Daihatsu Hijet Cargo Vans are the kind of mini truck you will see throughout Japanese cities delivering parcels to homes and businesses. Although their name makes sense in Japan, it doesn’t really capture their full repertoire of skills. You see these mini trucks, like their Deck Van counterparts, are full 4-passenger vehicles with a surpsising amount of load space in the rear. They have two separate front seats, as well as a rear bench seat. More than enough space for four adults to travel off-road for any reasonable periods of time.
And although these mini trucks can go off-road into the mud with the best of them, the kind of off-roading they are more likely to be found doing is moving people and stuff around large properties. So what does that really mean? Well, let’s say you have a sprawling college campus spread over 30 acres. You have multiple buildings connected by a system of “roads” (not really roads, as this is all on private property, but paved nonetheless) and a team of building maintenance crews to keep everything working on site. You need to get a cleaning crew over to a dorm. Or sound equipment to a lecture theater. Or chairs to a meeting room. You’re always needing to move people and things around from one building to another.
Now, a lot of colleges, hospitals or similar large-campus operations use a combination of golf carts and regular pickup trucks or vans to do this work. But neither of these vehicles are a good fit for the task: The golf cart doesn’t provide proper weather protection, nor is it very comfortable. On the other hand, the regular pickup truck or van is overkill for such short off-road journeys and gets terrible gas mileage.
This is where the Hijet Cargo Van is a great fit: It can handle a lot of stuff (especially with that rear bench seat folded), or take a crew of four with their gear. And it can do all of this while sipping gas at half the rate or better than the equivalent road-going vehicle.
Let’s check this little workhorse out some more:
As you can see, it’s got the snub-nosed front look of the Deck Van, as well as those wide sliding doors that make it so easy for passengers to get in and out, or even for loading and off-loading, if you’ve flipped those middle seats down.
And, just as the name suggests, it’s that cargo area in the back that is most impressive. Here it is with the rear seat up. Even in this configuration ready to take 4 people, it still has a large amount of enclosed hauling capacity:
And then flip that rear seat down, and you have even more space. All of it enclosed and out of the elements.
The other thing you will spot is that this is an upright, squared-off space. Boxy, but good. In fact, this shape is perfect for making the most of this load area. Check out the dimensions of the latest generation model that launched right at the end of 2021:
If you’ve got something really long you need to haul, then the Hijet Cargo passenger van has one final trick up its sleeve: Fold down the front seat as well to maximize the space inside. And there you go — a full 8 feet 8 inches at your disposal.
Daihatsu Hijet Cargo Interior
The Cargo passenger van shares its front seat interior with the Deck Van, so you get proper seats, a full dashboard, a dash-mounted gear shift and more. Much more comfortable than the other off-road UTV / golf-cart alternatives. I mean, it’s just such a pleasant environment.
But don’t be deceived into thinking that because it’s comfortable, it’s not hard-wearing. No, from the dashboard to the controls to the seat covers, everything has been designed and built with the working man or woman in mind. Remember that in Japan, these Cargo mini trucks are used for all sorts of things, including by delivery drivers who are in and out of them many times a day for 12 hours a day or more. If the interior started getting frayed and scratched right away, these delivery companies would not be at all pleased.
Take a look at the front interior of the latest model that launched at the end of 2021:
Now, let’s take a look at those rear seats. After all, this Hijet Cargo is a 4-person vehicle, so there’s space for two passengers with 2 safety belts in the back. Now, the seats back there aren’t as luxurious as those front seats. They are just a bench seat with no headrests. But if you think about how you are going to use this Hijet Cargo, it doesn’t really matter so much. It’s not like you’re going to be going on a long road trip in your mini truck. You may need to get across from one side of campus to another. Let’s say that takes you 10 or 15 minutes at most. Well, your passengers are going to be absolutely fine for such short hops.
And hopping in and out of those rear seats (or loading / unloading gear, if you have them folded down) is just so easy thanks to those wide, easy-opening sliding side doors. Just look at what a large gap you have when you slide them right the way back.
Hijet Cargo Conveniences And Amenities
There’s just so much that could be written about all the little features that make the Hijet Cargo Van such a great vehicle, but let’s focus on the highlights. (Remembering that not all vehicles of all ages will have this exact mix of equipment, so make sure you check out the details of any particular Hijet Cargo Van you decide to buy).
- AC and heat (don’t worry, they all have this!)
- Power door locking (central locking)
- Keyless entry
- Push button starter
- Fuel cap opener
- Power steering
- Door mirrors
- Power windows
- Door pockets
- Glove box
- Cup holders
- Hooks for strapping loads down
Hijet Cargo Body Colors
With all that exterior metal that you get with a van shape mini truck, you’ll be more than usually interested in getting the right paint color. So let’s have a look at your choices, starting with the previous generation Hijet Cargo that was on sale until the end of 2021:
There were some interesting options there, especially those two striking blue colors. The Rose Metallic was a quirky choice, but did appeal to some of the ladies. Now with the latest Hijet Cargo model that launched right at the end of 2021, the number of color options has dropped off. The Orange Metallic, which is a big hit on the pickup-style Hijets is back, but those two different blue options are gone, and in their place is the rather polarizing Ice Green. Take a look and see what you think.
(Remember that this image shows the Hijets on their Japanese wheels and tires. However, mini trucks sold from our independent dealers have lift kits and larger tires fitted.)
Hijet Cargo Van Engine And Transmission
Hijet Cargo Vans are incredibly useful workhorses for anyone needing to shift people and stuff around in weatherproof cooled or heated comfort. But now let’s look at how these kei trucks get you off-road. We’re turning our attention to the engine and drivetrain.
The engine is the same engine you find in all the Hijet body styles (for example, the Hijet regular cab model). It’s Daihatsu’s KF-type 3-cylinder water-cooled engine with electronic fuel injection, a compression ratio of 10.8, producing its maximum power at 5,700 rpm, but with max torque coming in at a lower 4,000 rpm. Lots of good pulling power to keep you moving and hauling over difficult terrain.
With the max capacity regulated by Japanese law to 660cc, Daihatsu hasn’t made fundamental changes in the design over the years, but has evolved it gradually to make it ever more efficient. For example, the latest 11th generation models have start-stop technology incorporated in them which stops the engine wasting fuel unnecessarily when idling. The 10th generation Hijets were already able to get about 50% better fuel consumption than their UTV counterparts. With the addition of this start-stop tech, the Hijet mini trucks have pulled even further ahead, with the auto models in the latest generation Hijets now getting 25% better fuel economy than the already frugal previous generation ones.
Surpsingly, these Cargo mini trucks are built to NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) standards that are much higher you would expect for such a vehicle. It’s not something you will notice all the time, but a smooth, quiet engine means less fatigue when you’re out and about working on your property all day.
Having said that, they are pretty easy to maintain. Need to fill up with gas? They take your normal regular gasoline. Need to replace air or oil filters? No problem, the parts are readily available and fitting them isn’t difficult. Have particularly cold winters? Make sure you use anti-freeze just as you do with any of your other vehicles. These Hijets aren’t some kind of thoroughbred hypercar for rich people, so you’ll find that it isn’t rocket science and you can do all the regular maintenance yourself.
And where is the engine? Well, as you may have been able to guess from the body style, the Hijet Cargo engine is mounted, giving these Cargos an excellent weight distribution and low center of gravity — all adding to the safety and off-road performance of the vehicle.
The final point to mention about the engine is that the engines in these Hijet mini trucks for sale in the US are all naturally aspirated. Now, there is a version of this Hijet Cargo that is available in Japan which does have a turbo engine, but (unfortunately) those engines don’t comply with EPA regulations, so cannot enter the US.
Here’s a cutaway of that KF engine showing its inner workings.
The previous generation Hijet Cargo Van 4×4 models had a couple of different transmission options:
- 5-speed manual
- 4-speed automatic
With the introduction of the brand-new generation model right at the end of 2021, there’s a major change in the transmission options:
- 5-speed manual
- CVT (continuously variable transmission)
With the CVT transmission and latest engine, the Hijet regular cab has 25% better fuel economy than the previous 4-speed auto model, in addition to the unquantifiable benefits of the smoother power delivery, so we can expect a similar step improvement for these Cargo models as well. Given that these Japanese mini trucks were already able to get around 50% better fuel economy already, the extra boost with the new engine and transmission will move them even further ahead.
Here’s a cutaway showing the inner workings of that latest CVT transmission:
We should be really clear about something before we proceed further: Since all the mini trucks for sale at our independent dealers are for off-road use only, they all have 4WD, even though there are 2WD mini trucks are sold in Japan. (For the Hijet experts out there, previous generation 4×4 Cargo model had the designation S331V and for the current generation it is now S710V.)
The basic 4WD system has only changed slightly in recent years, and this change was with the introduction of this latest model. With earlier generation models there’s a button on the dashboard allowing you to turn the 4WD system on and off. Why would you want to do that? Well, powering all four wheels takes more energy than just powering two, so switching into 2WD allows you to save gas. If you’re driving down a dry gravel track, 2WD is more than up to the job, so click the button to turn off 4WD. Drive off that same track onto a muddy field and a click of the button brings the 4WD system into life for better grip.
Here’s where you find that button on the center dash console of the previous generation model:
Once again, the latest Hijet Cargo takes this to the next level: Now, instead of you having to reach for a button every time you want to switch into 4WD or back again, the auto CVT model has a new “Auto 4WD” model. What this means is that under normal conditions, you can just leave the mini truck to make its own decision about whether 4WD is needed at any particular moment or not. If it decides it’s not needed, it will automatically drop it into the more fuel-efficient 2WD setting. Only if you are doing some really strenuous off-road work will you feel tempted to use the “4WD Lock” override switch to force it to use 4WD all the time.
But, in all honestly, it sounds like this is like the manual model on your camera: Sure, the ad will sell you on all the ways you can take control of the photo-taking experience to make minute adjustments to get just the right shot, but the reality is that after playing with it for 5 minutes, you put it back into auto mode and let the camera do all the work. You may fiddle with this “4WD Lock” button a couple of times, and then just leave it in auto and enjoy letting your Hijet figure it out while you get on with what you need to get done.
Buying A Daihatsu Cargo Van Passenger Mini Truck
As you can see, the Hijet Cargo is an incredibly versatile 4-passenger off-road Japanese mini truck that puts equivalent UTVs to shame. Particularly if your organization (school, college, hospital, manufacturing facility) has a large campus and needs to be able to move both people and stuff around in an efficient, comfortable way whatever the weather, then the Hijet Cargo will be a great fit for you.
Although these Cargos are more of a niche mini truck than the regular cab Hijets or the Jumbo cab Hijets, you will still be able to find many for sale from our independent mini truck dealers around the US, so click here and find one near you now. And don’t worry if you can’t find one for sale right away, or you want to buy a number of identical Hijet Cargos for your organization because you can always get them to-order through one of our mini truck dealers.