In another timeline this Toyota HiAce would have been sold here in the United States along side the LS 400. Everything about it from the distinctly 90s Lexus pearl paint, to the enormously comfortable seats, quiet and comfortable operation and absurd reliability scream ‘Lexus’. Fortunately, you can now have the Lexus van you’ve always wanted, in the form of this 1993 Toyota HiAce Super Custom Limited.
It’s hard to come up with a better combination in a family hauler, overland offroad adventure machine or simple daily driver. You’ve got the famously loved Toyota KZ 3 liter turbo engine driving all four wheels, a significant amount of lift from the factory, 4 brand new BF Goodrich KO2 tires, factory original ‘HiAce’ branded bull-bar up front with fog lights, digital dashboard, 3 sunroofs, power windows, seating for 7, room for all of your things, dual heaters and dual air conditioners and to top it all off, a wonderful sound system. Less than 130,500 km are show on the odometer, around a total of 81,000 miles. This Toyota will blast down the highway at 75 mph and crush offroad, it doesn’t really care what you ask of it because it will take you there comfortably, roads or no.
Being a cabover van makes this HiAce stand out visually among the usual traffic while the ride height and overall presence pushes the attention grabbing even further. Double takes are common. Distintly 90s pearl and gold paint shine wonderfully, with minor flaws here and there. Decals have seen better days but are complete and could be remade or removed. Front bullbar proudly shows ‘HIACE’ front and center. Underneath is remarkably clean for a vehicle manufactured 27 years ago. Original Toyota wheels wrapped in new tires complete the juxtaposed look of ‘luxury offroad van’.
Inside is brown, or if you want to be fancy ‘chocolate’. Thick and comfortable fabric wraps everything, the seats, console, the side walls and even the roof. There is no uncomfortable place to be in here. Original and excellent condition floor mats are throughout. Driver’s position has a awesome holographic digital display showing speed, RPM, fuel, temp, odometer and trip information while center stack has the quartz clock, climate control (including rear heat and AC switches), stereo and the two unique options for this van: Joyful Talk and Sonar.
Joyful talk is an internal intercom system for the driver to talk to the rear passengers. When active the rear most passengers voices will be picked up and sent to the small speaker in the door while the driver’s voice will be carried back to a speaker in the rear left portion of the van’s interior. While driving you can simply have a normal conversation with the rear passengers without having to yell or turn your head, while the people in the back can have their standard conversation without excluding you. It’s actually pretty great.
The Sonar system works but not exactly as it should. How it works normally is when active it will beep and show an indicator where it determines there is an obstacle. Unfortunately the previous owner backed into something crushing one of the sensors in the rear bumper meaning that the system will always indicate that it detects something in the rear left corner and will continuously beep.
Dual A/C systems great and will cool off the whole van in short order. Heat too will in turn roast everyone if you allow it. Below the center stack you’ve got your TEMS control option. TEMS stands for “Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension” which means this van has a continuously damping suspension system. This HiAce has the 3 option system meaning in normal operation it will switch between soft, medium and hard modes unless you press the ‘SPORT’ button. Then it will stick with the medium and hard settings. Suppose that means this is a luxury sport offroad van. Besides TEMS there are a couple of small storage bins along with two cup holders. On the center console storage bin resides the ECT option which essentially means the transmission will hold a gear longer in ‘PWR’ mode giving a bit more acceleration at the expense of economy. Power mirror controls reside here as well. A generous storage bin sits between the driver and passenger seats. Above is the manual operated sunroof which can be popped up to vent air, with electric controls for the rear sunroofs. Left button for the massive center panel and the right button for the inoperable rearmost panel. In back resides a spinning loveseat, the center bench can face forward, rearward or sideways (though sideways doesn’t leave much room for legs and any way besides forward doesn’t allow the use of the shoulder belts). Fantastic leg and headroom mean the rear is the place to be if you are riding as a passenger. Above in the roof resides the rear air conditioner and the massive centrally mounted sunroof. Slide open the shade to allow light in or press the switch to slide the glass back into the body and allow the outside in. Side windows back here are the pop out type. Rear heater controls are in the side of the van opposite the sliding door. You’ve also got a full set of OEM curtains which include ones you can see through and another set that block light as well. The rear most bench seat can be slide quite far forward to allow lots of cargo area in the very back while all seats can be folded flat giving you a large sleeping area.
I can not sing enough praises of this HiAce, it is one of the best vehicles we’ve ever imported and one of my absolute favorites I’ve driven. It’s such a gloriously complete vehicle that is capable of doing so much. Sure you could take it and make it a camper and drive it deep into nature but you could also slap a stick figure family on the back window and obliterate any other van you’ll ever see in raw excellence.
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