The Toyota Lite Ace is coming back this Friday, and hearing this gave us flashbacks of Doc Martens, plaid long sleeves shirts, and playing the E-heads Ultraelectromagneticpop on Clarion in-dash tape decks.
While it’s fun to reminisce the fun times we had with Toyota’s little van-that-could, today’s Lite Ace is a bit different.
As we reported a couple of articles ago, we saw some utility vehicles roaming around Toyota’s Sta. Rosa plant in Laguna. We suspected and confirmed that it is the new iteration of the famed Lite Ace. This Light Commercial Vehicle or LCV is nothing like the beloved van of old. With Toyota acquiring Daihatsu back in 1998, the Japanese carmaker has had access to a smaller vehicle lineup. This partnership gave us the Avanza, Rush, and Wigo and now they are rebranding another compact vehicle and putting the Lite Ace namesake on it. Enter the Daihatsu Gran Max.
The Gran Max is the rebranded Lite Ace for today’s generation. Whereas the previous van during the 90s was a certified people carrier, this latest version looks to be made plainly for business. It will share the same 1.5-liter 2NR-VE four-cylinder engine with Dual VVT-i as the Veloz and Avanza. The engine has been detuned to only give 97 PS and 134 Nm of torque and is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
We reported on two variants earlier but got wind of another three on the way. Aside from the panel van and pickup, we have confirmed a utility van, aluminum van, and a cab & chassis variant are joining the Lite Ace lineup in the future. As to when the other variants will be launched, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) is expected to make the announcements soon.
According to a very good source, all Lite Ace models will feature electric-assisted power steering, halogen headlights, halogen rear combination tail lights, mudguards, and a steel wheel for the spare tire. In addition, all three models will also feature driver and passenger SRS airbags and will have a steering lock as standard. However, ABS will only be available in the pickup variant. Meanwhile, stability control will only be standard on the panel van.
Being solely a utilitarian vehicle, Toyota will also keep the new Lite Ace purely functional. Gone are the days that it could take you to Ayala Alabang and hang out with your friends. This new model is designed to be the factory vehicle of choice and hauls around inventory when needed.
With this version of the small van-that-still-probably-can, you would trade in those Doc Martens for utility boots, long sleeve plaid shirt for PPEs, but would still probably listen to that E-heads album on the 2-DIN audio unit while delivering goods bought from online shopping apps.
More importantly, the Suzuki Carry better watch its back as the Toyota Lite Ace is coming directly for it.