For those amongst the RV fraternity that crave the real 4WD motorhome experience the options are somewhat limited.
There are the specialised coach builders like Warrior ATV, Earthcruiser expedition vehicles or Amesz, all great vehicles, all expensive.
There are the Ute based style with size limitations, the truck based style like the MAN or unimog style, but they are heavy to drive, horrendously expensive and BIG.
There are also the 4-7.5 tonne GVM style light truck style base units. Up until now the choices have basically been a Fuso/Canter or an Isuzu. Recently Iveco introduced the focused 4X4 Daily which we are reviewing soon.
Enter into this segment the Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 light duty truck. Launched globally this week in the Werribee 4wd centre, the Hino 300 Series 817 4×4 is set to change perceptions amongst motorhome builders for a robust yet more comfortable 4wd base.
Hino trucks have an enviable reputation for reliability, but until now they had no 4X4 offering in their light duty segment. They have spent the better part of the last 5-7 years developing just that.
To give you an idea of the time and effort taken, this release started some eight years ago and became almost an obsession for their product manager Daniel Petrovski.
Daniel is I suspect a bit of a bushman at heart and has been in the trucking industry for over 20 years in various roles and knows a thing or two about his trucks. Seeing him release the Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 was as close as we can get to see a bloke deliver a baby.
Daniel and the whole team at Hino Australia, headed by Steve Lotter, and overseas have an infectious passion for their trucks and when you get to have a close look and drive of the Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 you can understand just why they are so pleased with themselves.
The Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 Light Duty Truck is a beauty!
Before we have a look at the stats it is important to note that the Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 was specifically designed in Australia for Australian conditions. Hence the global launch here.
Here is a multinational trucking company, part of the Toyota group that spent the time, effort and money to develop a segment specific truck for Australian conditions.
You have to admire that.
Let’s look at the quick facts
- Hino N04C 4 litre diesel engine
- Euro 5 ADR 80/03 emission compliant
- Hino Diesel Particulate active Reduction filter (DPR)
- Delivers 165hp (121kW) at 2500rpm and
- 464Nm of torque at 1400rpm flat to about 2400rpm
- 6 Speed Manual Overdrive transmission
- Dual range 4×4 transfer case
- Manual freewheeling hubs
- Push button shift on the fly 4X4 (once hubs are locked)
- Super low range crawl gear of 2.2:1
- Ventilated Disc Brakes Front & Rear
- High air intake filter
- Magnetic suspension driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment
- 3 contact point entry/exit everywhere
- Cruise Control
- Dual SRS Airbags
- Tilt adjustable steering wheel
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
- IPA69K submersible Reverse Camera (waterproof)
- ECE R-29 Cab Strength Certified Available in 7 seat crew cab
- Rear passenger air conditioning
- 840mm wide chassis with rivet-less top flange and grid hole design,
Well maybe that wasn’t a quick look, but there are so many features that the Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 Light Duty Truck has as standard that it is hard to be brief.
The Hino 300 Series 817 4X4 Light Duty Truck is, as mentioned, is a beauty. It is exceptionally easy to drive, performs both on road and off road, in harsh conditions, faultlessly, is relatively economical and most importantly has been specifically designed, engineered and tested in Australia for our unique criteria.
For the older drivers that often frequent the 4WD motorhome market, the Hino is more comfortable to ride in than many alternative options. Make no mistake, it isn’t a car like ride, but it also isn’t as body jarring as some other trucks.
There are a couple of things that I wasn’t so keen on. The rear bench is pretty flat and can become uncomfortable over a short period of time, there is no automatic version and the lock up on the rear retractable seat belts seemed a little too sensitive, especially over rough roads.
If you are opting for the dual cab option, fitting individualised rear seats is easy and allows flexibility in layout for the passengers.
The three contact point for entry and exit is intuitive and extremely handy.
The lack of an automatic version will be a limiting factor in the motorhome RV market segment, but they are looking at developing one soon hopefully.
The other limiting factor is that while the Hino 300 4X4 has a theoretical top speed of 120kmh or so it is limited electronically to 100kmh
For motorhome builders the dealers can offer single rear wheel options, diff locks, bull bar and winch options.
The Hino will also tow 3.5 T so taking the car behind isn’t a problem. The waterproof reversing camera is excellent for assisting with hooking up the trailer as well.
Safety is a big feature on the Hino 300. The Hino 300 Series 4×4 is brought to a stop by four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, combined with the standard fitment of Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Power Assisted Braking (PAB).
The braking performance of the 300 Series 4×4 takes the 7,500kg 4×4 truck segment to another level of safety with the standard inclusion of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).
Put simply, VSC helps prevent the truck potentially skidding out of control by monitoring wheel rotation speed, steering angle, yaw rate, lateral G forces and braking.
The VSC can autonomously take the appropriate action required such as reducing engine power and/or applying individual brakes with the intent of keeping the vehicle upright and safely negotiating the corner.
“Driver comfort is related to fatigue, both of which are very much at the forefront of our minds because it’s a potential workplace health and safety issue for our customers,” Mr Petrovski said.
“Hino has focussed on not only great performance but making this truck as safe, comfortable, quiet and easy-to-use as possible in as many circumstances, for as many applications as possible.
The Hino 300 Series 4×4 has already undergone years of extensive testing and evaluation here with real-world customers.
Prototypes of the Hino 300 Series 4×4 have been used in day-to-day operations with a number of customers across Australia with two customers taking part in long-term field testing: Cook Shire Council in Far North Queensland and Kennedy Drilling in remote Western Australia.
Hino test engineers have studied the vehicles in these operations, and those learnings combined with the testing carried at its durability facilities in Japan produced a model purpose-built for Australian applications.
“We have been testing prototypes of the 4×4 here for over three years, with real-world customers whose feedback has enabled us to refine the specification of a truck built specifically for the Australian market,” Mr Daniel Petrovski, Hino Product Strategy Manager said.
“The 300 Series 4×4 is a specialised vehicle and this sort of approach has genuinely benefitted what we can now offer our customers.”
“There’s testing – and then there’s real world in-field testing, which is what we have done with this vehicle,” said Mr Petrovski.
We will have a full drive review early next year so stay tuned