Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - 4x4 GLX dual-cab pick-up
Small-but-mighty engine, cabin space and silence, interior quality now matches looks, visibility, standard rear sensors and reversing camera, still good value, cheap servicing
Room for improvement
Less efficient despite new six-speed auto, cheapo touchscreen with terrible handsfree call quality and no smartphone mirroring, reduced payload, unsettled when unladen, ADAS an $800 option
Despite radical restyle, it’s mostly business as usual for the Mitsubishi Triton
27 May 2019
MITSUBISHI really doesn’t hold back when it comes to styling, especially when its Triton ute is concerned. Bold looks have become something of a tradition for the nameplate.
This time, the fifth-generation Triton’s mid-life facelift resembles more of a face transplant with a cyborg from the future. Beneath the newly angular exterior is much of the same old Triton, though, which is no bad thing.
One of the segment’s best-looking cabins has been refreshed with less disappointing materials and there’s a new six-speed automatic transmission to replace the inexplicably old-school five-speed unit that went before.
Crucially for fleets and families alike, there’s now a suite of active safety tech. Except on the 4x4 GLX dual-cab pick-up variant tested here, because it’s an $800 option.
Price and equipment
We’re right at the bottom of the Triton 4x4 dual-cab tree with this GLX pick-up. It’s priced at $37,490 plus on-roads for the manual or $39,990 for the automatic version tested here, featuring a new six-speed transmission but none of the new advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) that debuted with this update. That package costs another $800.
The GLX dual-cab is also available as a 4x2 cab chassis ($36,290 plus on-roads), with the 4x4 manual cab-chassis priced at $36,240 and the auto (with standard ADAS) costing $39,540.
From thereon, all Triton dual-cabs have the pick-up body style, with manual and automatic transmissions offered on all but the flagship GLS Premium, which is auto-only.
Automatic versions of the GLX+ and GLS cost $42,490 and $46,990 respectively, while the flagship GLS Premium is $51,990 (all plus on-road costs).
Standard safety equipment for all Triton variants includes seven airbags, cruise control, a manual speed limiter, hill-start assist and trailer stability assist, rear parking sensors (pick-up only) and a reversing camera. The latter is replaced with a surround-view unit in the GLS Premium.
Standard equipment on the GLX includes a basic 6.1-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary audio connectivity, AM/FM radio and CD player controlled via the multi-function steering wheel that also operates the standard cruise control and manual speed limiter.
The steering column has reach and height adjustment, and the manual air-conditioning system includes a dust and pollen filter. Being workhorse spec, the GLX has vinyl floor coverings and fabric upholstery, with a centre armrest for rear occupants containing a pair of cupholders. There is also a pair of 12V power outlets.
Upgrading to the GLX+ variant switches from 16-inch steel wheels to alloy rims with 245/70 tyres, adds side steps and rear-step bumper, a bigger 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, an extra USB port plus HDMI input and DAB+ digital radio.
The GLS jumps up to 18-inch alloy wheels with wider 265/60 tyres, and gains a roof-mounted air conditioning unit for rear occupants, a sports bar, rear privacy glass, leather trim on the steering wheel, handbrake and gear lever; carpet flooring and premium fabric upholstery, auto-levelling LED headlights with high-beam assist, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, and hill-descent control.
Replacing the pre-facelift Exceed flagship is GLS Premium trim that adds leather upholstery, an excellent surround-view camera system, a rear differential lock, a tub liner, a nudge bar, heated front seats and keyless entry and start.
The ADAS package not fitted to our test vehicle includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning plus front foglights, dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
GLS Premiums add to this with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which is a segment first.
Standard safety equipment for all Triton variants includes seven airbags, hill-start assist and trailer stability assist, rear parking sensors (on the pick-up body style) and a reversing camera.
On the GLX the only colour choices are white, Sterling Silver or Graphite Grey (the latter both carrying a $590 premium). GLX+ adds Impulse Blue and Pitch Black to the palette (both also $590) while GLS and GLS Premium have White Diamond available for $890.
When the fifth-generation Triton launched in 2015, its cabin presentation set a pretty high bar for the ute segment.
Considering the dramatically restyled exterior, it’s very much business as usual inside – maintaining the intuitive and uncluttered layout is definitely a good thing – but Mitsubishi has noticeably upped the quality.
Yes, it’s still typical light-commercial vehicle in here with hard-wearing plastics almost everywhere but the textures are better and there’s less of the shiny, hollow, scratchy sense of cheapness.
Compared with the disposable-feeling interiors of other models in the Mitsubishi range, it’s hard to believe the Triton is made by the same company. And it’s really quiet, with wind noise regularly being the only intrusive sound.
Seat comfort is nothing short of exceptional. We stepped out of a plush Land Rover Discovery into this base model Triton costing less than half as much and found ourselves enjoying the seats.
Our drive home from collecting the Mitsubishi turned into a 3.5-hour stop-start slog due to monsoonal conditions and the only thing aching was our eyes, from peering through the kind of prolonged deluge that would have Noah preparing his Ark.
It’s good news at the back, too, with an uncommonly pleasant recline angle to the backrest and levels of thigh support that are otherwise unheard of in ute land. Legroom is a bit cramped behind a tall driver, but headroom is huge, even in the central seat.
The Triton is also one of the easiest utes for installing child seats, in that it’s the best of a very bad bunch. A fold-down central armrest with two cup-holders is welcome at this lowly trim level, too.
Also welcome is the presence of reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which itself is an attractive multi-function item that does a good impression of those used on up-spec Tritons apart from the fact it is trimmed in urethane rather than leather.
Rather uniquely, this Triton GLX has angle-adjustment for the seat base. The driving position is pretty good for a ute, although taller drivers tend to yearn for a slightly lower setting that doesn’t exist, even in higher-spec versions with electric seat adjustment.
Compared with, say, a HiLux, or D-Max or Navara, the Triton is a little lacking in cabin storage. These competitors variously have dual gloveboxes, dash-top compartments and additional cupholders beneath the outboard air-conditioning vents.
That said, the Triton has generous-sized door bins front and rear that can accommodate bottles, a deceptively huge bin under the central armrest and a big glovebox plus two cupholders in the centre console and a sunglasses holder in the ceiling.
Being a GLX, our test vehicle had no rear air-vents, but higher-spec GLS variants have a curious but effective ceiling-mounted air-con unit that can be controlled by rear occupants.
Visibility is excellent and it’s great to have standard rear parking sensors and a reversing camera – in this case a good one with clear image – on a base-spec ute.
Our biggest gripe with the Triton GLX was the cheapo multimedia unit with archaic graphics, no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and clunky Bluetooth connection.
The equivalent Holden Colorado LS leaves the Triton in the dust from this point of view. And there’s no native sat-nav in the Mitsubishi to make up for the lack of phone mirroring.
Worse, we suffered woeful handsfree phone call quality in the Triton. Phone calls would be OK for the first 20 seconds or so, then the audio would fade to the passenger-side speaker and become too quiet to hear properly.
Oddly enough, the much better touchscreen system in a GLS Premium flagship model had exactly the same phone audio problem, whether using Apple CarPlay or Bluetooth.
For a commercial vehicle that will regularly be used to make on-the-move calls, that’s unacceptable. Hopefully, a fix for this is just a software update away.
Engine and transmission
We’re fans of Mitsubishi’s 2.4-litre turbo-diesel, which is one of the ute segment’s most impressive for refinement, smoothness and quietness.
Well, it’s quiet from inside the Triton but bystanders will be in no doubt as to the presence of a diesel-burning commercial vehicle in their midst.
Power and torque outputs remain as before, with 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. The new six-speed auto has done nothing to address the fact that from standstill or when asked for a quick burst of acceleration from low speeds – such as entering busy roundabouts – the Triton can be frustratingly hesitant.
Once up and rolling, though, this is an impressively responsive and free-spinning engine that feels more muscular than its rather small displacement would suggest.
We found little to criticise about the slick new six-speed unit other than odd ratio spacing between third and fourth that had it hunting about on twisty, hilly roads covered at 80-100km/h. Manual shifts using the tiptronic gate are quick and rather aggressive.
On the motorway at 100km/h, the new six-speeder has the engine ticking along at around 1700rpm. It’s odd, then, that official fuel consumption 7.8 litres per 100km on the combined cycle) has increased for this update rather than reduced.
We struggled to keep fuel consumption of our Triton GLX below double-digits, whereas a top-spec Exceed variant of the pre-facelift model did high eights during our week-long test.
Increased weight (by around 60kg) is probably to blame, along with the blocky new front-end that looks less aerodynamic. It’s an unfortunate backward step when the trend – and rightly so – is toward greater efficiency. The extra weight also impacts payload by the same 60kg or so.
The low-end GLX tested here lacks Mitsubishi’s excellent Super Select four-wheel-drive system, with a simpler part-time setup that has no centre diff. A big, chunky, easy-to-use selector knob on the centre console activates the high- and low-range modes, with the latter engaged and disengaged easily during our test.
First gear in low range is very low indeed, making for confident steep descents using engine braking alone and great control for tackling tricky obstacles at low speed.
Ride and handling
Mitsubishi didn’t see fit to improve the Triton’s ride and dynamics for this update, which unless they’re already at the absolute limit of what’s possible with this platform, is something of a missed opportunity. Even the Isuzu D-Max has a much-improved ride these days.
In fact, we think the big Mitsi has become slightly worse dynamically at both ends of the range, having driven both a GLX and GLS Premium back-to-back. The 18-inch wheels of the up-spec variant lend a harsh edge to the unsettled bucking character of the GLX on its 16-inch steelies.
Like a HiLux, the Triton feels as though it’s going to trip over its front tyre under hard cornering. But we’d argue the Mitsubishi has the edge on overall ride comfort and its steering is less ponderous and vague than the Toyota or Navara. It’s crisp and direct by comparison, but it’s no Colorado, Amarok or Ranger.
The quite knobbly Bridgestones fitted to our GLX provided ample traction during our dynamic test – when the Triton’s unladen rear end wasn’t skipping around on mid-corner bumps – and didn’t produce detectable road noise. They’d howl under hard braking but the rate of deceleration on bitumen or gravel, as well as pedal feel, was more than acceptable.
As is the case with many 4x4s, the Triton made a lot more sense once its wheels left bitumen. Here, the Bridgestone tyres still found plenty of traction as well as confidence-boosting levels of grip, with the bumpier, less grippy surface producing a more connected and predictable feel for the driver. This is exactly what you want on low-friction surfaces.
On gnarlier stuff, we were impressed by the Triton’s axle articulation. Being able to get its tyres down where many utes would be cocking one in the air helped overcomes the lack of rear diff lock. Also, the restyled exterior has improved approach, breakover and departure angles as well as upping ground clearance.
Safety and servicing
Safety watchdog ANCAP awarded the pre-facelift Triton a maximum five-star crash-test rating, scoring it 36.22 out of a maximum 37 points, scoring 15.22 out of 16 in the frontal offset test, a perfect 16 in the side impact test and the full two points in the pole test. Whiplash and pedestrian protection were respectively considered ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’.
Standard safety equipment for all Triton variants includes seven airbags, cruise control, a manual speed limiter, hill-start assist and trailer stability assist, rear parking sensors (on the pick-up body style) and a reversing camera.
The ADAS package not fitted to our test vehicle includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning plus front foglights, dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming interior mirror.
GLS Premiums add to this with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which is a segment first.
For a limited time after launch, Mitsubishi is providing a seven-year/150,000km warranty on the Triton, compared with the standard five-year/100,000km warranty and one year of roadside assistance.
There is also a three-year capped-price servicing plan costing $299 per service (every 12 months or 15,000km) for diesel variants and $199 for the entry-level 4x2 cab-chassis petrol.
Service intervals are a sensible 15,000km or 12 months, with capped-price servicing at $350 for the first maintenance visit and $580 for the subsequent three (correct at time of writing).
If you’re upgrading from a pre-facelift Triton, you’ll appreciate the changes wrought on this new model. And you might even like the styling.
Mitsubishi has improved its popular ute in many ways, apart from the inexplicable – and inexcusable – worsening of fuel economy.
We also detected a slight backward step in ride quality and dynamics, which is also puzzling given how much the rest of the segment has moved on in this regard.
On the other hand, it’s great news that ADAS is now available on this model. And a shame the variant tested was excluded from this technological advancement.
But $800 is a pittance to pay for such a meaningful upgrade and, dare we say, a bit of haggling on the showroom floor will likely result in it being thrown in for free if you’re in the market for a GLX.
We don’t doubt the Triton will continue to be as popular as ever and even gain a number of new fans along the way. That’s for good reason, because it’s still a strong contender provided you don’t assume it to be as radically different as the comprehensive restyle suggests.
But the fact remains that the Mitsubishi is still at least five grand less expensive than its nearest mainstream competitors. And that goes a long, long way toward overcoming a couple of its shortcomings.
Holden Colorado LS dual-cab pick-up automatic ($47,190 plus on-road costs)
Despite a brand-wide sales slump, Holden’s Colorado remains a great ute and you’re likely to be bowled over by the interior ambience and level of standard equipment compared with pretty much every rival.
Ford Ranger XL dual-cab pick-up automatic ($50,090 plus on-road costs)
Ford keeps making the arguably class-leading Ranger better and better. And charges handsomely for it. Apart from the price, its on-road sense of bigness could be a deal-breaker for some.
Volkswagen Amarok TDI420 Core dual-cab pick-up automatic ($45,490 plus on-road costs)
Lags behind on towing capacity, airbag count and active safety aids yet remains competitive because it still manages to reset expectations in terms of how well a ute can drive on-road while also being supremely capable off-road.
Toyota HiLux SR dual-cab pick-up automatic ($48,560 plus on-road costs)
The biggest drawcard for the HiLux these days – in our humble opinion – is access to a massive accessories aftermarket and widespread dealer network, because Toyota’s supposedly unbreakable tough truck now suffers some reputational issues on top of its dynamic deficiencies, uninspiring engine and questionable value-for-money.
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Model release date: 1 February 2019
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