2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid Review: Big House

Lionel Kong
2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The large luxury MPV from Toyota is a vehicle that’s so packed, it might as well have its own address

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid

Launched: September 2023 – Price: S$424,888 with COE (Nov 2023)
Five-door, large MPV, seven seats
247hp, 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, 5.8L/100km

Easier to drive than it looks
Luxurious interior
Good visibility

Engine note is buzzy
Middle seat of rear bench is a compromise


MPVs, also known in full as multi-purpose vehicles, or sometimes as people movers, are a kind of vehicle class that incites all sorts of love-hate reactions from drivers and passengers. The large ones are imposing and styled like luxurious vans or minibuses from the outside, they are never about driving dynamics, but all about moving lots of people around comfortably.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

In this case, we have the new Toyota Vellfire Hybrid arriving in Singapore to show everyone else how it’s done with style, once again. Despite its mainstream reputation as a builder of reliable, reasonably priced cars like the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid and the little Sienta Hybrid MPV, Toyota is an automotive giant that also brought us generations of exciting sports cars and luxury vehicles.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The Vellfire does have a lot in common with the other big MPV in the Toyota stable, the Alphard. It’s a sign of how much into the details this segment of the car buying public looks out for when you can put out two similar sized large MPVs and expect both to do well.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

If you’ve seen the asking price for this big hunk of metal then you’ll know it’s not a simple utilitarian car. Costing more than S$400k with COE, it’s a car/van/bus that is all about the luxurious comforts of the passenger ride.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

It’s a car that comes with a wide array of powertrain configurations around the world, but the official Singapore-imported version here is a petrol-electric hybrid with a 2.5-litre engine. It’s one of Toyota’s most versatile ‘big-bore’ four-cylinder hybrid drive systems, and the same basic engine block can also be found in cars like the Lexus ES 300h and Toyota Harrier Hybrid in different states of tune.

Like in those other cars in the wider Toyota family, the power unit drives the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission, though in the Vellfire Hybrid’s case there are sequential paddle shifters on the steering wheel to set the transmission to one of five preset ‘gears’. This is more for better engine braking control than acceleration. 

If you already own a large MPV like a Nissan Serena e-Power or a Toyota Previa, then you’ll know what the deal is. If you’ve never driven or rode in a car of this size before, then it can be quite an eye-opener.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

Despite its boxy proportions that, like a van, is all about maximising the interior space while still being dimensionally able to fit into a city garage space, the Vellfire Hybrid drives more like a big luxury car than anything else. The driver’s seat is a little more upright compared to most SUVs, but there is very little reconfiguration of your senses needed here. The dashboard is covered in leather and the premium feel of the car is one of a real luxury vehicle.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The second row, accessed through the motorised sliding doors, are two individual seats that appear to be pulled right out of the business class section of an airliner. They feature full motorised recline and massage functions, operated through the control bank on the armrest or by the pull-out controller that looks like a smartphone.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

There’s also a fully operational three-pin electric socket on the centre console.

Besides the motorised window shades, what sets the Vellfire apart from its contemporaries is its ceiling. The moonroof opens in two sections on each side as the centre section of the ceiling is given over to a full bank of features for various lights, air-con vents, and ventilation controls.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

You can customise the colour of the ambient lighting, and the second row gets dedicated, directable reading lights that are separate from the ambient and interior lighting.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The third row is a standard full-width bench that seats three, and it’s so roomy in the car that you simply walk through the centre to get to the back. While you don’t get any of the fancy massage and motorised reclining seats at the back, it’s a comfortable space that rivals that of many large sedans. There is enough space behind that you can manually tilt the seat backs down and have a nice relaxing nap even in the third row, something that smaller MPVs do not have space for.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The problem in the back, literally, for the third row is that it’s a 50:50 split fold bench. So the passenger in the middle is seated on the break in the seats and while not entirely uncomfortable it’s still the worst seat in the house considering how great the other seats are.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

Unlike the Toyota Previa which featured a third row that folded flat into the floor when you need more boot space, the rearmost row in the Vellfire is folded up to the sides and out of the way, the same as in some small MPVs like the Honda Freed. Yet because of thow the angles of view are designed, they do not block the driver’s rearward vision at all. Boot space is large, but the van-like rear door requires a lot of space to open fully.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

Another point of interest is that the switch to open the rear hatch isn’t on the door itself, but hidden in the tail light assembly on both sides. Clever design or double the chance of eventual equipment failure?

Can you see the buttons that activate the motorised rear hatch?

The car’s total power output is quoted as 247 horsepower. You don’t expect a car the size of a small house to drive dynamically, but you want it composed and predictable. This, it delivers. However the engine noise is intrusive simply because how quiet the car can be in all-electric cruising mode. So whenever the petrol engine snaps on, the dull four-cylinder engine buzz is noticeable simply because it wasn’t there before. Real world fuel economy came in at around 6.5 to 7.0L/100km with four occupants onboard, which is pretty good even by petrol-electric hybrid standards.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

With the chassis built on the optimised TNGA platform that claims to have a 50 percent rigidity increase over the previous-generation car, it really does offer up a smooth drive. Even third row seats, typically the bumpiest one in a three-row MPV, is almost billiard table smooth as the car’s suspension soaks up the bumps.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

The full suite of Toyota’s active safety features are in the car, including lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. They all add confidence to driving the 5-metre long car, and what else is surprising is that despite the absence of four-wheel steering the car is very easy to reverse into carpark spots. The 360-degree camera helpfully shows you where the car’s four wheels are through the animated image, which really helps in manoeuvring in tight spaces.

2023 Toyota Vellfire Hybrid in Singapore

This is a bonafide luxury car that’s designed for being driven around in. Which is why you see so many of them in Singapore doing the run between the city and airport on the expressway for concierge service providers. But it faces competition from the new Maxus Mifa 9, which is all-electric and does much of the same functions. The excess gadgetry on the passenger space of the Vellfire is great for some razzle and dazzle, but in a small country like Singapore where the airport shuttle takes only 20 minutes or so, it does feel over the top.

Is it a family car? Only if you enjoy the feel of being a luxury bus driver. It’s a car best enjoyed as a passenger even though the driver experience is quite relaxing as well. Yet, if you want to go even better, there’s the even more luxurious Lexus LM that has just arrived too.


Toyota Vellfire Hybrid

DrivetrainPetrol-electric full hybrid
Engine2,487cc, inline 4
Power191hp at 6000rpm
Torque235Nm at 4100rpm
Electric MotorNot stated
System Power247hp
0-100km/h11.3 seconds
Top Speed170km/h
VES BandingB / neutral
Fuel Efficiency5.8L/100km
AgentBorneo Motors
PriceS$424,888 with COE
Verdict:Large, luxurious and inviting, the standard-setting MPV is a car best enjoyed from the passenger seats


Hybrid luxury MPV people mover Toyota Vellfire

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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