When it was first revealed in Japan last year, the new Hino 500 Standard Cab for Australia didn’t look that spectacular at first sight, but now we can get down to the nuts and bolts of the Hino 500. From the outside the ever-conservative Hino designers had tweaked the basic cabin design, but only a real expert would be able to tell.
It is not until you drill down into the nuts and bolts of the Hino 500 that the step changes become apparent. The engine looks different, feels different and is different. The way this power plant works with the programming for the Allison automatic transmission makes it even more different.
The smarts included in the electronics are the instantly obvious change to the casual observer and Hino has only scratched the surface of what the currently available computing power is capable of. The level of state-of-the-art safety systems included in the package are probably one of the biggest indicators of how far we have come.
The latest and greatest safety system appear in top-end luxury cars and then the most expensive high value high mileage top power prime mover, but in a small city run around truck loaded with a variety of odds and ends to deliver? The inclusions of these systems tell us a change is happening and it is happening fast.
If the truck looks little changed on the outside, sitting in the driver’s seat tells a different story. Turn the key and the dashboard lights up. The display looks distinctly non-Japanese. This is not a functional read out of a few number with little design thought. This is a well designed graphical interface which tells a story which is easy to comprehend and use by the driver.
There is also plenty of choice for the driver to decide which indicators they want to look at as they are driving along. There’s a the straight forward analogue clock coupled with a read out of the trip odometer and a fuel consumption figure for that trip.
Scroll through to the green leaf option and the driver gets a live read out of acceleration and fuel consumption. on two simple bar indicators. Keep these bars small and the driving economy goes up, then they are rewarded with a score at the top left showing how well they are doing.
Next comes this driver’s personal favourite, the graphical representation telling you what is going on with the active cruise control, following distance, and its settings. Smart use of these systems can have a relaxing effect on the driving conditions, even in busy city traffic.
There are many more options which can be revealed and set by the drivers, customising the heads-up display. This test drive didn’t allow enough time to go through all of the options and get it set up just right for the driver’s taste. Let’s leave that to the full-time driver.
This is one of quite a few things this driver will need to know. The truck is not going to react the same way as their previous truck did. To get the best out everything which is going on here, they are going to need some new information to use this new truck properly.
This need to train a driver for this truck might set off some alarm bells, but have no fear, a driver who just jumps into this truck with no prior knowledge and heads down the road will not do any worse than they did with their previous truck. It’s just that they could do so much better armed with some understanding of the set up and systems on tap.