The Toyota HiAce has long been the king of the 2.5 to 3.5 tonne van segment.
Sales during the first half of 2021 have increased by 51.9 per cent primarily as a result of the emerging e-commerce boom being supercharged by the effects of the pandemic on Australian shopping habits and driving demand for to-the-door deliveries.
The current HiAce has been around for a couple of years and is the sixth generation of Toyota’s ubiquitous delivery and trades van.
Externally it features contemporary styling with high sweptback front light assemblies and a large grille area. The semi- bonneted design results in the engine not intruding into cab and also delivers a better balanced handling performance as well as improving service access.
All versions of the HiAce are now powered by Toyota’s durable 2.8-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
A six-speed manual gearbox is also offered on the HiAce Long Wheelbase van, which is actually the shorter of the two available wheelbases with the other being labelled the Super Long Wheelbase model. The Euro 5 engine develops 130kW/450Nm at 3,400rpm when teamed with the six-speed automatic, with the same power but a lower 420Nm of torque for the manual variants.
The Commuter bus version of the HiAce is detuned to 120kW/420Nm.
Toyota say overwhelming customer preference for the efficient turbo diesel engine has led to the 207kW 3.5-litre petrol V6 for HiAce being discontinued after it had been introduced just a couple of years ago.
The deletion of the V6 petrol option follows a similar course to the removal of the V6 option in Camry sedans and the HiLux ute range.
Fuel consumption figures from Toyota claim the HiAce Long Wheelbase uses 8.2L/100km of diesel in the combined city and highway cycle. Based on those results the 70 litre fuel tank should be able to provide a range in excess of 800 kilometres.
In contrast with Henry Ford’s famous quip from early last century, “You can have it in any colour you like, as long as it’s black”, a further narrowing of options for the HiAce range results in it only being available in a shade of white known as French Vanilla.
The Long Wheelbase models have a load volume of 6.2 cubic metres and can carry a 1,075kg payload. The Super Long Wheelbase versions can squeeze in 9.3 litres of cargo with a maximum payload of 1,135kgs.
The HiAce has a forward facing camera and radar unit which are integral to the pre-collision safety system including Autonomous Emergency Braking as well as pedestrian and cyclist detection.
The lane departure alert is able to assist with the steering function using the braking system.
The HiAce is also able to detect certain speed signs and advise the driver. The driver and passenger receive an enhanced level of safety in the event of a collision with seven airbags including front, side door, side curtain and driver knee protection.
Elsewhere, the rear wheel drive configuration of the HiAce allows for maximised front wheel cut angles resulting in a tight turning circle with either wheelbase. Front and rear parking sensors are standard as is a reversing camera with guide lines displayed on the screen.
Available from September 2021 is a higher level of safety and security technology due to the standard fitment of Toyota Connected Services to all models.
HiAce vans now join other vehicles in the Toyota family in being able to connect via a built in communication device to the 4G network and then to Toyota Connected Services which affords greater peace of mind for owners with the system able to automatically generate an emergency call to Toyota’s 24/7 Emergency Call Centre and relay the location of the vehicle in the event of a collision that requires intervention.
The system also activates when an airbag deploys. Toyota Connected Services uses the inbuilt communication device rather than a separate mobile phone.
Occupants can also manually trigger an emergency call to the call centre via an SOS button, allowing the Emergency Call Centre to determine the vehicle’s precise location and coordinate with the appropriate emergency services to attend the scene.
If the vehicle is reported stolen, Toyota Connected Services can assist authorities to track the vehicle’s location in live time.
Included as part of the mid 2021 upgrade inside the HiAce is a large centre console box that replaces the console tray of previous models and has storage for items such as essential business paperwork.
Included in the new storage box is a removable in-box tray, an A4-sized binder rack, and a moveable partition at the rear of the box which can be used as a cup holder.
Other range-wide standard equipment additions in the upgrade include front all-weather floor mats and an additional low-profile roof-mounted antenna.
The 4G network fees associated with Toyota Connected Services are covered for the first three years and after that it is expected that the owner will need to make arrangements to maintain the connection. The HiAce has a reputation for holding its value over an extended period with low running costs in the interim due to service intervals at six months or 10,000km.
The vans are covered by the five year Toyota Warranty Advantage and with the option of the extra cost seven year Toyota Warranty Advantage Extended Engine and Driveline.