Isuzu NNR 45-150 Vanpack: Review
August 23, 2017
Isuzu’s latest addition to the Ready for Work range makes a compelling argument in favour of a light truck over a big van…
Isuzu has a long history of being the market leader in terms of truck sales in Australia, with almost 25 at the top of the table.
This has not happened by accident, with Isuzu Australia working hard to provide the right combination of practicality, performance and pricing to keep trucks rolling out of the dealerships. A history of reliability, customer support and tailoring the product to the market has also helped along the way, with a wide variety of models on offer to suit almost any task.
The Isuzu Ready to Work range is a great example of how Isuzu takes customer feedback and uses it to develop a better offering to the market. Trucksales recently had the opportunity to spend some time aboard the latest addition to the Ready to Work range, the Isuzu NNR 45-150 Vanpack to see what it has to offer in an already crowded light truck marketplace.
The bare bones
The NNR 45-150 is effectively the baby of the Isuzu range. This is part of what makes it the perfect basis for the Vanpack, with a 4.5t GVM and car-like operation making it the ideal entry point into the light truck world.
The 4.5t GVM means it can be driven on a regular car license, while the user-friendliness of the driveline means it is not daunting for a first timer to drive. This is a big factor in the light truck market, with rental operators making up a big part of the market for trucks like the NNR Vanpack.
That said, the NNR Vanpack should be equally appealing to those who will drive it every day, with its nimble performance, great manoeuvrability and excellent vision contributing to a neat all-round package for the inner-city role.
The NNR 45-150 is powered by a three-litre, four-cylinder diesel that produces 110kW and 375Nm of torque, with that torque being available over a wide rpm band. This engine makes use of both exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to achieve Euro5 and EEV emissions standards.
It is mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), which is fitted with both a torque converter and clutch. The torque converter makes for very smooth launches, and works to multiply the engine’s torque to improve response to input from the right pedal.
While the power output of the engine may seem a little low, the gearing and the use of the torque converter combine to make good use of the available power and provide good acceleration from a standstill.
In urban use, the driveline works very well, getting the truck up to speed rapidly and maintaining good pace with the traffic. The AMT is a little slow in the gear change though, which can lead to a loss of momentum, meaning a heavier foot and higher engine speed are needed when taking on any hilly country. The alternative is to knock the gear lever into manual mode and take control of the gear selection yourself.
Safety is a strong point for the NNR, with disc brakes all round, ABS, stability control, driver and passenger airbags and a reversing camera fitted as standard.
In the cab
The NNR cab is very much what you would expect from a small Japanese truck – simple, practical and easy to use. Access is easy, with only one step up into the cab, wide opening doors and convenient grab handles. There is seating for three people, with a full sized seat for the driver and outboard passenger, and a smaller centre seat which can be folded down to provide extra storage.
The dash is mounted low, with easy-to-read gauges and instruments, and all the standard driving controls falling easily to hand. The steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach (though the adjustment is fairly limited) but the wheel doesn’t contain any controls for the audio or phone operation.
On board our demo NNR was the Isuzu Digital Audio Visual Entertainment unit (DAVE), which combines digital radio, standard analogue radio, CD, Bluetooth hands-free and sat-nav functions, all in the one unit. It also acts as the screen for the reversing camera, providing both video and audio from the area directly behind the truck.
Vision from the driver’s seat is excellent, with large electrically-adjustable mirrors and smaller convex spotter mirrors on each side of the truck. These are also heated and, as we discovered during the test period, combine very well with the interior demister to provide clear vision in a very short period of time on frosty mornings.
The low-set dash means forward vision is virtually uninterrupted, with only a metre or so ahead of the truck being hidden from view. The reversing camera provides clear vision of the area behind the truck, and while it comes on automatically when reverse gear is selected, it can be used at any time at the press of a button.
While the NNR is a good little unit, the focus here should actually be on the Vanpack badge. Using the NNR as a base, Isuzu have come up with a standard, off-the-lot solution for those involved in parcel freight, furniture delivery and the rental market. This reduces the time and stress involved in having a body fitted to your new Isuzu, and ensures body design, capacity and fitment are all up to the manufacturer’s standard. It also means that any issues with the body will be covered by the Isuzu warranty program.
The body is a locally manufactured unit, which is fitted here in Australia. When mounted to the NNR, it provides a low floor height for easy access, and 18.5 cubic metres of load space with an overall height of less than three metres.
The fibreglass reinforced plywood (FRP) construction provides a strong and secure load area, with rails on the front and both side walls providing good strong lashing points to secure the load. An anti-slip coating on the floor also reduces the chances of things moving around, and provides sure footing for the driver when working inside. An interior light, operated from a switch outside the body, is also fitted as standard.
The rear barn doors mean the full width of the body is available for loading and unloading. The dimensions of the body (4.26m long x 2.185m wide x 1.98m internal height) don’t allow for two standard pallets side by side but, as mentioned, this truck is more tailored to markets where pallets are not so commonplace. It’s worth mentioning that there is no side door – something that can be very handy in the parcel freight role. Isuzu has made provision for the fitment of a hydraulic tailgate though, including a PTO switch in the dash.
Vanpack or van replacement?
The compact size of the NNR Vanpack doesn’t come at the cost of load space. While many operators use van based vehicles for the door-to-door role, the NNR Vanpack puts forward a compelling argument in favour a light truck. While it is possible to find a van with the same load space, the nimbleness of the NNR would be hard to match in a long-wheelbase van. In fact, many family sedans would need more space than the NNR to perform a U-turn.
The size and shape of the load area also makes it more user friendly, with no wheel arches or angled sides to contend with. This means the entire space can be used to its full potential when needed, while the tie down rails mean easy restraint of the load if the space is not full. Having the load area separated from the cabin also brings benefits in terms of driver safety and noise levels.
Isuzu has put together a really good package in the NNR 45-150 Vanpack. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, this model will appeal to a wide range of operators, including those who currently operate large vans.
The Vanpack will make the perfect rental truck for the weekend warriors – in fact, there were two being delivered in a major rental companies colours when our test unit was returned. It’ll also make a great delivery unit for the local furniture store, or an ideal door to door delivery truck for the suburbs. It’s easy to drive, very manoeuvrable and practical, with all the safety features you need to keep out of trouble.
Isuzu NNR 45-150 Vanpack
Engine: Isuzu 4JJ1-TCS three-litre, four-cylinder diesel. Euro5 and EEV emissions compliant
Power output: 110kW at 2800rpm
Torque: 375Nm at 1600 to 2800rpm
Transmission: Isuzu MYY-6E 6sp automated manual with hydraulically controlled clutch and torque converter
Safety: Four-wheel disc brakes with EBD, ABS, traction control and stability control, driver and passenger airbags, reversing camera
Body: 4.26m length x 2.185m wide x 1.98m internal height, 18.5 cubic metre capacity, double rear barn doors, provision for rear mounted tailgate loader
Warranty: Three years, 100,000km, 2000 hours
The full article and video review can be found at www.trucksales.com.au