Review: Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012)

Rating:

Better fuel economy than the previous version, easy to drive, very dependable.

Not the most modern or stylish van you can buy, dated interior.

Recently Added To This Review

28 May 2009 Hiace improved with air conditioning

The upgrade is one of a range of new features for the new model year, introduced to improve comfort on board, along with new-design seats with a smart-but-tough cloth upholstery and fabric covered door... Read more

5 October 2006 New Hiace launched

On sale in the UK from October, there were a raft of changes for the new Hiace. Both versions of the 2.5-litre D-4D engine were re-engineered to deliver more power and torque while at the same time,... Read more

Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012): At A Glance

Throughout its history, the Toyota Hiace has been a dependable, reliable business tool for many. It may lack some of the styling flair and dynamic ability of certain rivals, but it’s very good at transporting people and goods with minimum fuss.

This 2007 model Hiace wasn't strictly all-new, rather it was a heavily revised and restyled version of the van that had been on sale in the UK since 2001. There were plenty of changes though not least a much bolder look with big headlights plus big improvements to cabin comfort.

New features included a redesigned four-spoke steering wheel, giving a more car-like feel, plus a silver finish to the central instrument cluster. More contemporary seat fabrics were introduced along with a premium audio line up, including a standard audio system with CD player that can play MP3 files stored on disc. For the first time the Hiace was also available with the option of DVD full-map touchscreen satellite navigation.

Under the bonnet, Toyota upgraded the 2.5-litre D-4D common rail diesel engine, giving stronger performance, better fuel efficiency and improved emissions. Power from the entry-level engine increased to 95PS with torque boosted from 192Nm to 230Nm.

There's plenty of choice with both short and long wheelbase version of the standard panel van, with respective gross vehicle weights of 2.8 and 3.0 tonnes. The Hiace can also be specified with either a rear lift door, or swing-out doors that open to 180 degrees. The short wheelbase model is designed to offer enough space to carry two Euro pallets, having a load length of 2335mm. On long wheelbase versions, this measurement increases to 2780mm.

A final flourish for the Hiace took place in 2009 when air conditioning became standard across all models. This makes a later Hiace a good bet for anyone who spends time stuck in sticky, hot city streets on a regular basis. The same update also brought new cloth upholstery for the seats, electric windows and more sound-proofing for the cabin to tackle that lingering niggle of a noisy cab. There was also an extra interior light for the load area. The Hiace went off sale in the UK in 2012 and was replaced with the Toyota ProAce - essentially a rebadged version of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.

What does a Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012) cost?

Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

There is a gently dated feel to the Hiace’s cabin, even though Toyota updated the van in mid-2009 with an improved interior. This round of revisions brought new, harder wearing seat cloth for redesigned seats that offer more comfort. There are also arm rests in the door panels and switches for the electric windows for all mid-2009-on Hiace models.

Toyota went even further with this makeover and supplied air conditioning too for all models as the Hiace entered the final three years of its life.

As well as the extra sound-proofing that was fitted from the middle of 2009, Toyota also used a special glass for the cab to reduce UV glare. Other upgrades also include instruments with chrome surrounds. However, Toyota did not get around to offering height adjustment for the driver’s seat, so make sure you can get comfy in the Hiace before committing your cash to owning one.

Placed around the driver are a few storage cubbies, but there are no drinks holders. There is a shelf above the windscreen that is ideal for keeping paperwork from sliding across the dash, but the Toyota doesn’t offer the same ‘office on wheels’ cab that many more modern rivals do.

Another area where the Hiace feels its age is the stereo. It sounds like a minor complaint, but the standard fitment stereo is typically Japanese and has way too many small and impenetrable buttons, so you need to take your eyes off the road to carry out the simplest adjustment and that is not good for safety. At least later models come with a driver’s airbag as standard, as well ABS brakes.

The short wheelbase Hiace has a gross vehicle weight of 2800kg and the long wheelbase version ups this to 3000kg. This equates to maximum payloads of 1060kg for the SWB Hiace and 1180kg for the LWB model. Access to the load area is through either twin rear doors or an up-and-over tailgate. Our preference is the twin rear door arrangement as it allows for easier access and working in smaller spaces. The tailgate model is too easily thwarted by another vehicle parking close behind. Still, this isn’t the disaster it could be as the Hiace comes with a standard sliding side door for even more access.

The SWB Hiace can hold a single Euro pallet with no trouble, while the LWB model can swallow two Euro pallets to be the wiser choice for builders, plumbers and anyone else who carries larger loads to site. A full steel bulkhead is fitted to all Hiace models and there is a glass window that helps keep an eye on loads for security when driving and also makes reversing easier.

Hiace models from mid-2009 onwards have a better illumination in the load area thanks to an extra light. It makes all the difference when loading the van in the dark and something other van manufacturers would do well to note.

What's the Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012) like to drive?

The 2.5-litre D-4D common rail turbodiesel engine that powers the Hiace comes in 95PS or 117PS forms, both offering decent urban performance with help from a five-speed gearbox with a very slick and easy to use gearchange.

In fact, the gear shift deserves special mention as it makes the Toyota feel much more like a hatchback car than a van when you’re trickle through the treacle of city traffic. Anything that makes your life simpler in this situation is always welcome.

The brake, throttle and clutch pedals are also light and well judged for the amount of effort they require, again adding to the sensation the Hiace has been designed with input from Toyota’s passenger car division.

On more open roads, the 95PS diesel engine begins to feel a little under-endowed, so if you hop between cities rather than just streets, the more powerful 117PS engine will be your motor of choice. At a steady motorway cruise, the Hiace and 117PS engine lope along comfortably, but there is always a background grumble of diesel engine noise, even with the improvements made to refinement in mid-2009.

The high-seat and cab forward driving position of the Hiace gives a good view of the road ahead, which makes slotting this van into tight spaces very easy. The driver only has to peer over the steering wheel to judge where the bumper stops and any obstacle starts. Large door mirrors help when reversing and parking, while the steering offers a satisfyingly small turning circle. Again, this makes the Hiace a good bet for use in town or along narrow country lanes where it can dive into small spaces more easily than most rivals.

Softly sprung suspension allows the Hiace to deal with town-bound kerbs and country potholes with a laid-back ease. However, this also translates into handling that is a little too roly-poly compared to more modern competitors. Even with no load in the back, the Toyota just leans too much in corners and discourages the driver from making decent progress.

Add in some weight to the load bay and the Hiace starts to loll about much more than we’d like in any van. However, the tyres hang on and, despite the lean-to approach to cornering, there is reasonable grip, so the Hiace won’t see you heading towards any hedges.

Real MPG average for a Toyota Hiace (2007 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

107%

Real MPG

30–39 mpg

MPGs submitted

13

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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