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A bigger, bolder Hino for 2011

WOODSTOCK, Ont. - For medium- duty truck buyers, the cost of EPA2010 emissions compliance is steep and unavoidable. But Hino has taken much of the sting out of the up-charge by loading its 2011 models...

WOODSTOCK, Ont. –For medium- duty truck buyers, the cost of EPA2010 emissions compliance is steep and unavoidable. But Hino has taken much of the sting out of the up-charge by loading its 2011 models up with standard features that were previously optional or altogether unavailable.

Heated power mirrors, power locks, keyless entry, tilt steering, cruise control and air-conditioning are among the new standard features on Hino’s flagship Model 358, a 35,000-lb GVW offering that’s technically a ‘baby’ Class 8 but geared more towards Class 7 applications. It’s also a more comfortable truck to operate, thanks to wider seat bases designed to accommodate North America’s naturally larger drivers and a previously overlooked armrest, which customers had been asking for.

In addition to all that, 2011 model year Hinos come with a standard Clarion in-dash stereo featuring GPS, a DVD player and Bluetooth functionality that can be easily upgraded to include a back-up camera. Combined, the new offerings may be nearly enough to make a truck buyer forget about the emissions-driven purchase price increase -an increase that gets easier to swallow when you consider the EPA2010- compliant models will ultimately get better fuel mileage thanks to their use of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment.

Fuel mileage may not be top of mind for a lot of medium-duty truck buyers, but with an anticipated improvement of 3-5%, the difference should be evident on the bottom line. Hino designed its own SCR system that comes with a standard 19-litre diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank that can get about 4,000 kilometres between refills, Norbert Felso, Hino’s technical field service manager said during a recent walk-around at the company’s Canadian assembly plant in Woodstock, Ont. The entire SCR system has been neatly packaged underneath the passenger side steps in what is one of the cleanest SCR system installations we’ve seen. Body builders will be pleased to know it does not occupy a significant amount of frame rail space and a clean chassis is still available thanks to the clever relocation of several components.

The fuel tank, battery box and fuel filter have all found new homes and a new integrated Bendix air dryer that doesn’t require a separate wet tank is now tucked between the frame rails to free up more frame space. All this means the operator will have no trouble finding a home for a chassis- mounted toolbox or other specialty equipment. Hino has also made its 2011 models more body builder-friendly by adding more connectors and control functions for increased versatility.

All things considered, the SCR system is about as unobtrusive as it could be. And it shouldn’t pose much of a learning curve for drivers. A new gauge on the dash – and another on the DEF tank itself -provide plenty of warning when the fluid needs to be replenished. If the tank does run dry, the truck will suffer a power downgrade in accordance with EPA requirements.

DEF freezes at about -11 C but the EPA provides a 75-minute grace period before the system must be fully operational. Hino uses recirculated engine coolant to get the fluid flowing in just 25 minutes when starting the engine at temperatures as low as -30 C, Felso noted.

EPA2010 emissions rules do not require a further reduction in particulate matter (PM), so little has changed with the diesel particulate filter that made its debut on Hino trucks in 2007. However, Hino now has a burner unit at the front of the aftertreatment system that provides the heat required for DPF regeneration, taking the load off the engine.

The Hino 358 is powered by a 260-hp Hino motor with 660 lb.- ft. of torque and it rides on a beefier 14,000-lb front axle. It can be spec’d with either a six-speed Allison automatic or Eaton manual transmission. The Eaton manual comes with a new ‘Economy Running’ mode that Felso said limits acceleration and requires the driver to shift at lower rpm to improve fuel mileage. The Hino engine has been optimized for im- proved fuel economy with higher injection pressures. The extra heat this creates required a bigger radiator and the hood was raised about four inches to accommodate that larger rad, giving the Model 358 a bigger, bolder appearance. The 358 comes with standard dual aluminum fuel tanks and a new cooler to control fuel temperatures.

The truck is backed by what Hino calls its 1-3-5 Customer Care Program, including one year/50,000 kms of recommended maintenance, three years of roadside assistance and up to five years’ protection for the engine and transmission. It’s hard to find better coverage than that.

What is likely to impress customers the most about the new Hino offerings, however, are the driver-friendly amenities that have made this work truck more comfortable and enjoyable to operate.

The slick new interior provides a passenger car driver environment that will be especially appreciated in applications such as tow and recovery, where a lot of time can be spent waiting around. It’s tough to find fault with any aspect of the new Hino’s design, but one might wish for a more commercial-grade interior door handle. The handle on the 358 would look more at home on a Toyota Yaris than on a work truck driven by someone who’s likely to be wearing gloves much of the time as he climbs in and out of the truck.

It’s a minor complaint, and with all the extras Hino has given customers in its 2011 models, one that’s easy to live with.

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