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The all-new Toyota Hiace doesn’t look familiar

Sixth-generation model has world premiere in the Philippines

Yes, this is the all-new Hiace. Yes, it has a hood. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Today, Toyota held the world premiere—as in the global unveiling—of the sixth-generation Hiace in the Philippines (at Grand Hyatt Manila, to be exact). Pause for a second and let the significance of the occasion sink in. Japan’s leading automaker launched an all-new model of a very important vehicle not in its domestic market, not in the United States, not in Europe and certainly not in Thailand. Instead, our humble territory—home to a modest 400,000-unit sales volume last year—served as the venue for the new-gen Hiace’s arrival.

How did this happen?

A world premiere means a car is being presented for the first time to the, er, world. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

We already told you two weeks ago that the reason for this important event is the size of the van market in this country. In 2018, Toyota Motor Philippines sold a total of 17,972 units of the Hiace, making our nation the largest Hiace market in the world after Japan (yes, bigger than South Africa, Mexico, Australia and Thailand). Apparently, we love riding in vans. That’s probably because many of us grew up traveling on jeepneys and buses—so much so that a vehicle like the Hiace is already considered a luxury.

As a result, the utility van makes up some 12% of the entire commercial vehicle segment, and the Hiace is responsible for 60% of the UVs. This kind of market volume and potential definitely deserves the global stage.

It feels weird viewing the Hiace from the side. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

The all-new Hiace obviously looks very different from its boxy predecessors. Measuring 5,265mm long (5,915mm for the bulkier GL Grandia Tourer), 1,950mm wide and 1,990 tall (2,280mm for the high-roofed GL Grandia Tourer), the new van now sports a semi-hood, breaking from the flat-front tradition of past models.

There are three versions on offer: the spartan Commuter Deluxe (15 passengers), the comfortable GL Grandia (12 passengers) and the luxurious GL Grandia Tourer (14 passengers). Needless to say, these will be mostly used as public-utility vehicle, family vehicle and executive (or celebrity) vehicle, respectively.

The Hiace GL Grandia version seats 12 people. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

Providing propulsion for all three Hiace versions is the same 2.8-liter four-cylinder common-rail diesel (1GD-FTV) engine found in the Hilux, the Innova and the Fortuner—but tuned differently to suit the unique motoring requirements of the three Hiace configurations. Here are the engine output figures for each one:

  • Commuter Deluxe – 174hp/420Nm
  • GL Grandia – 174hp/450Nm
  • GL Grandia Tourer – 161hp/420Nm

Both the GL Grandia and the GL Grandia Tourer have the option of either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic gearbox, while the Commuter Deluxe only comes with a six-speed stick shift.

This 2.8-liter diesel engine is basically the same oil-burner that does duty in the Hilux. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The photos you see here are those of the GL Grandia. It boasts 16-inch alloy wheels (16-inch steel rims for the Commuter Deluxe), halogen headlamps, 6.8-inch touchscreen display, steering-wheel controls, cruise control, dash-mounted shift lever, inside rearview mirror, individual charging ports, fabric seats with vinyl leather, a total of 22 cupholders, ventilated front brakes and rear drum brakes (ventilated rear brakes for the GL Grandia Tourer), driver and front passenger airbags (the Commuter Deluxe gets a third airbag for the middle front occupant), antilock brakes, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist, security alarm system with immobilizer, and parking sensors.

The GL Grandia interior looks comfy to us. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

Here’s what the GL Grandia Tourer looks like…

The GL Grandia Tourer features a high roof. You can probably stand upright inside. PHOTOS BY VERNON B. SARNE

And here’s the Commuter Deluxe

The entry-level Hiace Commuter Deluxe is easily identifiable by its black front bumper. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The all-new Hiace will have the following exterior colors: white and silver mica metallic for the Commuter Deluxe; black, silver mica metallic and luxury pearl toning for the GL Grandia; silver mica metallic, luxury pearl toning and light blue metallic (by indent) for the GL Grandia Tourer.

The prices?

  • GL Grandia Tourer AT – P2,220,000
  • GL Grandia Tourer MT – P2,145,000
  • GL Grandia AT – P2,048,000
  • GL Grandia MT – P1,973,000
  • Commuter Deluxe – P1,590,000

The Luxury Pearl Toning paint job adds P15,000 to the price tag.

Now, before you rush to the nearest Toyota dealership, be advised that the all-new Hiace won’t be officially available until March 5th for the Commuter Deluxe and the GL Grandia, and “early April” for the GL Grandia Tourer. In spite of this short wait, we should still consider ourselves lucky for getting the latest Hiace model ahead of other countries.

Expect this van to rule the road in the coming months.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.