Johannesburg - For as long as I can remember, the Volkswagen Caravelle has been “the van” that ticks all the right boxes. My old man had a T3 model and, while it was one of the most unreliable cars he’d ever owned, it was one of the best when it came to long, lazy road trips. So much space, so much luxury, and before a time where SUVs ruled supreme, large family-focused vans just had it all.
In recent years, the Caravelle has grown up and grown more luxurious, and while it’s not as popular when compared to similarly priced SUVs these days, it’s still an awesome vehicle if you have lots of kids or if you inevitably plan on doing the school soccer runs.
Vans on a comeback
While the Caravelle remains my favourite van, last week Toyota announced a new contender for the crown - a highly-specced Quantum, dubbed the VX, which the Japanese manufacturer says makes for the perfect road trip companion.
“Using the angular design language of the new Quantum as a starting point, the VX version amplifies the visual drama, with a large chrome-finished radiator grille, with three horizontal slats which flow from the stylised LED headlamps. The wheel and tyre package comprises 17-inch alloy wheels, shod with 235/60/R17 tyres,” the marketing blurb reads.
You also get fancy chrome exterior door handles and mirrors that tie in with the front chromed elements.
At the back, although it remains boxy, a prominent chrome garnish, VX-badging and LED light elements ensure you won’t be mistaken for a local taxi.
All the luxury trimmings you need (and then some)
The new Toyota Quantum VX is said to provide limousine-like degrees of cabin comfort and refinement, for up to eight passengers (9-seater), with large “captain’s chairs”. It comes with independent rear climate control and multiple USB ports to keep passengers’ devices fully charged for business or entertainment.
The rear offers four individual reclining seats (with armrests and fold out “ottoman” leg-rests) in the second and third row, complemented by a three-seat 60/40-split bench right at the back of the vehicle. The seats feature quilted leather upholstery and power-adjustment for the backrest and fold out leg-rest, while snazzy wood trim and soft blue lighting combine to create a premium atmosphere.
Smart entry and start, dual power-operated sliding doors and Toyota’s Audio Visual Navigation (AVN) touchscreen infotainment system come standard in the VX too.
Along with its high level of comfort and convenience features, the new Toyota Quantum VX features an array of driver assistance features as part of the Toyota Safety Sense suite, which includes pre-collision safety system (PCS) with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only), high-speed active cruise control, lane departure alert, road sign assist, and automatic high-beam assist.
Using a camera and radar sensors, the PCS is designed to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, and assists the driver with visual and audible warnings, braking assistance or autonomous emergency braking if the driver fails to heed the warning.
The lane departure alert system will also warn the driver if the system detects that the car has deviated from its lane, with visual and audible alerts, and, if necessary, provide steering assistance through the braking system.
Other advanced safety features include blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera with guide-lines and nine airbags.
Along with all these comfort and safety features, the Quantum VX boasts rain-sensing wipers, LED room lamps, power-adjustable driver’s seat and high-definition Optitron instrumentation.
Powering the new Quantum VX is Toyota’s tried-and-tested four-cylinder 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine, with outputs of 115kW at 3600rpm and 420Nm, between 1600 and 2200rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.
Pricing and ownership
If you need something big, comfy and dripping with difference, and don’t want to pay for “SUV insurance” and tyres for an all-wheel driven behemoth, a Quantum VX might be an ideal chariot.
The vehicle is priced at R843 600 and it comes with a nine-services/90 000km service plan and a three-year/100 000km mechanical warranty.