Trimming the Triton

Sharper pricing and a higher spec’ adds appeal to Mitsubishi’s ute range.

Amongst its followers the Triton has strong support, but, with increasing competition, there’s always a risk that a planned replacement may just be too far down the track to keep interest on the boil.

The current-shape Triton was released in 2006, and rumours suggest a re-skin and revised mechanicals may be released in late 2013.

Let’s briefly recap the current model’s history.

Initial models were 4×4 only and the powertrain was a mixture of old and new. The 3.5-litre ex-Pajero petrol V6 remained, and the Triton picked up the Pajero’s 3.2-litre turbo-intercooled diesel four, but with a new common-rail injection system. The petrol engine’s maximum output was 135 kW at 4750 rpm, with peak torque of 309 Nm at 3500 rpm.

The diesel’s figures were lower than the figures for the same engine in the Pajero wagon. The common-rail Triton version had figures of 118 kW at 4000 rpm and 347 Nm at 2000 rpm, compared with the Pajero engine’s figures of 121 kW at 3800 rpm and 373 Nm at 2000 rpm.

A Triton 2.4-litre petrol 4×2 model was released in 2007, in two body styles: the GL cab/chassis and GLX Double Cab. The petrol four put out 94 kW of power at 5250 rpm, with 194 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.CARS_UTES_Mitsubishi_Triton_3

The Triton cab passed impact tests with a four-star rating. There were lap/sash belts in all five seating positions, and front seat airbags and belt pre-tensioners were standard. (The passenger-side airbag could be key-switched off, if necessary.)

All GLX-R and GLS Tritons came with standard four-channel ABS brakes, with electronic brake force distribution. The braking hardware remained a combination of discs and drums. ABS was optional on GLX models.

Mitsubishi claimed the largest cab volume and legroom in the ute class in 2007, with particular attention having been paid to the space and seat comfort of rear-seat passengers. Even base models came with air conditioning and remote central locking.

All new Tritons came with a five-year/100,000 km bumper-to-bumper warranty (increased to five-year/130,000 km in 2007) and a non-transferable, 10-year/160,000 km powertrain warranty.

A 2010-year upgrade saw the V6 petrol engine dropped and the introduction of a new variable geometry turbocharged 2.5-litre diesel, replacing the 3.2-litre diesel. The smaller-capacity engine generated a claimed 131 kW at 4000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm – up 11 percent and 17 percent respectively over the previous 4M41 3.2-litre engine. Combined fuel economy figures of 8.3 litres per hundred kilometres were claimed, but our real-world testing showed this was an optimistic figure.

The not-so-good news was that the four-speed automatic transmission carried over from the previous model and couldn’t handle that much torque, so auto-trans Triton models were capped at 350 Nm of torque. Even the GLX-R model with its electronically controlled, five-speed automatic had an engine torque cap. Combined fuel economy was a claimed 9.3 litres per 100 km – also wildly optimistic.

Mitsubishi’s All Terrain Technology (MATT) was standard on all GLX-R models and featured Super Select 4WD, Active Stability & Traction Control, Multi Mode ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and an optional diff lock.

All post-2010 Tritons had standard driver and front passenger SRS airbags, front and rear door impact bars, ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution, front seatbelt pretensioners and child restraint points.

Criticism of the tiny cargo box on dual-cabs saw a 2010 introduction of a long-bed ute body with a length of 1505 mm and height of 460 mm.

Towing capacities were also increased, with a maximum of 2700 kg on dual-cab 4WDs and 3000 kg on all other 4WD models.

For 2011, Mitsubishi re-introduced the Club Cab as a manual-transmission ute or cab/chassis with bucket seats, flip-up occasional-use rear seats, lever type park brake, and floor console with lid and cup holder. Towing capacity was 2700 kg.

CARS_UTES_Mitsubishi_Triton_2Upgrades for 2013

All new diesel Tritons come with active stability and traction control, and all manual transmission, Single Cab Tritons have an optional split-bench Seat Pack, which increases seating capacity to a squeezy three.

The Triton Single Cab range features three models, the GL 4×2, the GLX 4×2 and the GLX 4×4. Entry-model Triton GL 4×2 is powered by a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol, 16-valve engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission. The GLX 4×2 Single Cab is powered by a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, intercooled-turbo diesel engine, with five-speed manual or four-speed, Sports Shift automatic transmission. GLX 4×4 Single Cab is manual only.

The Triton GLX 4×4 Club Cab comes as a manual transmission ute or cab/chassis, with 2.5-litre ‘Hi-Power’ common-rail diesel engine and a towing capacity of three tonnes.

All new Double Cab Tritons have been upgraded to include side and curtain airbags as standard. The entry-level GLX 4×2 Double Cab has a Hi Power engine upgrade, with five-speed manual or four-speed Sports Shift automatic transmission.

The GLX Double Cab ute and cab/chassis models have Easy Select 4WD and side-steps. Ute variants can be optioned with 16-inch aluminium wheels. The GLX 4×4 Double Cab is also available as cab-chassis. GL-R 4×4 Double Cab has aluminium wheels, sports bar, rear step and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob. A five-speed manual and Sports Shift automatic are available.

Top of the range Triton GLX-R 4×4 Double Cab has 17-inch alloy wheels, nudge bar, fog lamps and tubular side steps. For 2013, the GLX-R picks up automatic folding side mirrors, new seat fabric and improved front seats. An optional Luxury Pack includes rear axle diff lock, eight-speaker sound system, leather seat trim and powered driver’s seat with slide, recline and height functions.

Because there are no upgrades to the Triton powertrain for 2013, it lags behind most of its competition – hence the decision to cut prices. The GLX-R is down around three grand on 2012 pricing levels.

Mitsubishi’s off-road competition heritage has always shown up in good ute handling qualities, and the 2013 Triton continues this trend. The Double Cabs have wagon-like handling, with a touch of power oversteer available in two-wheel-drive. There’s more bump-steer noticeable from the heavier spring packs fitted to Single Cab and Club Cab models.

Delivery Magazine’s 2013 Triton test vehicle was a GLX-R auto, with the same selectable full-time 4WD system as fitted to the Pajero. It’s still class-leading technology and gives this Triton sure-footed behaviour on all formed surfaces. The optional air-actuated diff lock engages instantly with the vehicle at rest, and lets go quickly at the touch of a button.

Off-road ability is nobbled to a certain extent by low-slung side steps and front overhang, but the Triton can go off-road to match most of its competitors.

Control ergonomics are excellent, with no need for the driver to reach for any controls. It’s odd that the 4WD lever is closer to the driver than the main gear lever, but you soon get used to the layout. Previous Triton front seats were too low-slung for the long legged and lacked under-thigh support. The 2013 chairs are a little better, but not class-leading.

The information panel for the trip computer fitted to GLX-R and GLS models has simultaneous displays of relevant factors, rather than the usual situation where the driver has to scroll through successive items. Forward, side and rear vision is very good.CARS_UTES_Mitsubishi_Triton_1

However, the post-2010 2.5-litre isn’t enough to keep Mitsubishi at the forefront of ute performance, given the better-specified competition. Even worse than the Triton’s torque and ratio deficiency is its poor economy.

Our short test of the 2013 Triton auto shows that nothing has changed in the economy stakes: it averaged 11 litres/100 km, running lightly loaded in highway and town conditions. By comparison, a Ford Ranger returned 9 l/100 km, and a VW Amarok, 8 l/100 km, in the same conditions.

Wrap up

The Triton’s GLX-R strengths are its 4WD system, interior space, great warranty and pricing that has been shaved by up to three grand for 2013. It’s not the best ute in the 4WD market, but it could be good value for money.

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