A full hand of upgrades for New Zealand's most popular van
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Toyota has upgraded New Zealand’s best-selling van, the Hiace, with more comfort, safety and payload capacity.
It is the fifth generation of the Hiace, which has dominated sales in the New Zealand commercial vehicle market for decades.
Something like 75 per cent of all new vans registered last year were Hiace models.
Toyota New Zealand estimates there are around 80,000 Hiace vans on our roads, many of them well past their standard commercial lifespan.
Durability and dependability have meant the Hiace has held its position as New Zealand’s best-selling van. There are around five Hiace vans sold to one each of its main competitors, the Ford Transit and Hyundai I-Load.
But the old model has been on sale for 14 years, and the advances in the new model are obvious. For instance, no longer does the driver sit over the engine and the front axle. Instead the engine has been moved forward, with the “semi-bonnet” platform providing a longer wheelbase with an increased payload.
The driver sits in a safer position, behind the engine. He or she can manually raise the seat to suit, and the new set-up results in more of a car-like driving experience behind the wheel.
It is also easier to get in and out of the new Hiace compared with its predecessors, with an improved front step.
These vans are popular with courier drivers, many of whom are self-employed and can choose whatever van they like. In the case of one of New Zealand’s largest courier operators, Freightways, the vast majority choose Hiace vans, and have done for decades.
The new models are more practical than their predecessors, with a slightly higher floor area in the rear which makes for easier loading and unloading. They are wider, and now accommodate wide cargo such as pallets or Gib board lying flat in the back between the wheel arches. The changes have increased the payload by up to 85kg.
Toyota New Zealand general manager of new vehicles and product, Neeraj Lala, said the Hiace was used by many types of businesses from builders and couriers to taxis and luxury hotels.
“Toyota has looked for continual improvements that allow for greater customisation as well as providing a range of seating layouts for commuter vans and tourist operators,” he said.
Toyota had talked to Hiace owners in the field to create a van that was versatile with flat mount surfaces and anchor points to make it easy to customise the vehicle.
Toyota recognised the Hiace was different from other vehicles in that the owner was not necessarily the driver nor the passenger.
“Owners want a durable, dependable and safe vehicle with good resale value and low operating costs,” he said.
“Drivers want a safe, comfortable, easy-to-drive and reliable vehicle. Passengers want a comfortable, safe vehicle that is a pleasure to ride in.”
All new variants of the Hiace have a height adjustable driver’s seat for increased driver comfort.
Lala said this was particularly important for courier drivers who spent, on average, around 10 hours a shift in their vehicles.
All models have a 7in touchscreen audio unit with satellite navigation and SUNA traffic channel as well as mobile assistant, Bluetooth and voice recognition. The driver cockpit has a 4.2in colour multi information display with digital speedo, and cruise control.
The new models are available in five variants, with two body sizes, two body types and three passenger seat configurations.
The lineup will also include two carry-over variants, the ZL two-seater cargo van in automatic and manual transmission and the ZX 12 seater minibus.
The Hiace ZR has four variations — a six-speed manual transmission two-seater with full glass windows; a six-speed automatic two-seater with full glass windows; a five-seater (2+3) automatic with half-glass and solid panels and nine airbags; and a 10-seat automatic with full glass featuring additional speakers, rear cooling and rear heaters.
The two- and five-seaters have dual sliding doors while the 10-seat ZR has a left-hand sliding door.
The new ZX Hiace is 353mm longer than the previous model but 5mm lower, at a height of 2280mm. The ZX cargo van has two seats, full glass windows, supplementary door mirror and overhead console storage. It has one left-hand slide sliding door.
All new Hiace vans are powered by a 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine, the same 1GD engine that powers the Hilux utes. It delivers 130kW, 30kW more than the previous model, and 420Nm of torque for manual transmissions or 450Nm (up 150Nm) for automatic variants.
Toyota driveaway prices for the Hiace ZR five-door van, two-seater manual is $44,990, automatic $46,990, ZR five-door half panel van, five-seater auto $47,990, ZR minibus four-door van, 10-seat automatic, $52,9090, and the ZX four-door van, two-seat automatic, is $50,990.
The driveaway price includes all on road costs, WOF, registration, a full tank of fuel, 1000km of road user charges, a service package, floor mats, and three years or 100,000km warranty.