Battle Lines

The dual cab comparison of Mitsubishi’s Triton GLX-R and Nissan’s Navara ST-X

The upper end of the dual cab 4×4 market is hotly contested with each of the manufacturers lining up to do battle for market share. Some of the contenders look amazingly similar, while others have added some more radical styling approaches in an effort to look different, thereby creating a personality in a world of clones.

Both the models under consideration are at the top of their respective manufacturer’s trees.   There are subtle differences and outright advantages when you compare them like for like, but we’ll start with power and performance as that’s ultimately where each product will either blossom or die on the vine.

Mitsubishi, for its GLX-R, fronts up with a four-cylinder, common rail, direct-injected diesel engine of 2.5 litres. It produces maximum power of 131 kW at 4,000 rpm and peak torque of 350 Nm, in auto form, at 1,800 rpm, or 400 Nm at 2,000 rpm when fitted with a five-speed manual transmission. Losing 50 Nm of torque is no minimal annoyance, but as both our test vehicles came fitted with automatic transmissions, we evaluated the torque rating of 350 Nm at 1,800 rpm. And, in case you are wondering why there’s a difference, it’s usually because the automatic transmission has a dual role in a passenger car somewhere in the range, and has not been rated to suit the higher torque capability associated with diesel engines.Navara-and-Triton_002

This is a five-speed automatic where fourth ratio is direct 1:1 and fifth is overdriven at 0.731:1. The two-speed transfer box ratio offers 1:1 or 1.9:1 reduction for low-speed off-road work, and selection from 2WD high to 4WD High and 4WD Low is through a secondary lever on the transmission tunnel alongside the gear lever. Mitsubishi calls this the Super Select four-wheel drive system, and it includes Active Stability and Traction Control, multi-mode ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

The same 2WD/4WD high/low selection in the Navara is achieved just by twisting a round switch,but there’s a major difference in gearing through the transfer box, thanks to a ratio variance of 1:1 and 1:2.625.

Traditionally, Mitsubishi has always had the runs on the board when it comes to off-road ability. The Triton becomes more versatile and capable than many of its competitors by offering an optional rear differential lock, controlled by a push button on the dashboard. Operate the rocker switch and you can forget about wheel spin from one end of the drive axle. This means the rear axle turns both rear wheels at the same rate, and if you’ve got traction on either end, the opposite end can’t spin involuntarily.

A rear diff lock is the best single advantage you can have in off-road driving. It means you can creep over terrain where other vehicles need momentum. You also damage the environment less and you preserve your vehicle more.

In other statistics, you get a 75-litre fuel tank for Triton, you consume fuel at a combined economy rate of 9.3 l/100 km and you run on alloy rims with 245/65R17 tyres. Navara takes 255/65R17 tyres, again on alloy rims.

Suspension is similar for both vehicles, with the front double wishbone with coil spring and front stabiliser, while at the rear, it’s the conventional industry standard of semi-elliptical leaf springs. Brakes are ventilated disc oNavara-and-Triton_009n the front and drum on rear. You get power assisted, rack and pinion steering that provides a turning circle, for the Triton, of 11.8 metres, the payload is 938 kg and the maximum rated towing ability for a braked trailer is 2,700 kg with a 270 kg down force on the tow ball.

Navara’s turning circle is immense by comparison at 13.3 metres, the payload is 776 kg and the maximum rated towing capacity is 3,000 kg.

To the Navara, and again the power unit is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged and common rail injected diesel. The big difference with the Nissan ST-X though, is the power and torque output.

This engine is new to Navara, and, while only available on the ST-X version, it has also now been introduced to the Pathfinder range. This is the engine that Navara has needed throughout the range, and Nissan should take a serious look at introducing it universally and not just limiting it to the top spec ST-X.

Boasting 140 kW of power (up from 126 kW) and 450 Nm of torque (up from 403 Nm), this new engine blitzes that of the Mitsubishi with a full 100 Nm more torque that the Triton.

The power and torque improvements result from a new direct injection system, which operates at 2000 bar, up from 1800 bar. This increase in pressure means the fuel spray is atomised to an even finer degree, resulting in more complete combustion.

A new cylinder head with parallel ports increases the swirl efficiency of the combustion process, smoothing the intake and exhaust flow, while a new variable nozzle turbo (VNT), with electric control replacing the previous hydraulic system, offers quicker response.

The difference is immediately evident as soon as you drive the ST-X. The new engine immediately makes the other diesels in the Nissan portfolio appear obsolete. Not only is it much more impressive to drive on the highway, it performs better at low rpm when off-road, without the tendency of the alternative diesel to stall on even slight inclines.

Available with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, this improved performance also benefits fuel economy with a combined cycle of 8.5 l/100 km for the manual and 9.0 l/100 km for the auto. This is a 13-14 percent fuel economy gain on the lower powered Nissan engine still used in other Navaras. The fuel tank capacity is 80 litres and CO2 emissions are cut substantially by 40 g/km to 224 g/km.

When picking the finer points out of different vehicles, the final decision often comes down to just how much the buyer intends to spend. Both these contenders, for dual cabs with off-road ability, are priced in the $50,000 bracket, but, for this once, it’s Navara that wins the comparison.

Nissan’s ST-X has a higher standard of ride comfort, and the additional torque from the engine makes for an effortless experience. The Mitsubishi has to be complemented on its optional rear differential lock, and the slide up and down glass in the rear cab window is a nice touch, but that’s not enough to tip the scales in its favour.Navara-and-Triton_008

Navara wins again on clever interior use of space. The rear seat is worthy of close attention as the seat back folds down onto the seat base to provide a flat load floor. But, that’s not all that’s clever. If you leave the rear seat back upright, it’s possible to fold up the seat base so it locks in an upright position against the seat back. If only all dual cab utes had this functionality. It’s the answer for larger loads and also for keeping seat covers clean, even in the face of adversity from muddy paws and the family dogs.

Utes have come forwards quickly in providing safer standards for passengers. We now expect driver and passenger front and side airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, stability control and electronic brake force distribution, and these two contenders don’t disappoint in these areas.

Towing capacities for the Triton Dual Cab 4×4 are 2,700 kg, with the long bed cargo box, and 3,000 kg on all other models. Nissan sticks with 3000 kg, which reduces by up to 200 kg according to downforce on the towball. Triton line-up leads the pack with its comprehensive five-year/130,000 km whole vehicle warranty, backed up by its 10-year/160,000 km powertrain warranty and a five-year/130,000 km roadside assistance package. Nissan comes in with a three-year/100,000 km warranty with three years 24/7 roadside assist.

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