A new look for Mitsubishi’s Triton – Words by Stuart Martin.
The top-selling Mitsubishi so far this year sports a new face and upgraded safety features, in the latest incarnation of the Triton nameplate that stretches back more than four decades.
Production has topped more than 4.7 million in that time, and, so far this year, sales volumes show no sign of slowing − up almost 13 percent in a market that’s down eight percent.
Currently the fifth-best seller in the rampaging 4×4 ute market, the new-look Triton has been beefed up in the looks department to fall stylistically into line with the rest of the range. The square-jawed look leaves the previous rounded design ethic behind, looking more aggressive in the metal and certainly less polarising than its predecessor.
The GLS now sits on 18-inch wheels (up from 17s on the superseded model), and it’s 15 mm taller, 25 mm longer, but sits on the same dimensions for width, track and wheelbase.
We’re spending some time in the penultimate model in the Triton range, a GLS dual-cab in six-speed manual guise, which wears a starting price of $44,490 (a $2000 jump on the superseded GLS). An auto is on offer for $46,990. The pricing puts it at the bottom end of the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Holden Colorado line-ups, sitting closer to the likes of Mazda’s BT-50, the Nissan Navara and Isuzu’s D-MAX. Until mid-year, that asking price also buys a seven-year, 150,000 km factory warranty, with service intervals under a capped-price arrangement running to 12 months or 15,000 km, which is well above average for the segment.
There is no change to the drivetrain – a new, shared powerplant is destined for the Alliance product that will underpin the next Triton and the Navara with which it is being co-developed – so the long-serving 2.4-litre, turbo-diesel aluminium four-cylinder with variable intake valve timing and lift has been retained.
A variable geometry turbocharger produces peak power of 133 kW at 3500 rpm, with torque of 430 Nm at 2500 rpm − numbers that won’t frighten the chunky V6 powerplants propelling the German dual-cabs. It hopefully also feels more impressive in conjunction with the new six-speed auto than it does with the carry-over six-speed manual we’re testing.
This is an engine which prefers its revs to remain in the circa-3000 rpm mid-range, as dropping below 2000 rpm won’t do much for forward progress, something that is perhaps less of an issue when the torque converter in an auto can cover the drop-off.
But the six-speed manual needs to have the right cog for the job every time, as the powerplant doesn’t deliver enough low-down force to help out if the narrow gate of the manual gearbox has resulted in the wrong gear selection.
There’s nothing to complain about from a refinement or noise perspective in the updated Triton – the cabin is a quiet place to be and the engine bay is well insulated from the thrum of the diesel, a soundtrack which doesn’t become intrusive until the top end of the rev range.
The front double wishbone suspension is retained in the new model, as is the leaf-sprung rear end. Mitsubishi has made changes to the rear set-up to “improve comfort on paved surfaces and directional stability on unmade roads”, with larger rear dampers improving ride comfort, resulting in an improvement that keeps the Triton near the front of the pack as a good all-rounder.
Ride quality on pockmarked suburban roads is reasonable – again, mid-pack – and it hustles along the open road without concern, but press-on motoring would be tempered by inert steering and body roll.
Mitsubishi’s jewel in the drivetrain crown is the Super Select 4WD system, which allows the Triton to be run in rear-wheel-drive, or four-wheel-drive on the bitumen. The centre diff remains open, but in this instance has a rear bias, splitting the drive torque 40/60 front-to-rear, which gives better traction in inclement conditions. The result is that the stability control is a less frequent intruder.
Another turn of the controller for the 4WD system locks the centre differential for loose-surface work, with low range available via another click around the selector knob.
There’s also now a drive mode selector to tailor the electronic responses of the vehicle, predominantly the stability and traction systems, to the terrain in question. A choice of Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock drive modes is available, as well as a hill descent control system, although the low-range transfer case and a manual gearbox would suffice. A rear diff lock still isn’t standard on the GLS, only on the top-spec GLS Premium model.
Where the Mitsubishi will make ground on the rest of the market is the availability of automatic emergency braking (AEB) and other active safety systems, which will stand it in good stead with fleet company OH&S departments.
Mitsu-speak for AEB is Front Collision Mitigation (FCM) autonomous braking, which uses cameras and laser radar systems to detect cars and pedestrians, as well as blindspot and lane-change warning systems, a rear cross traffic alert, and the brand’s Ultrasonic Mitigation System (UMS). The GLS also has front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, but misses out on the 360-degree camera system reserved for the top-spec model.
The cabin has been upgraded in terms of its materials and trim, as well as a more uniform colour scheme, giving the comfortable passenger cell a lift. Other GLS standard fare includes roof-mounted rear vents with separate fan controls within the dual-zone climate control system, USB charging points front (two) and rear, an auto-dimming centre mirror, usefully-sized power-folding exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, cloth trim, LED headlights and daytime running lights, and rain-sensing wipers (new for the GLS).
There’s a touchscreen infotainment controller that doesn’t have integrated satellite navigation but does have Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, so satnav is available via that medium. Some storage space exists behind the rear backrest but not beneath the bench, although door pockets and centre console storage is better than average.
What hasn’t progressed is the work-rate side of the equation, with the GLS payload dropping from the corresponding (and 44 kg lighter) superseded model’s 950 kg to 906 kg.
Fuel economy claims have also taken a hit, rising to 7.9 litres per 100 km at the end of the laboratory test claim, a 0.7 L/100km increase, with real-world running results suggesting between 700 and 800 km from a tank and a thirst in the high single digits.
Braked towing capacity is unchanged at 3100 kg and the rear tray size is also unchanged beyond the load height, rising 15 mm to 865 mm. An 11.8-metre turning circle is better than average.
While there is much to like and admire with the new Triton model – the safety features list, overall refinement, sharp pricing and long warranty are all worthy attributes – it feels a little lacking in the drivetrain and load capacity departments.