TOYOTA hiace TD auto
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