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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - Exceed 4x4 Double Cab

Our Opinion

We like
Strong and efficient engine, on-road liveability, ability to drive on bitumen in four-wheel-drive mode, spacious cabin, bang-for-buck, safety
Room for improvement
Attractive interior let down by cheap materials, five-speed auto and towing capacity not up there with segment leaders

Gallery

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Mitsubishi logo31 May 2016

Price and equipment

MITSUBISHI has one of the more easily navigable ute ranges out there, with a relatively modest 12 variants to choose from.

Apart from a $21,990 single-cab, manual-only GLX petrol price-leader special, a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine is standard across the range, with a choice of five-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The tradie-spec GLX range-opener has the 4x2, single/club/dual cab and cab-chassis options, while the mid-spec GLS and Exceed flagship are dual-cab only. The $47,790 (plus on-roads) Exceed tested here is also automatic-only.

Standard equipment on the Exceed includes dual-zone climate control and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for the satellite navigation, reversing camera and infotainment system. The latter features voice control, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth streaming, a CD player and USB input. There is also a multi-function trip computer plus a security alarm and immobiliser.

Behind the leather-bound, reach-and-tilt multi-function steering wheel are paddle shifters for manually operating the automatic transmission, while other luxuries include leather seat upholstery and leather-look door trims, electric driver’s seat adjustment, keyless entry with push-button start and automatic headlights and wipers.

Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD II system is also fitted, which courtesy of a lockable centre differential, provides the unique-for-the-segment ability to drive on high-grip surfaces in high-range four-wheel-drive mode without trashing the transmission. There are four driving modes in total, plus an electronic locking rear differential.

External touches comprise 17-inch alloys, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running illumination, front foglights, side steps, a rear bumper step, a polished sports bar, folding door mirrors and rear privacy glass.

A Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navara, Toyota HiLux or Volkswagen Amarok with the same level of standard equipment would have a price well into the $50,000s. And only Isuzu outdoes Mitsubishi’s five-year warranty – by 30,000km.

Apart from the vast array of dealer-fit accessories, the only options on a Triton Exceed are $550 metallic or pearlescent paint finishes.

Interior

We hope the Triton cabin previews the shape of things to come from Mitsubishi – the Pajero Sport SUV suggests so – as its presentation pretty much outclasses everything else the brand offers in Australia. And it’s a ute!Let’s not get carried away, being a light-commercial vehicle there are hard-wearing, hard-feeling plastics everywhere. But the design, textures and trims are pleasing, while the layout is intuitive and uncluttered.

Pairing a smartphone via Bluetooth on the big, clear touchscreen is simple, as is use of the satellite navigation system, while the panel for adjusting the dual-zone climate control is located nice and high for minimal distraction while on the move. Everything else also falls easily and intuitively to hand.

From the driver’s seat, comfort levels impress too, with reach adjustment on the steering column and plenty of support for long-distance trips that have us wondering how Toyota got it so wrong with the HiLux and its bum-numbing perches.

Our only major gripe is the lack of interior storage options compared with, say, a HiLux or D-Max, which variously have dual gloveboxes, dash-top compartments and additional cupholders beneath the outboard air-conditioning vents.

Mitsubishi supplies generous-sized door bins front and rear that can accommodate bottles, a large bin under the central armrest and a decent glovebox. Two cupholders in the centre console are supplemented by a further two in the central rear fold-down armrest.

We regularly travelled five-up in the Triton and rear passengers were more than happy with comfort levels, if it did get a bit squeezy with adults sat either side of a child seat. On the latter, Isofix anchor points are a bonus for those using their Triton as family transport.

It’s quiet on the move too, with an impressive lack of road noise and the new diesel engine emitting more of a background roar under acceleration rather than feeling like it was sitting on your lap as with the previous Triton.

Engine and transmission

Like the interior, the Triton’s new 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine is a vast improvement over what went before in terms of refinement and smoothness, especially at idle.

Producing 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm it’s a grunty, muscular-feeling unit that belies its displacement, but is better in higher gears once the vehicle is rolling as it can take a while to come on song when accelerating from a standstill or low speeds when a quick burst of acceleration is required.

On paper the five-speed automatic transmission seems off the pace considering most rivals offer six, seven or even eight-speed units. Indeed, the Pajero Sport that shares the Triton’s underpinnings has an eight-speeder.

However we never missed the extra ratio(s), even at a motorway cruise and the transmission feels as smooth and seamless as many a more modern unit. Sometimes we think fewer ratios are preferable when off-roading as a broader rev-band in each gear means the engine is less likely to run out of steam or require a momentum-robbing up-shift at an inopportune moment.

Look at it this way – the Triton’s 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres official combined fuel consumption figure is right up there with models offering more gears and although we never achieved such a low result during our test, we managed to average in the high eights, which is still pretty good going for such a big, heavy vehicle.

A big, chunky, easy-to-use selector knob on the centre console activates the three four-wheel-drive modes, the first of which can be used on any surface courtesy of a centre differential.

This unique-to-Mitsubishi feature is great for confident driving on wet roads with no load in the tray, or on gravel roads regularly interspersed with bitumen sections.

The second 4WD setting locks the centre diff and the third switches to low range. The locking rear diff is also easily activated via a button on the dash.

Ride and handling

From our first turn of the Triton’s steering wheel, we realised Mitsubishi had really achieved something with this vehicle. Like the interior presentation, the way the Triton steers really is up there in terms of what else the diamond brand produces today.

There’s a crispness and directness to the action that feels more SUV than truck, and it lacks the bagginess of most ute rivals once the speeds get higher. It’s a pleasure to drive around town as a result, and doesn’t frustrate on a bendy country road.

Even unladen the Triton’s ride is more than acceptable and at least as good as, if not better than, a HiLux. Yes there’s still some chassis shudder and a bit of back-end bounce and it can’t touch the benchmark-setting Amarok and Ranger – but neither does it cost anywhere near as much.

Off-road the crisp steering and compliant ride are a match made in heaven, although we note that Mitsubishi has reduced ground clearance and approach angle on this model compared with its predecessor. Regardless, the Triton still feels unstoppable in the bush.

Safety and servicing

Safety watchdog ANCAP awarded the Triton a maximum five-star crash-test rating, scoring it 36.22 out of a maximum 37 points – not far off the ute safety benchmark Ford Ranger (36.72). The Mitsubishi got 15.72 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 kit on the Triton includes dual frontal, side chest and curtain airbags plus one for the driver’s knee. In addition to stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assist are fitted. Advanced seat belt reminders are fitted to all seats, with the front two also having pre-tensioners and force limiters.

There is also hill-start assist, trailer sway control (when connected to a trailer with electric brakes) and an adjustable speed limiter plus sensors that can recognise when both accelerator and brake pedals are being pressed at the same time, helping prevent unintended acceleration.

Mitsubishi provides a five-year, 100,000km warranty and a years’ roadside assistance pack. 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).

Verdict

Mitsubishi has surpassed expectations in terms of the new Triton’s everyday liveability. It feels less compromised on-road and unladen than a number of more expensive competitors.

Bearing in mind the Triton offers a lot of ute for the money, plus one of the segment’s best warranties, we were prepared to forgive a few drivetrain, dynamic or interior deficiencies. But during out week living with it, these proved surprisingly and conspicuously absent save for a handful of nit-picking details.

Value-packed, spacious, safe, comfortable, pleasant to drive on-road and formidable off-road – if you can get past the looks, it’s hard to look past the Triton.

Rivals

Toyota HiLux SR5+ automatic from $57,990 plus on-road costs
The toughest truck just got tougher with this long-awaited latest generation, but you won’t be breaking your fingernails on the swish-looking, driver-oriented new interior. An impressive drivetrain, unstoppable off-road skills, reputation for dependability and massive accessories aftermarket make up for dynamic deficiencies compared with benchmark-setters like the Ranger and Amarok.

Ford Ranger XLT automatic from $56,590 plus on-road costs
Building on the pre-facelift Ranger’s impressive ride, refinement and road manners, the updated version now also boasts one of the segment’s classiest cabins and market-leading technological toys. It just feels a bit big on the road, which could be a deal-breaker for some.

Volkswagen Amarok TDI 420 Highline automatic from $56,990 plus on-road costs
So ambitiously priced, we selected a variant below the $60K Ultimate flagship.

In the face of strong new competition, the Amarok has managed to remain competitive because it set the bar so high in the first place. Hides its commercial vehicle origins incredibly well, but not at the expense of go-anywhere ability or do-anything utility.

Nissan Navara ST-X automatic from $54,990 plus on-road costs
Goes out on a limb with coil-sprung suspension, succeeds with on-road comfort and off-road traction. The attractive, functional interior and grunty, frugal hi-tech new engine make it a real contender.

Mazda BT-50 GT from $53,790 plus on-road costs
It’s as though Ford’s deal with Mazda to co-develop the Ranger and BT-50 ensured the Blue Oval hogged the limelight, as the Japanese-branded version has not been treated to quite the level of attention for its mid-life update and has fallen behind somewhat as a result. But the pricing reflects that and the BT-50 therefore combines value-for-money with some serious credentials. Share’s the Ranger’s ‘bigness’ though.

Isuzu D-Max LS-Terrain from $53,000 plus on-road costs
Just about beats the Mitsubishi warranty offering and comes with a tough reputation to rival a HiLux, but can’t hold a candle to the Triton’s interior presentation and road manners.

Holden Colorado LTZ automatic from $53,190 plus on-road costs
Has a grunty powerhouse of an engine, which makes a lot of noise in the process. Similar dated interior design to the related D-Max and looks dynamically disappointing in this company.

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