A trend affecting the medium to light/heavy-duty area of the market is leading to a situation where Hino going auto is only to be expected. Several truck makers have offered automated manual transmissions as an option, but the market seems to be locking itself into a preference for Allison fully automatic gearing.
As a result, Allison is an option on just about every model in the new Hino 500 Series line-up. The substantial improvement in auto performance with improved electronics, including the ability to monitor the truck’s behaviour and demands so precisely, via the CANbus, means the transmission has an effective answer to every question posed by the truck and the task at hand.
There are manuals on offer, with a Hino six-speed and an Eaton nine-speed available. There is also an impressive newcomer to the 500. Hino’s M009OD nine-speed box is a four-over-four H-pattern range change box with a short throw and positive linkage. Ratios are available from 10.781:1 all the way to an overdrive 0.724:1 at the top end. Changing the nine-speed from Hino from a constant mesh to a synchro box makes a substantial difference to the quality of the drive available.
The new nine-litre engine offers 350hp (257kW) of power under the right foot and 1,422Nm (1,050 ft lb) of torque. This much horsepower in a rigid truck is more than enough, but it is the ripping torque that impresses out on the road. Especially when combined, as it is, with the Hino nine-speed manual.
Unfortunately, for those who go with the Allison option, the engine gets less power and torque. The power comes in at 320hp (235kW) and torque is cut to 1,275Nm (940 ft lb). Hino has chosen to fit the 3500 version from Allison and not engineered in the 4000 series to cope with the higher torque of the top-end engine.
All of the Allison transmissions used in the 500 are six-speed models.
“The move of the production of our 500 models to the new Koba plant in Tokyo, means we can get synthetic fluid into the Allison transmissions down the production line,” says Daniel Petrovski, Hino Product Planning Manager. “This means we have service intervals on the Allison out to 480,000km.”
Out on the Road
A driver can’t help but be impressed when taking these new combinations out on the road. The smoothness of the Allison in combination with the eight- and nine-litre engines sees the driver’s task minimized – just point in the right direction and put the right foot down.
However, get into the 6×4 rigid with the top-power nine-litre and manual box and the fun begins. This is a top performer, with the amount of power and torque available at all times and the smooth changing of the gear box enabling the driver to get the most out of what’s available – and there’s plenty there.
Pulling up at some traffic lights for the first time in these models can be a little disconcerting. Pull up, hit the brake and disengage the gear and the engine dies, even on the manual. The stop/start technology Hino first introduced over ten years ago in the hybrid models has now made it across to the conventional manual models.
Yet another pervasive trend in trucking has been the increasing adoption of sophisticated safety systems. Hino is on this trend with vehicle stability control now standard across the range. This goes along with all of the other safety features like Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), front underrun protection system (FUPS), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), etc., which have been introduced in the last ten years or so.
What Hino has now is something that has been designed and built to suit Australian truck buyers. With each new generation of truck model, Hino gets closer to the ideal truck for the market. In recent years, the brand has impressed with the kind of power and flexibility it has designed into its models, in both the 500 and the 300 ranges.
This new range gives the Japanese truck importer the right mix for the market, from the basic low-spec option at the lower end, through a series of excellent fleet performers with Allison transmission and sufficient power, to the top end and a rip snorter with a great new transmission.