save on renting adequate space and comfort and secondly, try not to save on safety. Is the MPV the best option on snowy roads which you do not have experience driving in e.g MPV's being quite high maybe unstable in crosswinds on long drives? We did use an Alphard for transfer from 1 hotel to another in Tokyo and we had 2 x 28"  1 x24" and 1 x20" and only 3 of us. I think it was fairly comfortable but to fit everyone with luggage for your party, I think it will be fairly tight fit.

Enjoy your hols! 

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9 hours ago, Atrecord said:

Am looking for some advice:

We're going to Hokkaido next month, and are looking at renting a large MPV, so hope to get some tips and information on:

1) which MPV is good/best

2) any tips on driving in winter

There will be 7 of us on the trip. 6 adults/children who are 1.7-1.8 m tall, and one 6-yo kid who needs a booster seat. There will also be quite a bit of luggage, tentatively 1-2 pcs 28", 3 pcs 24", 2 pcs 20" luggages.

Looking at the options for MPVs, the larger ones are either Toyota Alphard or Nissan Elgrand, followed by the slightly smaller ones of Toyota Noah or Nissan Serena. Any bigger will be the Toyota Hiace van.

Is there any possibility of accommodating all 7, plus the luggages in Alphard/Elgrand, or is it necessary to go for Hiace?

I vaguely remember that @Heartlander had mentioned before renting Elgrand during a Japan trip, and also owned an Alphard before here? Care to share your experience please? Anyone else with knowledge/experience of these 2 - your opinion is welcome.

If we shift the 3 rows of seats to be more 'forward', will the luggage/boot space behind 3rd row seat, be sufficient for the luggages that we have?

 

Then on #2, driving in winter/snow, apart from going slow, and avoiding icy roads, what else should we look out for? Winter tyres are standard, and there's 4WD option for the vehicles.

Thanks in advance.

I rented mine from Toyota-Rent-A-Car. I think they are best because they have the most branches, as I did an open jaw (pick up from airport; return once back to Sapparo in a town location walking distance from my hotel).

For your requirement, Alphard is the safest choice in terms of space. Also for winter conditions, you will not want the HiAce van which will have poorer handling and non-car like characteristics.

From what I recall, Hokkaido rental cars are at Toyota rental are all 4WD by default (whether you specify 4WD or not during booking). And yes 1st priority and biggest factor for safety are proper winter tyres. I haven't drove in winter yet, I hear from friends that you will definitely lose traction at some stages, you need to stay calm (no sudden jerking on steering or hard braking) and let the VSC pull you back. And yes staying slow and steady is the way.

 

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Depending on the amount of luggages you have but given it is winter and there are 7 of you, i think minimum is an Alphard or a Hiace.  Alphard has 4x4 option but not sure of Hiace. 

If there are sufficient drivers, i would just rent 2 4x4 SUV instead. Don’t need to worry about space and comfort and with AWD, it will be safer (unless you have a lot of winter driving experience). Winter tyres should be standard.

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Personally for 7pax and winter, likely many luggage. 

I would choose the biggest passenger van like the Alphard/Elgrand followed by the Noah/Voxy.

I would also prefer all to be in the same car at rather than 2 separate cars and risk losing each other in snowy icy unfamiliar terrain.

If possible a 10pax passenger van will be preferred. No need to worry about lack of space.

 

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19 minutes ago, Wildfaye29 said:

Personally for 7pax and winter, likely many luggage. 

I would choose the biggest passenger van like the Alphard/Elgrand followed by the Noah/Voxy.

I would also prefer all to be in the same car at rather than 2 separate cars and risk losing each other in snowy icy unfamiliar terrain.

If possible a 10pax passenger van will be preferred. No need to worry about lack of space.

 

7 pax with luggages? Don’t think it will work for even Alphard. Need a van but Hiace don’t have AWD. We had 6 pax in an Alphard and with lots of lugguges, especially on last day, it was a really hard squeeze.  And that was summer. 

With GPS, getting lost is not a major concern and likely not during winter when speed is curtailed.  
 

The rental cost of an Alphard is usually at least 50% over that of a normal sedan/ SUV. I would prioritise safety/ comfort over cost and fun (having all 7 in 1 vehicle).

Hiace probably cost more and if TS has not reserved one by now, it will be tough to secure one by now.

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21 minutes ago, Voodooman said:

7 pax with luggages? Don’t think it will work for even Alphard. Need a van but Hiace don’t have AWD. We had 6 pax in an Alphard and with lots of lugguges, especially on last day, it was a really hard squeeze.  And that was summer. 

With GPS, getting lost is not a major concern and likely not during winter when speed is curtailed.  
 

The rental cost of an Alphard is usually at least 50% over that of a normal sedan/ SUV. I would prioritise safety/ comfort over cost and fun (having all 7 in 1 vehicle).

Hiace probably cost more and if TS has not reserved one by now, it will be tough to secure one by now.

7 pax with luggages is possible in Estima. Rear windscreen will be partially obstructed especially towards the end of trip. Some of the smaller bags might end up in the cabin.

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12 hours ago, Atrecord said:

Am looking for some advice:

We're going to Hokkaido next month, and are looking at renting a large MPV, so hope to get some tips and information on:

1) which MPV is good/best

2) any tips on driving in winter

There will be 7 of us on the trip. 6 adults/children who are 1.7-1.8 m tall, and one 6-yo kid who needs a booster seat. There will also be quite a bit of luggage, tentatively 1-2 pcs 28", 3 pcs 24", 2 pcs 20" luggages.

Looking at the options for MPVs, the larger ones are either Toyota Alphard or Nissan Elgrand, followed by the slightly smaller ones of Toyota Noah or Nissan Serena. Any bigger will be the Toyota Hiace van.

Is there any possibility of accommodating all 7, plus the luggages in Alphard/Elgrand, or is it necessary to go for Hiace?

I vaguely remember that @Heartlander had mentioned before renting Elgrand during a Japan trip, and also owned an Alphard before here? Care to share your experience please? Anyone else with knowledge/experience of these 2 - your opinion is welcome.

If we shift the 3 rows of seats to be more 'forward', will the luggage/boot space behind 3rd row seat, be sufficient for the luggages that we have?

 

Then on #2, driving in winter/snow, apart from going slow, and avoiding icy roads, what else should we look out for? Winter tyres are standard, and there's 4WD option for the vehicles.

Thanks in advance.

For winter driving, it’s not how fast you drive. It’s whether you can manage any sudden change in road condition. If suddenly road turn icy, lift off throttle only. Don’t brake. Control direction of your car. When the car is really slow, brake and stop by the road side.

If you are not use to driving long distance, better take a break every 2 hrs.

Most important thing is to keep rental car company emergency number.

Lastly, have a good down jacket. Don’t wear too many layers as car got heater. If any temp above 0, I only wear down + T shirt.

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17 minutes ago, Davidtch said:

7 pax with luggages is possible in Estima. Rear windscreen will be partially obstructed especially towards the end of trip. Some of the smaller bags might end up in the cabin.

Alphard’s boot is much smaller than Estima? 
 

Yes, we stacked the boot till driver cannot use rear view mirror, it is not safe. 

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7 minutes ago, Voodooman said:

Alphard’s boot is much smaller than Estima? 
 

Yes, we stacked the boot till driver cannot use rear view mirror, it is not safe. 

It’s not ideal. It will be better with 2 SUV

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13 hours ago, Atrecord said:

Am looking for some advice:

We're going to Hokkaido next month, and are looking at renting a large MPV, so hope to get some tips and information on:

1) which MPV is good/best

2) any tips on driving in winter

There will be 7 of us on the trip. 6 adults/children who are 1.7-1.8 m tall, and one 6-yo kid who needs a booster seat. There will also be quite a bit of luggage, tentatively 1-2 pcs 28", 3 pcs 24", 2 pcs 20" luggages.

Looking at the options for MPVs, the larger ones are either Toyota Alphard or Nissan Elgrand, followed by the slightly smaller ones of Toyota Noah or Nissan Serena. Any bigger will be the Toyota Hiace van.

Is there any possibility of accommodating all 7, plus the luggages in Alphard/Elgrand, or is it necessary to go for Hiace?

I vaguely remember that @Heartlander had mentioned before renting Elgrand during a Japan trip, and also owned an Alphard before here? Care to share your experience please? Anyone else with knowledge/experience of these 2 - your opinion is welcome.

If we shift the 3 rows of seats to be more 'forward', will the luggage/boot space behind 3rd row seat, be sufficient for the luggages that we have?

 

Then on #2, driving in winter/snow, apart from going slow, and avoiding icy roads, what else should we look out for? Winter tyres are standard, and there's 4WD option for the vehicles.

Thanks in advance.

OK I can only advise on use of Alphard, but not on winter driving as never done that before.

Personally I have driven Alphard in Japan with 8pax and have owned a 2015 Vellfire in Singapore for 1 year, but that was when my kids are still quite young. In Japan I rented through the Toyota rental as its rental fleet are very new. I can still remember mine has clocked very low mileage when I collected it, less than 10k. For rental, the Alphard/Vellfire only provide the 8-seater variant, meaning 2+3+3. But with last row being 2 individual seats actually, better do the 2+3+2 arrangement. The code is W3. The triplets are definitely out of question as too small for such a big group.

https://rent.toyota.co.jp/eng/service/wagon.html

The beauty of 2015 Alphard/Vellfire is that the 2nd and last row seats are slidable forth and back, so it is possible to slide the seats for max cargo load with bearable knee rooms for the rear passengers. What I think can work is, with the tall car height, you can definitely put the 2 pcs of 28" luggages upright at the rear boot space. Then you can slide the last row backward to the max, follow by 2nd row considering enough knee room for the last row passengers. Now you would have created a huge pocket off space between the first row and 2nd row seats, where you can now try to stack the remaining luggages up. The 2nd row passengers might have to put their feet on the luggages. Not so comfortable but definitely do-able.

Best would be to get help from friends/colleague here who own this ride if they can spare 20min for you to try out first. I would not mind if I still have the ride, but too bad let go since last year already. With such a bug group of people, better not leave room for last minute surprise unless all are your close family and easy going type..

If you are adamant to put all together in one car, the next feasible alternative to rent a Hi-ace passenger van (V3) which is available only in the japan site:

https://rent.toyota.co.jp/service/car/class/charge.aspx?searchKbn=6

The car is only 4.7m long, 1.7m wide, and 2m tall, so definitely drive like a car. As shown in the attached file, it can accommodate max 9 passengers and still have huge space for many luggages. But downside is seats not as comfortable as Alphard/Vellfire which is obvious. But it can definitely do the job.

Hi-ace Space.pdf

So in summary, better do a try out on a actual Alphard/Vellfire as it is the best option. If option 1 fail, and if still want to keep to 1 car for whatever reason, then Hi-ace passenger car is an option, but can book only through the jap site. If I were you, I would bite the bullet and take the Alphard/Vellfire option as I do not like to split the family when going holiday if possible. But that is just me lah haha. Do not blame me if you follow and did not work out haha.

 

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5 hours ago, Mcscot said:

Hi Bro ... I just returned from Japan. I have never driven in Hokkaido and was driving in Toyama in a Camry. Camry was a very nice drive. The electric motor was silent.

IMHO - I think don't save on renting adequate space and comfort and secondly, try not to save on safety. Is the MPV the best option on snowy roads which you do not have experience driving in e.g MPV's being quite high maybe unstable in crosswinds on long drives? We did use an Alphard for transfer from 1 hotel to another in Tokyo and we had 2 x 28"  1 x24" and 1 x20" and only 3 of us. I think it was fairly comfortable but to fit everyone with luggage for your party, I think it will be fairly tight fit.

Enjoy your hols! 

Thanks!

Did you notice whether the Alphard has any sunken boot space behind the third row's floorboard, like in Estima?

I saw the BM Alphard and it doesn't have, but saw Toyota Japan website seems like have a bit leh. That could be the difference 😅

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5 hours ago, t0y0ta said:

I rented mine from Toyota-Rent-A-Car. I think they are best because they have the most branches, as I did an open jaw (pick up from airport; return once back to Sapparo in a town location walking distance from my hotel).

For your requirement, Alphard is the safest choice in terms of space. Also for winter conditions, you will not want the HiAce van which will have poorer handling and non-car like characteristics.

From what I recall, Hokkaido rental cars are at Toyota rental are all 4WD by default (whether you specify 4WD or not during booking). And yes 1st priority and biggest factor for safety are proper winter tyres. I haven't drove in winter yet, I hear from friends that you will definitely lose traction at some stages, you need to stay calm (no sudden jerking on steering or hard braking) and let the VSC pull you back. And yes staying slow and steady is the way.

Thanks. Yes, a cousin who lived in US for many years told me to drive slow, and not brake hard as it'll tend to skid if slippery. If the snow has melted and then froze to ice, it's best to avoid driving altogether.

Winter tyres are standard indeed at this period, it seems.

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4 hours ago, Wildfaye29 said:

Personally for 7pax and winter, likely many luggage. 

I would choose the biggest passenger van like the Alphard/Elgrand followed by the Noah/Voxy.

I would also prefer all to be in the same car at rather than 2 separate cars and risk losing each other in snowy icy unfamiliar terrain.

If possible a 10pax passenger van will be preferred. No need to worry about lack of space.

Yup, we're going with my wife's brother's family, and they've just told us they'll bring 2 x 28 in luggages instead of 1 x 28" and 1 x 24" 😓

Now that's really gong to be quite a lot of luggages 😓😓

Alphard/Elgrand willing to squeeze also dunno can or not already... 😅

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3 hours ago, Voodooman said:

7 pax with luggages? Don’t think it will work for even Alphard. Need a van but Hiace don’t have AWD. We had 6 pax in an Alphard and with lots of lugguges, especially on last day, it was a really hard squeeze.  And that was summer. 

With GPS, getting lost is not a major concern and likely not during winter when speed is curtailed.  
 

The rental cost of an Alphard is usually at least 50% over that of a normal sedan/ SUV. I would prioritise safety/ comfort over cost and fun (having all 7 in 1 vehicle).

Hiace probably cost more and if TS has not reserved one by now, it will be tough to secure one by now.

We'll prefer to stay in one vehicle leh... my BIL has driven in winter before, but i haven't...

So for the Alphard, can i check whether there's any luggage space below the floorboard behind the 3rd row? If there is, then that can hold some luggage, which means got less/fewer to squeeze - if we go for it.

BM Alphard - 7-seater - doesn't have the luggage space there, but Jap Toyota website showed has... 🤔

I saw Elgrand has a bit of this space, but it's not as big as Estima apparently...

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3 hours ago, Davidtch said:

For winter driving, it’s not how fast you drive. It’s whether you can manage any sudden change in road condition. If suddenly road turn icy, lift off throttle only. Don’t brake. Control direction of your car. When the car is really slow, brake and stop by the road side.

If you are not use to driving long distance, better take a break every 2 hrs.

Most important thing is to keep rental car company emergency number.

Lastly, have a good down jacket. Don’t wear too many layers as car got heater. If any temp above 0, I only wear down + T shirt.

OK tks! Tallies with what i've heard from a cousin.

Oh, all the aircons in the 3 rows of seats all can blow out hot air one right? 😀

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3 minutes ago, Atrecord said:

OK tks! Tallies with what i've heard from a cousin.

Oh, all the aircons in the 3 rows of seats all can blow out hot air one right? 😀

I believe so. 
Don’t set it too hot initially as we are not used to heater.

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3 hours ago, Voodooman said:

Alphard’s boot is much smaller than Estima? 
 

Yes, we stacked the boot till driver cannot use rear view mirror, it is not safe. 

Some MPVs like Estima, Ody, and Kia Carnival (which I'd rented in NZ), the 3rd row seats are fixed, in that they cannot slide front/back. Can only tilt the backrest. For these MPVs, they all have a decently deep and long'ish sunken luggage space behind the 3rd row. After putting the 24" luggages inside, can still stack others on top of them, so there's quite a bit of luggage space. Leg space in the 2nd and 3rd rows are manageable, but not outrageous.

Alphard on the other hand, the 3rd row can slide v near the tailgate, which gives lots of legroom, but doesn't have the big sunken luggage space like Estima leh. At least the 7-seater that BM sells, doesn't have the sunken luggage space. Good for passengers, but not much space for luggage...

Did you see any sunken luggage space behind the 3rd row of Alphard?

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