TOY­OTA hiace TD auto

Deals on Wheels - - Van Comparison -

The HiAce pretty much qual­i­fies as a light duty elder states­man in this mar­ket. It’s the last for­ward con­trol style van left on the Aussie mar­ket, yet has shown the longevity, dura­bil­ity and tenac­ity of a moun­tain mule. And de­spite the fact that it’s show­ing its age some­what, it con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate sales in the mid-sized van mar­ket.

Our long-wheel­base TD Auto had a load ca­pac­ity of 6.0 cu­bic me­tres and could lug a load weigh­ing 1160kg. And it’ll tow a braked trailer load of 1200kg. A 3.0-litre 100kW (134hp)/300Nm turbo-diesel moves the back wheels via a four­speed auto. A 118kW (158hp) 2.7-litre petrol pow­er­plant is also avail­able.

There’s no mis­tak­ing the util­i­tar­ian na­ture of the HiAce from any an­gle. The big white bread box is func­tion­al­ity ex­pressed in its most ba­sic form. But it’s that unashamedly spartan ap­proach that also lends the ven­er­a­ble Toy­ota a cer­tain hon­esty.

It still gets a few mod-cons, in­clud­ing a re­verse cam­era, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill start as­sist on man­ual mod­els, a cou­ple of air bags and brake as­sist.

You don’t so much climb into the HiAce as swing into it. The for­ward con­trol lay out of the Toy­ota means that the front wheels are parked un­der the driver’s seat.

This means that the rear-wheel-drive HiAce has an ex­cel­lent turn­ing cir­cle. How­ever, it also means that you’ll have to take speed humps at a steady pace as you’ll be bounc­ing down the road wear­ing your latte, and/or any­thing else you may have float­ing around the cock­pit, if you don’t!

Ac­cess to the load area is via a slid­ing door on the left hand side and through the lift up tail­gate at the rear. Barn doors aren’t an op­tion, which lim­its fork­lift and pal­let ac­cess.

It seems to be a Toy­ota thing, but the huge pop­u­lar­ity of Toy­ota ve­hi­cles in Aus­tralia means there’s a fa­mil­iar­ity when get­ting be­hind the wheel of the HiAce. It’s pretty ba­sic, but you don’t have to go hunt­ing for any­thing.

Ba­sic stereo and Blue­tooth func­tions are within thumbs reach on the steer­ing wheel and cruise con­trol is ac­cessed via a stalk on the steer­ing col­umn. A skinny con­sole sits be­tween the front

seats for stor­age and is home to a cou­ple of cup hold­ers.

There’s some stor­age dot­ted around the cabin, but none of it is re­ally big enough for ev­ery­day work items like clip­boards and pa­per work.

I sus­pect most of this would end up on the pas­sen­ger seat and con­se­quently the floor dur­ing a real world shift. And the cup hold­ers sit too far back on the con­sole, which makes for a twist and reach to get to your latte, pro­vided you haven’t al­ready thrown it all over the cabin at the last speed hump.

With the ad­vent of new and well-priced com­pe­ti­tion in the mid-sized van seg­ment, the HiAce is very much gen­er­a­tionally lag­ging. Es­pe­cially when you flick the ig­ni­tion key.

This com­mon-rail 3.0-litre oil-burner was also stan­dard fare in the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion HiLux ute: it’s a coarse sound­ing, mod­estly per­form­ing, yet ad­mit­tedly re­li­able unit.

The coarse­ness of the pow­er­plant is only am­pli­fied in the HiAce as it has a whole van cargo bay to res­onate, though. A mesh cargo bar­rier is an op­tion, but a bulk­head sep­a­rat­ing the load area and the cock­pit is not.

The four-speed auto is a good per­former, though, and the op­tion of a torque con­verter auto isn’t as com­mon in this part of the van mar­ket as you may think.

Around town, the HiAce is nim­ble enough and re­ally this is the best en­vi­ron­ment for it. It’s easy to park, vis­i­bil­ity is good, and the chat­ter of the diesel donk isn’t too in­tru­sive.

The only fly in the oint­ment in this role is the un­easy feel­ing that there’s lit­tle be­tween you and the out­side world in the ad­vent of a frontal ac­ci­dent.

While the Toy­ota does have some safety kit, your feet are ef­fec­tively just be­hind the front bumper. It’s a lit­tle un­nerv­ing.

On the open road, the HiAce is loud whether empty or loaded. Though a lack of load in the back only am­pli­fies the driv­e­train rum­ble and road noise. The best kind of load for the HiAce would be a load of mat­tresses and bed­ding. Or maybe some egg car­tons.

The meat and pota­toes Toy­ota does, how­ever, have an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity. Yet in terms of com­fort and per­for­mance it’s start­ing to feel more than a bit long in the tooth. Our HiAce LWB TD Auto had a list price of $38,490 and comes with a three-year, 100,000km war­ranty.

It’s easy to park, vis­i­bil­ity is good and the chat­ter of the diesel donk isn’t too in­tru­sive.

1. The Toy­ota has cu­bic me­tres of space in­side. 2. It’s all pretty ba­sic in­side, but it does have the ad­van­tage of a proper au­to­matic ‘box. 3. One slid­ing door is stan­dard, there’s no op­tion for barn doors on the back though

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