Hiace gets a well earned birthday

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Words: Nile Bijoux
17 May 2019

​Toyota’s Hiace has gone fourteen years between generations, with the fifth iteration H200 first bowing in 2005. Now Toyota has let loose the sixth generation on New Zealand roads and we were given a go on launch day.

The new H300 Hiace inherits the 2.8-litre diesel from the Hilux, meaning an increase in power and torque to 130kW and 420Nm - 450Nm. Depending on the version, fuel consumption has dropped by as much as ten per cent, with the new ZR in manual trim the leanest of the bunch, offering a claimed 7.5L/100km. The Minibus version shows the biggest gains, going from 9.5L to 7.7L per hundy.

The engine is probably the biggest talking point of the new model. Gone is the old cab-over arrangement and in is a semi-bonnet design, which shunts the engine and wheels forward. Toyota says this increases safety and comfort while reducing in-cabin noise.

Capacity has been beefed up in the ZR model by 200L, making for a 6200L total but the ZX has shrunk by 500L to a total of 9300L. That’s due to a general nip and tuck in the height (1610mm from 1635mm) and depth (3395mm from 3450mm). However, width has increased by 45mm to 1775mm. The ZR, meanwhile, has widened its hips to a Gib-sheet-accommodating 1265mm between the rear wheels and a healthy 1775mm width elsewhere. Its height took a 25mm hit, now 1315mm over the previous 1340mm and depth from seats to rear door is now 2745mm, down from 2910mm.

The new Hiace, as mentioned above, has the same width across the two models. Body length is rated at 5265mm for the ZR and 5915mm on the ZX, an increase of 570mm and 535mm respectively. ZR has grown by 10mm to a total of 1990mm and ZX drops by 5mm to 2280mm.

Other improvements include Toyota’s Safety Sense suite, standard across the range, which offers pre-collision avoidance with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure alert, auto high beam, road sign assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors. To save a bit of extra diesel, start-stop is also added.

Upgrades have also been gifted to the infotainment system, inheriting a larger seven-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation.

The ten-seater minibus also gets foldable seats in the fourth row and a rear heater, as well as a rear cooler. If you’re wondering about the old-gen twelve-seater, Toyota hasn’t forgotten. It says there are issues getting the larger minibus through compliance as the extra seats push the new model over the 3500kg limit. Hopefully we’ll get an update in that area soon.

Thanks to the engine move, the Hiace now feels even more car-like than before. The seats are comfortable, noise is low and it steers as you might imagine a high-riding SUV would. Toyota has given the leather steering wheel telescopic adjustment and the driver’s seat some height adjustment for added comfort and tweakability.

We drove the van on a loop of the city, largely mimicking an urban courier post run and, despite being a large vehicle, it felt comfortable and competent. We were given the half-panel ZL and the minibus, both equipped with automatic transmissions and they ran nicely. The gearbox kicked down smartly when asked and although the start-stop took a little time to kick in when the lights turned green, it never felt delayed.

Interested? Toyota’s driveaway pricing has the ZR glazed van starting at $44,990 while the Minibus tops the range at $52,990. If the new models aren’t your cup of tea, Toyota is carrying over the older ZL glazed van and minibus, asking $42k and $57k, respectively.

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