Australia’s most successful van and light bus, Toyota HiAce, has been given a fresh look for 2014 along with updates that expand its safety, comfort and convenience.
Customer demand for a more car-like environment has led to the fitment of a bucket seat for the front passenger, which is now separated from the driver’s seat by a centre-console box.
Drivers benefit from the addition of cruise control and audio switches on the new four-spoke steering wheel, as well as an LCD Multi-Information Display showing the time, outside temperature and odometer.
The HiAce front-end looks more robust with newly designed headlamps with daytime running lamps and radiator grille openings that are larger and adopt Toyota’s trademark trapezoidal shape.
The new front bumper has sharp edges that add to the visual strength while the corners have been pulled back slightly to emphasise the stronger front.
Despite the improvements, there are no price increases for HiAce vans while the increase for HiAce bus has been limited to $500*.
In Australia, HiAce has been market leader of the combined van and light bus segments for more than two decades.
Last year, HiAce commanded 35.5 per cent of the van market with 6,622 sales and almost 72.4 per cent of the light bus market with 2,193 sales.
Toyota began selling HiAce in Australia in 1971, four years after it was launched in Japan. The name originated from the combination of “High” for high performance and “Ace”, signifying a hard worker.
Australian customers have bought a total of 286,250 HiAce vans and buses with sales accelerating over time.
The first 100,000 were sold at an average of about 5,000 a year between 1971 and 1990; the next 100,000 sales took just 15 years until 2005 at an average of about 6,700 a year; and, since then, sales have averaged more than 10,000 a year.
Over the past 20 years, HiAce vans have outsold buses by more than three-to-one and HiAce petrol vans have been at least twice as popular as diesel.
However, there has been a marked shift towards diesel in the past decade with customers buying more diesel HiAce vans than petrol vans each year since 2010.
The latest changes for HiAce include a new exterior colour for long-wheelbase models, scarlet – in keeping with the preference of many customers for dark colours.
On automatic transmission models, there is a shift position indicator in the instrument cluster and an Eco driving indicator light that encourages low fuel use by informing the driver when the accelerator is being operated efficiently.
The new HiAce safety package includes seatbelt warning buzzers for the driver and front passenger and a seatbelt warning lamp for the front passenger.
HiAce adopted a reversing camera on all models from May 2012 production with a 3.3-inch image displayed in the electro-chromatic rear-view mirror.
The Toyota HiAce range has three body styles, two wheelbases, two engines and two transmissions.
The three body styles are Long WheelBase (LWB) van, wide-body and high-roof Super Long WheelBase (SLWB) van and Commuter bus.
The two wheelbase lengths are 2570mm for LWB van and 3110mm for SLWB van and 14-seat Commuter bus.
The three body styles are all offered with the choice of 2.7-litre VVT-i equipped petrol or 3.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engines.
Customers have the choice of a five-speed overdrive manual or electronically controlled four-speed overdrive automatic transmission.
Premium paint: $550
Auto door (bus): $900