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Road test: The 4x4s are coming

WOODSTOCK, Ont. - Hino has some nice surprises in its 2008 line-up. Its new 358 model 4x4 is a beefed-up version of its 338 model, with an upgraded rear axle that will increase its GVW to 35,000 lbs a...

WOODSTOCK, Ont. – Hino has some nice surprises in its 2008 line-up. Its new 358 model 4×4 is a beefed-up version of its 338 model, with an upgraded rear axle that will increase its GVW to 35,000 lbs and should put it into the Class 8 category. A 260-horse engine provides this unit with plenty of spunk to power a plow or shaker, and outstanding sight-lines make it a prime candidate for a side-mounted wing blade.

The truck I drove around Woodstock has been cleaning and salting roads for the last couple of years around Ville de Chateau Richer, near Quebec City. Although there was no snow on the ground during the test drive, the truck clawed at the pavement in all-drive, and like any Hino carved a great turning radius. As compared to a bigger plow, it should be able to swing around in tight streets and cul-de-sacs.

This model might also be well-adapted as a utility truck or cherry picker that has to go off-road occasionally.

The Hino cabover is back

Hino dealers across Canada must be greatly buoyed by the fact that the Japanese manufacturer is bringing back the cabover. Hino dropped COEs from its North American lineup in 2005 and went with a conventional design. The Toyota subsidiary wanted a greater share of the light- and medium-duty truck market and it knew that US customers, in particular, were uncomfortable with cabovers and preferred having the engine up front under a hood.

The decision, on the whole, has been a good one, except for a segment of truck owners that remained loyal to the cabover. Allegiance to the cabover was particularly strong in Quebec, as well as among ethnic groups in the bigger Canadian cities.

Hino’s new 155 COE is a slightly heavier version of its popular worldwide Dutro model. It looks like you could put it in your pocket. The turning radius is incredibly tight – my ride turned concentric circles in about a 12-foot diameter. This will be a boon to any light delivery operation working in congested downtown or market areas.

The 155 will be constructed from all-Japanese parts and assembled at Hino’s Canadian plant in Woodstock, Ont. It will only be available in Canada.

This class 4 truck grosses at 14,700 lbs and is powered a 4-cylinder 4.73 litre engine that puts out 175 horsepower at 2,500 RPM. It comes fitted with a four-speed Aisin automatic transmission and will have drum brakes all around. Hino is also promising to bring back other cabover models in the Class 3 and 5 classifications in 2010.

“The dealers in Quebec are particularly eager to receive the new cabover models,” says Gregery Stub, manager of dealer and product development for Hino Canada. “We expect our sales to grow substantially in Quebec following their introduction. We are also expecting strong demand from other large metro markets, especially Vancouver and Toronto.”

Hino air now available

All engine manufacturers have faced challenges trying to meet 2007 US EPA emissions regulations. Hino’s unique Diesel Particulate Reduction system (DPR) includes an exhaust brake which has become standard equipment on all 2008 Hino trucks. The exhaust stack itself consists of a catalyzed filter which is designed to reduce backpressure and to collect and store soot that derives from combustion; an oxidation catalyst that is installed in front of the filter to facilitate the active regeneration process; and a resonator all packed into the dimensions of a standard truck muffler.

As soot collects in the filter, the DPR periodically burns off the accumulated particulate at very high temperatures.

This can be done manually with the push of a button, or automatically while the vehicle is in use.

If the filter becomes too full of particulate, a warning will come on the dash informing the driver to start the regeneration process within 150 km.

If the operator fails to do so, the unit will go into reduced engine output mode, and the driver will have to limp back to a Hino dealer where the unit can be reset.

The integration of an exhaust brake requires the addition of a pneumatic system, including a compressor and dryer.

This provides a source of compressed air and air ride suspensions are now optional on all Hino models: Link Manufacturing air ride systems on light-duty trucks (a $2,000 option) and a Hendrickson system on the class 6, 7 and 8 trucks ($2,200).

Bill Grisdale, a Hino dealer from Hamilton, Ont. thinks the new air ride will make a “huge” difference.

“One of my customers is a florist who delivers a shock-sensitive product. They have to have air ride,” he says.

Air ride suspension does not mean air brakes, and with the exception of the 358 model, all the rest of Hino’s models run hydraulic brakes.

Hino currently has 11.1% of the market share of Class 4-7 sales in Canada.

No doubt the cabover will prove popular and the air ride option should increase business. But Quebecers have always had a warm spot for Hinos and this will surely continue.

According to Steve Roy, a representative from Hino Victoriaville, Que., “The product is very good. Quebec consumers are familiar with Toyota products and they like the association. Trucks like the 185 are lightweight and easy to operate. You don’t need a special permit to drive it.”

Harry Rudolfs

– For more on Hino’s new product launch, see pg. 35.

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