Triton offers a heavy-duty load lugger for those that need the tough approach – words and images by Chris Mullett
As the ute assumes the role of almost providing a crossover vehicle between that of the car and a light commercial, Mitsubishi remembers that its Triton may have to err on the side of hard work rather than pure pleasure.
With this work ethos in mind, Mitsubishi has introduced a heavy-duty rear spring pack to some of the more workmanlike GLX spec’d versions of the Triton range, such as the single and double-cab GLX 2WD Hi-Rider and 4×4 GLX Single Cab, Club Cab and Double Cab versions.
Payload varies, dependent on the body configuration, so if you opt for a single-cab Triton GLX 4×4 the payload is 1240 kg, the Club Cab is 1125 kg and the Double Cab is 970 kg. For the 2WD Hi-Rider the payloads are 1165 kg for the Single Cab GLX and 980 kg for the Double Cab.
There’s also a variation in the permitted towing weight for a braked trailer that runs from 2500 kg for the 2WD Single Cab GLX to 3000 kg for the 2WD Double Cab GLX, the Single Cab 4×4 GLX and the Club Cab 4×4 GLX. The Double Cab 4×4 GLX adds a further 100 kg to reach 3100 kg.
The six-speed, manual gearbox is standard on the 4×4 GLX Single Cab and Club Cab and optional on the 2WD Single Cab and 4WD Double Cab. The five-speed automatic is standard on the Double Cab 2WD, and optional on the 4×4 Double Cab and 2WD Single Cab.
Heavy duty doesn’t mean hard ride, and, with Mitsubishi adding another leaf in the rear suspension, there’s a slight increase in ride height but no discernible detriment to ride comfort and stability.
Power comes form the same 2.4-litre, four-cylinder MIVEC diesel that runs through the range, producing 133 kW of power at 3500 rpm and peak torque of 430 Nm rated at 2500 rpm.
As a new engine to the Triton, this 2.4-litre is certainly capable of carrying the load, but the driver has to recognise the need to stay focused when swapping cogs in the manual gearbox version and not letting the revs drop under the 1500-1700 rpm area if they want to maintain steady progress.
Once the engine rpm drops under this level the turbo can’t spool up sufficiently to recover without the driver dropping back at least one, and often two ratios, in the ‘box to again pick up speed. If you really don’t feel that much in tune with the need to change gear dependent on engine rpm then buy the auto version.
The trend, these days, is to downsize engine capacity and to rely on turbocharging to extract higher performance levels. This works well to the advantage of the owner is respect that fuel economy is improved, engine response remains fairly rapid and exhaust emissions are reduced. From a fuel economy perspective, the manual gearbox is rated at 7.2 l/100 km, slightly better than the 7.6 l/100 km of the five-speed auto transmission. Exhaust emissions of 191 g/km C02 are also better for the manual than the 201 g/km CO2 of the automatic.
With its six forward gears, the manual transmission features a double overdrive 5th and 6th that runs from a direct drive (1:1) 4th gear through a 0.776:1 5th gear to a 0.651:1 6th gear. xThe manual version also runs with a taller final drive of 3.692:1 versus the 3.917:1 of the automatic.
Most of my work with utes is based on carrying loads, shifting things from one paddock to the next or carting stock feed. Consequently, my use is very different from the city dweller that might just throw a trail bike in the tub once a month, before going for a ride with mates in the bush somewhere. Personally, I’d always choose a cab/chassis version with a drop-side tray body, rather than a tub, for the increase in load-carrying versatility.
During our ride and drive evaluation of utes and vans we run over our test route when unladen, and repeat the drive carrying a 400 kg payload, simulating what is normally a half payload.
When checking the unladen ride height the distance from the ground to the top centre of the rear wheel arch of the tub was 950 mm, and when laden with 400 kg this dropped by 30 mm to 920 mm. The front wheel arch measurement from the ground to top centre was 900 mm and this remained unchanged between laden and unladen situations, maintaining a slightly tail up stance and suggesting that the leaf-sprung rear end was well capable to accept a higher payload.
In line with these models being at the entry level to the Triton range, the wheel rims are standard metal items rather than alloy and they carry 205R16C tyres on six-inch rims on the 2WD Single Cab and 245/75R16 tyres on seven-inch rims on the other heavy-duty variants.
With disc brakes front and rear, the suspension is by wishbone, coil spring and stabiliser bar on the front, and, as mentioned, leaf springs at the rear.
In all our testing on the different Triton models the outstanding impression has been that the suspension is well sorted for Australian use. Ride and handling performance is certainly at the top end of the spectrum for the ute market and there’s none of the harshness that can be present, particularly when unladen.
Also important to note, is the low interior noise levels across all models. Whereas you might expect the top-of-the-line Exceed model to be hosting more interior sound insulation than the entry-level workhorses, all models are quiet, with minimal noise intrusion. xIt’s also interesting that the lower-level models also come equipped with the Bluetooth voice recognition system than enables the driver to discuss verbally with the vehicle whether to select specific numbers from the phone memory or dial an individual number spoken by the driver. This is such a safety initiative that it should be mandatory, especially as the Mitsubishi system works easily and seems to understand the Australiana accent.
Starting off at the more basic end of the spectrum means you don’t get HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, privacy glass and additional trim features, but on models other than the single-cab you do get side steps as standard. The air con system is basic, but you get power windows, remote central locking and cruise control.
Fortunately, manufacturers are these days focused on gaining five-star crash ratings, and even at the GLX level the Triton incorporates driver and passenger front and side airbags, curtain airbags, driver knee airbags, ABS, EBD, EBA, ESS, Smart Brake, ASC, ATC, trailer stability assist and hill start assist.
Strangely, you don’t get a rear step in the bumper, and, sadly, from a safety standpoint, there’s no rear-vision camera or reversing sensor. That said, we would suggest fitting an aftermarket unit with a simplified display in the rear vision mirror as a way of minimising the risk of reversing over a child that is out of the driver’s vision.
As you compare the various entry-level contenders during your decision-making process, don’t just assume that all load carriers are equal. If you intend to tow high weight trailers, in Delivery’s view you need to go for cubic capacity of 3.0-litres and above, not just for towing ability, but also for engine braking.
Mitsubishi has done a great job with its latest Triton. Whether you like the styling is a personal choice, but it’s more than likely you will be impressed by what’s on offer.