Car reviews - Hino - 300 Series - 4x4
Order books temporarily closed for Hino 300 4x4 light duty truck
1 Sep 2023
HINO first released its 300 Series 4x4 in 2017, but recent improvements like a 10.1-inch touchscreen and improved in-cabin technology were as good of an excuse as any to get back in one for a drive.
The light-duty 4x4 truck segment is fairly limited, with a choice of four manufacturers each offering just one model apiece: Hino, Isuzu, Fuso and Iveco. Hino, however, has seen strong sales growth since launching the 300 Series 4x4 and this year is shaping up to be the best yet with more than 200 sold so far.
At the time of writing, though, Hino dealers have the order books temporarily closed for the model to catch up with demand. This is down to unknown supply chain challenges and growing demand for the off-road models, Hino told GoAutoNews.
The truck maker leads the light-duty race in terms of standard technology with inclusions such as vehicle stability control (VSC), reverse camera with night vision, cruise control and four-wheel disc brakes. While standard fare on most dual-cab utes, these features are impressive additions on a light-duty truck.
The model sells from $81,134 excluding off road costs with power coming from a 4.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine producing 121kW/464Nm, and it is mated to a manual six-speed gearbox. Dealers will fit an aftermarket Allison automatic ‘box for an additional $25,000.
The standard six-speed manual offers a wide spread of ratios, from an overdrive sixth to a carpark suitable first gear. As is the case with many trucks, first gear is reserved for hills, towing or off-road use, meaning mostly second gear take-offs.
Hino dealers that retrofit the Allison automatic deactivate sixth gear, due to taller ratios, making the self-shifter a five-speed. It is also fitted with a transmission cooler, a must in more extreme off-road applications.
A transfer case with high- and low-range gearing sits behind the transmission with Hino claiming the lowest crawl speed in the light-duty 4x4 segment. Freewheeling front hubs have to be locked to engage four-wheel drive - a reminder of a simpler time.
Hino offers the 300 Series 4x4 in both single- and dual-cab variants our tester being the dual-cab model, providing a blank canvas for tradespeople, adventurers and anyone else wanting an off-road capable truck with huge carrying capacity.
These trucks can be configured with either a 4500kg or 7500kg GVM, meaning you can technically drive one on a car licence but it will only leave around 1500kg for a tray or canopy and any load you wish to carry.
The one we tested had a 7500kg GVM and 11000kg GCM, which makes a lot more sense for a vehicle like this, requiring a light-duty truck licence but leaving 4340kg to fit a camping setup or carry a lot of anything.
You will also have a towing capacity of up to 4500kg - as long as the trailer weight does not exceed that of the truck - but with a GCM of 11-tonnes it will do it with ease and if with a higher rated tow hitch it would technically be capable of towing higher weights.
There is no denying this 300 Series is large, even by light truck standards, with a 3500mm wheelbase, 6205mm length, 2130mm width, and 2565mm height. Needless to say, underground car parks and drive-thrus are out.
It is also rougher on the road than any dual-cab 4x4, much of it down to overall weight and heavy-duty multi-leaf front and rear suspension. This is, after all, a truck and it does drive like one.
The benefit of being a fully-fledged “truck” is a driveline designed to operate under high load for extended periods. The engine was built to be used in fully-loaded trucks, around the clock, so durability is certainly engineered into the 300 Series 4x4.
Servicing comes around every 20,000kms or every six months, which exceeds the 10,000 and 15,000km intervals we are used to in the passenger car world - although, six months is more frequent. Hino also offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and capped price servicing.
On the road
We took the Hino 300 Series 4x4 on a two-day road trip across rural New South Wales which offered stunning scenery and some of the roughest roads we could have wished for.
To answer the question we set out to answer; you probably couldn’t live with a Hino 300 4x4 if it was your only vehicle but this is a commercial vehicle, not a passenger car.
The 300 Series 4x4 is clearly a work vehicle or tourer, or both, and while school drop-offs or grocery runs aren’t completely out of the picture, this is an adventure rig intended to complement your daily driver.
Inside, the cabin is fairly bare bones but still has plenty of modern technology like the new 10.1-inch multimedia display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plenty of charging options and more storage than you would ever find in a car.
As mentioned earlier this tester was equipped with an aftermarket Allison automatic transmission, which did make it effortless to operate. Having spent extensive time in both the automatic and standard manual model, though, we would choose the manual.
The three-pedal truck is a bit more work and the gearbox takes a little getting used to but the manual option is more engaging, just as capable off-road, and somehow feels more ‘truck-like’ which we think will appeal to buyers.
The dog-leg gate can be tricky off-road because a missed gear in a vehicle this heavy typically means coming to a stop before having another crack. If anything, we think that adds to the fun.
We were able to sit on 100km/h for extended periods on country back roads, with the little truck riding well and the revs staying low. It takes a little longer to get up to speed than a regular 4x4, but you quickly adapt to the greater acceleration and deceleration distances.
Using the exhaust brake to maintain speed is more efficient than relying on the brakes despite having discs all round, and it rewards you when driven more like a truck than a car.
The engine redlines at 3100 rpm, with peak torque coming in at just 1,400 rpm, so the key is to let it lug and not try and push it into the upper rev range. It feels happiest between 1200-2000 rpm which is where we spent most of our time - even off-road and on soft sand.
Once off-road the impressive ramp over angle (159 degrees), approach angle (34 degrees) and departure angle (30 degrees) made navigating steep sections of forestry an effortless affair.
It’s the approach angle of these 300 Series 4x4 trucks that really shines, making short work of steep descents and rocky step-ups with little-to-no risk of boofing the bumper and, sitting so high in the cab, visibility is excellent.
The only clearance issue we ran into was the diff’ bellying out when dropping the wheels into deep ruts or sand tracks, but with well over 200mm of clearance to the diff’, it still wasn’t a great concern.
Our tester had upgraded 285/70 all-terrain tyres fitted on the factory 19.5-inch wheels, which probably did hurt fuel use but offered improved off-road grip, a little more clearance, and we didn’t notice much road noise at all.
We hovered around the 15-18L/100km mark for fuel use, but of course once we got off-road the number skyrocketed as it does in any 4x4 vehicle. With 170-litres of fuel capacity, you will likely still have a range up near 1000kms between fills.
After 14 hours in the 300 Series 4x4, spread across two days and a range of on- and off-road terrain, we weren’t sore at all and much of that probably came down to the magnetically damped torsion bar suspended driver’s seat.
Sure, it was more work than a dual-cab 4x4 ute, but somebody buying a light-duty 4x4 truck is most likely comfortable with the fact it’s not quite as agile or comfortable as a passenger vehicle.
If money is no issue and you want the ultimate off-road tourer, you would be hard pressed finding a better option than the 300 Series 4x4. Just make sure you factor in the cost of a tray, canopy or camper after buying a cab-chassis.
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