Any truck driver will tell you trucks are the lifeblood of their country, however it’s all too easy to overlook the smaller commercial vehicles. Toyota’s HiAce has been at the forefront of this field for close to fifty years and A Wheel Thing checks out the latest, diesel powered iteration of the venerable Toyota HiAce to ask if it’s white goods on wheels..
It’s big, boxy and white. It has four tyres and they’re about the only round things you’ll see as even the head and tail lights have straight edges. If you’re looking for a HiAce with curves you’d need to go back to the 1970s or ’80s…
There’s a huge lifting tail gate, the standard left hand mounted sliding door and, well, that’s about it.
Overall length is 4695 mm, height is 1980 mm and width is 1695 mm and the HiAce sits on a 2570 mm wheelbase. Kerb weight is surprisingly high at 1835 kilos and has a payload of 965 kg. Wheels are steel and 15 inch diameter wrapped in high profile 195 tyres. Colourwise, Toyota does offer silver, blue, a shade of yellow and red.
Toyota’s trusty diesel 3.0L engine power the HiAce; it’s torquey (300 of them at 1200 revs) and runs through an automatic transmission. Given that the vehicle is essentially a box on wheels it’s noisy, very noisy, under acceleration (unladen). Off the throttle it’s ok but there still was a level of noise.
Said auto is a four speeder, an unusual choice in A Wheel Thing’s eye; however, being a low revver with that torque it appears to unneccessary to go “modern”. Having said that, economy isn’t great, with a claimed 10.9L per 100 kays for an urban cycle. One can only wonder what that figure would be with something from the 21st century…The tank is 70 litres in capacity which, theoretically, should still offer over 600 kilometres worth of travel easily.
On The Inside.
There’s a couple of concessions to modernity here; the steering wheel has audio controls and voice recognition for Bluetooth, the CD player/radio has RDS (Radio Data Service), central locking, reverse camera (in the rear vision mirror) and there’s airconditioning.
Remembering that this is a non fitted out commercial vehicle, there’s plenty of white painted metal, sheets of thin wood, lashings of vinyl and the dash, plus a few simple storage spots. It’s a basic yet ergonomic layout at the front whilst the rear cargo door gets a pull down strap due to the height it opens up. The side opening cargo door hasn’t changed in basic design for years and remains superbly easy to use.
The driver sits directly atop the engine’s location and on the front wheel line, providing a higher perspective for vision. There are some angles where the side mirrors make it hard to see onward coming traffic from the rear however these are mainly at certain roundabouts.
Cargo volume is massive, 6000 litres worth of useable space thanks to a cargo area length (mm) 2930, width (mm) 1545 and height (mm) 1335.
On The Road.
Understeer is a major issue straight up. It’s a slow ratio steering box, requiring around four turns lock to lock. Corners need to be planned for well in advance as does braking. For a vehicle that weighs as much as it does plus the ability to carry nearly a tonne of cargo, it’s horribly underbraked.
The diesel, as mentioned is noisy but no doubt due to the lack of cargo in the vehicle. That also contributes to the bouncy ride, with the van’s rear feeling as if it’s off the ground going over speed bumps.
Acceleration via the auto is decent enough thanks to the barely above idle rev point for maximum torque, seeing 60 kmh in around 8 seconds. The box itself is a bit agricultural in its shifting and thunks noticeably when shifting from Reverse to Drive.
The HiAce diesel auto has a driveaway price of around $43600 (go here for your pricing: http://www.toyota.com.au/hiace/prices) for a private buyer and a few hundred more for business. Remembering what its designed purpose is and that it was driven with no cargo, the HiAce is back to basics motoring, in one sense. Given that virtually every one of them sold ends up with a business, like a huge percentage of its forebears, Toyota has left well enough alone in regards to design. Engineering wise, that’s maybe not so good. A better gearbox, better steering and better brakes would go a long way.
To check out the HiAce range, click here: http://www.toyota.com.au/hiace/range.