CREWS CONTROL

Hino’s 300 Series crew cab tipper is a really good surprise on the market.

There have been huge advances in the performance, ability and comfort levels in the light truck segment in recent years. The three brands of Hino, Fuso and Isuzu have consistently lifted the bar on design and ability and the result has been really noticeable, even at the model range entry level.

Delivery has spent a week behind the wheel of what at first sight looks like a council workers special. It’s the Hino 300 Series crew cab and it comes for the first time with a full factory built and supplied tipping body.

Before covering off the mechanical bits and pieces we will look firstly at the body itself. All steel factory supplied Japanese tipper bodies have always been impressive for their strength and for the fact that most come with a drop-side body as well as rear end-over tipping tailgate.

The body for the 300 Series tipper comes from Kyokuto Kaihatsu Kogyu, a bodybuilder based near Osaka on the island of Honshu. It’s easy to work with and has the unusual aspect that the rear tailgate is actually a split-fold barn door design. This means that when the tailgate has to be swung away from the closed position, it can be swung out within confined areas to lock into pHino-300-Series_7lace against the side of the body.

This is one feature that will prove useful when swinging a tailgate out into traffic or when driveway access is tight. The body is easy to operate and tips by switching on the PTO via a dashboard rocker switch, moving the hoist control lever backwards and raising the clutch pedal with the engine operating at idle rpm.

For once there are adequate rope rails for securing tarps and the spare wheel is mounted between the front of the tipper and the rear of the cab wall, keeping everything nice and tidy. For the Australian market, the tipper we trialed was fitted with a roll out mesh tarp that retracts onto a roller and stores on the tipper body header rails.

It might sound a bit simplistic, but the tarp is pulled out by rope and its leading rail locks into position behind two hooks mounted on either side of the tailgate. That results in the tarp running at an angle from the top of the tipper header rail to the top of the tailgate. Throwing a rope over the tarp behind the header rails and tying it off on the forward rope rails profiles the cover to the load.

The cab is non-tipping, mounted onto the chassis and provides both a comfortable and surprisingly quiet workplace. Road noise is very subdued and visibility through the large mirror heads with convex spotter mirrors is vibration free and very expansive.

The driver gets a small inner-sprung suspension seat that does improve the ride and comfort level and with two seats across the front and four across the rear it’s a true seven seater, including the driver. Hino-300-Series_P1

There is plenty of stowage area, plus cup holders and large door pockets but what makes this cab interior unusual is the combined audio and Sat/Nav system. This is real car-like territory and shows how far light truck design is moving.

There are obvious links here with Hino’s parent Toyota in terms of the level of technology sophistication. The Hino 300 comes with disc brakes on all axles; dual SRS airbags, ABS, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control and hill start control (when fitted with a manual gearbox).

With all these traction and safety initiatives the Hino 300 sets itself apart from many far more expensive vehicles. The only area in which it misses out is by not offering three-point seat belts for the rear centre and front centre passengers, relying on a centre lap belt only.

There are three versions of the Hino 300 crew cab tipper, the 717, the 816 auto and the 917. All use the same four-cylinder, 4.0 litre diesel that offers 110 kW at 2,500 rpm when fitted with the auto transmission and a slight increase in power to 121kW at the same rpm when mated to the manual gearbox. Torque ratings are also slightly different with 420Nm at 1,400 rpm for the auto and 464 Nm when matched to the manual gearbox. Both transmissions are six-speed units.

There’s a slight difference in gearing, which is indicated by the power and torque variance as the manual gearbox runs a single overdrive final ratio while the automatic transmission features a double overdrive. Direct drive for the manual is 5th, for the auto it’s 4th.

Taking the Hino out on the road on both freeway and around town driving showed how comfortable and easy to drive this truck can be. Even when unladen, the ride comfort is quite acceptable but with three cubic metres of premium mulch on board, the weight took much of the bounce out of the back end.

The tipper body easily accepts a 3.0 cubic metre load and our test unit was also fitted with a rear tow bar and pintle hook for attaching a tag trailer for those needing to move light plant and equipment. Hino-300-Series_12

There is a difference in axle ratings between the 717 and 917 manual tippers, with 2,800 kg and 3,100 kg for the front axles and 5,280 kg and 6,000 kg for the rear. The 816 auto follows the same axle ratings as the 717 manual. The GVM range is from 4495 – 8,500 kg and the GCM range shifts up a notch from 7,300 – 12,000 kg.

As the weight limits increase so does the tipper bed capacity with lengths of 3.8 m and 4.0 m, which equates to volume capacities of 3.2 cu.m and 3.4 cu.m.

The most interesting aspect of the Hino 300 Tipper was just how much it offers any crew out on road work or pavement maintenance. The wide steps under the rear doors make for easy access and egress and when not carrying passengers the rear seat squab can be folded up against the backrest to provide cargo space across the floor.

The centre seat back of the front passenger dual seat also folds forward to provide a storage area with a lip around the outside for docket books and note pads.

All in all, the Hino 300 has been well thought out. The crew’s quarters are comfortable, the driver’s requirements have been well thought through, there are plenty of inbuilt safety provisos and it’s light and comfortable to drive.

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