A MASSIVE PILE OF FRESHLY-FELLED REDGUM FIREWOOD PROVIDED NO PROBLEMS FOR OUR LITTLE HINO 300 SERIES TIPPER.
The same can’t be said for our mate who spent the next day cutting and storing it after we dropped the lot in his front yard... but that’s another story.
Fact is we did the job in one trip - if we’d attempted the same in a conventional ute it would have been three, four, maybe five trips.
So the point is: if you’re a gardener, tradie, rural producer or anyone else whose life could be made easier with a tipper, you - or your apprentice - can legally drive the Hino 300 Series using just a regular car licence.
Vehicle Style: Small Tip Truck
Price: $53,970 (plus on-road charges)
Engine/trans: 110kW/420Nm 4.0-litre 4cyl turbo-diesel | 5sp manual
Fuel Economy Tested: 13.1l/100kms
We don't normally review trucks here at TMR, but we had a job to do, so "why not?". And, let's face it, for some jobs a ute just isn't going to cut it.
Surprisingly, this little worker is priced around the same as a 4X4 Ranger XLT (umm... does that mean we're paying too much for utes, or are trucks cheap?).
Whatever, Hino’s 300 Series offers a diverse range of trucks up to a GVM of 8500kgs. Our 616 IFS tipper, with a GVM of 4495kgs, is at the lower end of the scale, which means a normal car licence is all that you need.
Priced at $53,970 (plus on-road charges), our little worker was handily equipped with a simple hydraulically-operated tray, exhaust brake and air-conditioning.
- Standard Equipment: tilt/telescopic steering wheel, fabric-trimmed drivers’ seat with 4-way adjustment, cloth-trimmed passengers’ seat, air-conditioning
- Infotainment: AM/FM DAB+ radio with CD and DVD player and Bluetooth connectivity
The wide-opening doors provide easy access to the Hino 300 Series cab, the driving position is comfortable (assisted by the tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment) and all-round visibility is good - cutouts in the tray uprights behind the cab’s rear window help here.
Instrumentation is nicely set-out and includes a bar graph type display for diesel particulate filter build-up.
To the right of the steering wheel is a vertical lever (reminiscent of a passenger car handbrake) which actuates the hydraulic controls for the tip tray. It's all easily operated and, in just a few minutes driving and manoeuvring, you'll get used to the "truck" driving style.
Having the feet stradling the steering column - brake one side, clutch the other - takes a moment to acclimatise to (and the column can interfere with long legs and size 10 workboots swinging in and out), but, commercial-style plastics and trim aside, it's otherwise a nicely liveable cabin with controls where you'd expect them.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 110kW/420Nm 4.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Tipper Size: 1.9 cubic metres
- Payload: 1805kgs
- Suspension: Reverse Elliott I beam (front)/tapered leaf springs (rear)
- Steering: Recirculating ball
- Towing Capacity: 3500kgs (braked)
Hino wants to reinforce the point that today’s light trucks present solutions to big loads that conventional utes can’t match.
So, Hino had a tipper, we had a mate down the street looking to get a massive load of redgum firewood from his parent’s farm... sounded like a plan!
The trip out was a bit cozier than we expected; nevertheless our front-row-forward sized mate was comfortable in the passenger seat.
Without a load in the rear all trucks can be a bit jumpy (well, in our Hino those leaf springs have to support a GVM rated to 4495kgs) but we must say the ride was more than reasonable - our educated advice: don’t be too ambitious over speedbumps.
Out on the rolling hills and freeways our Hino 300 Series tipper moved along nicely and was impressively quiet in top (fifth) gear.
Like all trucks, to maintain momentum climbing hills you need to keep the engine in the power-band so precise downchanges were called for. Once you get used to the long ‘throws’ of the gear lever this is straight-forward enough..
Cornering is also impressive - the steering is light but gives good feedback and we can’t say body roll is an issue.
Of course the heavy duty commercial grade tyres aren’t as sticky as passenger car tyres and with the engine and cab over the front wheels it’s easy to go too fast and scrub them out - understeering all over the shop will cause excessive and expensive wear (and confirm you’re a boofhead novice).
Once on-site we were pleasingly greeted by the sight of a Kubota tractor to load the remains of the felled tree - a big old fella that came down in some of Victoria’s recent wild weather. (Shifting that much by hand...? Nah... not that we're 'work-shy'...)
Dropping one side of our Hino 300’s tray allowed for a quick operation and our test truck came fitted with a massive shade cloth for the tray. This operates like a roller-blind and covered the load of firewood for the trip home.
We’ve no idea how much the load weighed - enough to require an extra gear change or two in the hills - but nevertheless our mighty Hino cruised comfortably at the legal limit on the freeway.
And when we got to our mates’ place, easy turning/reversing - thanks to the Hino’s incredible turning circle (just over 11-metres) - quickly got us in position. A pull of that lever right of the steering wheel quickly had the tray tilted to 60-degrees and the load dumped on the footpath.
On the downside, as opposed to say a Toyota HiLux, there’s no denying the Hino is a genuine truck. So if your work is in the CBD or inner suburbs there will be times when the tipper is just a smidge too big and awkward.
Safety Features: 2 SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/100,000kms
Servicing: 'Hino Advantage' capped price servicing covers 20,000km/6 month service intervals at $559 for minor services (20,000kms, 60,000kms, 100,000kms), $1,400 for major services (40,000kms, 80,000kms)
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Isuzu offers a ready-to-go tipper in its N Series narrow-cab range also starting from a GVM of 4,500kgs. A 3.0-litre turbo-diesel drives through either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Mitsubishi’s Fuso range of tippers doesn’t go quite that small with GVMs starting at 5,500kgs.
So the redgum firewood got picked-up and delivered, our backs weren’t busted and we barely moved the fuel gauge in our few days with the Hino 300 Series tipper.
Yes it’s obviously more-than-capable of getting the job done and with Hino Advantage you can manage your cash flow knowing what service costs will be.
Just as important is driveability and ease of operation. On that score even a first-day apprentice who had never driven anything bigger than his ute would be able to manage this truck with very little training.
The other point with Hino trucks (like products from parent company Toyota) is an unbeaten reputation for quality and reliability.
(We'll hold our ratings, but came away a little surprised by the user-friendliness of this little worker.)