Isuzu FYJ 2000 8×4

Rod Chapman
trucksales.com.au
September 14, 2016

With ample grunt and plenty of payload, Isuzu’s FYJ2000 8×4 agitator is winning hearts and minds for good reason

Weight. We’re obsessed with it in this country, whether it be tuning in to The Biggest Loser, throwing ourselves into the latest gym craze, or trying the latest diet. And while trucking isn’t renowned for its focus on slimming, there is one sector of the industry – and one style of truck – where losing weight is prized beyond virtually anything else: the humble agitator.

Actually, let’s remove that term, ‘humble’ – because Isuzu’s FYJ2000 8×4 cab/chassis agitator is not as basic or purely utilitarian as the genre might normally suggest.

Trucksales recently grabbed one in the latest specification – which was only introduced here in early 2016 – and we were mightily impressed with its comfort, capability and equipment. Isuzu’s agitator took out ‘Truck of the Show’ at Melbourne’s International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show in 2014, and it’s been making great strides ever since, as Isuzu’s Chief Engineer, Simon Humphries, explains…

“We went from zero 8×4 models to number one in that segment in 18 months, and we’ve now got over 60 per cent of the market,” he says.

The niche to which he was referring is 8×4 agitators up to 400hp, including the Isuzu’s arch nemesis, Iveco’s long-serving ACCO, along with rivals from Kenworth, Mack and Western Star.

POWER AND GLORY

Powered by Isuzu’s SITEC III 350 engine, a 9.8-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel good for a claimed 345hp at 2000rpm and 1422Nm at 1400rpm, the truck boasts some very healthy numbers. Add to that a heavy-duty Allison 4430 transmission as standard and the lack of an AdBlue tank (the Isuzu relies on an EGR system with diesel oxidation catalyst), and the Japanese agi makes a good case.

The Isuzu’s main competitor in terms of powerplant? The Cummins ISLe5, which relies on SCR to meet the ADR80/03 emissions standard.

Of course, in the highly competitive cement business an agitator’s tare weight carries plenty of, err, weight – in the FYJ2000’s case we’re talking a tare weight for the bare cab/chassis of just under eight tonnes. Add about 3.2 tonnes for the body – either supplied by Isuzu Australia Limited or selected elsewhere by the customer – and you’re left with a very healthy payload to take the rig up to its maximum GVM of 30 tonnes. A payload of up to somewhere nearing 17 tonnes, in fact, says Mr Humphries.

After all, if a customer can squeeze in a bit more for each load, over the course of a day that could add up to one less load – saving fuel, mechanical wear and tear, and driver wages, among other things.

“Overall it’s a very hand spec for the industry,” says Humphries.

“It’s not perfect but it certainly beats most of the competition in most areas.”

Isuzu put this model under the microscope to shave every possible kilo. In a shorter wheelbase (5080mm), this latest spec now comes with a vertical exhaust and 7.5-inch lightweight Alcoa alloy rims.

“It’s a lightweight combination,” says Humphries. “Everything is about keeping the tare weight down.”

The latest version also boasts Isuzu Electronic Stability Control, which comes factory fitted from Japan. Previously, the truck had the system installed and calibrated here in Australia. Other safety features include antilock brakes, a driver airbag, and an ECE-R29 compliant cab.

There’s also an ECE-R93 compliant Front Underrun Protection Device (FUPD), which is sourced and fitted here in Australia. It saves around 30kg in itself, and is part of an options pack.

Our test vehicle also sports an aftermarket light bar on top of its cab, while the Powauto PTO for the bowl is fitted here at Patrick Autocare.

For our three-day review the Isuzu was carrying a half load of gravel – it made a hell of a din when the bowl was turning but it did at least help recreate something resembling normal conditions for our test mule.

CABIN FEVER

Access to the cab is via a two grippy foot plates, with a sturdy grabrail either side of the wide-aperture, 90-degree opening door. It’s quite a climb up, and once behind the wheel you’re on par with most prime mover pilots, with an excellent view ahead.

There’s a comprehensive suite of mirrors including one to show the kerb and one to show the front of the truck, but the side mirrors are sizeable enough to warrant extra care when approaching roundabouts and intersections. They’re big enough to at least partially obscure any traffic approaching from the side, even if the standard/spot twin-mirror arrangement does give a superb view to the rear.

Comfort is excellent. The ISRI 6860 air suspension seat offers a heap of adjustment (it was also standard fitment in the FRR 110-240 we drove last month) and the steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach. There’s a heap of space in the cab and with climate control (instead of basic air-conditioning) and reasonable engine/wind/road-noise suppression, in general it’s a pleasant mobile office.

One gripe here: while there’s a twin slide-out cupholder in the centre of the dash, there are no bottle holders – a small oversight that will surely annoy some in warm weather.

There’s a bit of storage space on hand though, with twin overhead shelves, slim door side pockets (only good for papers and clipboards) and a glove box. The latter is there instead of a passenger airbag because in the heavier models Isuzu says there’s rarely a passenger, and so customers prefer the storage space.

Of course there’s a heap of space behind the seating, on the ADR42-compliant sleeper. It was wide enough to accommodate my lanky 188cm frame, but it’s pretty darn firm and not really intended for overnighting (although there is a rail to fit a privacy curtain). Put it this way, if I had to sleep on it I’d be bringing along a second mattress.

ON THE ROAD

Driving the FYJ2000 is, in a word, easy. The heavy-duty six-speed Allison 4430 transmission is child’s-play to operate, acting either in a true auto mode or allowing the driver to select gears manually. It has a power mode and a downchange program too, the latter seeing the tranny shift down through the gears to aid slowing the vehicle.

Also helping slow the show is an exhaust brake. It’s quite effective, but it does take its time to spring into action.

The trucks holds a line nicely on the highway with little input at the wheel, while its twin-steer format delivers a surprisingly tight turning circle – 17.9 metres kerb to kerb, claims Isuzu. Certainly it makes a good fist of negotiating tighter going, and for tackling muddy, slick work sites it’s simply a matter of deactivating the traction control and employing the power divider and cross locks as required.

On the road, the FYJ2000 feel torquey and strong through its rev range. There’s grunt available from just off idle and it doesn’t let up until 2000rpm. Maximum efficiency, at least as marked by the speedo’s ‘green zone’, extends from 900rpm to 1600rpm, with the engine ticking over at the latter figure at 100km/h in sixth gear.

There’s decent urge when you put your foot down from just about anywhere through the rev-range. While idle was a little lumpy, the vibration soon smoothed out with some revs.

At the end of our test the truck’s info display was showing an average fuel economy of 46.9L/100km. We added around 400km to the truck’s total of roughly 13,000km, splitting our time between city running (an agitator’s natural habitat) and the open road.

The suspension setup comprises leaf springs at the front and Hendrickson airbags and shocks at the rear, and together they do a very good job of isolating the bumps and dips, whether plodding around town or barrelling down the highway.

There’s a speed warning function and electronic cruise control, the latter controlled via a stalk off the steering wheel.

MEET DAVE

Our test truck was also fitted with Isuzu’s DAVE (Digital Audio Visual Equipment) system, which can combine hands-free telephony, sat-nav, telematics, external cameras and more into the one, neat multimedia touchscreen.

Where you’d find a centre seat our FYJ2000 has a moulded storage tray and set of Narva warning triangles. Next to the driver’s seat, the park brake is easy to get to and easy to operate, while the Cesco control unit for the bowl, with separate remote, is also ideally placed. Other than switching the bowl to rotate, we left it well alone – especially the switch tantalisingly marked, ‘discharge’…

Fleets shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the FYJ2000’s factory stability control system. It comes standard in this model, as due to their inherent nature agitators have a reputation for rollovers. Having previously completed DECA’s Rollover Prevention and Stability Program, we’ve seen first-hand how little it takes to push a heavy vehicle past the point of no return – it’s inclusion in the FYJ2000 will invariably save lives and protect costly assets.

Also on the safety front, our test truck is fitted with a ‘park brake off, door open’ alarm. Okay, so it needs a better name, but opening either door while the park brake is disengaged will quickly hammer home the point – it sounds the truck’s horn, soon alerting an entire work site to the driver’s misdemeanour. Put it this way, you only do it once.

THE VERDICT

It’s hard not to be impressed with Isuzu’s FYJ2000 8×4 agitator. It’s got the payload and performance to do the job well, but it’s also a smooth ride for drivers – it’s hard to think anyone who finds themselves behind the wheel of this truck wouldn’t be happy with their lot in life. Throw in the safety benefits and we can’t see any reason why this well-rounded package won’t cement itself, pardon the pun, as a market leader for some time to come.

2016 ISUZU FYJ2000 8×4 SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE: ‘6UZ1-TCN’ 9.8-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel

POWER: 257kW (345hp) at 2000rpm

TORQUE: 1422Nm at 1400rpm

EMISSIONS: ADR 80/03

TRANSMISSION: Allison 4430 Series six-speed automatic

CONFIGURATION: 8×4

FRONT SUSPENSION: Taper leaf springs with shocks

REAR SUSPENSION: Hendrickson HAS461 airbags

FRONT AXLES: Meritor FG941

REAR AXLES: Meritor RT-40-145GP

GVM: 30,000kg

GCM: 42,500kg

WHEELBASE: 5080mm

FUEL CAPACITY: 200 litres

BRAKES: Air

CABS: Sleeper (ADR42 compliant)

SAFETY: Driver airbag, antilock brakes, stability control (with traction control), ECE-R29 compliant cab

PRICE: $240,466 plus on-roads

WARRANTY: Three years, 2500 hours or 150,000km (extendable to five years, 5000 hours or 300,000km)

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