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Ford Transit Custom 340L DCiV vs Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle vs Toyota HiAce Crew Van 2021 comparison review


The growing popularity of mid-sized (2.5-3.5 tonne GVM) commercial vans that can carry up to six people, generically known as crew vans, has seen an increasing number of rivals from mainstream manufacturers with a second row of seats. These include Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Renault, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

There’s no argument that 4x4 dual cab utes are by far Australia’s most popular and versatile light commercial vehicles. However, not everyone needs high-riding off-road ability and some would happily trade that for more spacious rear seating and a huge fully-enclosed cargo bay to carry their crew and all their gear – be it for work or play.

It's those two key attributes which present a compelling argument for crew vans – but which one would you choose? We’ve combined our most recent road test activity of three of Australia’s best examples from Toyota, Ford and Renault to see how they measure up in a side-by-side comparison.

Value for money

The Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van is available only with a 2.8 litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed torque converter automatic transmission for a list price if $47,140.

That pricing undercuts Ford’s Transit Custom 340L DCiV, which translates to 3400kg GVM, Long wheelbase and Dual Cab in Van. It’s available only with a 2.0 litre EcoBlue turbo-diesel but offers a choice of six-speed manual, or six-speed torque converter auto like our test vehicle, for a list price of $49,990.

  • 16-inch steel wheels come standard with the Transit. 16-inch steel wheels come standard with the Transit.
  • The HiAce gets the same treatment. The HiAce gets the same treatment.
  • The Trafic however, gets 17-inch alloy wheels. The Trafic however, gets 17-inch alloy wheels.

However, the HiAce and Transit Custom are both considerably cheaper than the Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle, which with 2.0 litre turbo-diesel and six-speed dual-clutch auto has a list price of $52,490. However, the Renault has 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights/DRLs and numerous creature comforts for rear seat passengers not shared by its rivals like individual and adjustable LED ceiling lights, retractable sun-blinds, flexible storage pouches, two centre armrests and more.

So, given that the HiAce is $2,850 cheaper than the Transit Custom and $5,350 less than the Trafic, on list price alone the Toyota is the runaway winner. Value for money, though, is not measured purely by purchase price as numerous other factors have to be considered, starting with standard equipment. The table below highlights the most useful and therefore significant features each of these crew vans include as standard.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Auto headlights

Yes

Yes

Yes

Halogen DRLs

Yes

No

Yes

LED headlights/DRLs

No

Yes

No

Air conditioning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Central locking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Keyless entry

No

Yes

Yes

Cruise control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Media screen

8.0-inch

7.0-inch

8.0-inch

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi-info driver display

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tilt and reach adjustable steering

Yes

Yes

Yes

Leather accented steering wheel

Yes

Yes

Yes

Driver inboard armrest

No

Yes

Yes

Cabin bulkhead

No

Yes

Yes

Rear privacy glass opening

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rear sun-blinds

No

Yes

No

Power windows

Yes

Yes

Yes

Power door mirrors

Yes

Yes (heated)

Yes

Number of seats

Five

Six

Six

Wheels

16-inch steel

17-inch alloy

16-inch steel

Spare tyre

Full-size

Full-size

Full-size

Front brakes

Disc

Disc

Disc

Rear brakes

Disc

Disc

Disc

Colour choice

Two

Six

100-plus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

8

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

8

Design

Each van has enough individuality in its styling to be easily identified, which is commendable. The Renault, though, is considerably larger than its two rivals in width, wheelbase length and turning circle (see table below).

It’s arguable that Ford has done the best job of making such a large vehicle look smaller than it really is with its distinctive trapezoidal grille, slender swept-back headlights, softer corners and wedge-shaped character lines which flow all the way to the tail. This results in a rakish and purposeful appearance that looks more compact than its more squared-off slab-sided rivals, without compromising space or practicality.

  • Each van has enough individuality in its styling to be easily identified (Transit custom pictured) Each van has enough individuality in its styling to be easily identified (Transit custom pictured)
  • The HiAce stands alone in sticking with rear-wheel drive compared to its front-wheel drive competitors. The HiAce stands alone in sticking with rear-wheel drive compared to its front-wheel drive competitors.
  • The Renault is considerably larger than its two rivals in width, wheelbase length and turning circle. The Renault is considerably larger than its two rivals in width, wheelbase length and turning circle.

They all feature rear seating for up to three passengers, coil-spring strut-type front suspensions, power-assisted rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes, but the Renault is unique in using coil-spring rear suspension compared to its rivals’ traditional leaf springs. And the HiAce stands alone in sticking with rear-wheel drive compared to its front-wheel drive competitors.

As a result, the HiAce offers two advantages. One is the tightest turning circle, not only due to its short wheelbase but also because there are no front driveshafts to restrict steering angle. The other is an inherent traction advantage due to dynamic weight transfer from the front wheels to the rears under acceleration. In most driving conditions this would not be a factor, but could become noticeable on compromised surfaces, particularly steep inclines, with heavy loads on board.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Length

5265mm

5399mm

5340mm

Width

1950mm

2283mm

1986mm

Height

1990mm

1971mm

2013mm

Wheelbase

3210mm

3498mm

3300mm

Turning circle

11.0 metres

13.2 metres

12.8 metres

All three have sliding door access to their rear seats from each side. The HiAce only comes with a single-lift tailgate compared to the twin-swing rear barn-doors standard on the Transit Custom and Trafic, but the Renault and Ford both offer single-lift tailgates as options.

They all have good driving positions with ample seat and steering wheel adjustability. However, the HiAce only provides seating for driver and front passenger which means it’s the only five-seater in this trio, as the six-seater Ford and Renault can both seat two passengers up front.

A noticeable HiAce omission is an in-board fold-down driver’s armrest. It’s hard to fathom why Toyota did not include this fatigue-reducing feature, but then the Trafic doesn’t offer a driver’s left footrest which we also consider essential for the same reason. So, Transit Custom is the only one of these three to offer both.

The HiAce’s second row is a bench seat with 60/40 split-fold backrests that can be reclined separately. Or if you’re not carrying passengers, they can tilt forward and lay flat on top of the base cushion if more cargo volume is required. The windows in the side sliding doors can slide open for ample ventilation.

The Transit Custom and Trafic also have opening side-door glass, but unlike the HiAce they both have robust moulded polycarbonate bulkheads which insulate their crew zones from cargo bay noise and double as cargo barriers. However, because these bulkheads tuck in closely behind the rear seats to optimise cargo bay space, the backrests can’t be reclined like the HiAce which can limit passenger comfort on longer journeys.

All three vans offer ample rear seat head and leg room (even for tall adults) which is superior to any dual cab ute this side of a full-size US pickup. Foot room is particularly generous, thanks to wide and flat floor areas with no transmission tunnel intrusion. There’s no standout winner in this category, because they will appeal to different owners depending on their requirements.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

9

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

9

Engines and Transmissions

The HiAce’s Euro 5-compliant 1GD-FTV four-cylinder turbo-diesel has the largest cubic displacement of these three vans at 2.8 litres, producing 130kW at 3400rpm and, in automatic models like our test vehicle, a sizeable 450Nm of torque between 1600-2400rpm.

Its ‘intelligent’ six-speed torque converter automatic has full converter lock-up on fourth, fifth and sixth gears for optimum engine efficiency, along with automatic load and gradient detection and overdrive on fifth and sixth for economical highway driving. There’s also the option of sequential manual-shifting.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Engine size

2.8 litres

2.0 litres

2.0 litres

Cylinders

Four

Four

Four

Power rating

130kW

125kW

125kW

Torque rating

450Nm

380Nm

390Nm

Transmission

6-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

Ford’s 2.0 litre EcoBlue four-cylinder turbo-diesel offers astonishingly strong performance for its size. It also meets the toughest Euro 6 emissions compliance using AdBlue fuel additive, while punching out 125kW at 3500rpm and 390Nm across a 1000rpm-wide torque band between 1750-2750rpm. The smooth-shifting six-speed torque converter automatic has intelligent features similar to the HiAce and the choice of sequential manual-shifting.

Renault’s 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, with 125kW at 3500rpm and 380Nm at 1500rpm, has the same cubic capacity, Euro 6 emissions compliance and energetic performance as the Transit Custom.

  • Ford’s 2.0 litre EcoBlue four-cylinder turbo-diesel offers astonishingly strong performance for its size. Ford’s 2.0 litre EcoBlue four-cylinder turbo-diesel offers astonishingly strong performance for its size.
  • The HiAce’s Euro 5-compliant 1GD-FTV four-cylinder turbo-diesel has the largest cubic displacement of the three vans at 2.8 litres. The HiAce’s Euro 5-compliant 1GD-FTV four-cylinder turbo-diesel has the largest cubic displacement of the three vans at 2.8 litres.
  • Renault’s latest 2.0 litre four-cylinder common rail turbo-diesel combines the toughest Euro 6 emissions compliance. Renault’s latest 2.0 litre four-cylinder common rail turbo-diesel combines the toughest Euro 6 emissions compliance.

It differs, though, in the use of an Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) automatic shared with Renault’s Megane Sport hot hatch. This transmission combines crisp, smooth shifting and the option of manual-shifting, but in this application there’s negligible difference between its ‘sporty’ dual-clutch design and the relatively snappy shifts of its torque converter rivals.

So, based purely on capacity, power and torque the HiAce appears to have an advantage. However, it also has the highest kerb weight, being 54kg heavier than the Transit Custom and a whopping 300kg more than the Trafic, which shrinks the Toyota’s on-paper advantage.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

9

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

8

Fuel consumption

All three engines are equipped with auto stop-start which (thankfully) can be switched off, but annoyingly this has to happen after each engine start-up rather being able to choose a permanent setting. In any case, all three had these functions switched off during our tests.

After more than 400km of testing, which included more than 120km with a near-maximum payload, the HiAce’s official combined 8.4L/100km was not far off our own figure of 10.1 calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings. So, based on our figures, you could expect a real-world driving range of around 700km from its 70-litre tank.

The Transit Custom’s official combined figure is 7.3L/100km (identical to Trafic) and the dash display was showing 8.4L/100km (identical to HiAce) at the end of our 336km test, which also included about one third of that distance hauling a near-maximum payload. Our own figure was higher again at 9.5L/100km which is still excellent for a 2.2-tonne van and good for around 750km.

Renault’s official combined figure of 7.3L/100km looked optimistic at first. However, after 320km of testing, which included more than a third of that distance with a near-maximum payload, the dash display was claiming only 8.7L/100km. After crunching our own figures, we came up with an identical number to the dash display, which means this remarkably frugal van has a real-world driving range of more than 900km from its big 80-litre tank.

So, the HiAce was the thirstiest, which was not unexpected given that it has the largest engine and highest kerb weight. And the Trafic was the most economical, again not unexpected given its smaller engine capacity and much lighter kerb weight. Even so, the difference between the Trafic and HiAce was 1.4L/100km with the Transit Custom in between, so all three are considered to be high on efficiency given that they all have kerb weights that exceed two tonnes.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Official combined

8.4L/100km

7.3L/100km

7.3L/100km

Real-world combined

10.1L/100km

8.7L/100km

9.5L/100km

Real-world range

700km (approximate)

900km (approximate)

750km (approximate)

Fuel tank capacity

70 litres

80 litres

72 litres

 

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

7

Trafic Crew

9

Transit Custom Crew

8

Payloads, tow rating and cargo bays

The HiAce’s 2305kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM results in a near one-tonne payload of 995kg. That sounds great, but keep in mind that a crew of five adults could use up about half of that payload capacity before you start to load any of their gear on board.

It's also rated to tow up to 1500kg of braked trailer and with a 4800kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time), that means it can tow that weight without any reduction in payload required. That’s a very practical set of numbers for a multitude of work or recreational roles.

The Transit’s 2251kg kerb weight undercuts the HiAce by some 54kg and its 3400kg GVM results in a big 1149kg payload capacity. Up to 100kg of that can be carried on its clever trio of roof racks, which lie flat against the roof when not in use but can be quickly rotated through 90 degrees and locked into vertical positions for load carrying.

  • The HiAce’s 2305kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM results in a near one-tonne payload of 995kg. The HiAce’s 2305kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM results in a near one-tonne payload of 995kg.
  • It's also rated to tow up to 1500kg of braked trailer and with a 4800kg GCM. It's also rated to tow up to 1500kg of braked trailer and with a 4800kg GCM.
  • The Transit’s 2251kg kerb weight undercuts the HiAce by some 54kg. The Transit’s 2251kg kerb weight undercuts the HiAce by some 54kg.
  • Its 3400kg GVM results in a big 1149kg payload capacity. Its 3400kg GVM results in a big 1149kg payload capacity.
  • The Renault’s relatively light 2004kg kerb weight and 3070kg GVM allows for a sizeable 1118kg payload. The Renault’s relatively light 2004kg kerb weight and 3070kg GVM allows for a sizeable 1118kg payload.
  • It’s also rated to tow up to 1630kg of braked trailer and it can legally carry its maximum payload while doing it. It’s also rated to tow up to 1630kg of braked trailer and it can legally carry its maximum payload while doing it.

It's also rated to tow up to 1800kg of braked trailer, 300kg more than the HiAce, but its 4365kg GCM rating (the smallest here) would only leave 314kg of legal payload, which could easily be used up by an adult crew of three – let alone six. Lowering the braked towing limit to 1500kg like the HiAce would leave a more useful 614kg of payload capacity, but that’s still 380kg less than the HiAce can carry while towing the same trailer weight.

The Renault’s relatively light 2004kg kerb weight and 3070kg GVM allows for a sizeable 1118kg payload. It’s also rated to tow up to 1630kg of braked trailer and it can legally carry its maximum payload while doing it. So, that’s a big GCM rating of 4700kg, only 100kg less than the HiAce, which would also be well suited to any number of work and recreational roles involving crews.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Kerb weight

2305kg

2004kg

2251kg

GVM

3300kg

3070kg

3400kg

Payload

995kg

1066kg

1149kg

GCM

4800kg

4700kg

4365kg

Braked tow rating

1500kg

1630kg

1800kg

Cargo bay length

n/a

1740mm

1944mm

Cargo bay width

n/a

1662mm

1775mm

Cargo bay height

n/a

1387mm

1406mm

Width between rear wheel housings

1268mm

1268mm

1390mm

Sliding door opening

1010mm

907mm

930mm

Load volume

3-4.0 cubic metres (approximate)

4.0 cubic metres

4.4 cubic metres

Load anchorage points

Four

Six

Six

Standard roof racks

No

No

Yes

Max roof-rack weight

120kg

n/a

100kg

Standard cargo bay/rear seat access

Dual side sliding glazed doors and single-lift glazed tailgate

Dual side sliding glazed doors and glazed twin-swing rear barn doors

Dual side sliding glazed doors and glazed twin-swing rear barn doors

Optional cargo bay access

None

Glazed single-lift tailgate

Glazed single-lift tailgate

The load volume of the standard LWB HiAce’s cargo bay is 6.2 metres but Toyota does not publish official dimensions or load volume for the crew version’s smaller cargo bay. So, by our guesstimates, it’s roughly half the length with roughly half the load volume. That’s about 3.0 cubic metres or more, which still dwarfs most dual cab utes fitted with hard canopies.

The cargo bay walls are lined to mid-height and there’s four load anchorage points at floor height. However, due to the rear seat blocking access through the side doors, the cargo bay can only be accessed through the single-lift tailgate, which is not forklift-friendly.

There’s also no standard load protection for occupants, so our best advice would be to install Toyota’s genuine accessory (or aftermarket) steel-mesh cargo barrier. However, that would do nothing to reduce cargo bay noise in the crew area, which at highway speeds can be considerable.

Ford claims a huge cargo bay load volume of 4.4 cubic metres, which is the equal of a standard Hyundai iLoad van. That’s also enough room to carry a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet or two 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets or, needless to say, a mountain of gear.

The cargo bay walls and rear barn-doors are also lined to mid-height, plus there’s six load anchorage points and a handy 12-volt outlet in the right-side door pillar. Road noise emanating from the cargo bay is effectively insulated from the cabin area by the bulkhead.

The Renault’s cargo bay offers 4.0 cubic metres of load volume. That’s slightly less than the Ford but it can also carry an Aussie pallet or two Euro pallets. Like the Transit Custom there are six sturdy anchorage points and the walls and rear doors are lined to mid-height. There’s also a handy storage bin for tarps, cargo padding, ropes/straps etc at the base of the bulkhead which extends under the rear seat.

So, the Transit Custom has the biggest payload and the HiAce has the highest GCM rating, with the Trafic a happy medium. So, if a big payload is most important then the Ford shines, but if a more practical balance between payload and towing weight is a priority then the Toyota and Renault have more appeal. The Ford and Renault are also more forklift-friendly than the Toyota, so again it’s horses for courses and only a buyer can decide which horse best suits their course.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

8

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

8

Cabin storage

The HiAce driver and front passenger have a large-bottle holder and big storage bin in the base of each front door, plus small-bottle/cup holders in the centre and on either side of the dash. There’s also an A4-sized glovebox, a small cubby to the left of the gearshift for small items and an overhead glasses holder.

Unique to the HiAce is its huge centre console, which sits low to the floor and looks like an oversized desk organiser. This is very efficient in retaining bulky items which are often hard to find secure places for when driving. like lunch boxes, Thermos flasks, clipboards etc.

For rear passengers though, there’s no bottle holders or storage bins in the sliding doors and no flexible storage pockets on the front seat backrests. So, the best solution here would be a pair of aftermarket cabin organisers fitted to the front seat backrests, to provide the storage of drink bottles and other personal items that the sliding doors should - but don’t.

  • Inside, there's a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (HiAce Crew Van pictured) Inside, there's a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (HiAce Crew Van pictured)
  • There’s generous leg room with ample space for three passengers in the Crew Van. There’s generous leg room with ample space for three passengers in the Crew Van.
  • There’s a big 1.5 litre bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door. There’s a big 1.5 litre bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door.

The Transit Custom’s more plentiful storage for the driver and front passengers includes three levels of storage bins and a large-bottle holder in each front door, plus pairs of large-bottle holders on each side of the dash, three open storage bins set into the dash-pad and a large glovebox.

There’s also a small central overhead storage compartment for smaller items, plus the front passenger seat base cushions can pivot forward to reveal a huge hidden storage area beneath. The centre passenger backrest also folds forward to reveal a handy work desk with document strap, two cup holders and a pen holder.

Unfortunately, like the HiAce this amenity is not shared with rear seat passengers. Although some open storage is provided beneath the bench seat (accessed via a removable metal frame), there are no cup holders or storage bins in the sliding doors, nor flexible storage pockets on the front seat backrests.

  • Plentiful cabin storage options start with three levels of storage bins and a large single glovebox. (Ford Transit Custom pictured) Plentiful cabin storage options start with three levels of storage bins and a large single glovebox. (Ford Transit Custom pictured)
  • Being based on a commercial van means the rear seat passengers have a spacious flat floor. Being based on a commercial van means the rear seat passengers have a spacious flat floor.
  • Up front are two large bottle holders in each door. Up front are two large bottle holders in each door.

The Renault has large-bottle holders and storage bins in each front door plus a well-designed dash with three small-bottle/cup holders, a pull-out driver’s storage bin, open storage nook in the centre dash-pad and dual gloveboxes. Like the Transit Custom, there’s a large storage space beneath the dual front passenger seat.

Those seated in the second row have access to handy storage pouches on the backrest of each front seat and a moulded full-width open storage bin under the seat behind their heels. However, like the HiAce and Transit Custom, there are no dedicated bottle or cup holders.

So, it’s a close call between the Renault and Ford for the best cabin storage with the HiAce third, but the absence of dedicated bottle/cup holders and storage bins in the side doors of all three is a significant oversight of rear passenger convenience that should be addressed.

  • Like the Transit Custom, there’s a large storage space beneath the dual front passenger seat. (Renault Trafic pictured) Like the Transit Custom, there’s a large storage space beneath the dual front passenger seat. (Renault Trafic pictured)
  • Those seated in the second row have access to handy storage pouches on the backrest of each front seat. Those seated in the second row have access to handy storage pouches on the backrest of each front seat.
  • Cabin storage includes large-bottle holders and storage bins in each front door. Cabin storage includes large-bottle holders and storage bins in each front door.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

7

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

8

Driving: unladen

These vans are so close in engine performance, handling, braking and ride quality when either empty or with light loads that it’s difficult to determine a clear winner in this judging category.

They all provide satisfactory driver comfort but the HiAce lacks an in-board fold-down driver’s armrest and the noise reduction provided by a cargo bay bulkhead, while the Renault lacks a driver’s left footrest. The Transit Custom is the only one to offer all of these features, which help to reduce driver fatigue during long stints behind the wheel.

The glazed sliding doors, combined with blind-spot monitoring on the Toyota and Ford, alleviate much of the driver blind-spots (particularly the left side) created by solid doors and there are clear driver eyelines to the external door mirrors. Reversing hazards are also minimised by rear-view cameras, but they also share cluttered views through their central rear-view mirrors.

There’s not much difference in rear passenger comfort, although the Transit Custom and Trafic with their moulded cargo barriers are visually more authentic passenger vehicles than the HiAce, which looks more like a commercial van with a bench seat bolted into the cargo bay. Its non-remote key fob, which requires manual locking and unlocking of the driver’s door, is a blast from the past – where it belongs.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

8

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

9

Driving: fully loaded

Although these crew vans offer different payload ratings, the HiAce has the smallest at just under one tonne (995kg). The Transit Custom (1149kg) and Trafic (1118kg) are both genuine one tonners, so that extra carrying capacity may be important depending on your requirements.

Even so, we tested all three at close to their payload limits and they proved difficult to separate in terms of their load-carrying abilities. They all displayed minimal rear suspension compression under maximum loadings, leaving ample rear wheel travel. If anything, they all felt more solidly planted on the road with minimal effect on engine, braking, steering and handling response.

They also share great hill-climbing ability under maximum loads, confidently powering up our 2.0km long, 13 per cent gradient set climb. Engine-braking under these loads is less impressive but not unexpected given their relatively small sub-3.0 litre capacities.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

9

Trafic Crew

9

Transit Custom Crew

9

Safety

This is where the HiAce shines brightest, with the freshest five-star ANCAP rating achieved in 2019 plus AEB with cyclist/pedestrian detection and a suite of other active safety features. There are not only seven airbags protecting the driver and front passenger, but the HiAce is unique in also providing side-curtain airbags for the rear seat passengers. So, that’s a total of nine airbags, which is the most of any HiAce model. The rear seat has three full lap-sash seatbelts and headrests plus ISOFIX child seat restraints on the two outer positions and top-tethers on all three. The only thing missing is a standard cargo barrier.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

ANCAP crash safety rating

5-stars (tested 2019)

Not rated

5-stars (tested 2012)

Airbags

Nine

Five

Six

AEB (auto emergency braking)

Yes

No

Yes

ABS (anti-lock brakes)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Stability control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cruise control

Yes

Yes

Yes (adaptive)

Trailer sway control

Yes

No

Yes

Lane-departure warning

Yes

No

Yes

Lane-keeping assist

Yes

No

Yes

Blind-spot monitoring

Yes

No

Yes

Rear cross-traffic alert

Yes

No

Yes

Traffic sign assist

Yes

No

Yes

Reversing camera

Yes

Yes

Yes

Parking sensors

Front and rear

Rear only

Front and rear

The Transit Custom also carries ANCAP’s maximum five-star rating, albeit achieved back in 2012. Since then, Ford has kept at the cutting edge of commercial van safety by adopting the latest in driver assistance technologies as they have become available.

However, it falls short here. Although the driver and front passengers are protected by six airbags (one less than the HiAce), those seated in the second row have none, which is a surprising oversight on Ford’s behalf given the safety applied to the rest of the Transit Custom fleet.

Otherwise, the Transit Custom is lineball with the HiAce’s safety benchmarks, headlined by AEB with pedestrian detection. The rear seat also has three lap-sash belts and headrests plus ISOFIX on the two outer positions.

The Trafic is the only van here with no ANCAP rating, no AEB nor many of the active features shared by its rivals (see table). The driver and front passenger get front and side curtain airbags and the driver gets a thorax airbag as well, but like the Transit Custom there’s no airbag protection for the  rear seat passengers.

So, the HiAce defends its title as the safest mid-sized van on the market with the highest score, followed by the Transit Custom with the Trafic a distant third.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

9

Trafic Crew

6

Transit Custom Crew

8

Ownership

HiAce comes with a five years/160,000km warranty and Toyota recommends scheduled servicing every six months/10,000km whichever occurs first. Capped-price servicing averages $245, but that only covers the first four scheduled services over two years or up to 40,000km.

The Trafic has a five years/200,000km warranty and its scheduled servicing extends to 12 months/30,000km. The capped-price servicing average of $739 covers the first five scheduled services or up to 150,000km.

Transit Custom matches the Renault with recommended service intervals of 12 months/30,000km and capped-price servicing for the first five scheduled services. However, its servicing average is lower at $486 and its warranty is unmatched at five years/unlimited km.

So, the Trafic has higher average capped-price servicing costs than the Transit Custom and also a 150,000km limit, whereas the Ford allows unlimited km. Even so, if you do the maximum 30,000km a year for the first five years in the Transit you’ll hit 150,000km anyway, so they sort of work out the same.

By comparison, the HiAce’s average service costs over five years could easily exceed its $245 capped-price average for only two years/40,000 km, so it’s impossible to rank it any higher than third in this category.

 

Toyota HiAce LWB Crew Van

Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle

Ford Transit Custom LWB 340L DCiV

Warranty

Five years/160,000km

Five years/200,000km

Five years/unlimited km

Capped-price service plan

Two years/40,000km

Five years/150,000km

Five years/unlimited km

Service intervals

 6 months/10,000km

12 months/30,000km

12 months/30,000km

Average cost per service (five years)

$245 (two years only)

$739

$486

Roadside assist cover

Not included

12 months

12 months

 

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

7

Trafic Crew

8

Transit Custom Crew

9

It’s an unenviable task trying to determine a podium order here, because the accumulated scores from the 10 judging categories resulted in a final tally which had only a four-point gap between first and third.

What these scores tell us is that what each van may lack in one area, it makes up for in others. For example, the HiAce is worthy of its near-perfect safety score, particularly with its unique rear side-curtain airbags, but loses points for limited cabin storage, no standard cabin bulkhead and short servicing intervals. By contrast, the Trafic has the highest price and rates poorly for safety but scores big on fuel economy, cabin storage and standard equipment.

The Transit Custom, though, has a knack of maintaining consistently high scores in these comparisons because it does most things consistently well. Its one major shortcoming is a 1.8-tonne braked tow rating that’s more of a marketing headline than a practical reality, given the huge reductions in payload required to achieve it.

Even so, the final points tally has the Transit Custom 340L DCiV ahead of the HiAce LWB Crew Van and Trafic Crew Lifestyle, but the points are so close they are almost irrelevant. The bottom line is, if you’ve got a large crew and a lot of gear, you’d be happy with any of these vehicles. Only a potential buyer can decide which one ticks the most boxes on their priority list.

Model

Score (out of 10)

HiAce Crew

81

Trafic Crew

80

Transit Custom Crew

84

$44,190 - $53,490

Based on new car retail price

Price Guide

$44,190 - $53,490

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data