JAC is a Chinese manufacturer that made a joint venture with Navistar International Corporation in 2010 to develop together new products and to share technologies.
The JAC light duty trucks are sold globally in three versions, being able to cope with a various range of applications thanks to their flexible character. The trucks are offered with GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) ratings ranging from 4.5 tonnes to 7.5 tonnes and there are five different wheel bases available which comprise of 2490 mm, 2800 mm, 3000 mm, 3308 mm and 3360 mm with single, one and a half and double seats.
The trucks feature a pretty rudimentary design, but they have capable towing abilities as they come with wide range of Cummins engines.
In order to keep the drag coefficient to a relatively low level, the truck’s windscreen is slightly raked offering a touch of dynamism which will make you forget for a few seconds about the dated lines of the exterior design. The rounded contours are also designed to cut wind resistance in order to improve the truck’s efficiency.
The thin chromed grille however, spoils all the fun as it has a rudimentary and cheap design. The grille is flanked by two huge headlights which share the same basic design with the rest of the cab. The finishing touch is given by the robust bumper which further enhances the dated look of the truck.
Viewed from the side, the vehicle looks a bit better, thanks to the sloped line of the door windows which was designed to improve the lateral visibility.
The dated design is carried to the interior. Judging by day’s standards, the dashboard looks at least two generations behind and if you want a fair comparison think about Isuzu’s old cabs. The materials are among the worse you’ll find in the segment, while the fittings needed more attention as well. Take a closer look and you’ll be able to see the Chinese origins of the truck in the big separation gaps and the poor finish, which could translate into an annoying plastic rattle.
The good part is that despite of its dated look and the poor built quality, the comfort isn’t that bad and the overall ergonomy is satisfactory. There is plenty of head-, shoulder- and leg-room for both the driver and passenger, while the main controls are placed close to the driver’s seat and can be used without problems.
Talking about the driver’s seat, it has a pretty basic design, but it offers a relatively comfortable ride and also comes with a host of useful adjustments, which together with the adjustable steering wheel will permit you to find your favorite driving position without too much drama.
We had our moments of quandary while using the gear stick as it’s placed a bit higher than usual and you would need some time to get used to it.
The road visibility isn’t obstructed in any way by the thin A pillars and the panoramic windscreen keeps you well informed of what’s going on in front of you. Due to the deep cut of the door windows and the plate sized exterior mirrors the lateral visibility is also top notch.
The meter cluster is pretty modern and comes with a tasty icy blue back-lightning which makes is easy to read, without disturbing you from the road.
JAC tried to make the cab a bit more comfortable and added a host of useful storage places including a glove compartment, dash utility box, door pockets and cup holders.
Standard features on all JAC light-duty models include power windows, air-conditioning AM-FM-CD-MP3 audio system and remote central locking.
Engines and transmissions
The JAC model range of light commercial vehicles starts with the 4.5 tonne J45 model which is powered by a 2.8 litre Cummins ISF Euro 5 common rail turbo diesel engine mated to a ZF five-speed manual transmission.
The second model is the 6.5 tonne J65 which uses a 3.8 litre Cummins ISF Euro 5 common rail turbo diesel unit combined with JAC’s six-speed manual gearbox. The top of the range model is the 7.5 tonne J75 which is equipped with the same 3.8 liter Cummins engine, but features a bigger payload capacity.
The JAC J45 model develops 148 hp at 3200rpm with maximum torque of 360Nm at 1800rpm, while the J65 and J75 models deliver a maximum power of 155 at 2600 rpm and 500Nm of torque at 1800rpm.
Both Cummins ISF engines are fairly responsive and make the truck feel pretty lively, regardless of what load is carried at the back, being able to merge well with the city traffic.
To offer a better fuel efficiency the engines are also equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.
Ride and handling
The truck is fitted with leaf spring steel suspensions on both front and rear axles. The ride isn’t the most comfortable in its class, as the steel springs send most of the bumps directly into the cab. The good part is that there body roll is kept to a minimum and the truck’s handling is also pretty good. Steering has a positive feel and is well weighted offering accurate turns and giving you a satisfactory road feedback.
The stopping powered is assured by a dual hydraulic system with ABS and EBD, with the stronger truck using a full air brake system.
In the end you’ll get what you’ve paid for, as the JAC’s light commercial vehicles are far from being on the same line with their more advanced rivals and lack that modern design and high tech features found at the European and Japanese trucks.
The cabin is clearly dated, but at least it’s pretty comfortable and has all the basic equipment needed to offer an adequate ride. The Cummins engines are the best part of the trucks and can deal well with almost anything you’ll throw at them. The ride is a bit harsh, but the handling is almost at par with its more upscale competitors.