When Toyota find a vehicle that works they tend to stick with it for a long time. And that is certainly true when it comes to the HiAce van.
2019 saw the first all-new platform for the nameplate in 15 years and it is really a completely new vehicle from the ground up.
There is a new chassis, new engines, passenger-car safety, and a host of new technology with the old cab-over-engine format now gone and a longer but more dynamic semi-bonneted design stepping in. Of course the load carrying standards the HiAce is known for still remains.
Fitted with either a 3.5-litre V6 petrol or a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (one tested) which offers drivers 450Nm and 130kW with a combined 8.2L/100km of fuel usage means there is better bang for buck.
The six-speed manual is a smooth-shifting transmission and in diesel models has a rev-matching feature that makes downshifting even easier. It has a direct fourth gear, with fifth and sixth both overdrives.
The renewed suspension set-up, with new MacPherson struts up front and leaf springs at the rear, acquits itself well both around town and on the longer drives. Stability is enhanced by the longer wheelbases and wider tracks on offer.
The steering now is sharper but there’s still a nice weight to it while the road and engine noise are both lower than expected for being a LCV. There is some noise that is amplified through the cargo bay however this is not overbearing.
Braking power is strong. The four-wheel disc step-up (disc/drum in manual LWB Van models) is backed by an antilock system with brake assist.
The old style designs of cab over were what the market was accepting due to most makes going done that path. The new HiAce offers something rather different when you get behind the wheel, the feel of driving a car while still doing all the work you need.
Drivers are spoilt when it comes to driver assist and convenience features. Cruise control is standard as is a speed limiter and speed sign recognition. The list continues with hill start assist, auto headlights and high-beam assist and satellite navigation is standard across the range. This is enhanced with SUNA live traffic information.
What is great is the multimedia unit is equipped with all the infotainment options many expect of a modern passenger car, let alone an LCV. These include the Toyota Link app interface and an advanced voice command system. The leather-wrap steering wheel features all the finger-tip integrated controls you’d expect.
The smart new instrumentation with 4.2-inch multi-information display to the 7.0-inch multimedia unit, to the centrally located air-conditioning dials, all the controls are well within reach.
The cab interior is a stark contrast to the old model. There’s the usual utilitarian expanse of hard plastic but panel tolerances are impressively tight and the mixture of textures and hues makes for a very pleasant environment.
Compared to its boxy predecessor, the new HiAce looks sleek and thoroughly modern. It also has a larger footprint that makes the out-going model look decidedly compact in comparison. Yes it is still a boxy shape but it is a 21st century shape and brings it into line with other Toyota models.
At the working end of proceedings – the load bay – Toyota HiAce van models are now equipped with twin side sliding doors as standard. The larger side apertures in SLWB models accommodate a standard Australian pallet.
Provided you have a forklift with enough reach to clear the top-hinge tailgate, that same pallet will now fit between the HiAce’s (widened) rear wheel arches.
Despite the increase in length and width and the decrease in the length of the LWB Van’s cargo bay (by 470mm) the maximum payloads range from 885kg for the LWB Crew Van to 1080kg for the LWB Van, 1075kg for the SLWB Commuter, and 1295kg for the SLWB Van. These haven’t changed from the previous model.
That tech also encompasses a major boost in safety, with the new Toyota HiAce recently achieving a full five-star ANCAP safety rating. It’s the first Toyota van to do so – correspondingly, HiAce now offers a broad suite of recent safety innovations as standard.
The new nine-model line-up, spanning LWB Van, LWB Crew Van, SLWB Van and SLWB Commuter models, arrives at additional cost. The average price rise is just under $4000 across the new range.
Car and Bike News Opinion
While Toyota freely admits this new-generation HiAce has been a long time coming, the wait has been worth it. The new engines and complete layout of the van is a massive leap forward in comfort and driveability.
The new van is something that will hit the goals for Toyota in their LCV range and is well worth looking at if you are in the market for a light commercial vehicle.
Cost and Specs
Price: $38,640-$70,140 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol V6; 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Output: 207kW/352Nm; 130kW/450Nm; 120kW/420Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual; six-speed automatic
Fuel: 12.0-12.4L/100km; 7.5-8.4L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 275-283g/km; 219g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP (2019)