The Toyota Hiace was launched for the first time in 1967 and since then has been available in a wide range of body styles, being perfectly suited for various commercial applications.
The fifth generation was launched in 2004 and is offered as a wide long-wheelbase wagon, wide super-long-wheelbase high-roof "Grand Cabin", long-wheelbase van, long-wheelbase high-roof van and a wide super-long-wheelbase high-roof van.
One of the most significant interior upgrades made to the new model was the dash mounted gear knob.
Power comes from a range of four cylinder DOHC engines combined with manual or automatic transmissions. The Australian and Asian versions of the Hiace come with a different exterior design and unique technical specifications than the European models.
The Toyota Hiace comes with a typical Asiatic design with a huge windscreen and a vertical front end. Toyota’s designers have struggled to counteract the effect caused by the boxy shape of the van by giving it a set of clean body panels combined with a curved front end and a raked windscreen to improve the aerodynamics.
The short hood features two robust creases which point towards a modern chromed grille and the company’s badge is fitted directly on the hood, on top of the grille. The van also comes with a modern set of headlights which give it a touch of dynamism.
The front bumper features a pretty basic design, but it comes with integrated air dams at each side which regulate air flow, giving you a smooth and quiet ride.
The van it’s fitted with double side rear doors on the Super Long Wheelbase (SLWB) Van. The doors are wide and tall, and there is also a rear door strap on all models which makes loading and unloading a drama free affair.
Compared to the previous model, the new Hiace’s engine has been shifted forward to offer more interior space. The LWB offers 6.0 cubic meters of cargo capacity, whilst the SLWB van has a full 9.8 cubic metres of cargo volume.
Hop inside and you’ll find acres of space and a nice airy feel offered by the generous glass area that surrounds you.
The interior style is pretty minimalist with a robust dash a clean center stack and a simple instrument cluster. The plastics are of course part of the hard class, and the materials were chose for their durability.
Toyota never had problems when it comes to ergonomy, and all Hiace’s controls are placed within easy reach. We also like the newly introduced dash mounted gear knob which falls easy into the hand, but its position limits access to the HVAC controls.
As most vans of its type, the Hiace offers space for up to three occupants on the first row of seats. Though, the seats are pretty rudimentary and offer only basic support. The adjustments are also limited, but you won’t have any complains about the driving position.
The steering wheel is also pretty modern and comes with a series of useful adjustments to help you get more comfortable.
The all around viability is part of the first class and you can rely with confidence on the gargantuan door mirrors.
All Hiaces are fitted with a standard MP3 compatible CD player with AM/FM radio, voice recognition for audio and phone, USB audio input for certified iPod products, USB input as well as Bluetooth capabilities.
Other features include air conditioning with clean air filter, front power windows, remote central locking, in-dash CD player and clock, double wishbone type front suspension and rack and pinion power steering.
Engines and performance
The Toyota Hiace is offered with a choice of two engines and both of them are fairly refined and efficient. They also meet the Euro IV emission standards.
The first option is a twin cam VVT-i 2.7 litre petrol engine which comes with a peak power of 111kW at 4,800rpm with 241Nm of torque at 3,800rpm. The second engine is a 3.0 litre turbocharged intercooled common rail diesel that was especially developed for commercial applications. This engine cranks out 100 kW at 3400 rpm and 300 Nm of torque achieved between 1200 and 2400 rpm.
Both engines cope great with the utilitarian nature of the van, but the turbo unit is better suited for heavy loads transport, due to its superior low end torque.
The Hiace is available with a 4 speed automatic transmission which comes with electronic line pressure control based on engine speed, delivering smoother shifts and reducing ’shift-shock’.
Toyota Hiace Engines Specifications
|2.7 liter petrol||111 @ 4800||241 @ 3800|
|3.0 liter diesel||100 @ 3400||300 @ 1200-1400|
Ride and handling
Up front, the Hiace gets an independent double wishbone suspension with torsion bar spring, hydraulic dampers and anti-roll bar. The rear suspension configuration consists of rigid axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs with hydraulic dampers. The ride is pretty comfortable for a utility vehicle, and the road potholes won’t give you big headaches.
On the other hand, the boxy proportions of the van and its tall stance are translated into poor handling abilities and it has a pretty significant body roll in corners. The power steering isn’t great either and lacks any significant road feedback.
All Hiace models feature front ventilated disc brakes and rear drums, with an Anti-skid Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist (BA). Other safety systems include standard driver and passenger airbags.
The Toyota Hiace has always been among the top sellers in its segment and the new generation comes with a wide range of features which helped it continue to stay in front of the pack.
The van is reliable to the core and thanks to its high versatility help it can cope great with a wide range of applications. There are also both diesel and petrol engines on the offer so you can choose you preferred type of fuel. Both units are more than capable of dealing with heavy loads and they are also pretty refined and efficient.
The ride is better than expected, but the handling isn’t the best you’ll find around and the costs of spare parts are also pretty peppered.