Toyota Proace review: Family van scores well on quality and load capacity
Capable of carrying up to nine people, it goes up against popular rivals such as the Volkswagen Caravelle, looking to offer a comfortable and spacious vehicle with decent on-road handling.
It's based on the standard Proace panel van, which means that it'll offer all the practicality associated with a commercial vehicle, but with more creature comforts. We've tested the 'Family' model in the line-up, which comes with eight seats more suited to daily driving.
Of course, a large van is never going to be the most subtly styled of vehicles.
That said, the Proace Verso isn't all that bad looking, with chrome trim pieces lifting the front of the car. The large sliding side doors are electrically operated, which makes opening them a whole lot easier. The rear of the car is nicely designed too, though it's a tough job to disguise the Proace's sheer size.
Toyota still has an excellent reputation for reliability, which means many will be attracted to the Verso for its dependability. However, it does lack some brand image when compared with manufacturers such as Volkswagen.
It's not hard to work out that the Proace is going to be a practical car. With all three rows of seats up, there isn't much boot space however. Those rear seats are a little cramped though, and best suited for children.
We tested the Compact 'Family' specification car, which is the smallest in the range. As such, it comes with 282 litres of boot space with all of the seats up, while the 'Medium' and 'Long' variants get 627 and 977 litres respectively.
If you're willing to remove the third row, even the Compact will offer 1,242 litres of space - more than enough for any situation. A plus point is that if the Compact doesn't offer the room you require, then there are two more body styles to choose from.
For a family van based on a commercial vehicle, the Proace Verso drives surprisingly well. The seating position is high, as you'd expect, but the steering wheel is nicely adjustable, meaning that it isn't tricky to get comfortable.
The seat is simple to move and our test car featured luxury extras such as seat heating and massage. Though more than you'd expect from an MPV, they come as neat touches that help give the Verso a more premium feel.
Up and running, the experience is pretty decent. Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel producing just shy of 150bhp (in our test car), the Verso makes quick and easy progress. Its six-speed manual gearbox has a decent action to it, while the steering has a good feel.
Because of the Compact's smaller size, it's a van that is easily manoeuvrable while also offering an impressively small turning circle. This will suit those looking to use it around town and need a van that isn't tricky to get through smaller spaces. The ride is also good, with potholes and bumps in the road absorbed well. There's not a huge amount of wind or road noise either.
Priced from just under £33,000, this mid-range Proace Verso certainly isn't a cheap vehicle. That said, it does offer a good amount of standard equipment. It gets a seven-inch touchscreen which houses satellite navigation, while Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration are standard, too.
At this price point, there's a decent amount of competition. Standard seven-seat cars such as the SEAT Alhambra and Ford Galaxy come into play here, offering better on-road characteristics and more interior space when all three rows of seats are raised.
The Proace Verso comes with Toyota's five-year warranty, meaning that there won't be too many additional costs after purchase. Running costs are minimal too, with the 2.0-litre diesel returning 53.5mpg and emitting an impressive 139g/km CO2. This will mean fewer trips to the pump and lower vehicle tax too.
If you're looking to transport up to eight people in comfort, then the Proace Verso isn't such a bad choice. Other rivals may offer more interior space, but the Proace returns their fire by bringing with it a more usable load space - especially with the third row of seats removed.
Starting at just under £30,000, there's no doubt that the Proace Verso is a sizeable priced MPV. However, with good levels of interior quality and an acceptable drive, it seems worth the money. With three body styles to choose from as well, there should be something for everyone.
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