The ‘Drone’ is a reliable multipurpose van

What you need to know:

The Toyota Hiace is popularly known as the drone. Also popular for its speed, the drone is not only a multipurpose van but it’s also liked for its reliability

Wycliffe Matsiko

I have used the drone (Toyota Hiace) as a commercial van for three years. I am sometimes hired to drive tourists to different destinations in Uganda. I like it because it is a fast performance car. The more you accelerate, the faster it picks up speed, but you have to be a cautious driver to control the speed instead of the car controlling you.

My particular model runs on a 3000cc engine. It has a somewhat big engine that tends to consume more for urban drives compared to highway driving.

I recently drove to Mbale and I could averagely cover 14km per litre of fuel along Tirinyi Road. The mileage per litre between Kampala and Iganga was unpredictable because of traffic involving trucks.

The secret to having this car serve you better is servicing it on time and with the right spare parts.

One of the reasons why such vans wear out fast is because they are overworked without receiving the necessary service. What is key is using the right engine oil, good quality fuel, air cleaner, fuel and oil filters and air cleaner. All these and other major parts cost Shs300,000 for exhausted minor service.

Using poor quality fuel will make the drone engine drag where it should not. It also shortens the lifespan of parts such as fuel filter.

One of the downsides of the drone is that it has a low ground clearance that makes it uncomfortable to drive along rough marrum roads.

I tried raising it using spacers but it was compromising stability and I had to remove them and use high profile tyres and low profile rims.

Chris Agaba

I have driven the Toyota Hiace for two years. It runs on a 3000cc engine that is quite affordable to maintain. For urban drives, I cover seven kilometres per litre of fuel while mileage per litre on a highway depends on the acceleration rate.

I find the drone multipurpose because it can be put to a number of uses. Mine has 12 seats, including the driver’s. However, when I am travelling upcountry for field work, I remove 10 passenger seats to transport tools.

When returning to Kampala, I can load any kind of foodstuff. When I am in the field and I am working on a tight budget, I use it as a camper after offloading site materials. I carry along a simple mattress that fits well in the van because it is long. I sometimes drive it to my workplace in Kampala when my other car is either in the garage or when in use.

What I do not like about it is that it is rear wheel drive. This makes it challenging to drive on slippery marrum roads.

I sometimes have to wait for the road to dry up when it rains for fear of getting stuck in the mud. Sometimes driving along dry slippery marrum roads is equally challenging if you do not steer well.

Isaac Katende

My particular model of the Toyota Hiace is 4WD and it does a lot of things that most 4WD cars do, including driving on rough, slippery roads without skidding. It is reliable not only in terms of performance but in terms of the load it carries without having much impact on fuel consumption regardless of its 3000cc diesel engine. Whether it is loaded or not, it will remain stable on the road even at relatively higher speeds.

I service once in three to four months after driving about 5,000km as recommended on the service manual. I spend Shs250,000 to replace engine oil, brake pads, air cleaner and a few serviceable basic parts. Sometimes there is not much to service, especially when I have not travelled upcountry, where the cost reduces to as low as Shs150,000.

What I prioritise most is engine oil because drones use modern technology engines that are sensitive to the oil type you use.

If you use one type of oil when you acquire the car, stick to it instead of trying out different oil types. A change in oil type leads to a change in engine performance and this affects car performance in general.

Most spare parts are available with local dealers. What makes the cost difference is the part you need and where you buy it from.

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