Let’s face it, for a lot of Malaysians, the ideal family mover is not that fancy SUV. Instead, the ideal family mover, especially for those with young kids or elderly parents, is an MPV.
In Malaysia, the options for MPVs are aplenty, but we reckon that the ideal MPV is one that has powered sliding doors, thus narrowing down the selection by quite a fair bit.
For those shopping for a family MPV, the most affordable option that features power sliding doors is a brand-new C27 Nissan Serena.
Recond car dealers have started selling the Toyota Voxy (also sold as the Toyota Noah/Toyota Esquire) in Malaysia - itself a direct rival to the Nissan Serena in Japan. UMW Toyota Motor does not sell the Voxy in Malaysia.
Let’s take a closer look and see which one is better for your family.
Price – The Voxy is much cheaper
Thanks to the government’s recent attempt to revive the automotive sector (thanks Covid-19) by temporarily removing the 10% sales tax, the Nissan Serena’s price has been slashed by approximately RM 5,400, bringing the price down to RM 127,524 for the 2.0 Highway Star variant.
On the other hand, prices of the Toyota Voxy ranges from RM 100,000 to RN 168,000, depending on variant and equipment.
Keep in mind there no recond car dealer in the Klang Valley that will sell you the car at its advertised price. There are always some hidden charges and the customary 'processing fee', amounting to several thousand Ringgits, applies, further minimizing the price gap between a reconditioned Toyota Voxy and brand-new Nissan Serena.
Exterior – Won’t be winning any beauty awards, but that’s not the point
Don’t expect either the Nissan Serena or Toyota Voxy to win any beauty pageant awards as these family movers are designed for maximum practicality, not maximum style points.
Common to both MPVs are dual power-sliding doors – something that is often overlooked when people are shopping for a family mover. But what sets the Serena apart from the Voxy is its unique dual-opening tailgate – extremely useful when parking in tight spaces as it allows the tailgate to flip open in two different lengths.
While all variants of the Nissan Serena boast LED headlights, it isn’t quite the case with the Toyota Voxy.
Depending on the variant, the Toyota Voxy can be had with either halogen or LED headlights, so it’s best to check what headlights are fitted to the particular unit you’re looking at.
Interior – Where the magic happens
As explained in our earlier review of the Nissan Serena, having dual power-sliding doors make a world of difference.
Although the Voxy also gets power-sliding doors, you will need make sure that the Voxy you’re looking it has it on both sides, as only upper variants feature dual power-sliding doors. Lower variants only feature a power-sliding door on the left side.
Where the Voxy shines is the fact that some recond car dealers actually brought in Welcab versions of the Voxy, which is an added bonus for those ferrying elderly folks with mobility issues.
The Nissan Serena also gets a Clarion-sourced head unit with support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – something that isn’t readily available on the Toyota Voxy. You’ll need to source for an aftermarket head unit if you want Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the Voxy.
Recall that our earlier Deal Breaker article for the Serena was its poorly-implemented infotainment system that wasn’t hooked up to the car’s steering wheel control buttons, but ETCM has since rectified that issue on later batches of the Serena.
Safety – No competition, the Serena wins hands down
The Nissan Serena is offered with 6 airbags and stability control across the range – a massive step-up from the previous-generation model’s dual airbag offering.
On top of that, the Serena also offers a 360-degree view monitor dubbed Intelligent Around View Monitor (i-AVM).
You'll be surprised to know that not all Voxy models come with seven airbags. The standard spec is only three airbags (dual front, driver knee). Seven airbags are offered as a JPY 49,500 option in Japan.
If you're shopping for a Voxy, the easiest way to tell that it has more than three airbags is to find for the SRS airbag label on the A-pillars and sides of the seats.
Aftersales – ETCM has you covered, but you’re on your own with a recond Voxy
Seeing as the Nissan Serena is an official product by ETCM, it is covered by a 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty. ETCM also offers a 3-year/60,000-km free maintenance package with the Serena.
But it’s a totally different situation with the Voxy. Some recond dealers will also offer you the option of paying more for warranty. It's a good option for added peace of mind but as these are third-party warranties, the coverage varies. Read the terms and conditions carefully.
Conclusion – Hard to beat the Serena’s all-rounded appeal, but Voxy Welcab variants worth your attention
Despite its quirky looks, it’s really hard to beat the Nissan Serena’s all-rounded appeal – it offers excellent practicality for an entire family and sufficient safety equipment, wrapped up in ETCM’s comprehensive warranty and aftersales support.
Does that necessarily mean that the Toyota Voxy isn't worth your hard-earned Ringgit?
Not really, as the Voxy, especially disabled person-friendly Welcab version is a worthy your consideration. It's something no new MPV on sale in Malaysia offers so if you have elderly members of the family, a recond Voxy with Welcab seats is a really good buy.
All-in-all, both the Nissan Serena and Toyota Voxy are excellent options for those shopping for a practical family MPV. It's up to you to decide which one is worth your hard-earned Ringgit. Peace of mind of a fully warrantied new Nissan Serena, or a recond Voxy with disabled persons-friendly Welcab seats.