Toyota certainly had – and still has – the ability to come up with a credible rival to models such as VW’s Transporter and Mercedes- Benz’s Vito, and at one stage seemed intent on doing so. The Hiace van that Toyota summarily dropped from its range in late 2011 because it was not willing to update it to bring it into line with the latest EU exhaust emission regulations had originally been developed with the needs of European customers firmly in mind. Having initially developed it, however, Toyota seemed to lose interest, and the Hiace fell further and further behind its rivals as time went by. Later this year it will be replaced by the Proace, a re-badged version of Citroen’s Dispatch and Peugeot’s Expert, thanks to a deal done with PSA, a deal that will continue until at least 2020 and will embrace the Dispatch and Expert’s successors.
None of this should be taken to mean that the rear-wheel drive Hiace is likely to be a poor second- hand buy. On the contrary: despite some of the question marks surrounding Toyota’s quality in recent years, the Hiace has always had the reputation of being sturdy and reliable, even though it cannot be counted as the most exciting van in the world to drive.
Grossing at either 2.8 (the 280) or 3.0 tonnes (the 300), the restyled version launched seven years ago was available with two different body lengths and one load height. The load cube was either 6.0m3 or 7.0m3 with a payload capacity of around 1.1-1.2 tonnes. Power came courtesy of a 2.5-litre diesel generating either 95hp/230Nm or 117hp/294Nm and married to a five-speed manual gearbox.
So what should you watch out for if you are thinking about purchasing a used one? For a start, check the paperwork to ensure the cam belt has been changed on schedule. That’s the advice proffered by website Used Van Expert. In most cases the cam belt needs to be changed within six years or 60,000 miles Used Van Expert says. If it has not been swapped along with associated parts such as the water pump and tensioner, and the van is getting close to or has exceeded these age/mileage boundaries, then it must be replaced promptly to avoid catastrophic and costly consequences for the engine. Ensure the vendor has it swapped before you part with any cash or get £250 knocked off the asking price, Used Van Expert advises, and get the job done yourself as quickly as possible.
Take the Hiace out for a test drive and check that it accelerates smoothly. If it hesitates when you press the accelerator, then suddenly surges forward, then there is every chance that the clutch is slipping and that the van needs a new one. Get the vendor to cut the asking price by £400 to cover the cost.
Van suspensions often take a hammering. During your test drive listen carefully for a knocking noise coming from the front suspension and a similar noise emanating from the rear suspension, especially when driving over speed bumps. In the former case it generally means that a ball joint needs replacing says Used Van Expert or possibly an entire suspension arm, especially if the Hiace concerned has clocked up more than 100,000 miles. In the latter case it suggests that a spring bush needs swapping. If the fault is at the front, negotiate a £200 discount; if it is at the back, press for a £60 discount.
After the test drive, walk around the Hiace to ensure it is not lop-sided. If it is, the odds are that a rear spring has snapped, and that justifies a £100 price cut.

How much to pay?

Used Hiaces do not come on to the market in huge numbers and tend to fetch healthy prices when they do. So how much can you expect to pay? Auctioneer Manheim recently disposed of a long-wheelbase 300 dating back to 2008 on a 08 registration plate that had covered a whopping 199,224 miles. It fetched an astonishing £4150, 166% of the average CAP guide price.
At the other end of the mileage/price scale, a short- wheelbase 280 – 2009 on a 09- plate – with 27,606 miles to its name sold for £8350. A long- wheelbase 300, first registered in 2008 and with a 08-plate, which had covered 49,391 miles, was disposed of for £6600 while, a short-wheelbase 2007-vintage 280 – 126,236 miles on a 57-plate – sold for £4875.

• Along with Manheim, Used Van Expert provided invaluable help in compiling the foregoing. Visit