Car Reviews

2015 Toyota Hiace LWB crew cab review

Robert Pepper’s 2015 Toyota HiAce review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: The HiAce is aN easy choice for a van, because you can’t go wrong with a Toyota working vehicle.  But that doesn’t mean to say you can’t do better.

2015 Toyota Hiace

PRICE :  $37,990 (+ORC) WARRANTY : 3 years / 100,000 km SAFETY : 4 star (25.5 / 37, tested in 2014) ENGINE : 3.0L diesel 4-CYL POWER : 100 kW @ 3400 rpm TORQUE : 300 Nm at 1200 rpm   TRANSMISSION : 4-speed AUTOMATIC DRIVE :  rear-wheel drive BODY :  4695 mm (L);  1695 mm (W),  1980 mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE :  12.4 m KERB WEIGHT :  1915 kg GVM 2800 pAYLOAD 965kg SEATS :TOWING : 1400kg braked / 400kg unbraked FUEL TANK : 70 litres SPARE :  FULL-SIZE THIRST : 9.2 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL : diesel

Editor's Rating

How we rated the Toyota HiAce
The HiAce is a dependable, basic utility vehicle that is easy to live with and comes with the well-deserved Toyota good reputation in working vehicles. However, Toyota haven't given the vehicle much love, so while nothing to dislike about the HiAce there's not much to turn your head.
The HiAce (yes, it is capital A) is one of the world’s most popular and trusted vans.  Our tester is the LWB (long wheelbase) diesel automatic crew van, and we put it to work over a weekend moving house.  It’s the standard automotive journalist test of a van, but nevertheless a useful workout.


A white HiAce has always looked like it is hewn from a solid block of ice using as few cuts as possible, but it’s none the worse for that.  The vehicle has a modern, unpretentious, clean look with coordinated wheels, trim and doorhandles.  Styling of these vehicles is only something you notice if it’s done poorly, and that’s not the case here.
Inspection of the outside reveals sensibly robust design.  You’d need to work hard to damage this one.  Still, any such vehicle will suffer as it earns its keep, and our tester had done some work judging by the state of the interior and the odd exterior blemish, but it still looked pretty tidy.

Room & practicality

Starting from the front we have a basic, but functional interior.  The door pockets are small, really only useful for keys and papers but that’s because the front seats are so close to the doors.  This leaves room for a largish centre console which sits atop the engine, and there’s two drinks holders slightly after.  There’s a glovebox and some storage ledges.  Overall, a useful front cabin but not one that Toyota have spent a lot of time making either above-average useful or practical.
Yes that was secured before we moved off! So much easier than loading a dualcab ute…
Doors aren’t electric, but slide open easily. There’s a step to getup into the cabin. While not an offroader, HiAce isn’t going to scrape at the first sign of rough terrain either.

The loadspace itself is good.  The access is fairly low, and the floor is a hard rubber covering that doesn’t much damage furniture, allows things to slide if pushed yet provides enough grip to keep objects from moving.

A disappointment is the lack of tie-down points, only four and all in the floor although they’re all recessed so they don’t get in the way.  Would have liked to have see at least eight on the floor, and a few more halfway up the cargo area walls.  A little net for storing straps and ropes wouldn’t go amiss either.  
The second row is a three-abreast single unit that easily folds up to reduce the 2900mm loadspace to 2500mm.  There’s no headrest on the middle seat, not good for safety. You could remove the second row entirely if you wanted to and save 80kg as well as gain 400mm of loadspace.
The rear tailgate is a single-piece lift up.  Make sure no kids open it as if they get in the way the HiAce tailgate will bat them into low-earth orbit.  You can decide for yourself on the relative merits of a double side-opening door like Transit or the HiAce way…it’s all very much situation dependent.  We didn’t mind the HiAce at all, as the tailgate provided handy shade and rain protection.  

On the inside

The interior looks rather early 1990s, but that’s not necessarily all bad.  There’s big, easy-to-use dials not fiddly buttons.  Everything is well built, obvious and hard to get wrong.  But there’s nothing to impress, no useful little touches.  The instrument panel is very basic, no revcounter for example.   Even allowing for this being a van, Toyota really could have made a better job of the speakers which are tinny and need to compete with the engine noise.  The infotainment unit is Toyota’s most basic unit.  It has Bluetooth audio and streaming, AM/FM, USB, AUX in and a CD player.  There’s a 12v socket with an actual cigarette lighter too!
The two sliding doors open the cargo area right up, and there’s sliding windows too. Front windows are power operated.

Performance, ride and handling

The driving position is comfortable for most people.  The vehicle is very obviously originally a manual as there’s a wall between brake and where the clutch would be, and the brake pedal is very small for an automatic.  A better footrest wouldn’t go amiss, but otherwise no complaints and we spent a long time behind the wheel.  Getting in and out is easy enough too, with steps and grabhandles.
The HiAce, when lightly loaded, does not hurt for power and feels quicker than its 1900kg weight with 100kW and 300Nm would suggest, particularly with an aged 4-speed automatic.  When unloaded the ride is bouncy at the front, and vigourous acceleration will cause a bit of wheelspin, but both traits rapidly disappear with a load.  Drive hard and you find the vehicle is viceless, and the electronics will sort out any overly enthusiastic moments. The suspension is rear leaf spring with a beam rear axle, so it’ll never be a smooth ride but it’s more than good enough even unloaded.  We put perhaps 400kg of gear in the vehicle and it rode well, but didn’t take it to the maximum payload which is nearer 900kg, not a bad figure but it can be easy enough to max out something with this size of cargo space.
The HiAce is good at slow-speed maneuvering, it’s an easy car to inch forwards a millimeter or so..and yes I know that’s mixing units!  Less good are the wingmirrors, which really need to be bigger and show where the rear wheels are.  There’s a reversing camera and it is quite effective.  The turning circle is not bad at 12.4m, very handy for those oops-chuck-a-u-bolt moments.  Not that we had any of those.
The engine is rather noisy, and while it is a utility vehicle a bit more quietness would be no bad idea, particularly as you might want to be talking via the Bluetooth connected phone system, and because noise is fatiguing.  It’d help if the automatic had five, preferably six speeds so the engine wouldn’t need to rev so hard – not that the HiAce is underpowered, but less revs equals less noise.  Brakes are good, and the automatic is old but effective.  The parkbrake is the old pull-operation type, and as such is not to be trusted on steep hills but does the job elsewhere.  
At cruising speed you get the usual van-like directional instability in winds. Cruise control is standard issue Toyota/Lexus and works well. There’s a fair bit of wind noise at highway speeds.  
We didn’t tow, but  the figures are a fairly miserable 1400kg braked and 400kg unbraked, not great for a 1900kg long wheelbase van.  
All the basics, easily accessible. Guess we can forgive Toyota for the lack of gas struts!


Really just the ultra basics here.  ABS and stability control with traction control, and two front airbags.  No side airbags, no trick safety gear or advanced electronics.  ANCAP rating is 4 stars, 25.5 out of 37, tested in 2014.  Not the leader for safety.
Reversing camera has guidelines and the screen is in the rear view mirror.

Pricing & Equipment

2015 HiAce Pricing (exclusive of on-road costs)

Our tester is a long wheelbase (LWB) in bold below, and there’s a Super Long Wheel Base (SLWB) for another $2000.  The diesel is $3000. There is no trim spec option.  And there’s no short wheelbase either.
  Petrol Diesel Difference
LWB Van $32,990 $35,990 $3,000
LWB crew van N/A $37,990
SLWB van $40,990 $44,990 $4,000
Commuter bus $53,490 $57,490 $4,000

Automatic transmission prices are:

  • Diesel – $2500
  • Petrol – $3000

Paint – $500 (if not white)

Automatic door (bus) – $900

Is the diesel worth it?  

Here’s some numbers to give you an idea.  We’ve assumed 30,000km a year, and added 20% to the diesel’s official fuel consumption figures and 22% to the petrol, on the basis the official figures are too low and petrol usage rises under load quicker than diesel.   If we take the $3000 price difference then that’s around 3 years to pay the extra, not allowing for other factors such as higher repayments and so on.

  Diesel Petrol
Purchase price $ 35,990 $ 32,990
Cost/L $ 1.50 $ 1.40
Difference $ 3,000 $ 3,000
L/100km 9.0 11.5
Factor 20% 22%
Real-world 10.8 14.0
Cost/L $ 1.50 $ 1.40
KM / year 30,000 30,000
Cost/year $ 4,860 $ 5,893
Difference   $ 1,033
Payoff (years)   2.9

Payload – what you can legally carry

You want to carry a load?  Here’s the figures for payload, which is the difference between kerb (unladen) weight and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass), the maximum the vehicle is permitted to weigh.

Body Engine Transmission Kerb GVM Payload Length
LWB Petrol Auto 1735 2800 1065 4695
    Manual 1720 2800 1080 4695
  Diesel Auto 1835 2800 965 4695
    Manual 1825 2800 975 4695
LWB Crewcab Diesel Auto 1915 2800 885 4695
    Manual 1905 2800 895 4695
SLWB Petrol Auto 1905 3200 1295 5380
    Manual 1890 3200 1310 5380
  Diesel Auto 2015 3200 1185 5380
    Manual 2005 3200 1195 5380
As you can see, the SLWB (Super Long Wheel Base) is the one to have with over 1300kg of payload in some variants.  As usual, manuals are a bit lighter than autos – by around 15kg – and the diesel weighs around 100kg more than the petrol.  That set of seats in the Crewcab weighs 80kg.  The SLWB is 680mm longer than the LWB. 

You save 80kg if you take the rear seats out, going by the difference in tare weight between crew cab and van.  


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Mark Cooper
Mark Cooper
8 years ago

I think the diesel vs petrol trade off needs to also take into account the higher resale value of diesel. Sure the payoff is 3 years of ownership, but as soon as you sell you are clearly up.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper