Minibuses are a great way to drive around moderate-sized groups comfortably and safely. Read on to find out how a Japanese minibus can be your perfect transporter, what to consider when buying one, and the current offerings on the market from Japanese and Korean automobile manufacturers.
Why Use a Minibus?
Minibuses are an excellent option for ferrying a small group of passengers to their destination. They are passenger transport specialty vehicles capable of seating 14 to 30 that slot in between multi-purpose vehicles and full-sized buses. Minibuses usually have substantial headroom as compared to minivans, and come fitted with comfortable bucket seats rather than the bench seats that are typical of vans.
What to Consider When Buying a Minibus
Here are some considerations you should make if you are thinking about buying a minibus.
Capacity and Accessibility
Besides the number of passengers you will be transporting on a normal trip, think about the types of people that will be in your vehicle. Minibuses can be modified, and are ideal transportation for passengers in wheelchairs.
Luggage and Equipment
Will your typical passenger be bringing luggage and equipment such as bikes, skis, or snowboards with them? You will want to find the right configuration to balance passenger seats and storage space.
New or Used
With a new minibus, you can be assured that it will be in excellent working condition and be accompanied by a full warranty. Buying used, however, can save you a substantial amount without much compromise on condition. As with second-hand purchases, buy the seller just as much as the vehicle; a trustworthy seller will ensure that their vehicles are in good working order and will back it with a warranty.
Here at BE FORWARD, we stock well-maintained, used minibuses in great condition and back them with our optional warranty coverage.
Best Japanese and Korean Minibus Brands
Some of the best minibus brands come out of Japan and Korea. Here are several popular models of minibuses with a few hidden gems thrown in as well.
The long-running Toyota Coaster is a single-decker minibus that boasts a seating capacity of up to 30 passengers within its spacious interior, and is popular for private recreational and tourist transport use. The series is also well-known for its abundance of built-in safety features and ringed body frame, making it easy to drive with peace of mind.
Toyota’s versatile HiAce light commercial vehicle line features minibus variants. Their sizable trunk space has made them equal parts people mover and cargo transporter.
Nissan’s Caravan is the ideal commuter vehicle for those looking for a high seating capacity. Its four doors, long body, high roof, and low floor allow it to transport up to 18 passengers in comfort (depending on the seating configuration).
The Vanette Coach is the minibus variant of the esteemed Nissan Vanette. It gets gas engines ranging from 1.2L to 2.4L, or a 2.0L diesel engine. Both 2WD and 4WD versions are available.
For those looking for even greater transporting power, opt for the Nissan Civilian. This single-decker minibus seats a total of up to 26 and is powered by engines like a 4.5L gas option and 4.9L turbo diesel option. The Civilian can be commonly found in service as an intercity or civilian bus in Japan.
The Mitsubishi Fuso Rosa is a strong contender in the minibus category. Fourth-generation releases of the highly versatile Rosa seat 16 to 33.
Hino’s Liesse is a minibus with a step floor used mainly as a city or tourist bus. Tight spaces are no obstacle for the first-generation model, which boasts a turning radius of only 5.8 meters. The Liesse model that is currently in production, the Liesse II, is a rebadged Toyota Coaster.
Hino’s other minibus, the Poncho, is another low step-floor bus used as a route bus in Japan. The first generation bears a dolphin nose at its front fascia, while the second generation, based on the Liesse, has a stubbed front. Short-body versions seat up to 29, while long-body Ponchos seat up to 36.
Small and middle-sized business owners will rejoice at the Isuzu Journey, a minibus capable of seating 29. Newer models are equipped with individual seat belts for safety assurance, and air-conditioner outlets for passenger comfort.
Isuzu’s lighter option is the Fargo minibus. Its simple design lends it an affordable price tag. The Fargo was discontinued in 2001, so it might not come with the same level of technology as current offerings on the market, but it nevertheless gets the job done.
The powerful diesel engines and comfortable seats of the Hyundai County compact bus continue to attract buyers all over the world. Previously offered with just a short body (15 to 25 passengers) and long body (20 to 30 passengers), the County has gotten an extra long body (26 to 34 passengers) since 2020 to accommodate larger groups. The County comes in various trims, so you will find one that fits your needs and budget.
The Grand Starex is Hyundai’s popular multiple award-winning minibus/van, which comes with several engine options including the highly efficient and environmentally friendly 2.5L inline four-cylinder CRDi diesel engine.
Hyundai’s Solati is the Korean manufacturer’s series of five-door light commercial vans. The caremaker’s passenger-carrying minibus version seats 14 to 17 even with its ample cargo space, and remains loyal to Hyundai’s core design principles of simplicity, ease of use, and safety.
Where to Get the Best Deals on Used Japanese and Korean Minibuses
Here at BE FORWARD, we stock used minibuses in great condition and back them with our optional warranty coverage. Don’t take a chance on your next used Japanese or Korean minibus purchase — shop our large selection of well-mainted Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Hino, Isuzu, and Hyundai minibuses. With over 200 in stock and ready to be shipped all over the world, you can save big only at BE FORWARD!
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