This time, I took the bestselling Toyota minivan, the Noah Hybrid for a drive.
Of similar class within the Toyota brand are the VOXY and Esquire. Its main competitors are the Nissan Serena, Mazda Biante, and Honda StepWGN.
This new Noah Hybrid has had some changes made as of July, 2017.
The brand is known for its user-friendliness, and this new Noah did not disappoint. The comfortability of the middle row in this “5-number”* small vehicle was beyond comparison.
With the table tray down, it seems almost like home.
In this review I will cover the comfortability, design appearance, and fuel efficiency of this 2L class minivan.
Details and further impressions will be given below, but this trial run really gave me insight on just why the Noah Hybrid is popular among families.
Noah Hybrid:The Exterior Design
A Grade X 5-number that looks bigger than it is
The Noah Hybrid I tested for the day was designated a small size passenger vehicle or a “5 number”, and Grade X, the Toyota designation of a 4 van vehicle.
I generally ride a normal sized “3-number”* sedan, but when I looked at the Noah Hybrid, it gave me the impression of a car above its grade, perhaps due to its height.
When you actually park the car though, you can see that the “5 number” is smaller. However, because the floor is lower and the interior is spacious, it doesn’t feel cramped.
I think the smaller size of a “5 number” is useful in smaller parking spaces, since it makes opening and closing the doors, especially by children, much easier and you don’t have to worry as much.
Another nice thing is that taxes are lower with 5 numbers, although you have to take into account that the heavier weight (over 1.5 tons) will mean that the Car Weight Tax** will be higher.
The headlights are quite large. There are 2 projector lights embedded.
The turn signals can be seen below sticking out, and the side marker lamps are above the headlights.
The larger size of the headlights can give a touch of fierceness to the Noah, which is said to look the most docile among its siblings, the Voxy and the Esquire.
Below is the Noah seen from the back. You can see the typical minivan vertical tail lights and characteristic metallic touches that give it that “Noah” look.
And below is the Noah with all the doors open. The slide door with its wide entrance is one of its main attractions.
As you can see in the picture, the floor of the back seats is situated lower, making it easy for even children and elderly people to get in and out.
It’s this attention to the small details that makes this class of cars, including the Noah, popular.
An actual measurement reveals that it is about 37 cm, a height that is comparatively easy for even children to get on.
Following is the trunk. The wide opening back door makes the trunk highly accessible.
My impressions on the space and usability of the trunk will be detailed further below.
For now, I’d like to look at some of the more minute aspects.
First, the emblem. The Noah logo hasn’t changed, but blue accents have been added for the Hybrid.
There is no picture of the front doors, but it operates with the Smart Entry system that opens with a touch, while the back doors use a button for opening and closing.
The Grade X I rode had electric doors on the left side, and manual doors on the right.
The Grade X wheels are the standard, R15 inch wheels. (Tire size 195/65/R15)
NOAH: The Interior Design
A Hybrid with a Familiar Dashboard
The picture below is of the steering wheel and the dashboard. The Grade X features a simple polyurethane steering wheel.
Not too heavy, and not too light, the steering wheel is easy to manipulate.
And following is a picture of the dashboard. In many hybrid cars you often find digital dashboards, but the Noah features analog gauges.
With the Si GR SPORT model of the Noah, the silver needle on the gauges are colored a sporty red color. (LINK).
The GR SPORT is pretty cool.
At night, the gauges are lit with mostly white light. The needles and gauges look quite beautiful.
The blue accents make it just right.
The window controls on the driver’s side are below. It’s relatively standard.The mirror controls are also here.
There is an information panel with temperature, time, and outside temperature above the navigation system on the central control side.
And here is the central control proper. In the Noah, you have the option of adding a large 10 inch in-dash navigation system as well.
Pictured below is a smaller sized navigation unit, embedded in a plastic panel.
Below the navigation unit, you have the parking light switch, the gear stick, and the AC controls.
I particularly liked the AC controls. All the controls are arranged together, and it’s stylish to boot.
At the bottom, there are two 2.1 A USB ports that allow for speedy charging.
Because the Noah is quite spacious, instead of just charging your smartphone, you might also be able to work on your laptop as well.
Above the driver’s seat is a sun visor with a mirror embedded.
This here was an interesting feature; a sunglasses case. This wasn’t in the Toyota VELLFIRE that I’d rode before, but I’d definitely like to see this in all car models.
It can be put away with just one push, making it highly convenient.
And here is a 360° view from the driver’s seat.
ノアハイブリッド 運転席 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Next, the passenger seat.
Instead of the traditional glove compartment, there is an open storage space and a compartment that can be opened with a push.
The open storage in the front is quite convenient. It can be used to place your phone, or a tissue box for easy access.
Movable seats (2nd, 3rd row) allow for multiple rearrangements
Next we’ll move on to the back seats.
Now, I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say that the Noah exists as a car for the 2nd row seats; so anyone thinking of buying the Noah may want to pay attention to this coming section.
The 7-seater model that I tested this time has a small aisle in the middle.
It’s not as wide as the VELLFIRE that I tested before, but there’s enough.
One surprising feature is that the seats can actually be pushed together to eliminate this space.
It was something that surprised me as I was fiddling with the seats, that the seats move not just in a front-back direction, but also side to side. (And of course, reclines)
The pic above shows the seat moving side to side, and the one below shows the seat moved back. As is common in most minivans these days, there is a large range of movement.
If you push the seats up front and recline them, it becomes like the picture below.
With the seats pushed together and fully reclined, you can create a comfortable space to even spend the night in the car.
One weak point is that the plastic reclining part sticks out, which would make it difficult for more than two people to lie down together.
This is how it looks with a child’s sleep mat on top. The mat is slightly larger than one seat.
The ISOFIX attachment points for child safety seats can be found in the second row.
The windows of the back seats come equipped with sunscreens, a plus for families with children.
Here I tried packing a lot of luggage in the middle row. You can put a shopping basket on the floor in a horizontal position, and it is even possible to put a stroller in as well.
(I did the same test with the VELLFIRE, for comparison)
You can see how you still have some space even with the shopping basket.
And now we move on to the 3rd row. As a whole, the Noah Hybrid is very spacious, but the 3rd row doesn’t really feel so spacious.
However, if you bring the middle row to its frontmost position, it’s a different story.
The thing is, however, because the seats in the 3rd row are quite simple, you might be better off bringing the 2nd row as far as it can go and get as much space as you can that way
I also took a 360° view from the back seat as well. Enjoy.
ノアハイブリッド 後部座席 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Folding the 3rd Row Away For an Even Better Trunk
Next, we’ll take a look at the boot.At first glance, it seems to be bigger than even that of the VELLFIRE.
Even with the 3rd row in their default position, it’s big enough for a set of golf clubs.
And here’s the trunk with the 3rd row seats folded up and the 2nd row seats pushed as far front as they can go.
This creates a pretty large space. It’s even large enough to easily fit a children’s bicycle.
Next I placed the golf clubs again. Even vertically, you can see how there’s enough room for it to be placed without touching anything.
I added the stroller next. There’s still plenty of room.
In this picture you can see how the seats are folded. It’s extremely easy to do. The key points are the lever and the securing mechanism.
As you can see in the picture, the gray lever is pretty obvious. This releases the seats from the car body.
The seatbelt, which you can see to the left in the picture, secures the seat.
Below, you can see the same thing with the VELLFIRE (2016), but the seatbelt is secured at a higher position.
Because the VELLFIRE’s overall height is on the high side, it can be difficult, especially for women, to secure. (Not to mention that the securing mechanism is a bit stiff).
But with the Noah, not only does the seat spring up easily, the seatbelt is easily secured, which really gave it high marks in my book.
How It Looks with a Child Seat
We next tested the Noah by putting a child seat on each of its seats. Here you can see it in one of the middle row seats. Unsurprisingly, it’s not cramped at all.
Although it’s doubtful this will ever happen, we tried pushing the seat as far forward as possible with the child seat.
And this is how it looks with the table tray down.
The exactness of the height and distance just seems perfect to me.
The table tray itself not only has two drink holders, but the surface is made with anti-slip treatment which I think is useful for eating in the car with your kids.
We next tried the same with an infant child seat. As you can see, there’s even more room.
And here it is with the tray down. With an infant seat, it seems a bit far.
Finally, we put the child seat on the passenger seat. Here too, there is ample space.
Feelings, Impressions of the Ride
The Extra Height for a Roomy Interior
As mentioned before, the Noah (although it does depend on the grade) is a “5-number”, meaning it is designated a small size passenger vehicle*. The X Hybrid is also this 5-number.
The interior is roomy enough, however, to make the 5-number designation an illusion. My wife actually questioned whether it really was narrower than our usual car.
The wide field of vision from the driver’s seat, and the ample legroom make it feel really spacious.
It is often the case with cars smaller than 2L that in order to balance things out with cost, quietness is sacificed.
This is not the case with the Noah Hybrid.
Except for times you step on the gas hard to get more power (more on that later), there is none of that groaning of the engine or noise from the road.
I wasn’t expecting it to be so silent.
A Large Trunk with Enough Breadth
One of the major attractions of a minivan is the large trunk space. But as a 5-number, I was a bit suspicious about the breadth. Would it be wide enough?
But when I actually tested it out, I could fit a set of golf clubs horizontally, which makes it really easy to use.
Plus, with the 3rd row folded up, you get even more room.The width and the extra height makes it super convenient.
Extra Height, but Less Width Makes For Easy Parking
What impressed me the most driving the Noah Hybrid was the ease of parking.
I’ve drove several rental cars before, but the Noah was a class of its own, especially when compared to the VELLFIRE, which is one size above the Noah.
I believe the compact size as a 5-number and the higher point of view due to the extra height made the parking smooth and effortless.
The fact that it was so easy to park, I have to admit, surprised me.
A 1.8L Motor Hybrid Engine, Needs Some Umph
The most disappoint thing about the Noah Hybrid might be the engine.
The 1.8 L hybrid engine of the Noah needs more strength to step on the gas when you want to accelerate like on a slope.
If you think about it, a 1.8L Hybrid is the same engine size as the Prius.
And if you consider the car structure, for one of Noah Hybrid’s size, it could be said that the engine doesn’t have enough power (torque).
The acceleration and rideability is enough for a Prius, but… it’s a bit disappointing.
As a side note, the engine model is the same as the CH-R, but is fine-tuned so that both horsepower and torque are a bit higher for the Noah.
Actual Fuel Consumption at Full Tank is 23.8 km/L
I’ve taken a picture here, but I forgot to reset the trip meter, so I’ve only actually gone about 80 km.
Calculated, the fuel consumption is 23.8 km/L
Because it was a rental, there is some room for error since there could be a bit more or less in the fuel tank/distance, but even so, it is pretty efficient.
And as a matter of fact, the number on the catalogue is exactly 23.8 km/L, so it might actually be accurate…. LOL
Summing Up the Trial Run
I’ve summarized here my impressions and review of driving the Noah Hybrid for a day.
A roomy interior, a user-friendly trunk, and the fuel efficiency as a hybrid makes it pretty favorable.
It starts at about 3 million yen, but with savings on fuel, and tax reducts, in addition to its attractions as a family car make the “Noah Hybrid” an excellent package.
It was the most highly rated of all the cars we’d rode by my wife.
Thank you, Noah Hybrid.
Supplementary Information: The Specs
Here are the specs on the Noah
Model: DAA-ZWR80G-APXEB (Grade X)
Price (New): 3 million 10 thousand (rest rounded up)
Weight: 1610 kg
Engine: 2ZR-FXE (4-cylinder 16 valve DOHC)
Engine capacity: 1797 cc
Tire/Wheel: Front: 195/65 R15
Rear: 195/65 R15
Horsepower (motor): 99PS (82PS)
Max. Torque (motor): 14.5 kgf∙m (21.1 kgf∙m)
JC08 Mode fuel consumption: 23.8 km/L
Fuel: Regular unleaded gasoline