1994 Toyota Hiace Super Custom
It's indisputable that Japan was light years ahead of the US when it came to family vans. Which is a little ironic considering how small the island is, with the roads being even smaller. Lucky for us their over engineering paid off in the long run leaving us with exceptional vehicles that still feel relevant today despite the age gap. Remove the logos and put it in a new Chevy commercial and people will think it's the next big thing. A 3.0L turbo diesel, 4WD, 4 Sunroofs, dual zone climate control, and seating for 8; all in 1994. Our desert sand and white two tone Super Custom has been kept in exceptional shape over the years. Of course there are a few minor stone chips and routine little blemishes, but overall looks outstanding for it's age. The same can be said about the expansive bodywork, with such large panels you would assume that they're a magnet for door dings, but for the most part this one has been spared. Its cab forward design allows for low overhangs, meaning that parking is a breeze. This model even came equipped with the original backup camera, a roof mounted bumper mirror to make sure you don't back into another car or fence. Aside from privacy tint on the rear windows to keep the occupants out of sight, as well as helping to cut down interior temps, the HiAce has been kept all OEM.
Climbing inside is where you really see just how ahead of the times these vans were. Since the driver is the key element of any road trip everything is centered around that. All of the powered accessories are right within hands reach and in an easy to read layout. With controls for everything from transmission settings to the rear zone climate control, the only time you'll need to turn around is to yell at the kids to stop fighting in the back. This model did come equipped with many of the more standard features of the era; one touch power window, power mirrors, all four sunroof controls, and your door locks. The only change up comes by way of a touchscreen double din headunit. While it does have limited capacity here in the US, it does make it much easier to replaced with something more US friendly. It did allow us to check the speakers and make sure that everything is functioning properly though. The power assisted sliding door allows for easy entry/exit to the middle and rear rows. While the rear occupants have their own set of controls for the sunroofs and climate control they can also have full control over the seating arrangement. The middle row has the option to be fully reclined (or anywhere in between) along with the ability to swivel 180 degrees so they don't have to turn around to talk to the 3rd row. As for the last row you've got the option of laying it fully flat or can be slid forward out of your way for extra cargo space. Overall you'll be hard pressed to find a more versatile people carrier out there.
Perhaps the most unique trait is it's durable diesel power plant. The 3.0L 1KZ-TE 4 cylinder is an incredibly capable turbo diesel which is a far fetch for anything built domestically. While many owners will put over half a million miles on this sort of drivetrain, ours only has 82K verified miles. Turn the key and the large 4 cylinder grunts to life, with a familiar diesel clatter. While it does produce more noise than a gas engine of this size, it's far from your neighbors Duramax when it fires up at 7 in the morning. Especially considering that the motor is situated inside the cabin with you. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, and without issue. Power is sent to all four wheels wheels, making both on and off road adventures a breeze. Our maintenance list includes a new battery, fresh oil change, along with a new set of serpentine belts to ensure that we don't have any issues on it's drive back home, wherever that may be. With it's endless configuration options and outstanding level of comfort you really can't beat a HiAce. Now is your chance to blow the carpool lane out of the water.
*California Residents: In order to register a Grey Market vehicle in the state of California then it will have to be made CARB compliant first. CARB certifications will have to be performed within the state. Depending on the vehicle and any existing modifications will affect the pricing. Typically CARB compliance will range between 5-10K. Additional information can be found on the California Air Resources Board website.