Not sure what to expect, the thing that stands out to me about this offering is how it really does love the tough stuff, perhaps more than pottering around the suburbs.
What I mean is that in applications such as while towing, with a decent load on the back, or on the open highway, the Hino seemed to be much more at home.
I utilized the Hino hybrid to pick up a Mazda car that we are using for a product review for Behind the Wheel and was amazed at just how competently and comfortably the hybrid towed the load.
Of course we are talking a car that weighs around 1200kg and a hefty twin axle car trailer too, so that’s a fairly substantial amount of weight.
It was quite difficult to really notice the difference with the car and trailer hooked-up, even when tackling a fairly serious hill with a dead-stop half way up, shortly after collecting the car.
On the return trip the Hino pulled the trailer/car combo with ease at around 95km/h on the freeway and again felt just as composed.
I did take the opportunity to run the Hino in the ‘Power’ mode and this really makes sense when there’s a fairly hefty load on the rear.
Interestingly, especially compared to some of the really long 1000km+ plus runs I have undertaken in rival diesel/manual trucks, the Hino hybrid was really happy sitting on 100km/h+ on the highway and the auto transmission was also in its element here.
A 700kg load was also placed on the rear tray of the Hino and taken to the rubbish tip, again, it is a more enjoyable drive with a load on.
The opposite to these under load situations is when the Hino has to try and work out exactly what’s going on when there isn’t a load on.
I found in these times that the transmission was a bit too keen to change up a ratio.
So, for example, there’s a hill near my place where, in a manual, you would tackle it in 3rd gear to maintain engine speed and the 50km/h speed limit.
But the Hino hybrid wanted to do it in 5th, then, when the revs die completely, back to 4th and instead of confidently climbing with plenty of revs it felt laboured.
True, you can flick it over to manual mode though and perhaps this is the best thing to do in these low-speed/low-load situations.
On the plus side though the exhaust brake and gearing of the transmission provides for controlled descents with only minimal brake usage and this was very pleasing.
I thought that without a load on the Hino was particularly firm and bouncy on speed bumps and the like.
I know that it’s a truck, my comparison simply goes against the competitors.
Another thing that I felt could be better was a couple of the design features of the Hino tray, a selection from what it calls the ‘Trade Ace Range’.
Firstly, the tonneau cover is nearly impossible to refit to the headboard.
A channel type arrangement is fiddly and not user-friendly (especially taking into account the size and weight of the cover).
Also, when the drop-sides are down you can’t use the step! So climbing in with the drop-sides down is a very difficult assignment (as the photo below shows).
I also though the headboard could have had some better tie-points as well for securing a load up against it.
Inside the cabin, Hino has provided a quite user-friendly and comfortable environment with plenty of creature comforts, including sat-nav, digital radio and a reverse camera.
While the controls are all easy to use and everything feels sturdy and well made.
Visibility from the cabin is excellent and the mirrors are large and effective.
One thing that was missing though was a digital speedometer, I think this would be a nice convenience and safety addition to the Hino.
Summing it up: The Hino 300 Series is a well-designed and tough offering that excels with a load on and in other areas, such as on the highway, where I thought it might disappoint a little.
The tray design is not as good as some rivals, especially compared to the Iveco Daily (review here) and the auto transmission is a little ‘hit and miss’.
The hybrid drive-train though is powerful and competent and the quality of the Hino construction is unquestioned.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Hino 300 Series 716 Hybrid
Engine: 110kW/420Nm diesel with 36kW electric motor
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Safety: Not tested
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000km and 5yrs/160,000km battery warranty
Price: from $66,136