Toyota gave us the keys to the new Hiace ZR for a week to see how its new work van goes in the real world.
To refresh your memory, the new H300 Hiace inherits the 2.8-litre diesel from the Hilux, meaning an increase in power and torque to 130kW and 450Nm. Fuel usage is a claimed 8.2L/100km. More interesting is the engine placement, with the front end now incorporating a semi-bonnet design instead of the old cab-over arrangement.
Toyota says this increases safety and comfort while reducing in-cabin noise. We found it indeed more comfortable while, thankfully, we didn’t test the safety systems. Mention which, Toyota now includes the Safety Sense suite as a range-wide standard. It 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.
The semi-bonnet design does mean drivers have to be more aware of the nose as, for the first time, there is one. The van has also 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. Capacity has been beefed up in the ZR model by 200L, making for a 6200L total. All in, the new Hiace is a big thing and requires some care when navigating tighter areas.
Driving is as easy as we found on the launch, with the engine shift resulting in a car-like drive. The ZR doesn’t have a partition between the cargo area and the cabin like the Renault Trafic Trader we drove a while back so there is some road noise when driving although it’s not hardly intrusive by van standards.
Our ZR was equipped with the automatic gearbox which offers rear ventilated disc brakes and a 1500kg brake towing capacity, down from the manual’s rear drum brakes and 1900kg braked towing capacity. It’s a smooth operator, kicking down smartly to get onto the motorway and spinning the engine at around 2000rpm when up to the 100km/h mark.
Unfortunately, no one we knew needed any furniture moving or firewood delivered while we had the ZR so we couldn’t really test how it goes under load. Stay tuned on that front.
All new Toyota vehicles get a standard New Vehicle Warranty of 3 years or 100,000km, whichever comes first. Also included is the Service Advantage package which includes 4 years or 60,000km of capped price scheduled servicing, 4 years of Warrant of Fitness inspections (at the 3rd and 4th year) and 4 years of Roadside Assistance. The capped price for the automatic ZR Hiace is set at $330, at the time of writing.
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.