Hino 500 Series FE truck video review

By: Steve Skinner, Video by: Barry Ashenhurst and Steve Skinner

The new fully automatic long wheelbase version of Hino’s medium duty FE model is easy and fun to drive around town


Most light duty and middle-sized trucks are well and truly in the bland department when it comes to any throaty sound.

But not Hino’s 500 Series FE. When starting up a new FE for our recent review drive, Owner//Driver got quite a pleasant surprise.

For a 14-tonne GVM (gross vehicle mass) urban runabout, the FE sounds pretty ballsy. Something like a cross between a British thumper motorbike and a Subaru boxer engine.

So when you’re out on the road, you know you’re doing some real work. At the same time though, the noise isn’t intrusive if you have the windows up.

That enables you to listen to your favourite music or podcasts via the USB connectivity, which is just one of the many creature comforts now available in most medium duty trucks.

Throw in an air suspended Isri driver’s seat; fully adjustable steering wheel; terrific vision and electric heated mirrors; a tight turning circle; and nice steering and handling, and it’s almost enjoyable fighting with heavy city traffic in a truck like this.

The test vehicle was a 4.8 metre wheelbase, 10-pallet general freight curtain-sider loaded with bags of sand.

The longest wheelbase FE chassis – at 5.5 metres – can accommodate a body fitting 12 pallets. Meanwhile the long wheelbase auto FE on display at the Brisbane Truck Show was a tilt tray.

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Automatic choice for drivers and operators

Chief amongst the FE’s "luxuries" is the fully automatic five speed transmission, introduced to the popular longer wheelbase versions of this model this year.

The five speed Allison is smooth and seems to change in the right places. There were only a couple of times I manually knocked back a gear going up a steep hill at about 13 tonnes all up.

It’s not just drivers who are likely to appreciate this new automatic option. Hino says there has also been strong demand from customer for autos.

Hino reckons the Allison uses about the same amount of fuel around town as a manual; it’s safer, because drivers can keep both hands on the wheel and better concentrate on the road; and it takes off from lights quicker than a manual.

And amazing as it may sound, these days it’s apparently getting harder to find drivers who can even use a synchromesh manual. After all, the majority of new cars are autos.

If a driver can’t use a manual very well, an auto could have the edge in servicing costs.

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The little engine that could

All Hino 500 Series FEs have the same five cylinder J07 engine – the "7" is a rather generous rounding up of the engine size, which is 6.4 litres.

This might seem on the small side, especially when compared with the Isuzu counterpart’s almost 8 litre engine, but Hino claims this is the most powerful Japanese truck in its class, and our scrolling through of the specs sheets seems to confirm this.

The J07 pushes out 260hp (191kW) and nearly 800 Newton metres of torque, and you can feel the grunt on the road.

Surprisingly there is no cruise control on this model, but Hino says there will be soon.

And unlike in the 300 Series light duty Hino trucks, there is no vehicle stability control (VSC). As far as we can tell neither is there stability control in any other medium duty Japanese trucks – you’ll have to go European if you want that.

You’ll also have to go European if you want disc brakes.

There is a driver’s side airbag, but none on the passenger side – unlike the Isuzu. Hino counters that most of these types of trucks won’t carry passengers.

Check out more on the FE Hino in the June issue of Owner//Driver.


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