Hino Trucks SS 2848 prime mover video truck review

By: David Whyte


Hino hopes to translate its market success at the top end of the fleet with the new 700 Series. David Whyte finds a surprisingly worthy new prime mover contender

 

The land of the rising sun has long dominated the small truck market with the lions’ share of the light and medium vehicle classes. Better economy, features and reliability have kept them ahead of the pack.

But that success has never been translated to the upper end of the market. Hino, at least, may be about to change that.

The 700 Series is the Japanese manufacturer’s first foray into the big rig market. A first test suggests it will be a contender.

ATN took to some of the toughest roads in New South Wales to test the 2848 SS model with both a single trailer and in B-Double combination.

The first thing you notice on the new 700 Series trucks are the cosmetic changes. The familiar Japanese look is there but slightly obscured under the new chrome grille and polished bumper which give these trucks a more modern, and dare we say, ‘American look’.

While Japanese trucks have a reputation for being practical, the designers don’t seem to have had any flair in the looks department until recently. Here they have taken a step in the right direction.

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Engine

The real talking point of these trucks is the new engine, and the extra power that comes with it.

In the past there has been criticism levelled at the Japanese for falling short on the horsepower front. This has now been put to rest.

The Hino E13C VA engine puts out an impressive 353kW, or around 480hp, at 1,800rpm. Match that with a wide torque band with a peak torque figure of 2,157nm at 1,100rpm, and this engine proves to be very driver friendly.

Transmission

The increased power is channelled through an Eaton RTLO 18918B, 18-speed transmission to the rear.

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Cab and Controls

Cab access is excellent, with wide doors opening to almost 90 degrees. There are three steps up to the cab and the grab handles are within easy reach.

Once inside, there is a real feeling of space. Storage was ample for all manner of things, including your new work diary which fits neatly in the overhead console.

The 2848 is available with a high roof option, giving roomier feel, and an extra bunk which folds up out of the way when not in use. A nice touch, but slightly awkward for a bloke of my compact size to access. The standard cab has a single bed which, though not ideal for every night use, would be welcome in times of need.

The dash layout and gauges will be very familiar to those who drive Hinos already. Some things are good the way they are, and the user-friendly controls have undergone very little change.

Importantly, the cab environment was quiet and made conversation easy to hear, and the air conditioning and electric windows did a fantastic job of keeping things comfortable.

Air suspension under the front and rear of the cab and the ISRI air suspended seat meant the ride quality was great. An adjustable steering wheel only makes the driving position more comfortable (but for those who like to listen to the radio, the unit in this truck might leave you wanting more).

Visibility is another positive attribute, with a one-piece windscreen and three wipers to keep it clean. The electrically operated and heated mirrors are adequate but seem small compared to some other manufacturers (this was especially noticeable later in the trip while towing the B-double).

The adjustment setup, with one joystick for each side, also seems a bit strange. The latest release seems to be more of an evolution than revolution, but it’s what lies underneath that is the real surprise.

The rear suspension is Hendrickson’s HAS airbag set up rated at 20,800kg, while the front axle, rated at 7,500kg, sits on tapered leaf springs, giving good feel for the road while providing adequate dampening.

Also fitted is an anti-roll bar, adding to the driver confidence. Nothing new, but effective all the same.

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Performance

It was a worthy test: the haul up the Blue Mountains through Orange and onto Dubbo in the dry; onto Newcastle in driving rain the following day.

Narrow lanes, large humps and potholes, frequent heavy vehicles in the opposite direction, and the very wet conditions tested the vehicle’s handling (and the driver’s nerves).

Winding our way out of Sydney I took charge of the lower roof model, towing a single semi and grossing 41 tonnes. It soon became obvious that this truck was right at home in the heavy traffic.

The stop-start conditions were an opportunity to revisit the Roadranger transmission, and this engine/gearbox combination worked well.

An unexpected stop halfway up the Blue Mountains (due to a missed gear) was a chance to find out how the new engine would pull from a standstill on a steep grade. The vehicle moved away easily and seemed to enjoy the challenge. This was pleasantly surprising.

Over such winding and steep country and on less than perfect roads, vehicle handling was really put to the test. With a light but firm action, the steering on the new Hino gave a good feel for the road beneath. The unit seemed to be comfortable on all but the very worst sections of road.

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Unfortunately, the Hino came up short in the engine braking department, leaving the driver feeling a little vulnerable at times on unfamiliar mountain roads.

Only the local knowledge of the passenger and some early warning saved us from overheating the brakes on a few of the longer downhill sections.

In Orange we stepped up to the high cab model, which had been coupled to a set of B-double trailers. Now grossing 60 tonnes, this was a great chance to assess whether this truck was a genuine B-double contender.

The simple answer is yes, definitely. In fact, it’s a wonder why Hino hadn’t done this sooner. It made easy work of the smaller hills, and showed no signs of being underpowered.

I did, however, arrive at the same conclusion regarding engine braking. Knowing you have that much weight behind you, the confidence provided by good retardation is immeasurable.

Fix the braking problems and fit some larger mirrors and Hino could be right on the money.

At the end of day one, and after seven hours in the seat, I found myself feeling fresh and relaxed. It also raises questions of why people don’t even consider such trucks when purchasing B-double prime movers. Stereotypes have a lot to answer for.

Come day two, on crumbling roads between Dubbo and Newcastle, the Hino cab had a tendency to bounce around on the very rough stuff. But the truck maintained its hold on the road.

The security offered by the handling and feel of this truck was certainly welcome in less than perfect conditions.

Indeed, these trucks have all the makings of great local/intrastate prime movers; whether it be a single trailer or B-double.

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Verdict

While not your stereotypical ‘big truck’, they offer horsepower, plenty of driver comfort, good handling, great manoeuvrability, and now improved looks as an added bonus.

With the backup of a three-year 500,000km warranty — and even more impressive five-year 750,000km warranty on engine components, you get the impression Hino has confidence in its new offering.

This is the truck that should help Hino increase its stake in the heavy duty market, especially around town and on the wharf.

It could also be just the answer to break the stereotype of underpowered Japanese trucks.

 

Likes:

  • Driver comfort
  • Extra power
  • Good handling

Dislikes:

  • Poor engine braking
  • Small mirrors

 

Specifications

Make/Model: Hino 700 SS 2848 Air

Engine: Hino E13C VA

Output: 353KW@1800RPM

Torque: 2157NM@1100RPM

Transmission: Eaton RTLO 18918B 18 speed

Rear Suspension: Hendrickson HAS airbag 20,800kg rating

Front Suspension: Semi-Elliptic Tapered Leaf Springs

GVM: 28,300kg

GCM: 72,000kg

 

 

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