The Toyota Proace was launched at the 2016 CV Show in Birmingham, alongside the almost identical Citroen Dispatch & Peugeot Expert. All three models are completely new from the ground up & like it’s French cousins, the Proace is a massive improvement over the old Proace model & is now more than a match for the Ford Transit Custom.
Toyota have kept things simple. Proace is available in three body sizes, simply called, Small, Medium & Long, with two wheelbase lengths & can be specified as a van or crew cab, with panel or glazed/semi-glazed size walls. Most versions will carry 1400kg & tow up to 2.5 tonnes, whilst crew and combi-models will seat up to nine.
Two trim levels are available, Base and Comfort. The Base comes with standard equipment including twin airbags, cruise control, a speed limiter & central locking. Comfort adds Bluetooth, USB connectivity, air con & the Smart Cargo system. If you want more stuff, then there’s a great list of options available, including rear parking sensors, rear camera, a head-up display, colour-coded bumpers, automatic lights & rain-sensitive wipers. There are two Toyota Safety Sense active safety packages available too, one including lane departure alert, road sign assist, driver attention alert & an automatic high beam system. Option 2 comes with forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control & autonomous emergency braking.
Inside the cabin, the Proace is neatly designed. It’s easy to reach all of the switches & buttons whilst driving, an important consideration for most van users, as is the view from the front which is also excellent. I spent a week in the drivers seat & found it supportive as well as comfortable & the Proace’s suspension allows for a smooth ride as well. The insulated bulkhead on my test van helped to keep the cabin quiet, even without a load in the rear & of course a full bulkhead means that the cabin warms up much quicker in the mornings. For example, I used the Proace for a 250 mile round trip to the NE & back, a journey made almost entirely on motorways. Despite the wet roads & noise associated with that at motorway speed, I was able to make & receive a couple of hands-free calls whilst on the move & not have to shout to be heard. With my model coming with adaptive cruise control, the Proace made a competent, quiet motorway cruiser. On occasion, I did have to drop down into fourth gear to keep up with moving traffic on some steeper motorway sections. Indeed, if there is a criticism of the van I drove it is that it only has five-forward gears. A sixth gear would make the motorway more pleasurable. This doesn’t matter as much when you’re not on the motorway, because the Proace is easy to drive in town, with it’s compact dimensions & perky 1.6 litre engine making it actually fun to use on busy urban streets. At just 1900mm high I also managed to park it every day in my local gym’s multi-storey car park, another plus.
As with many vans nowadays, the interior has a car-like fascia design with a good quality feel, finished in nicely textured plastics, a mile away from vans of old. Apart from the under seat storage, there’s a total of 49-litres of storage space around the cabin, including ubiquitous large door bins, two glove boxes on the passenger side & an A4 sized compartment on top of the dash. There are three front seats, but whoever draws the short straw & ends up in the centre will struggle for leg room, as the gear stick juts out just where your right knees should go.
As I felt that the most popular model would be the Medium sized model in Comfort spec, powered by the 95bhp engine, that was the model that Toyota loaned me. With emissions of 144g/km & a claimed combined fuel economy of 51.4 mpg, this model ticks the money box as well. As a guide, I drove my Proace 300 miles in all enviroment’s averaging 39.2 mpg.
The Medium model I tested has a 3,670m load length, whilst the Long version measures 4,020m. Don’t ignore the Small version though, because it handles two pallets & at just 3.320m long & with a turning circle of just 11m, it’s purpose built for urban delivery. On all three, the cargo width between the wheel arches is 1,260m with the respective models coming with load volumes of 5.1, 5.8 & 6.6 cubic metres. The Small & Medium models stand at 1.9m tall whilst the Long is 1.94m high. I didn’t utilise the rear load are, but is easily accessed by two large rear doors & two sliding doors, one on each side of the van.
With a commercial OTR price of £19,676 it’s attractively priced. However, when I cast my eye over the extras list, it was clear to me that in order to spec your Proace up with features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, SatNav & the Pro Touch 7” touchscreen, you will have to pay more, so the choice at least is there if you want it. Indeed, across the range, Proace is slightly more expensive than the Citroen Dispatch & Peugeot Expert, although you do get a better 5 year/10,000 mile warranty, as well as 2 years/25,000 miles free servicing with the Toyota.
In conclusion, the Proace is an excellent mid-size van & if you are in the market for a van of this size, then Company Car & Van can highly recommend it. 4/5.