Toyota: 2014 Hiace ZX automatic review

Toyota: 2014 Hiace ZX automatic review

Earlier this year Toyota announced a series of cosmetic interior and exteriors updates for the 2014 Hiace range as well as a mildly retuned suspension package for better road comfort and handling.

So we decided it was time to review one of the most popular vans on New Zealand roads.

Delivery vans are mobile offices, and more than ever they need to be as well-equipped as a passenger car, if not better, and they also need to be more car-like to drive, given that the working day has gotten longer and more and more hours are spent behind the steering wheel.

DSC_0059The Hiace commands more than 40% market share in the local delivery van market, so Toyota’s revisions to the Model 2014 year vehicles were evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but still enough to ensure greater driver comfort and amenity as we discovered after a week behind the steering wheel.

Our long wheelbase ZX automatic test vehicle featured redesigned halogen headlights with integrated daytime running lights, along with newly designed combination lights at the rear. The grille treatment has also been revised to give the van a more modern look

Inside the cabin theres a familiar feel to Hiace vans I’ve driven previously, but Toyota has installed darker coloured instrument panel with silver accented highlights gives the dashboard a more contemporary look.

There’s a new three ring gauge design that is easier to read on the move. In the centre console, the controllers for heating and air conditioning have been reconfigured as three distinct dials.

A new style of four spoke steering wheel houses controls for the audio system, Multi-Information Display (MID) screen and cruise control, which is now standard across the Hiace range.

The Multi-Information Display gives the driver trip information and every Hiace features an MP3 capable audio system that includes AM/FM radio and single CD functionality, as well as USB and auxiliary connections for external devices.

140307p9888lrAll Hiace models feature Bluetooth hands free calling and audio streaming capability, as well as voice control for the audio and phone systems.

Toyota has shortened the accelerator pedal to accommodate drivers who wear large work boots, while the electro-chromatic rear vision mirror dims automatically to avoid headlight ‘dazzle’ from behind and also houses the screen for the reversing camera.

In a lengthy vehicle such as the Hiace ZX, a reversing camera isn’t a nice to have, its a need to have, especially if your rear view has been obstructed by bulky items of cargo in the rear DSC_0061compartment.

The characteristics of the Hiace ZX’s rear leaf springs have been refined and the damping force of both front and rear shock absorbers have been tuned to improve stability, control and ride comfort.

It certainly feels less van-like to drive and the ride quality when not laden is markedly more comfortable and quiet than previous iterations of this vehicle.

The Hiace boasts a tight turning circle of 12.4m for the ZX, which makes it quite manoeuvrable in tight, congested urban environments such as our office car park.

Powered by a 100kW 3.0 litre turbo diesel, giving the driver 300Nm of torque, the automatic ZX never felt underpowered and when shown the cloven hoof, it could launch itself into traffic quite easily. Toyota quotes fuel economy of 9.2L/100km in the automatic ZX.

Load space is generous and the ZX features a low loading level, making loading and unloading safer and easier, along with an integrated rear step bumper and multiple tie-down hooks throughout the cargo bay. The ZX boasts 9800 litres of available space or 9.8 cubic metres.

All Hiace models benefit from the half-bonnet aperture up front which allows for basic service maintenance of brake fluid, IMG_0355engine coolant and washer fluid reservoir levels, along with side and rear UV glass.

Toyota says it’s dealer network provides a wide array of accessories; a roof rack system, 15” alloy wheels, a protective clear film which protects the bonnet from stone chips, hard wearing acrylic weather-shields and Hiace specific nudge bars, rear bull bar systems and tow bar kits are all available as options, as are cargo barriers, all weather floor mats and deck liners, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher.

The Hiace ZX automatic is priced from $58,330 plus on road costs, the manual version is $56,330 plus on road costs.

Pros:

  • Tight turning circle, good visibility
  • Reversing camera makes parking a breeze
  • Good dealer network and parts and service support

Cons:

  • A decade old and starting to look old fashioned
  • Doesn’t have ESC, could be an issue in future

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