The Hiace is a versatile vehicle, no doubt. Simpler variants can be seen ferrying people across the Metro, while the most adorned of the bunch, the Super Grandia, can be seen on high streets and business districts with chauffeurs in the driver’s seat and owners in the captain’s chairs.
This is not a Commuter, nor is it a Super Grandia. It’s in the middle of the lineup and is a very peculiar addition simply because of its sheer size among a few other things. Let’s see how this extended wheelbase Hiace fares in an in-depth review. This is the 2020 Toyota Hiace GL Grandia Tourer.
Let’s break it down with some numbers first, 2280 mm tall and 5915 mm long. The size of this thing is immense. It’s not really as large as other minibusses, but put side-by-side with a Super Grandia, and it just dwarfs it, and that luxury liner of a van is not that small, to begin with – let’s get that clear.
The front clip is what it is. The new redesign brings with it a new engine placement that brings your posterior out of an activity Caco calls, “crotch-pot cooking”, which is a good thing for how this van looks – marginally. The halogen headlamps and foglamps are okay, but we do like how the LED DRLs are done on this van. It is what it is, and it’s a rather plain-looking vehicle that’s not too over-the-top – pun intended I guess?
Notable additions can be found on the side, which includes an extended mirror to cement the fact that it is a huge vehicle. The roofline is tremendous, it only has one door on the passenger side to maximize seating space, and it has a rear door which we wish had a soft closing mechanism or a power liftgate. The lights are plain, and to summarize, the biggest design feature of this car is the fact that it is big.
A big exterior means a big interior, and the Tourer doesn’t disappoint. Even if it seats 14, the legroom for the GL Grandia is pretty good for all passengers, unlike the commuter variant. Instead of only four rows of seats, you have a total of 5. The seating configuration is arranged in a 2-2-3-3-4 pattern which allows passengers to sprawl out if need be. Headroom is no issue in here, and individuals who stand close to 5 feet in height will have no problem standing up while barely having to duck.
All the climate controls in this cabin are of the manual variety, but it keeps the cabin reasonably cool even if it is a big van. The seats are also a combination of cloth and leather in a two-tone color scheme. We foresee that the cloth in this interior will get noticeably dirty over time, while the leather will remain durable enough for day-to-day use. The interior plastics on the doors and dashboard are nothing to write home about. It’s fairly decent, but what’s nice is that Toyota has foregone the scratch magnet plastics in favor of durable and easy-to-clean matte panels – oh and the two-tone is a small touch of brightness in an otherwise plain cabin.
Cargo space is not that great when all the seats are up. In max-passenger mode, you’ll have to make do with space under the seats for storage. You can, however, fold rear bench up and out of the way to reveal quite a bit of floor space, that can rival an SUV, but setting them up or stowing them away isn’t the easiest thing in the world because it involves a bit of a learning curve to do quickly. You can opt to use the multitude of storage spaces around the cabin. The bottle holders behind the chairs are a little basic and flimsy, which don’t really inspire confidence when we use it.
Being suspended off the ground with 185 mm of ground clearance, you can go over just about anything. The setup is less than ideal for outright comfort. With an independent front and a leaf spring rear suspension, the ride is less than stellar if you have high standards.
Being more realistic though, it does have a lot of weight on it and a lot of open space in the interior, so it may not be the plushest ride on the planet, but it is managed fairly well. What we’re not to thrilled about is the NVH insulation with particular regard to the wind noise – granted because it is a box, but the intrusion came from the side mirrors, which is odd. Over harsher bumps, the metalwork and body did make a bit of a rattle but go slow and you’ll be fine.
Toyota’s display audio makes a return in this model as well, and it is still mediocre having only Bluetooth as its most advanced connectivity option. The system does output audio to a 6-speaker set, but given the size of the car, the speakers are lacking in terms of sound depth and quality. What's nice though are the multiple 2.1 amp USB charging points that can be found on every row in the cabin.
There is cruise control onboard and steering wheel audio controls, which are a nice touch. There are no automatic door locks which should be standard at this price. No push-start is present, which means that you have the traditional key in the hole affair to start the car. We wish that the backup camera displayed its feed to the infotainment screen though. Overall, it’s a rather basic package that does indeed cover a lot of bases, but without much flair. There are a lot of blank switches that we wish were filled out though, and that’s a bit of a let-down.
Safety inside the Grandia Tourer is fair, but not bleeding edge. You have dual front airbags and 3-point seatbelts for all occupants. Toyota outfitted this van with ABS with brake assist and stability control. That’s all there is mostly. You do have a backup camera with four sensors in the rear and two in the front. You also get an engine immobilizer, but we would have like to see speed-sensing door locks be standard.
Driving and Handling
There’s no getting around, it’s a big car. You will have to plan your trips carefully and do research with regard to vertical clearance because not all parking lots can accommodate the increased height of the Tourer which stands at nearly 2.3 meters in height. It doesn’t feel that long, however, and once you get a feel for the width, it’s not that difficult to maneuver, just don’t push it and go through tight back roads around the Metro. The steering is a bit heavy, but it’s apt for what it is, nothing spectacular or underwhelming. You will get reminded of its length while trying to park it though.
Power comes from a 2.8-liter diesel engine with 163 hp and 420 Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s actually a detuned Fortuner, Super Grandia, or Hilux engine, but it gets the job done and only starts to struggle after 100 km/h. The gearbox is on the slow side, but it’s quite smooth with gearchanges happening eventually, but it doesn’t jerk the car that much when you accelerate or downshift.
In bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Grandia Tourer got us a 5 km/L rating, which is not bad considering its size and the price of its diesel engine. On the highway, this rolling box was able to get 12.5 km/L which is fair, but given that it has the aerodynamic properties of a shipping container with the weight to match, it’s understandable.
It’s not the snazziest, nor is it the most affordable, but it is the biggest and tallest of the bunch, and that has some merit to it. It’s one end of the spectrum that the Hiace nameplate covers, which only means that it’ll probably be a good-enough package if you’re looking at a smaller model or a nice intermediate step before the most luxurious one of the lineup.
Either way, the middle child is a stunner because of its sheer size. Its purpose isn’t necessarily suited to your average consumer, but for ferrying a large party around with decent legroom and tons of headroom this van is okay, though P2,304,000 is a bit steep all things considered.