This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s completely revamped HiAce range. There is a choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, long wheel base or super long wheel base, panel or crew cab. We were lucky to back to back to back three different versions. There is the LWB V6 petrol van, LWB diesel crew cab, and hi-roof diesel super long wheel base.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.8L diesel, 3.5L petrol V6, and six speed autos in the vehicles tested. There is a six speed manual available but for the LWB panel van version only. The free spinning V6 produces 207kW (6,000rpm) and 351Nm (4,600rpm). The diesel has 130kW (3,400rpm) and either 420Nm for the manual (1,400rpm – 2,600rpm) or 450Nm (1,600rpm 2,400rpm) in the auto. Economy is quoted as 8.2L/100km for the petrol auto LWB, 8.4L/100km for the auto Crew Cab, and the same for the SLWB diesel auto van.What Does It Cost?: The range starts at $38,640 for the 3.5L LWB and $48,640 for the same engine inside the SLWB. The diesels are $42,140 for the LWB van, $47,140 for the crew cab, and $52,140 for the SLWB van. That’s before on road costs and dealership fees.
On The Outside It’s: Big. Boxy. Has a bonnet. That’s about it. Oh, the hi-roof has a ….. high roof. It’s 2,280mm in height which makes it 80mm too tall for some shopping centre car park entries. Otherwise there is 1,990mm for the panel and crew cab vans. Overall lengths are over five metres. The LWB is 5,265mm and has a 3,210mm wheelbase. The SLWB is 5,915mm in length and has a wheelbase of 3,860mm. Width is 1,950mm.There’s no doubt that Toyota’s designers and engineers worked hard together to ensure the design is familiar and efficient, with a profile not dissimilar to the previous model from the rear to the front doors. It’s that bonnet that showcases the change in design, with the extra frontal safety it brings and a balance to the weight distribution. Both sides of the van have sliding doors with a soft touch close. Glass is standard, changing that for steel is optional.
Up front is a nose that stands proud of the rest of the body and houses a squarish grille and surround, squarish headlights, and even squarish wing mirrors. This echoes the overall body before the long rectangles of the tail light cluster. The LWB petrol has grey plastic panels (body colour optional), with the Crew Cab and SLWB had body coloured panels. Rubber is from Bridgestone and is 215/70/16 on steel wheels with plastic covers.
On The Inside It’s: A revamped driver’s cabin with an easy to read dash display, steering wheel tabs, and Toyota’s easy to use 7.0 inch touchscreen system. The seats are all cloth covered, and the Crew Cab has a centre console tray. The SLWB and the petrol van have painted metal and sheet wood interiors on the doors and rear panels. There’s tie down hooks and in the SLWB enough space to double as a Sydney apartment. It also has two storage shelves above the driver and passenger. Volumes for the new HiAce are decent. The SLWB is 9.3 cubic metres, with the LWB rated as 6.2 cubic metres. The payload for the SLWB is 1,175kg for the diesel, with the petrol somewhat oddly higher at 1,295kg. The LWB auto diesel is 955kg, and the diesel crew is 875kg.Dimensions are rated as 2,530mm in cargo length, 1,760mm in width, 1,268mm between the arches, and 1,340mm in height for the LWB van. Inside the SLWB it’s 3,180mm, 1,760mm, 1,268mm, and a decent 1,615mm in height. The Crew Cab is the same for height and width as the LWB.What was a surprise was how car-like it was in layout and features. For example, DAB audio is onboard along with the CD player, USB ports and 12V socket. The driver’s 4.2 inch information screen is colour, not monochrome, and there’s a good list of safety features. The Crew Cab has 9 airbags, with the LWB petrol and SLWB diesel both scoring seven. The love continues with an active Pre-Collision Safety System with day AND night time pedestrian detection, plus day time cyclist detection. Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Blind Spot Monitor are also here. THEN there is Road Sign Assist to add in plus a reverse camera with guidance lines and a nifty feature here too. A second camera is linked to the rear vision mirror and shows rear vision without Reverse gear. What hasn’t changed is one small yet familiar detail. On the passenger side and in its little nook behind the sliding door is the jack and tools for it. That essentially hasn’t changed for four decades.On The Road It’s: A car disguised as a van. Yep, that’s the easiest way to describe the way it rides and handles, even with the compromise light commercial oriented rubber. Yes, there is some grip issue occasionally, but that’s more a minor hiccup. The suspension is MacPherson struts meets a leaf sprung rigid axle, and it works admirably. Comfort levels on road are high, as a result, with a well controlled ride. However, it’s not recommended to drive these on windy days. That flat and boxy profile makes an excellent sail for catching wind.Steering is an unusual feel and not in a bad way. The driver’s seat is some 1,200mm behind the front wheel’s centreline yet it’s calibrated so that it feels as if the driver is sitting directly over the top. The ratio is quick, too, with what feels like a variable ratio setup. This makes a three point turn seem less onerous that what it can be, especially with long wheelbases.
Naturally there’s plenty of drumming from road noise. As there’s little to no insulation, the road noise gets very easily transmitted up and into the cabin. The SLWB especially has the driver feeling as if a pair of noise cancelling headphones are required. The petrol V6 has some serious urge and will launch the 2205kg (dry) van easily and with alacrity. It wasn’t tried but with traction control turned off, it’s a fair bet it would spin the rear driven wheels into a cloud of smoke. It’s silky smooth and spins without issue. The diesels pull hard, naturally, yet don’t seem to have the same electric urge expected. And being ahead of the driver their chatter is muted.What About The Warranty? Here is what Toyota says.
At The End Of The Drive. They were and continue to be a familiar shape on Aussie roads, thanks to one particular telco giant’s constant order base. This latest version, complete with car-like ride and car-like features, can do naught but reinforce why it’s been a mainstay of Light Commercial Vehicles (or Large Capable Vans) for four decades or so. The pricing is pretty decent here too, and that goes a long way to cementing the HiAce’s status as the go-to vehicle for this class.
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