We Filipinos are a clannish bunch. We tend to take along not only the entire brood but the whole Barangay every chance we get. Be it an out of town trip or even sending a relative off at the airport, everyone has to be present.
So it’s no surprise that apart from the now ubiquitous Sport Utility Vehicles, full-size vans are still one of the most visible rides on our streets. One nameplate in particular, the Toyota Hiace, is still a Filipino staple.
But what exactly makes this big van endearing to the Filipino?
– It’s got seating for everyone: While it doesn’t pack as many passengers as a jeepney or a minibus, the Hiace can hold its own with up to 15-passenger seating capacity in the lower trim variants. Even the first few generations could seat as much as 12 people—more than enough to bring Mom, Dad, the kids, the grandparents, and Yaya along for the ride.
– It’s versatile: The Hiace has always been the go-to family van ever since it was introduced in the country in the 1970s. Yet it is much more than that, as seen from the various configurations that this van has. It has seen duty as an ambulance, a school bus, and lately, a shuttle and UV Express service. You name, the van seems to have done it.
– It’s reliable: Older Hiaces could be had in either gasoline or diesel engine. These engines, for those who are old enough to remember, were basic mills that required little maintenance. Today’s latest-generation model, which sports the new 2.8-liter DOHC 16V turbo inter-cooler diesel, may be a bit more high tech yet is still relatively easy to keep in top form. Being a Toyota, owners and operators are assured of low maintenance and running costs and that legendary bulletyproof reliability.
Yes, the Toyota Hiace has been around for decades to bring the Filipino to wherever he chooses to go. And by the looks of it, it will continue to serve its intended purpose and remain a staple ride on our roads for years to come.