1997 Toyota Hiace 3.0 diesel
Down to earth, no frills, no nonsense and no problems
Gear shift is very loose now (company van. what to expect?)
Drove it as a delivery man some time back. This is a company van, and it has been driven by many, many drivers. Albeit the shell is like a battered tin can now, EVERYTHING still works. Speaks volumes of its immortality and capacity for abuse.
Hiace is very easy to drive, very simple in design, with the plastic dash and all (it doesn't even have a tach). Dull styling, but has everthing the driver needs to get the job done. (Vito has 2 open shelves for the world to see). Mine came with power windows, AC (you can set the fan speed to 1 in the tropical heat) and cassette FM (with after market 6 stack as well) and central locking (Vito's system is junk compared to this)
Have never experienced a mechanical problem. Never heard an odd mechanical noise. Everything works as it should, although the engine and clutch is quite worn out now.
Hiace is an absolute joy to drive. Relative short wheelbase makes for tight turning, gear engages easily (Vito's clutch is not as smooth). Great as a delivery vehicle, but would be quite strained on the highway.
Fifth gear is too low and the engine would be protesting at around 85km/h. First gear is too small and is rarely used, which is what most drivers do.
Cabin noise intrusion is very high and the van strongly vibrates when pulling in low gear under a load.
Fuel tank is too small. Require frequent trips to the station.
Old technology diesel engine is sluggish now. Teaches you to be patient on the road.
All in all, Hiace is a fine example of a simple, but effective, practical and reliable design. Suitable for all countries of all road conditions. Feels as if it was built to last forever. The mechanics love it too and they reckon it is the most maintainable van around. (Even an aussie mech told me this). Seems that it can be worked on from the dealer's workshop to the countryside tractor yard. No laptops needed to diagnose problems here.
A van's cargo volume with a mid sized car's dimensions. Great for hauling stuff or friends around. Cheap price means paupers like me can more easily afford one. It's the modern day Volkswagen cult van.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th April, 2005