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Toyota HiAce 2023 review: LWB turbo-diesel

Our test vehicle's list price is $47,510. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4.5/5

Toyota doesn't make hasty decisions and with good reason. As one of the world’s largest and longest-running automotive manufacturers (founded 1937), it applies the same rigorous assessment of each new model proposal or running change. 

That ensures each green light stacks up as a viable business case, from which the company is assured of getting a worthwhile return on its investment.

This pragmatic approach was evident in Toyota’s decision in 2022 to offer a rear barn-door option for its HiAce van. Given this iconic commercial vehicle was launched in 1967, it’s taken 55 years for Toyota to finally offer an alternative to the HiAce's signature swing-up tailgate. 

Barn doors are ideal for those needing forklift access to cargo bays, so we assume this decision was prompted not only by competitors offering similar options but also growing demand from Toyota’s all-important fleet buyers. We recently tested one to see if this long-awaited option is on the money.

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

Our test vehicle is the LWB (Long Wheel Base) powered exclusively by Toyota’s well proven 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. It’s available with either standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, like our example.

Painted in standard 'French Vanilla', it has a list price of $46,760, plus on-road costs, but ours is fitted with the new $750 Barn Door option which bumps the list price to $47,510. 

It’s available on all LWB and SLWB (Super Long Wheel Base) variants except for the HiAce Crew, HiAce Commuter and LWB manual versions. 

Our test vehicle is also the Panel Van variant, which means a buyer can order a full-panel left-hand side sliding door instead of the standard windowed version at no extra cost.

The HiAce comes ready for hard work on sturdy 16-inch steel wheels with replaceable plastic covers and 215/60R16 tyres plus a full-size spare, along with a large centre console offering a variety of storage options. 

The HiAce wears16-inch steel wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The HiAce wears16-inch steel wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

There are also useful creature comforts in the two-seater cabin like a tilt-and-reach adjustable leather-accented steering wheel, driver’s seat adjustable lumbar support, manual air-con, two 12-volt cabin accessory sockets, folding/heated exterior door mirrors with indicators, and more.

The two-speaker multimedia system has a big 8.0-inch touchscreen plus steering wheel audio controls and 'DAB+2' digital radio

Multiple connectivity options include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Siri voice recognition, Bluetooth, sat-nav and 'Toyota Connected Services', which includes an app for mobile phones and safety/security functions like 'Stolen Vehicle Tracking', 'Automatic Collision Notification', 'SOS Emergency Call', and more.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

It’s a typically robust design comprising MacPherson strut front suspension, a leaf-spring live rear axle that’s excellent for load-carrying, variable-ratio rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes on all automatic variants, like ours.

The rear-wheel drive chassis has an inherent traction advantage over front-wheel drive vans, particularly on loose or slippery surfaces and with heavy payloads. 

Its 1990mm height allows access to underground and multi-storey car parks and its 3210mm wheelbase boasts an impressively tight 11.0-metre turning circle.

There’s no fold-down inboard armrest for the driver’s seat. (image credit: Mark Osatler) There’s no fold-down inboard armrest for the driver’s seat. (image credit: Mark Osatler)

The two-tone dash layout is neat and functional with easy-to-use controls and instrumentation. 

There’s still no fold-down inboard armrest for the driver’s seat to enhance comfort on long hauls, but given we had to wait more than half a century for a barn-door option, we know Toyota won’t be rushed on these decisions.

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

HiAce’s venerable (1GD-FTV) 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW at 3400rpm and in auto models like ours a meaty 450Nm of torque between 1600-2400rpm. 

Maintenance procedures are simplified by its Euro 5 emissions compliance which doesn’t require AdBlue.

The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW/450Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 130kW/450Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

A smooth-shifting Aisin (AC60E) six-speed torque converter automatic optimises fuel economy with full converter lock-up on fourth, fifth and sixth gears, along with overdrive on fifth and sixth for relaxed highway driving. It also offers the choice of sequential manual-shifting if required. 

The live rear axle is equipped with an electronically-controlled automatic limited-slip diff, which optimises the inherent traction advantage of rear-wheel drive.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Toyota claims an official combined cycle average of 8.2L/100km

After 215km of testing, without a load and with the automatic engine stop-start function switched off, our figure based on trip meter and fuel bowsers readings came in slightly higher at 9.8L/100km. 

This single-digit economy was achieved purely in city and suburban driving, which is thrifty for a large commercial vehicle weighing more than two tonnes. 

So, based on our figures, you could bank on a ‘real world’ driving range of around 700km from its 70-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

With its 2225kg kerb weight and 3300kg GVM, the HiAce has a genuine one-tonne-plus payload rating of 1060kg, and up to 120kg of that can be carried on the roof using Toyota’s genuine accessory triple-bar roof rack set. 

It also has a braked tow rating of up to 1500kg and with a GCM (how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) of 4800kg, it can carry its peak 1060kg payload while towing that weight, which is a versatile set of numbers for a working van.

Cargo bay walls and doors are lined to mid-height, the roof is internally lined and there’s ample internal lighting. 

It’s accessed from either side through sliding doors with 1010mm-wide openings, or from the rear through the barn-doors which are both equipped with demisters/windscreen wipers and can swing open to 180 degrees. 

The cargo bay offers 6.2 cubic metres of load space. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The cargo bay offers 6.2 cubic metres of load space. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Each door also has a simple brace which can hold them at 90 degrees opening if required.

The cargo bay offers a sizeable 6.2 cubic metres of load volume, measuring 2530mm long, 1760mm wide and 1340mm high. 

With 1268mm between the rear wheel housings and six floor-mounted load anchorage points, it can carry up to two standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallets or up to three 1200 x 800mm/1200 x 1000mm Euro pallets. 

Its spacious driver’s cabin has numerous storage offerings including a large-bottle holder and bin in the base of each front door, small-bottle/cupholders in the centre and on either side of the dash, plus a single glove box.

There's a large-bottle holder and bin in each front door. (image credit: Mark Oastler) There's a large-bottle holder and bin in each front door. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The centre console is well designed, comprising an open storage tray at floor level and a large lidded box between the seats. 

This not only has cavernous internal storage but there’s also an external shelf at the front, two large-bottle holders at the rear and another shallow tray set into the lid, which when closed can double as a handy work desk. 

What’s it like as a daily driver?

The big front doors swing wide open to provide easy access to the cabin, where it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position given ample seat adjustment that includes lumbar support, plus a height-and-reach-adjustable wheel and big left footrest. 

Responsive steering and strong braking, combined with a reasonably supple ride quality when empty or lightly loaded, makes for a comfortable daily work environment. 

This is enhanced by commendably low internal noise levels for a van without a bulkhead between the cabin and cargo bay. We suspect the full-length roof lining helps here.

Like all panel vans, the solid-walled cargo bay creates a huge blind-spot over the driver’s left shoulder which can’t be avoided. And the central join of the barn doors obscures vision through the cabin’s rear-view mirror.

However, the portrait-shaped door mirrors are a decent size and combined with a suite of driver aids like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and reversing camera, a competent driver can easily steer clear of trouble. 

The solid-walled cargo bay creates a huge blind-spot over the driver’s left shoulder. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The solid-walled cargo bay creates a huge blind-spot over the driver’s left shoulder. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

And it has easy manoeuvrability thanks to the tight 11-metre turning circle and lightness of the variable-ratio steering at parking speeds.

 The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel has good flexibility with strong low-rpm response thanks to its ample 450Nm of torque. 

The smooth and snappy shift protocols of the six-speed auto optimise engine response, which is most evident in stop-start city and suburban driving. 

It also delivers relaxed and economical highway travel, particularly with the cruise control activated, with overdrive requiring less than 2000rpm to maintain 110km/h.

What’s it like for tradie use?

It’s ironic that a forklift should be out of service on the same day we wanted to test improved forklift access! However, that’s what happened when we went to load up the HiAce for our usual GVM test. 

Even so, you don’t need to be a forklift aficionado to see that the 180-degree opening will provide clear access to the cargo bay. 

We also know from experience that the HiAce is a consummate one-tonner, having previously secured 975kg in the cargo bay which with driver equalled the van’s 1060kg payload limit. 

The 180-degree opening doors provide clear access to the cargo bay. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The 180-degree opening doors provide clear access to the cargo bay. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

There was ample rear suspension travel remaining thanks to minimal compression of the robust leaf springs.

The engine made light work of hauling this payload, with effortless highway cruising and particularly strong performance in hilly terrain.

It never felt sluggish on climbs and engine-braking was excellent on long, steep descents. As a workhorse, the HiAce is difficult to fault.

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

The current HiAce generation came armed with a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when launched in 2019 and still sets a safety benchmark.

There are seven airbags plus a plethora of active features including AEB with day/night pedestrian and day cyclist detection, trailer sway control, hill-start assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, and more. 

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

The HiAce is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty.

Scheduled servicing is set at relatively short six month/10,000km intervals, whichever occurs first. 

Capped-price of $290 per service covers the first six scheduled services over three years or 60,000km.

The rear barn-door option brings a significant boost in versatility, ensuring Toyota’s dominant market leader not only maintains its vast customer base but potentially expands it to include forklift-reliant operators who have previously overlooked the HiAce.

Given we had to wait 55 years for this barn-door option, we hope we don’t have to wait another half a century for a fold-down inboard armrest on the driver’s seat, which is now the only item missing from an otherwise formidable workhorse specification. 

$49,990 - $94,484

Based on 122 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.5/5

Tradies score

4.5/5
Price Guide

$49,990 - $94,484

Based on 122 car listings in the last 6 months

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.