NNR 45-150 Traypack AMT Crew Media Review: Trucksales

By Rod Chapman, trucksales
1 August 2019

2019 ISUZU NNR 45-150 TRAYPACK CREW: REVIEW

Isuzu’s new ‘Ready to Work’ NNR Traypack Crew can seat up to seven while hauling a hefty load in its locally fitted tray

Isuzu Australia Limited says its new Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew gives predominantly tradies a more practical alternative to a standard dual-cab ute, and when you sit down and examine the specs it’s a pretty sound argument.

After all, this particular model can cart up to seven occupants and it boasts a payload of 1695kg, while the locally fitted aluminium tray measures 2072mm wide by 3600mm long. Try getting a load remotely anything like that weight or pushing those dimensions into your average ute…

Yes, the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew can handle a decent load with ease, and all in a car-licence-friendly format that’s as easy to drive as a typical ute. And, what’s more, with this model equipped with independent front suspension, this NNR’s drive and handling isn’t much different to a ute, either.

Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew: the facts

The Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew is a recent arrival to the Japanese brand’s wide array of N Series light-duty trucks, and it slots in next to its single-cab NNR Traypack sibling. Both are a part of Isuzu’s ‘Ready to Work’ range and come fitted a quality aluminium tray that’s sourced and fitted here in Australia, and this is the only Isuzu N Series Traypack variant available in a crew-cab format.

In addition to its generous dimensions and quality construction, the tray is also very practical – you can drop each of its three sides in a flash, and also remove them entirely thanks to their neat hinge arrangement, no tools needed. There are lashing rails to help secure a load and the tray bed is ribbed to help prevent loads from sliding.

Powering the show is Isuzu’s proven 4JJ1-TCS engine, a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that puts out 148hp at 2800rpm and 375Nm from 1600 to 2800rpm.

Here it’s mated to Isuzu’s six-speed automated manual transmission with torque converter and lock-up, which was recently updated with new software to dial out the hesitancy it could sometimes previously display in certain situations, like when approaching a roundabout.

The engine meets ADR 80/03 (Euro 5) emissions regulations through the use of a DPD (diesel particulate diffuser), so there’s no SCR (and AdBlue) to worry about. The truck automatically carries out burns to clear the filter when necessary, and if you have to shut the truck down mid-burn it simply picks up where it left off next time you start it up.

With a 4500kg GVM this truck can be driven on a standard car licence, and it has a very handy GCM of 8000kg. It’s single-cab brother, with longer tray, is available in both 4500kg and 5500kg GVM ratings.

The NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew is one of literally dozens of light-duty Isuzu truck variants, the line-up also spanning many Ready to Work models such as Tradepacks, Traypacks, Vanpacks, Servicepacks and Tippers. Isuzu currently leads light-duty truck sales by some margin here in Australia. The company sold 2074 light-duty trucks over the first half of 2019, compared to 1242 for its closest rival, Hino.

How does the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew drive?

After collecting the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew from Isuzu Australia Limited’s glittering new Melbourne headquarters, I spent half a day running around the city’s western suburbs in the sort of heavy traffic and conditions that could put any truck to the test.

Getting in and out of this truck couldn’t be easier. The single step to climb in is low and grippy, the doors open wide and both front and second-row occupants benefit from grab handles on the A and B pillars.

The cab interior is utilitarian, as you’d expect – all grey vinyl flooring and dark plastics – but it should prove hard wearing and durable.

Vision, however, is excellent – the windscreen and every other window are really sizeable and the glass extends virtually all the way to the roofline. Add in the skinny A pillars and side mirror brackets that are neatly tucked up above the front side windows, and there’s a clear, unimpeded view around most of the vehicle.

A reversing camera is standard, and the recently updated multimedia unit – with 6.2-inch touchscreen – displays an impressively crisp view of what’s going on to the rear. A reversing buzzer is also standard.

The cabin prioritises function over form, as is the case in pretty much any light- or medium-duty commercial vehicle, but the drive and handling is remarkably refined and in fact this truck is perhaps most impressive for what it doesn’t do as much as what it does. It’s not noisy, there’s very little vibration, and there are none of the spine-jarring jolts you’d readily associate with a truck.

The independent front suspension handles bumps and dips without a worry – on several occasions I approached patches of broken tarmac with gritted teeth, preparing myself for the subsequent head lining head-butt (I’m on the taller side), only to find the truck soaked it up with barely a shudder. And progress through corners is kept neat and tidy too, with surprisingly modest body roll.

With an 800kg block of concrete strapped down in the tray we were running at a bit under half its maximum payload, which was ample to settle the springs and give me idea of its workhorse potential.

It sure wasn’t enough to put much of dent in the truck’s acceleration, though – even with the load the truck got away nicely from a standing start, and felt strong and responsive from around 1500rpm all the way through to 3000rpm, just a few hundred revs short of its indicated redline.

The AMT is a particularly slick affair, swapping ratios quickly and smoothly and selecting the right cog for the job at hand. There’s a manual mode but, to be honest, in the congested traffic that typifies this side of Melbourne I was happy to let it do its thing.

Isuzu says operators are returning some very favourable initial fuel economy figures for this truck, and while our half-day run wasn’t really enough to deliver a figure with the accuracy we’d like, the truck’s trip computer was displaying an overall average of 13.7L/100km. With its 100-litre fuel tank, that’s a safe range of approaching 700 kilometres.

There’s an exhaust brake that’s actuated by pulling back on the left-hand stalk but it doesn’t provide a significant boost in braking. That’s of little consequence really, because the service brakes – disc brakes at all four corners – do a great job of hauling the thing down from speed, offering both power and quite a high level of feel.

On a short stretch I did up the Western Highway the little four-cylinder was spinning at 2350rpm in sixth gear at 100km/h. Top gear is an overdrive while fifth is direct.

Even at highway speeds the level of ambient noise in the cab was still commendably low; certainly I had no trouble enjoying the digital radio that comes standard with the multimedia unit, or holding a hands-free conversation with Trucksales editor Geoff ‘Middo’ Middleton, when he called direct from a truck launch in the United States. The call was so clear he may as well have been riding shotgun, instead of sitting in a hotel room somewhere in Salt Lake City!

Comfort and features

It’s not like the NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew is intended as a line-haul heavyweight, and its level of cabin comfort and amenity reflects that. The seating is comfortable enough but it’s nothing fancy, although it’s fine for its intended usage. There’s no height adjustment on any of the seats but the driver’s seat can be slid forward and aft and the seat back can be adjusted for angle.

The steering wheel is a basic plastic affair without any integrated controls, but it can at least be adjusted for tilt and reach. Finding a driving position that fits shouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority of drivers.

All outboard seats front and rear get a three-point seat belt but the in-board spots – the front centre seat and the two second-row centre seats – make do with a lap belt.

Still, it’s not like safety is an afterthought in the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew – both the driver and front passenger get an airbag and the truck has stability control (with switchable traction control) and antilock brakes, along with a cab that meets ECE-R29 guidelines for strength.

Electronic cruise control is (commendably) a standard feature, and there’s an over-speed warning function too. The instrumentation is rather basic, comprising an analogue speedo and tacho with a fairly dated looking little digital trip computer display in between, but the entire display it is at least clear and easy to read.

There are no cup holders in the back but there is a twin slide-out unit up front, in the centre of the dash. No bottle holders, though.

Cab storage is reasonable. You get two overhead shelf units, each with netting to prevent items from spontaneously ejecting, and there’s room to throw a fair bit of stuff on top of the dash. There’s no storage beneath the front seats (you flip the seat bases up to access the engine), but there are slim door side pockets on either side and there’s a stack of room underneath the rear bench seat.

Speaking of, there’s actually quite a lot of room in the second row. It’s a pretty Spartan affair back there, and perhaps a little squishy width-wise for four burly blokes, but back-seat passengers do at least get plenty of leg room and good head room, plus a sturdy bar running the full width of the truck to hang onto when traversing bumpy work sites.

You probably wouldn’t want to travel from Melbourne to Sydney back there, but for running around town it’s absolutely fine.

Summing up

Our time in the Isuzu 45-150 NNR Traypack Crew was only brief but in the space of a few short hours, it really impressed for its zesty performance, its comfortable and compliant ride, and its sheer practicality.

Throw in a pragmatic list of standard features, and the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew really is a viable alternative to a standard ute. No, it mightn’t quite stack up in terms of street cred and it won’t be as easy to park (certainly you won’t get the NNR into many multi-story car parks thanks to its 2245mm travel height), but if you place load-lugging ability at the top of your priority list, the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Traypack Crew has a whole lot to offer.

This article was originally published on trucksales.com.au on 1 August 2019.

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