Diesel News took a quick look at the Trade Ace from Hino. Stepping up to a light duty truck from a car can be daunting for some people. Change can be a daunting thing when car-based utilities or one-tonners have been the workhorse of choice.
When business needs demand a vehicle with a significantly greater carrying capacity, it’s not just the larger size, both length and width, causing consternation, there’s also the extra height off the ground, those wide reaching rear view mirrors and a turning circle somewhat larger than an average ute.
Truck manufacturers have sought to design and equip their light vehicles in such a way the transition is made as painless as possible. Knowing people who buy these vehicles are typically no-nonsense types who just want to get on with the job, this awareness extends to furnishing the vehicle with a dealer-fitted body complete with racks and, therefore, ready to roll.
Hino’s Trade Ace is a fitting example of this type of truck. It was launched in 2014 as a addition to the existing 300 Series range. It comes in two variants, 920 and 921, with the former utilising a six-speed manual while the latter has a fully automatic Aisin transmission with the same number of ratios, the top two being overdrive.
The auto features a lock-up torque converter operating above 45 km/h in all gears between second and sixth, providing an almost manual-like fuel efficiency and power transfer.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, the first thing you notice is the outstanding forward and side visibility thanks to the slim high-tensile steel A-pillars, a vital part of the cab structure which is crashworthy certified. Indeed, some modern cars have inferior forward vision due to excessively fat A-pillars necessary for strength when standard mild steel is used.
Rearward vision is excellent via the large mirrors with spotters below, all mounted on sturdy brackets. It’s good to see Hino listened to my criticism of earlier 300 Series models where the mirror brackets protruded way too far from the sides of the cab. Happy to say they’ve now got it just right.
Once underway, the 600 Nm of torque produced between 1500 and 2000 rpm makes a mockery of the 500 kg payload. Indeed, it’s easy to conclude loaded to its 4495 kg GVM (about 1.3 tonnes payload) this truck would still barely raise a sweat.
There is a downside, however, to de-rating an 8500 kg GVM truck to 4495 kg, a somewhat choppy ride due to the suspension carrying a lot less weight than it was designed for. This is perhaps the biggest disadvantage for those used to the comfortable ride of car-based light commercials. That said, the ride certainly wasn’t harsh, a fact no doubt helped by the suspension seat.