Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - 2.4 utility range
Entry-level price, value for money, comfortable interior, light steering, low interior noise levels, solid feel
Room for improvement
Big price jump to GLS, high clutch uptake, gearshift, lots of steering lock
11 Apr 2007
FOR nine months since the launch of the all-new ML-series Triton, Mitsubishi Australia has had to make do without a true entry-level one-tonner – surviving until Christmas on the out-dated superseded model in 4x2 form.
However, the wait is finally over with the launch of the petrol-engined, rear-wheel drive GL cab-chassis and GLX dual-cab models.
Clearly pitched at small-business operators such as builders, electricians and plumbers rather than the recreational market, the new 2WD Tritons are no-frills utes that are nevertheless comfortable enough for both work and play.
And, just like the bigger-engined 4x4 turbo-diesel and V6 petrol models launched last July, the four-cylinder 2x4 models enjoy the considerable step up in exterior style offered by the split-body design of the ML with its unusual swept-up cabin.
Both the GL and GLX are powered by a development of the previous MK model’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, which now meets tougher emissions standards while producing slightly more power (up 2kW) and the same maximum torque as before.
It is a reasonably smooth powerplant and coped well enough with the few hills on our press launch test route, holding its speed without the need for heaps of throttle or changing back a gear.
Of course, the engine felt more lively in the lighter single-cab-chassis GL than the heavier GLX, and it would obviously have a tougher time with a big load, but neither model felt under-engined.
Noise levels were also good, despite the engine pulling high revs at cruising speeds (3000rpm at 100km/h).
Wind noise was equally impressive, which is not always the case for these utes with their big wing mirrors and square trays jutting out from behind the cab. In the Triton, there was no problem holding a normal conversation at highway cruising speeds.
Comfort levels inside the car-like cabin are very good, with comfortable and supportive seats, a nice steering wheel and well-designed instruments and controls housed within a stylish dash.
Our only beef with the interior is with the old-fashioned under-dash handbrake that afflicts the bench-seat models – something that similarly affects Triton’s rivals where accommodation for three is required up front.
Power windows and remote central locking are now standard on all Tritons, along with dual SRS airbags, air-conditioning and an MP3-compatible sound system.
The GLX dual-cab model gets twin sports seats up front (instead of a bench), a handy centre console box, electric mirrors and remote fuel cap, but at a fairly hefty premium of up to $7700.
The Triton 4x2 has an impressive ride, being compliant enough to absorb the bumps and offering good traction, even on rough and broken surfaces.
We were, however, a little disappointed with the slow steering, which was nicely weighted but not very precise, even for a workhorse. It certainly required plenty of arm action when parking, with no less the four and a quarter turns lock-to-lock.
We also found that the clutch engaged quite high and the five-speed gearshift is not too precise, so it might take a little familiarity before smooth shifts become the norm. There is no auto available – and nor is one on the horizon.
As with other one-tonners that carry such varying loads, we would recommend the optional ABS system for the Triton’s standard front disc/rear drum brakes.
Overall, though, the Triton impresses with its dynamics, especially considering its price.
The Triton also feels well-built, with no sign of dust inside the cabin after a fairly tough rally road workout.
And there is no question that the entry-level Tritons display the same attributes that have made us fans of the more upmarket models.
With prices starting at just $17,990 for the GL cab-chassis for ABN holders – and with a Bluetooth phone kit (worth $500) and a fitted tray (worth $1000) thrown in until the end of the 2007 financial year – Mitsubishi dealers should have no trouble shifting heaps of these welcome newcomers.
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