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Toyota HiAce 2021 review: LWB diesel GVM test

The sixth-generation HiAce combines an efficient and practical design.

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.5/5

In 2021 the sixth-generation HiAce continues Toyota’s long-standing dominance of Australia’s mid-sized (2.5-3.5 tonne GVM) commercial van market, which is not surprising given the breed's hard-earned reputation for build quality and rugged dependability since its inception more than half a century ago.

We recently spent a busy week behind the wheel to be reminded of not only its all-round excellence, but also how the visual appeal of a shipping container on wheels can be enhanced by simply ticking the right option boxes.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The LWB (Long Wheel Base) HiAce come with either 3.5 litre petrol V6 or 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines and a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Our test vehicle is the LWB with turbo-diesel and auto for a list price of $45,240 before on-roads.

What brings a more upmarket look is optional Quicksilver premium paint (instead of the standard French Vanilla) and Toyota’s GL option pack, which includes body-coloured front and rear bumpers, body-coloured door handles, front fog lamps and digital rear-view mirror with auto-dimming. Combined these options add more than $1700 to the list price, which is still under $50K.

A minor and little-known HiAce upgrade in June 2020 saw the multimedia system’s original 7.0-inch touchscreen enlarged to 8.0 inches along with deletion of the CD player and an auxiliary input. Otherwise, it’s the same two-speaker system as before with steering wheel controls, DAB+2 digital radio and multiple connectivity including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Siri voice recognition, Bluetooth, sat-nav and more.

The wheels are 16-inch steels with full plastic wheel covers and 215/60R16 tyres. The wheels are 16-inch steels with full plastic wheel covers and 215/60R16 tyres.

The HiAce’s standard equipment list has a useful work focus including manual air-con, folding and heated exterior door mirrors with indicators, two 12-volt cabin accessory sockets and tilt-and-reach adjustable leather-accented steering wheel to name a few. The wheels are 16-inch steels with full plastic wheel covers and 215/60R16 tyres, backed by a full-size spare.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

The LWB HiAce rides on a 3210mm wheelbase yet has an impressively tight 11.0-metre turning circle. It comes standard with a sliding door on each side offering 1010mm-wide openings, plus a single-lift tailgate. In June 2020 Toyota added a four-door option with the RHS sliding door deleted. Its 1990mm height allows easy access to underground and multi-storey car parks.

Its 1990mm height allows easy access to underground and multi-storey car parks. Its 1990mm height allows easy access to underground and multi-storey car parks.

The rear-wheel drive chassis design is typically robust with proven MacPherson strut front suspension and a leaf-spring live rear axle. Although some rivals prefer front-wheel drive, the inherent traction advantage of rear-wheel drive, particularly with heavy payloads on surfaces with compromised traction, has always been a HiAce strength.

Toyota also sticks with traditional hydraulic, rather than electric, power assistance for the speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering and there’s four-wheel disc brakes for all automatic HiAce variants.

The dash layout, with its two-tone treatment, is neat and functional with intuitive controls that are easy to use and instrumentation that’s easy to read. The only thing missing is a fold-down inboard armrest for the driver’s seat, which numerous rivals offer as standard equipment to reduce shoulder and arm fatigue during long days behind the wheel.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW at 3400rpm and in auto models a sizeable 450Nm of torque between 1600-2400rpm.  It’s also Euro 5 emissions compliant and fuel economy can be optimised by the automatic engine stop-start function which thankfully can also be switched off.

The 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW at 3400rpm. The 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW at 3400rpm.

The sweet-shifting Aisin AC60E six-speed torque convertor automatic features full converter lock-up on fourth, fifth and sixth gears, along with overdrive on fifth and sixth for economical highway driving. There’s also sequential manual-shifting if required and traction is optimised by an electronically-controlled automatic limited-slip diff.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota claims a combined average of 8.2L/100km, but after crunching our own numbers from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings after 300km of testing, we came up with a figure of 10.3L/100km.

Even though we had the annoying automatic engine stop-start function turned off the whole time, that figure was still higher than we expected given that we have previously achieved 9.1L/100km with the same vehicle specification. And on that occasion, we also hauled a sizeable payload for a portion of the test, whereas this test was purely light loads.

However, to be fair, we did encounter mostly city and suburban traffic this time, which could explain the higher average consumption. Even so, it’s still knocking on the door of single-figure economy which is excellent for a commercial vehicle weighing more than 2.2 tonnes. So, based on our figures, you could expect a realistic driving range of around 680km from its 70-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

Our test vehicle’s 2205kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM results in a genuine one-tonne-plus payload rating of 1095kg and up to 120kg of that can be carried on the roof using Toyota’s genuine accessory triple-bar roof rack set.

It comes standard with a sliding door on each side offering 1010mm-wide openings, plus a single-lift tailgate. It comes standard with a sliding door on each side offering 1010mm-wide openings, plus a single-lift tailgate.

It’s also rated to tow up to 1500kg of braked trailer and with a GCM (or how much you can legally carry and tow at the same time) of 4800kg, it can haul its maximum 1095kg payload while towing that weight, which is a very practical set of numbers for either work or recreation.

The cargo bay is 2530mm long, 1760mm wide and 1340mm high with a generous load volume of 6.2 cubic metres. With 1268mm between the rear wheel housings, it can easily swallow two standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallets or three 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets, secured by six floor-mounted anchorage points. The walls and doors are lined to mid-height, there’s ample internal lighting and the roof is internally lined from windscreen to tailgate, which we suspect helps to reduce internal noise levels particularly at highway speeds.

The cargo bay is accessed through a non-glazed sliding door on the right-hand side, a glazed sliding door on the left-hand side (which helps to reduce the driver’s over-shoulder blind-spot) and a glazed single-lift tailgate. There’s no rear twin barn-door option, so forklift loading from behind is not practical for most forklifts.

There's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door. There's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door.

Cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door, with small-bottle/cup holders in the centre and on either side of the dash. There’s also a single glovebox and small cubby left of the gearshift for small items like coins, chewy etc.

Although the dashboard layout is uncluttered and functional, it lacks the extra storage options for clipboards, A4 files etc available in some rivals which make better use of this space. However, to compensate there’s a huge centre console that looks like an oversized desk organiser, which sits low to the floor and handy for retaining also kinds of loose items like lunch boxes, Thermos flasks etc.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

Cabin access is easy with its low floor height, wide-opening doors and sturdy A-pillar grab handles and once aboard there’s ample seat and steering wheel adjustment plus a well-placed left footrest. A fold-down in-board armrest is the only notable omission.

The dashboard layout is uncluttered and functional. The dashboard layout is uncluttered and functional.

Clear eyelines to all mirrors, combined with generous glass areas and numerous electronic driver aids, provide excellent all-round vision and driver awareness. The ride quality when empty or lightly loaded is commendably smooth for a vehicle with a one-tonne-plus payload rating, combined with strong braking and excellent steering feel courtesy of speed-sensitive power assistance that’s light at parking speeds and firm at highway speeds. A tight 11-metre turning circle allows easy manoeuvrability.

The sweet-shifting six-speed auto gets the best out of this engine at all times, particularly in the 40-80km/h speeds typically encountered in city and suburban driving, where it displays good flexibility and low-rpm response.

It’s also comfortable and economical at highway speeds requiring only 1700rpm to maintain 100km/h and 1800rpm at 110km/h, both of which fall comfortably within its peak torque band where throttle response is at its best.

The cruise control is easy to use and maintains set speeds on downhills with discipline and tyre noise from the rear wheel housings is noticeably less than some bulkhead-free rivals we’ve tested, which could be partly attributed to the full-length internal roof lining.

What’s it like for tradie use?

Although we only ran light duties during this test, we have previously forklifted 975kg into the cargo bay through the side doors, which with driver equalled a 1075kg payload that was only 20kg under its 1095kg limit. The rear leaf springs only compressed 33mm while the front struts dropped 20mm, leaving ample suspension travel.

Although lugging more than one tonne the HiAce barely noticed it in city and suburban driving, with acceleration, braking and handling hardly affected. If anything, it felt more planted on the road. It also cruised effortlessly at highway speeds and never felt weighed down or sluggish on climbs with its ample 450Nm of torque, while engine-braking on long, steep descents was equally strong. It’s a very competent load-hauler.

The HiAce can easily swallow two standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallets or three 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets. The HiAce can easily swallow two standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallets or three 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The sixth-generation HiAce combines an efficient and practical design with good driver comfort, excellent load-carrying ability, renowned reliability and peerless safety. Throw in strong resale value and it all adds up to an excellent all-rounder that’s worthy of its sales leadership in the mid-sized van segment. ends...

$45,240

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.5/5
Price Guide

$45,240

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.