The name Hino doesn’t come to mind when we think of highway or vocational trucks. Since the mid-1980s, the builder has made its mark in North America by producing and selling local delivery trucks, first with medium-duty cab-overs imported from Japan and then with conventional-cab adaptations assembled initially in California and now in West Virginia.
But some of those have been outfitted with snow-plow equipment and dump bodies. Meanwhile, Hino, a unit of Toyota, also makes Class 8 heavies for customers in Asia and elsewhere. And after slowly and methodically making inroads in North America, it is expanding into the heavy duty market here.
A new Hino XL7 and XL8 series comes as a Class 7 or 8 straight truck or tractor, and like its mediums, Hino’s new heavy models are primarily aimed at local and regional operations. That’s what the trucks you see here are designed for.
One has a long flatbed with proper tie-down equipment, and customers have begun buying such vehicles with rear forklift mounts for distributing building supplies, said Derek Kline, the company’s marketing manager.
Hino’s reputation for making tough, long-lasting trucks should also expand to the heavier models. Like its 200 and 300 series mediums, XL7 and XL8 vehicles use an engine and galvanized steel cab shell sent from Japan, but everything else—from frame rails and axles to hoods and interior upholstery—is sourced in North America, primarily the United States.
All XLs have a larger A09 diesel, a heavy-duty powerplant with a midrange-size displacement of 8.9 liters (about 544 cubic inches, similar to a Cummins L9). In our test truck, the engine had the highest rating of 360 horsepower (the others make 300 and 330 horses).
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The transmission was an Allison 3000 RDS 6-speed automatic, an easy-to-drive and long-lived appliance running through Dana tandem rear axles. Rear suspension was a vocational-type Hendrickson HaulMaax with rubber springs that nonetheless rode well.