Brad Leach | Nov 4, 2016 | 5 Comments

ATTENTION ALL UTE BUYERS: IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT A UTE MEETING YOUR LOAD-CARRYING NEEDS, HINO SUGGESTS ITS 300 SERIES 716 HYBRID HAS THE ANSWER.

It is true during our travels we have seen some of the mainstream ute models loaded up to their legal limits and we’ve wondered what those sort of loads were doing to fuel consumption.

Would a light truck, one which requires no special drivers’ licence, better serve trade buyers with a big job in mind, or with a gargantuan trailer to tow?

Vehicle Style: Light Truck
Price: $66,136.60/$72,186.60 as-tested (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 4.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel plus AC Synchronous motor/5-spd automated manual
Fuel Economy Tested: 12.0 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

In answering the challenge Hino points to a customer – a courier who does the Gippsland-Melbourne return run each day and since swapping from his often overloaded Toyota HiAce to a 300 Series 726 Hybrid light truck is reporting fuel savings approaching 50 percent.

While that figure is no doubt influenced by the predominantly freeway running involved, Hino goes further with claims of major fleet customers enjoying fuel savings better than 20 percent since switching to the hybrid.

To prove the point, Hino supplied TMR with a 300 Series 716 Hybrid for a week - it was a medium wheelbase model fitted with the wide cab and Hino’s ‘Trade Ace’ pack (alloy tray, ladder racks and LED DRLs).

With dual rear wheels and a length of about 6.2-metres, the Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid is indeed larger than any ute we’re familiar with.

And with a GVM of 4,495kgs or 6,500kgs it certainly puts any ute in the shade in the load-carrying department.

The hybrid’s Power Control Unit is situated under the tray on the left side and contains the nickel-metal hydride battery pack, ECU and inverter.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Standard Features: Tilt/telescopic steering wheel, fabric-trimmed drivers’ seat with 4-way adjustment, lumbar support and suspension base, cloth-trimmed bench seat for passengers, air-conditioning
  • Infotainment: AM/FM DAB+ radio with CD and DVD player, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite navigation

Climbing into the cab of our Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid was straight forward with its integrated step and well-positioned grab handle.

The individual drivers’ seat (with four-way adjustment, lumbar support and a suspension base) and the two-passenger bench seat (a wide-cab model, remember) were trimmed in durable-looking fabric.

The steering wheel provided telescopic and tilt adjustment for a good driving position and narrow A-pillars, deep side windows and split side mirrors (electronic adjustment) all contributed to excellent visibility.

Centre dashboard, left of the conventionally-styled instruments was the 6.1-inch multimedia screen which included the reversing camera and satellite navigation displays.

This is a working vehicle, so the two roof storage bins help keep paperwork and other bits-n-pieces in order.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • Engine: 4.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel (110kW @2,500rpm/420Nm @1,400rpm) and 36kW/333Nm electric motor
  • Transmission: 5-spd automatic with sequential manual mode
  • Suspension: Reverse Elliot I-Beam front/Tapered leaf spring rear
  • Brakes: 287mm discs
  • Steering: Recirculating ball

Hino’s 300 Series 716 Hybrid provides 110kW/420Nm from the 4.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and 36kW/333Nm from the AC Synchronous electric motor.

The actual operation of the hybrid system is not unlike a Camry or Lexus hybrid – the Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid can accelerate using pure electric power or the electric motor can provide a boost to the turbo-diesel under acceleration.

And when you’re off the throttle, the turbo-diesel recouperates energy to charge the nickel-metal hydride battery.

Auto start-stop is not common in trucks but our Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid quickly and unobtrusively re-started at traffic lights, intersections and in the peak-hour stop-start crawl.

Drive is to the rear wheels via a five-speed ‘automated manual’ transmission (in passenger car terms that’s an automatic transmission with sequential manual mode).

There are three drive modes – ‘Eco’ which changes gear at 2000rpm, ‘Normal’ which swaps cogs at 2,500 and ‘Power’ which takes things to 3,000rpm.

With no load, on-board gear changes in the ‘Eco’ setting feel as though they could be timed with a sun-dial but don’t forget rigs like this are designed to operate properly when loaded.

We tried ‘Power’ and shifting gears manually but really, the other two settings provided ample acceleration and refined cruising.

Despite all that excellent hybrid stuff, the Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid isn’t your Toyota Prius – it’s a serious light truck.

But, just like passenger cars, state-of-the-art engineering means light trucks these days are easy to drive – hence Hino’s contention that some ute buyers would be better-off with a vehicle like this.

Yes the ’Reverse Elliot I-Beam’ front suspension and sturdy leaf spring rear can be bouncy when unladen but that drivers’ seat with its suspension base gives the driver some isolation (if not the one or two passengers).

The recirculating ball power steering is very light but still provides reasonable feedback on what the front wheels are doing (we encountered some slippery roads during our week but our hybrid Hino steered very well).

Our truck was fitted with a reversing camera which eased city maneuvering and really with an automatic transmission, plenty of steering lock and small turning circle, the Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid is a breeze to operate and light truck rookies will quickly get the hang of it.

 

SAFETY

Safety features: Two SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: 3 years/100,000kms

Servicing: 20,000kms/6 months

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

Mitsubishi Fuso has a similar hybrid model called the ‘Eco Hybrid’ which has a parallel hybrid system and 110kW/370Nm 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. GVMs start at 4500kgs.

A major contributor to Isuzu’s incredible market success over the years has been the NPR range and directly comparable to our Hino test truck is the NPR ‘Tradepack’. Not a hybrid but a 5.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with 114kW/419Nm on-tap and GVMs of 4500kgs and 5500kgs.

 

TMR VERDICT

To Hino’s initial point that the 300 Series 716 Hybrid would better serve tradies and others who push conventional utes beyond their working limits…well our week with this light truck certainly affirmed that.

Moreover, operators of similar non-hybrid light trucks really need to reappraise their thinking and reap the fuel savings of hybrid trucking.

We would suggest Toyota now has a bank of knowledge regarding longevity and service of hybrid drivetrains sufficient to allay any reliability questions.

MORE: Truck | Commercial Vehicles | Hybrids

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