Fifteen years is almost three lifetimes in motor car terms but that’s how long the previous Toyota HiAce commercial van was on the Australian market.
Despite increased competition in recent years it’s been the top-selling van throughout that 15-year period and is sure to continue there with the release of an all-new model.
The most noticeable change with new HiAce is that it now comes in a semi-bonneted configuration that not only provides extra collision safety but also, because it allows the engine to be moved forward ahead of the front axle rather than under the cabin as in previous models. This provides improvements in cabin comfort, seating and ergonomics as well as greater stability and ride comfort.
As before new HiAce comes in long wheelbase (LWB) and super long wheelbase (SLWB) wheelbase lengths. These have been increased by 640mm and 750mm respectively with the overall length of the LWB now up 570mm to 5265mm and SLWB by 535mm to 5915mm.
The increases are within the cabin, with cargo space unchanged at 6.2 cubic metres and 9.3 cubic metres.
Model variants are two-seat LWB and SLWB vans, five-seat LWB crew van and 12-seat Commuter bus.
As before HiAce comes with the choice of petrol or turbo-diesel engines although have been given significant boosts.
The new 3.5-litre V6 petrol replaces the previous 2.7-litre four-cylinder unit with peak power up by 89kW to 207kW and maximum torque by 108Nm to 351Nm.
Although down in capacity from 3.0 litres the new 2.8-litre turbo-diesel generates more power (up to 30kW) and torque (up to 150Nm) depending on the model variant.
The two-seat LWB vans get the option of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic while the SLWB vans and Commuter are auto-only.
With its larger cabin the interior of the new HiAce is a much more appealing place for long-suffering drivers. Access is easier access, there’s a lower seating position with height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel with controls for the audio, infotainment and cruise control systems and a variety of storage areas including large front door bins and 1.5-litre bottle holders.
Importantly new HiAce comes with a range of Toyota Safety Sense driver assistance features including pre-collision safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection; lane departure alert with steering assist; road sign assist (certain speed signs only); auto high beam; blind spot monitor; rear cross traffic alert; reversing camera; front and rear parking sensors and up to nine airbags depending on the model.
Infotainment features are now right up to date with the latest generation multimedia system. Displayed on a seven-inch touchscreen it includes full Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite navigation with SUNA live traffic alerts, USB and Aux sockets, and Siri eyes-free for compatible iPhones and Toyota Link apps.
At this stage neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto are available but they will be from the fourth quarter this year and can be retro-fitted for no charge.
The 2019 HiAce is covered by Toyota’s new five-year unlimited kilometre warranty as well as the Toyota Service Advantage with capped price servicing for three years or 60,000km, whichever comes first, up to a maximum of six services.
Launching the new HiAce Toyota Vice President Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley said: “We focused on making the new-generation vehicle an even better tool of trade through an all-new semi-bonneted design, increased performance, a quiet cabin, smooth ride and improved handling and agility,” Mr Hanley said.
“We are also providing HiAce customers with the same high level of safety as found in our passenger cars and SUVs with a full suite of advanced Toyota Safety Sense technologies,” Mr Hanley said.
LWB Van 3.5-litre petrol: $38,640 (manual), $40,640 (automatic)
LWB Van 2.8-litre turbo-diesel: $42,140 (manual), $44,140 (automatic)
LWB Crew Van 2.8-litre turbo-diesel: $47,140 (automatic)
SLWB Van 3.5-litre petrol: $48,640 (automatic)
SLWB Van 2.8-litre turbo-diesel: $52,140 (automatic)
Commuter 2.8-litre turbo-diesel: $67,140 (automatic)
Commuter GL 2.8-litre turbo-diesel: $70,140 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.