Toyota HiAce: ace in the hand

By: Rob McKay


Toyota has built its massive Australian success on three pillars – Corolla, HiLux and HiAce. But only the latter has barely changed in nearly a generation. And now it really has . . .

Toyota HiAce: ace in the hand
The new HiAce

 

It’s been 15 years since the last incarnation and at least 10 years in gestation. So calling the new HiAce the new generation has more than an echo of truth.

And so it should, having been re-engineered from the ground up – no update, this.

And the planning time has been put to good use.

It’s a different beast to its predecessor and comfortably swallows an Australian pallet-size load.

Instead of sitting over the front axle, driver and front passenger are set back plushly in the new semi-bonneted configuration.

The wider axle means more space inside and a more purposeful stance when there’s a need to get weaving or dodging obstacles, aided by a tight turning circle.

Then there’s the updated IT, including an option for a digital rear view mirror, making for wide and uncluttered vision behind.

VALUE

Toyota directs the new HiAce’s value proposition over its nine variants towards ‘whole of life’ rather than ‘initial cost’.

But the latter is where such conversations must start and the recommended list price (MLRP) for the basic long wheelbase 207kW 3.5-litre V6 manual petrol version kicks off at $38,640, plus $2,000 for automatic.

Take a 130kW 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel LWB van and you hand over $42,140, while $47,140 gets an auto turbodiesel LWB crew van.

Meanwhile, super-LWB is at $48,640 petrol or $53,713 turbo diesel.

Commuter models sport automatic 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engines, with the standard version at $67,140 and the Commuter GL commanding $70,140.

The new HiAce comes with Toyota Service Advantage offering capped price servicing for three years or 60,000km, whichever comes first, up to six services.

Service intervals are six months/10,000km and for turbodiesel versions, capped at $240 per service and $180 for petrol variants.

The vehicle is also be covered by the five-year Toyota Warranty Advantage, extendable to seven years for engine and transmission for vehicles subject to scheduled logbook servicing.

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ON THE ROAD

Fittingly, Toyota has new engines for its new large van.

Although total capacity for the new 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine has been slightly reduced, it offers more peak power and torque with an increase of up to 30kW and up to 150Nm compared with its 3.0-litre predecessor.

At the same time, official combined cycle fuel consumption has been cut by up to 8.7 per cent – thanks in part to a new stop/start system – with the manual LWB turbodiesel returning a figure of just 7.5L/100km in test conditions.

The Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) has a switch for manual burn if driving distances and speed do not reach the required temperature to activate the automatic burn – a consideration in the urban environment many will call home.

The new V6 petrol engine gains 89kW peak power on the previous model’s four-cylinder unit, while peak torque rises 108Nm to 351Nm.

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Manual LWBs see combined cycle fuel consumption at 12.4L/100km, while automatic versions of both LWB and SLWB variants use 12.0L/100km

The six-speed manual gearbox features a direct drive fourth gear and double overdrive for cruising fuel efficiency, while the low ratio first and second gears provide strong acceleration from standstill.

The manual box also offers an intelligent mode switch that provides rev matching on up and down shifts to deliver a smoother driving experience.

Underpinning the chassis is a new independent MacPherson strut front suspension and heavily revised solid axle rear suspension with a 30 degree stroke.

The front suspension geometry and components including dampers, coil springs and bushing aim for balance and consistency of ride comfort and handling across load possibilities.

The rear multi-stage leaf sprung suspension with 30mm stroke offers an increased leaf span, different spring rates for LWB and SLWB models tuned for the different load requirements and dampers positioned on the outer sides of the leaf springs to deliver high levels of stability handling and ride comfort.

All models have new hydraulic rack and pinion steering system with speed-sensitive power assistance that offers a responsive action and feedback at all speeds.

Despite the increased overall length of the new HiAce, the new steering system offers the same turning circle for SLWB models as its predecessor of 12.8m with the LWB variants offering a 11.0m turning circle.

STANDARD FEATURES

The predecessor HiAce has been overtaken by a larger successor.

LWB wheelbase has been extended 640mm to 3,210mm with SLWB gaining an extra 750mm to a 3,860mm.

It is also wider, with both versions sharing a 1,670mm front and rear track – an increase of 200mm at the front and 205mm at the rear for LWB and 15mm at the front and 20mm at the rear in SLWB.

For shifting freight, the growth provides cargo capacities of 6.2 cubic metres and 9.3 cubic metres respectively.


How news of the HiAce launch was covered, here


All models feature height-adjustable driver’s seat; tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel with controls for the audio, infotainment and cruise control systems; manual air conditioning and extensive storage areas with big front door bins and 1.5-litre bottle holders.

The new HiAce multimedia system features a 7-inch (18cm) touchscreen display. It offers AM/FM/DAB+ radio, CD player, full Bluetooth connectivity for audio and phone, USB and AUX inputs, satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic alerts, voice recognition, Siri eyes-free for compatible iPhones and Toyota Link apps.

Available from the fourth quarter this year, the multimedia system will also be compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that will also be offered to retro-fit on new generation HiAce at no additional charge.

ACCESSORIES AND OPTIONS

Toyota reckons half of its van owners wants fit-out and accessory changes on their base models and sees no reason to ignore such lucrative desires.

Two items that caught the imagination at the launch were the optional digital rear-view mirror and the internal ladder hooks attached to the roof.

The mirror allows for views behind uninterrupted by cargo or passengers while the ladder rack can handle units of up to 20kg and, along with security, aims to free up space on the roof racks.

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 A new tow bar with new optional rear corner protectors was designed in conjunction with the vehicle chassis to ensure high levels of strength and durability with a double coated finish to provide superior corrosion resistance.

Braked towing capacity for the manual LWB turbo diesel van is 1,900kg and 1,400kg for the manual LWB petrol van with all other models in the HiAce range offering a braked towing capacity of 1,500kg.

A new zinc-plated steel mesh rear step, which also houses sensors, is available in two versions to integrate with the rear of the vehicle depending on whether the tow bar is fitted.

Inside is a steel solid partition with an integrated window that allows full separation between the cabin and load space, not only providing protection, but improving air-conditioning effectiveness.

Also new is a full internal protection system that offers a wire mesh cargo barrier between the load space and cabin along with easily fitted and removed interior wall, and mesh window protectors.

Other external protection accessories include headlamp covers and bonnet protector while inside new heavy-duty canvas seat covers to shield the seat upholstery are available along with floor and cargo mats.

SAFETY

The semi-bonneted design and a host of measures garner five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Those measures, delivered through the Toyota Safety Sense system, include pre-collision safety system (PCS) with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only); lane departure alert; road sign assist (certain speed signs only); and automatic high beam.

Further standard safety features include cruise control, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and up to nine airbags depending on the model.

HiAce Van models are fitted with seven airbags – driver and passenger front and side, front side curtain and driver kneebag with the Crew Van gaining an extra two rear side curtain airbags.

The HiAce Crew Van also offers ISOFIX child restraint anchor points in the two outboard rear seating positions.

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VERDICT

It’s hard to identify serious gripes about the ride, handling and ergonomics of what is such a strong contender in the market.

Toyota had the previous model at its test track in Melbourne’s North Altona for comparison and, while it didn’t embarrass the predecessor, the new generation was an altogether more compliant and grippy drive that refused to wallow at all through turns. And hill-start assist is a nice addition.

The forward vision is through huge sheets of glass, the wing mirrors have angled bottom sections for more awareness, seats are fit for a family SUV and can be made more practical in a work environment with optional heavy-duty canvas custom covers that don’t hinder airbag inflation.

Seats are supportive with good bolstering and the steering wheel, adjustable for rake and reach, is home to all the controls anyone could reasonably want in a working cab.

A nice touch is the cup holder beside the steering wheel that comes as easy to the right hand as the gear stick does to the left and is set high and forward, so looking down is avoided. And the optional digital mirror is deeply nifty.

The semi bonnet design means a flat floor and therefore easy internal access and, with large doors and 50mm-lower seats, getting in and out is easier.

Servicing is six-monthly, which may challenge smaller fleet owners but, as part of the value proposition, Toyota points to reliability and Glass’s Guide figures of 68 per cent resale price after four years with the previous model.

A slight driver concern is vision through the side windows, especially for those with long legs who must sit back. It’s nothing more than an occasional forward lean to gain the broader view but it is noticeable.

The front plastic on the reinforced alloy nudge bar is in a single piece, meaning full replacement for any damage, and regional owners can’t fit a full bull bar due to the monocoque chassis. That said these are merely quibbles in the face of an immensely strong argument.

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SPECS

2019 HiAce long wheel base and super long wheel base

Engine: 2.8-litre four cylinder turbo diesel or 3.5-litre V6 petrol

Power: Diesel 130kW @ 3,400rpm; petrol 207kW @ 6,000rpm

Torque: Diesel manual 420Nm @ 1,400-2,600rpm; auto 450Nm at 1,600–2,400rpm – petrol 351Nm at 4,600rpm

Gear box: Six-speed manual and auto

Front suspension: MacPherson strut, stabiliser bar

Rear suspension: Leaf spring rigid axle

Turning circle: LWB 11m; SLWB 12.8m

Cargo space: LWB 6.2 cubic metres; SLWB: 9.3 cu m; 1,760mm, 1,268mm between wheel housings

Towing capacity: LWB TD/petrol man 1,900kg/1,400kg; LWB crew auto 1,500kg; SLWB: 1,500kg

Fuel tank capacity: 70 litres

Fuel use: Diesel manual 7.5L/100km; auto 8.2L/100km – petrol manual 12.4L/100km; auto 12L/100km

Emissions: Euro 5

 

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