300 HINO TESTED
INCREASINGLY, LIGHT-DUTY TRUCKS ARE BEING DRIVEN BY newcomers to the world of truck driving who operate them on a car licence.
They might use a truck once or twice a day to move from jobto-job – or even use it only sporadically during a week.
Many drivers don’t spend much time behind the wheel of a truck, and manufacturers are working to cater for these parttime truckies by providing extra safety technologies and car-like convenience features.
Hino’s attractive 300, for instance, is fitted with two items that have been introduced to cars in the quest to reduce accidents, and make driving safer and easier.
The first, electronic stability control is regarded as one of the most effective automotive safety technologies. It’s mandatory on new cars, SUVS, utes and vans sold in New Zealand, but rarely has been fitted to light trucks.
Hino added it to the 300 when it gave the truck a major revamp about five years ago. That revamp also included giving the cab slipperier aerodynamics to reduce fuel consumption.
Hino also improved the ergonomics and comfort of the airconditioned cab. It got larger door apertures, wider opening doors, larger ingress and egress steps, and increased foot- and leg-room.
Foot and leg space was increased by raising the lower edge of the instrument panel.
Hino calls its electronic stability system Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). Stability control tries to reduce single-vehicle accidents where a truck rolls over or slides off the road.
Understeer occurs when the front tyres lose grip and the truck runs wide on a corner. If it runs wide, it could potentially leave the road or collide with a vehicle coming in the opposite
The VSC system includes a dedicated electronic control unit (ECU) which controls VSC, ABS anti-lock braking, and traction control (ASR).
If sensors mounted on the truck detect excessive understeer, the VSC reduces the throttle opening.
And depending on the degree of understeer it applies braking, to help turn the vehicle into the corner.
If the VSC system detects oversteer – where the rear tyres lose grip – it controls the engine output and can apply the brakes on the outside front and rear wheels to bring the truck into line.
Earlier this year, in an upgrade that increased safety and also made parking and backing easier, Hino New Zealand fitted reversing cameras on all 300 models.
The cameras comply with ADR (Australian Design Rules), are waterproof and project high-definition imagery on to the truck’s dash-mounted display screen.
At night, the cameras use infrared technology to enable the driver to manoeuvre the truck more safely in the dark, and have a built-in microphone.
Also standard on the 300 are four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, ABS braking, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). The steering wheel is tilt and telescopically-adjustable, and the Hino 300 has remote-control keyless entry.
Hino 300s that can be driven on a car licence have GVMS of 5500kg or 5995kg and are available in 615, 717, 815 and 917 models and there are standard cab and four-door Crew Cab bodywork choices.
In the first of a series of tests of the light-duty trucks on the New Zealand market, we put a Hino 300 fitted with a factory-built tip tray through its paces.
Factory-built tippers are offered by most light-duty truck distributors in New Zealand, and provide customers with a vehicle they can buy complete and ready to work.
There’s no delay while a tipper body gets built, and the truck can start working virtually from day one. Factory tippers are proving increasingly-popular.
The test truck was Hino New Zealand’s demonstration model 717 Medium tip truck which was fitted with accessories including a bullbar, a stone guard along the bottom of the windscreen, a
sunvisor, and a roof-mounted amber flashing hazard light.
It rode on a 3430mm wheelbase, and a toolbox with a verticallysliding door was mounted between tipper tray and the cab.
The well-placed steps and grab handles on the A-pillar made the cab easy to get into and out of, the seats were well-shaped, and it was easy to achieve a comfortable driving position.
The dashboard layout is clean, with the main instruments in a binnacle ahead of the driver. To the left is a touch-screen which displays the reversing camera and other data.
Several storage cubbyholes are fitted to the left-hand side of the dashboard, in front of the passenger. A roomy tray that is ideal for paperwork stowage runs along the lower edge of the left-hand side of the dash.
The 300’s deep exterior mirrors mounted on stalks that rise from the front bodywork provide excellent rear vision.
An extra mirror mounted on the left-hand side of the cab and angled down and along the front of the truck, provided a view of the front offside corner of the vehicle.
Tester Trevor Woolston who evaluates heavy trucks for LCV’S sister magazine, Truck & Driver, found the extra mirror a very useful feature.
The 300 has a good turning circle and the chassis is firmlysprung, given the unladen vehicle a fairly busy ride on uneven surfaces. Load the tray with aggregate or soil, and that will even out.
Woolston rated the ride quality as normal for a small tipper, and felt that the 300 had a robust, tough, and hard-working feel.
He was less complimentary about the gearshift which he said took some adjusting to.
First is away to the left and back (opposite reverse), with second/third and fourth/fifth opposing each other in planes towards the right-hand side of the gate. Sixth is further away to the right and up.
It was a little hard to make a smooth shift into second gear, with the gearbox’s gate being biased towards the fourth/fifth plane. Where possible, Woolston preferred to start off from standstill in second gear. The gearshift quality was also a little on the chunky side.
The steering, though a little heavy, was accurate and the 300 could be placed on the road precisely, and the truck held its line well in corners.
The 123kw 4.0-litre inline four cylinder turbodiesel motor was willing and provided plenty of power and torque, giving the little tipper strong performance.
Overall, the Hino 300 Tipper impressed as a robust-feeling workhorse with an air of toughness allied to good in-cabin comfort. It proved driver-friendly and easy to drive.
Above left: Dashboard design is clean, instruments easy to read, and work environment light and airy. Above right: Well-placed steps and grab handles make getting into the cab easy. Below: Hino 300 cab was a little heavy when being tilted forward to...
Hino 300 has attractive, clean styling and test truck was fitted with a range of accessories, including robust bullbar.
Test truck was a Hino factory-built tipper. Ready-to-go to work tippers are becoming increasingly popular.