Sunday, September 27, 2009

ICE Your Toyota Alphard

One of the common questions posted by many new Toyota Alphard owner is “How do I ICEed my giant”? ICE stands for In Car Entertainment and what the owner is asking for is basically how to improve the sound quality of the audio/video system that come with the car.

If your giant already comes standard with 5.1 theatre sound systems, it already has a very decent sound system. However if you wanted even better sound quality then most straightforward path to improve sound quality is to swap the stock speakers with a set of component speakers. Since the 5.1 theatre sound systems comes with 8 speakers, then you have to decide which speakers you should swap out.

A component speaker is a car audio speaker matched for optimal sound quality. Each component speaker set typically comes with two mid-bass speakers, two tweeters and two crossovers. This setup allows the pair of tweeters and mid-bass drivers to be matched with the crossover to limit the frequency range of each speaker to be accurately reproduced. Also the mid bass speakers are physically separated from the tweeter, which is very directional, so that each can be placed in an optimal position. The tweeters are usually on the dash facing the listener, while the larger mid-bass speakers can be placed where there is room, often in the lower front of the car doors. The Toyota Alphard front doors can accommodate a mid-bass speaker with size up to 6.5”. The stock tweeters in the Toyota Alphard are hidden in the door pillar. Most component speaker tweeter will not fit in the pillar so many owners will choose to mount the tweeters on the dash.

In the ICE circle, some of the branded component speaker manufacturers are DLS, Dynaudio, Eclipse, Infinity, RS Audio, Alpine and Pioneer. Again the decision to go with which component speakers will depends on one budget. The lower end component speakers from some of these manufacturer can be bought for slightly less than RM1,000.00 while the higher end one will exceed RM3,000.00. If you want to have a complete swap out, then you might even want to replace the center speaker, the rear speakers and the active subwoofer (under the seat) with something better.

If your giant doesn’t come with 5.1 theatre sound system, the number of components you need to add/swap will be bigger. The sound quality of the stock head unit is rather limited. To improve the sound quality, other than swapping in a set of component speakers, you may also want to install either a CD Receiver or a DVD Receiver depending on the type of sounds you are looking for. If you are very much into pure sounds then you might want to go with a CD Receiver. If you also want to be able to support DVD playback, then you can choose a DVD Receiver that allow you to play DVD and also CD. Also, the Receiver will have built in radio tuner which gives you a better reception for local radio station frequency. Since the component speakers are matched for the mid and higher frequency range, you will need to a subwoofer to produce the proper low frequency range. Finally you will need an amplifier with the proper power handling to drive theses speakers. That’s the reason why there is this saying that once you are into ICE, there is no end to how much you need to spend in order to fine tune the sound systems. It all depends on your budget. Another important factor is the tuning skills of your ICE installer. If they have done a good job, even a less expensive sound system will sound pretty good to most people.

In the next post, I’ll blog what I have done to the sound system in my giant.

Cousin's 80 Years Grand Birthday Celebration

Last weekend I drove back to Ipoh to attend my cousin brother birthday celebration. The typical impression when one speaks about their cousin is that their age is usually close to the person talking about it. However in my clan, my brothers and sisters are born much later so in terms of age most of my cousins (in fact 10 of them) are much older than us. My family has moved to Kuala Lumpur since the 1960s but almost all my cousins remained in Ipoh. So this trip is the first time I met most of my cousin brothers and sisters in Ipoh when we attended my 5th cousin brother's 80 years grand birthday!

In Chinese tradition, whenever someone has reached the age of 80 years old, the family members will usually organized a grand birthday party (Tai Sow) for him/her. The objective is mainly to celebrate the longevity of life for reaching 80 years of age. The celebration was held in a restaurant at Pasir Pinji with 25 tables filled with family members, relatives from the clan and friends of the family.

Instead of the normal wedding decoration, the main stage was decorated with the simple wording of Longevity.

Just like the in thing in any wedding dinner where there is slideshow of the wedding photos, my cousin's family also has a slide show of the childhood and life photos of my 5th cousin brother and his family over the years. Of course most of the photos are in black and white given that he was born in the 1920s.

The foods served are also worded to add meanings to the longevity theme. A total of 8 dishes were served.
The very first dish that is a must in any grand birthday is the Sow Bao (Longevity Bun).

The rest of the dishes include four seasons, fish, chicken, prawn, vegetable, longevity noodles and sweet desserts.

You might noticed that all the serving plates used to serve the food are huge, to go along with the theme of Tai (big)

After the meal, the "Sow Sing Kong" (as we call him in Cantonese) then goes through the cake cutting, pouring of wines and then a simple "Yam Seng" cheer with the guests.

One thing I learned from this experience is that life is a long and winding road. There are many decades for one to traverse but one should cherish every moments. When you celebrate your 80 years old grand birthday later with your family and relatives, you know you have come a long way and you can look forwards to the next decade. I still have a long way to go in this winding road and I want to enjoy every moments I can.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Drove the Giant to Ipoh

Over the weekend I took my giant out for a long distance drive for the very first time. The last trip was really a short stop and go type of driving so this trip gave me a real feels for the drive of this car on the highway.

The journey to Ipoh took about slightly more than 2 hours as I was sticking to the speed limits of the highway. Also there were plenty of cars on the highway even though it was the first day of the Hari Raya festival holiday. The drive was very smooth as there was not a single start and stop situation which is very good considering that the day before there were reports of congestions on most of the highways.

Overall the power of the 2.4L engine of my giant is adequate for the journey on most stretch of the road except when going uphill. Once the car slow down due to slower traffic in front it takes a bit more revving to push the car up the hill and to maintain the speeds so not to slow down those behind me. Since I have two elder passengers in my car I don't want to push it too fast and scare them off as this is the first time they rode in my car!

I was also very happy with the performance of the Toyo Proxes C1S tyres that I recently changed. They are really quiet and have plenty of grips.

My last trip to Ipoh was almost 10 years ago so I was kind of lost my direction trying to get to my destination once I was in Ipoh city center. I have to call my sister who is staying to Ipoh to guide me to get to my destination. Once I get my orientation I find that it was really easy to drive around Ipoh.

During my two days stay I didn't really get much chance to explore the town as I was there to attend a dinner. I was hoping to try the famous Lo Wong Ngar Choi Kai (chicken with bean sprout) on the 2nd day but it was so packed that people are waiting under the hot sun to get their seats. I guess I forgot that it was the 1st day of Hari Raya and every Ipoh-born folks are probably comes back in town to sample their famous local delicacies. Since we didn't have much times so we opted for the wan tan noodle and the salted chicken at the coffee shop opposite Lo Wong.

The return trip to KL was also very smooth. I actually checked the advisory from the Plus Highway website and took their advice to start the journey at 3:00pm. Surprisingly the whole journey coming back was very smooth even though the traffic was pretty heavy and I was able to keep to the speed limit most of the time. With only a short stop in the Tapah rest area I reached KL just slightly after 5:30pm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Body Colour of 1st Gen Toyota Alphard

I have a question from a reader on what are the colour choices available for 1st Gen Alphard.

I went through the 1st Gen Alphard catalogues and have extracted the following colour chart.

For pre-facelift, there are 8 colours to choose from:

From top left to bottom right the colours are: White Mica, Silver Metallic, Black Mica, Bordeaux Mica (Maroon), Gold Metallic, Light Green Mica Metallic, Dark Blue Mica, Grey Pearl Toning.

For new facelift, there are 7 colour choices as shown below:

From top to bottom the colours are: White Mica, Grey Metallic, Silver Metallic, Black Mica, Maroon, Gold Metallic, Dark Blue Mica.

Do note that the popular colour choice are White, Silver and Black. The rest are pretty rare as most dealers would rather deal with the popular colour. If you are looking for a less popular choice then you might need to ask the dealer to specifically source one for you.

Hope this help you in making a decision which colour to go for.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Model Code for Pre-Facelift Toyota Alphard MZG

I have previously writes about the model code for new-facelift Toyota Alphard MZG. During my visit to two dealers this week while helping a reader of mine to search for his MZG, I also found the model code for pre-facelift MZG.

The Alphard G MZG carries the following model codes:

MNH10-PFPQK-G for 2WD model
MNH15-PFPQK-G for 4WD model

The Alphard V MZG carries the following model codes:

MNH10-PFPQK-P for 2WD model
MNH15-PFPQK-P for 4WD model

I think with these information I am ready to compile a list of all the model codes for 1st Gen Toyota Alphard as I mentioned in my previous post.

Watch this space for the table pretty soon.

Update: I have uploaded the table here. Click the link to download it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Searching for Toyota Alphard MZG

I have a reader of my blog contacted me offline to request for some input on his search for an MZG. He was considering various options whether to go for new facelift model which carry a much higher price or look for aregistered pre-facelift MZG and use the savings to facelift the car. He read my blog and we exchanged emails on what are the best options to go for.

Yesterday we arranged to meet up at two dealers to view 3 units of MZG. The first unit was a white colour full spec 2004 MZG. It has twin power doors, sunroof+moonroof, front and rear camera, leather seats, electric curtains, theatre sound systems, roof-mounted LCD, front electric seat and heater for both the front seats, adjustable suspension. It just came out from the bonded area so it was not really in it best condition. It looks like this unit was heavily used by the owner and his passenger as both the front seats are rather worn. The middle and rear seat are still in very good condition. The nice feature of this car is that it comes with 18-inch sport rims. The only down side is that the rim caps are all missing. Also the dealer was not able to show us the smart key and the head unit was not fitted yet. The dealer is asking for about RM198K which is about the same price I surveyed back in January this year. It seems the appreciation of the Japanese Yen has kept the price of the 2004 MZG at the same level.

Next to the white MZG is a registered black colour 2006 MZG. It also has full spec and the interior looks clean and has low mileage. It comes with standard 16-inch rims and has no body kit so the previous owner has kept it stock standard. The asking price of RM245K is slightly on the high side considering that a unregistered unit is going for about RM268K or slight lower. But given that it is a full spec model, it is not a bad choice if one is desperate to get one. The only downside is that it is considered a 2nd hand unit so the bank would normally not offer high loan amount.

The 3rd unit was what this reader really keen on. He saw the advertisement in Motor Trader and has actually viewed the car the day before. We met up at another dealer to view this car and it was a surprised discovery. The reader was attracted to the fact that it was advertised as a 2005 new facelift model registered in Jan 2009. From the exterior, it looks very much like a new facelift model as it has the new light clusters. Also it has been retrofitted with MS-style body kit and MS sports rims. However when I looked inside, there is no way this is a real new facelift model. The head unit gave it away as it is the smaller sized HU from the pre-facelift model. Then a check on the toolbox cover confirmed that it is a manufactured in March 2004! The smart key is from the pre-facelift model. The model code of this car shows that it is a pre-facelift MZG. The previous owner must have done a facelift of the car (front and back) and then try to sell it off as new facelift model. When we looked at the registration card, we are surprised how did the previous owner managed to register it as a 2005 model when it is in reality a 2004 model.

With this discovery, the reader suddenly has more bullets to bargain for a much lower price. Now it is up to the dealer to decide if they want to reduce the price or the reader move on with this search.

I am happy to help out the reader with this kind of research as I felt more confident now with the knowledge I have gained in the last 9 months learning about Toyota Alphard. I am glad that I was able to help him in his search for an MZG. Hope he will find his unit pretty soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More On Toyota Alphard 1st Gen Model Code

As I was looking for the Toyota Alphard MZG model code I saw there is prefix and suffix that I was not familiar with. So I search the web again and found that it does provide some identification information to a particular model.

For example, the model code ANH10W-PRPGK from this table shows that it is a 2.4L AX 8-seaters model. However if you look at the model code in the faceplate of the car, it is probably listed as CBA-ANH10W-PRPGK-V. This model code tells you that it is a pre-facelift 2.4L AX 8-seaters Alphard V model. If you come across the model code as DBA-ANH10W-PFPGK, without the suffix, then you know that it is a new-facelift 2.4L AX 8-seaters Alphard G model. The CBA prefix is the code for pre-facelift while the DBA prefix is the code for new-facelift for the 2.4L model.

Similarly when you see a model code of TA-MNH10W-PRPGK-V, this is code for a pre-facelift 3.0L MX 8-seaters Alphard V model. You would imagine that there should be a different prefix for the new-facelift model. Right? Unfortunately, the same TA prefix is used for 3.0L model from 2002 to 05/2007 as well! What? You might be asking why is such an inconsistency for the 3.0L model? Well I don't have an answer for that.

And then, in 06/2007 onward, the prefix for the 3.0L model suddenly changes to CBA again. So a CBA-MNH10W-PRAGK is a 3.0L MX 8-seaters Alphard G model. Note that for the MX, the model code is now changed to PRAGK while those from 04/2005 are FRAGK and PFPGK for those from 05/2002-03/2005.

As for the suffix, those Alphard G models with the side lift seat will end with “-W” instead of “-L”. I even found that the Alphard G MX/AX L-Edition has the suffix of "-S" for cars from 06/2007 onward while the Alphard V MX/AX L-Edition has the suffix of "-X". Now I know why my model code ended with an "-X".

Now the other interesting part is that the model code for the 3.0L MS 7-seaters Alphard G is FFPSK from 02/2002 - 03/2005 while the rest remain PFPSK. Again I am as confused as you why Toyota would want to make such a small change.

Luckily these inconsistencies only apply to the MX and MS model. Imagine how many codes one has to refer to if every other model also has different codes from one year to another. Phew.

For now I guess the best way for you to make references to these model codes is to print out all the old brochures from the Toyota website that I listed in this post. I wish I can show a long table with all these codes but it will take a long time for me to compile that. Watch this space.

Update: I have uploaded the table here. Click the link to download it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Model Code for Toyota Alphard MZG

When I was researching for the model code of 1st gen Toyota Alphard, I didn't see the actual model code for MZG. What is listed in that table only shows that MZG is just another variant of MZ.

During today TT with a group of AOC members, I saw the model code of two different MZG and that bring back my continue research on this subject. The reason to continue with this is due to the fact that even though both are MZG models, one car has more features and fittings that another. Because of that, I started going back to the Net and found the following.

The Alphard G MZG carry the following model codes:

MNH10-PFKAQ-G for 2WD model
MNH15-PFKAQ-G for 4WD model

The Alphard V MZG carry the following model codes:

MNH10-PFKAQ-R for 2WD model
MNH15-PFKAQ-R for 4WD model

It is also interesting to note that Alphard G MZG supplied by Toyopet seems to have fuller specification that those Alphard V MZG supplied by Netz. The Alphard V MZG that I saw today was missing the front camera and 5.1 theatre sound system which I read is supposed to be a standard feature in an MZG. At least in today research I found it it not the case. There seems to be so much more to learn about the specifications of these giants from Toyota!

The New AOC Website

I was rather busy lately putting some finishing touch to the AOC website. This is my first experiment with this type of work so I was spending quite a lot of time researching on this subject and have not put up any new post on the giant. I have finally put together a simple website as I learn along the way.

The new website is now live at I will continue to enhance on this website as I find time to do that. A group of AOC members plan to register AOC as a club and this website will serve as the base for this club. Let see how this will planned out.

I also have spent quite a bit of time researching on setting up a new forum for Alphard Owners Club. I have done all the ground work and have open it to a small group of Alphard Owners. So far I think we have work out all the logistic for the new forum and now we are really to open it to the rest.

If you are viewing our new AOC website, you'll see a link at the top that bring you to our new forum or you can reach us directly at

This is for registered member only so when you get to that forum home page, you'll have to register yourself and wait for the approval email from the Administrator before you activate your registration.

Hope you'll have a fun time in this new forum.


Updates: After almost one year and 3 months, there is still no sign that the official Alphard Owner Club of Malaysia will be up and running. Therefore, the AOC website will have no updates until such time when the AOC is officially formed.