Toyota Hiace 4x4 manual - unique camper!


Expedition Leader
HiAce vans are used for passenger service in lots of countries with poor road conditions. They have a reputation for reliability. You can order them with 4x4, but most are RWD. I think the diesel engines in the current models are 2.5L and 3.0L versions of Toyota's D-4D.

The standard roof Hi-Ace feels a little claustrophobic for tall, well-fed Americans. The raised roof would make a difference.

There are several companies that rent HiAce camper vans in South Africa and Australia. For some reason, HiAce campers are especially popular rental vehicles in New Zealand.


We have a lot of them up here in Canada imported from Japan (JDM's).

Most are diesel, 4x4 with camping/poptop units. Ground clearance is horrible for a 4x4 van in stock form and the IFS components are quite weak. Great engine though.

Most people prefer the L400 Spacegear's with a Montero drivetrain and 2.8 TD.


lift kits

I know there are, seen loads of em in Japan lifted - but possibly all custom jobs.
I'll ask around the guys I've imported from in Japan for you.

- sideline I owned a pop-top hiace camper with the 2.8 - great flatlands crusin' engine, but complete dog on any inclines, especially when its filled up for a trip..
You can find there camper styles, with the newer 3.0 Turbo KZ..

Does anyone know if there is a lift kit available for these 4x4 vans?

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
I am still considering this option for touring around Europe/East Europe.

I am having however a hard time finding more information on the drivetrain. Are-these full time AWD? What type of differential/transfer case?

Anyone has some reference online to share?

thank you
There are so many VW camper T3 through T5 in Europe, wouldn't it be easier to go that route? You could drive it for a few months and sell it for about the same or for a small loss.

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The diesel is quite reliable, but horrendously under-cooled. Cooling system failures and blown head gaskets are the norm here in Uganda.

The best Hiaces (pronounced by most here as the Japanese "high-achee" rather than "high-ace") are the so-called "Super Custom" available in RHD markets from 2004 to 2008. These had the three liter turbodiesel shared with the Landcruiser Prado TX and had low-range transfer cases and a locking rear differential as an option. The 2006 through 2008 models inherited several Landcruiser features, including the hot/cool console box. The Super Custom is what our company uses to ferry people up country here in Uganda and also in Congo; they have the Landcruiser drivetrain, including far better cooling, though the 3.0TD is still under the passenger seat (and gets hot!).

If I had to choose a Hiace, it would be a 2007 Hiace Super Custom. Wonderful vehicle, particularly when fitted with the five-speed and the locking rear diff.

If we're talking utility vehicles as a base for an expedition vehicle, a 2004 or 2005 Hiace pickup (Heavy Ace .75 tonne) would be a good starting point, particularly with a tri-fold bed (the bed section can be easily modified or removed, but it gives a nice flat starting point).