TESTING TIME: Hino Australia tossed our contributor the keys to the big daddy of the line-up, the FE 1426.
TESTING TIME: Hino Australia tossed our contributor the keys to the big daddy of the line-up, the FE 1426.

New Hino FE 1426 has a lot to like

THE new Hino 500 Series standard cab has been on the market now for about six months and, so far, sales have been perhaps even better than Hino might have expected.

There's a number of reasons why the new truck is proving popular, headed up no doubt by the standard safety and driver-assist features, including stability control and a pre-collision system.

I have spent a fair bit of time now behind the wheel of the new-gen Hino medium-duty truck, particularly in the 11-tonne, 260hp variants.

This week though Hino Australia tossed me the keys to the big daddy of the line-up, the FE 1426.

If you're familiar with the Hino model-naming strategy you'd know that means this is a 14-tonne truck with a 260hp engine.

Whichever way you go with your new Hino 500 Series, either 240hp/260hp, you're going to have the new five-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine under the cab.

Delivering the aforementioned 260hp (191kW) at 2300rpm and maximum torque (882Nm) from 1400rpm, the engine feels just as confident and responsive here, despite the heavier weights.

Comparing apples to apples, ie with the same Allison 2500 transmission, and again loaded to about 80 per cent weight capacity (as was the 1126 I tested) the engine still climbs hills readily and, once again, even accelerated happily up decent inclines.

The standard Jake brake in the new Hino works admirably to slow you, with the help of the transmission on the way back down.

For the record, in the Hino FE 1426 you can also option your truck with a seven- speed synchromesh manual or Automated Manual Transmission, though Hino doesn't expect these options to be particularly popular with Aussie operators.

Like the other Hino 500 Series trucks I've driven in recent times that are fitted with the Allison, again, I felt the odd shunt when decelerating that took a little shine off the otherwise smooth power delivery.

There are some good bits in the cockpit to keep you safe.
There are some good bits in the cockpit to keep you safe.

The overall drive experience is one of relative ease - this isn't a difficult truck to pilot around town and that no doubt will be an attractive attribute for the type of operator usually running this size truck.

The steering is light while giving a somewhat disconnected or artificial steering feel/feedback to the driver and does take a little while to get accustomed to.

In this new addition to the Hino range you will find the tried and tested drum brakes all round and leaf springs up front.

My test trucks were also fitted with optional Hendrickson rear airbags, a big upgrade on the standard rear leaf springs I sampled at the Hino's recent national launch.

Those safety features mentioned before are reassuring and, more importantly, aren't too intrusive.

For example, Lane Departure Warning works only when you are well and truly over the white line.

Adaptive Cruise Control (which is standard too) is a nice feature to have if your weekly work schedule includes some freeway or highway driving, perhaps more likely in this, the biggest of the standard cab models.

The reverse camera is a luxury that makes getting the Hino in and out of truck spots safer, faster and easier. You can also option up your truck with side-mounted cameras for safer lane changes, turns and manoeuvres.

A few essential control buttons are missing.
A few essential control buttons are missing.

Inside the cab of the Hino 500 Series standard cab you'll find a car-like environment dominated by the somewhat controversial brown interior highlights/ areas.

If you're not keen and would rather a single colour interior you're out of luck - it's the brown or nothing.

Again, especially in this larger variant, a left armrest would be a welcome addition for the driver's comfort.

Also, don't expect to get a decent sleep or rest on the standard mattress in the ADR-approved sleeper berth. This is going to be something you will need to upgrade should you want to use this area for its intended design (the thin foam unit supplied is not going to give you much comfort).

Lastly, I might sound like I'm nitpicking a little, but the car handbrake inspired parking brake control feels out of place in a truck this size.

There are some really good bits in the cockpit to keep you safe, comfy and entertained - headed up by the overall user-friendly layout of the Hino cab.

You'll enjoy the infotainment system that includes Digital Radio, Bluetooth and USB charging.

Unfortunately, the Hino steering wheel doesn't give you controls for the infotainment system and I think this a real oversight.

Instead, the steering wheel buttons and controls run only to manipulating the driver info screen (a functional full-colour system) and the Adaptive Cruise Control and this is a pity as most drivers would more frequently use their phone or adjust the stereo settings.

Summing it up: The more time I have spent in the new Hino offering, the more it has grown on me.

The highlights are the new engine, the easy-to- drive nature of the vehicle and the standard safety gear.

There's a few rough edges I don't think would be major deal-breakers for most operators and these are headed-up by the odd steering feel and brown interior trim.

Some might baulk at a four-cylinder, 14-tonne truck, however my tip is that Hino's new baby will continue to make strong gains on competitors in this really keenly-fought segment of the Aussie truck market.

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