Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - GLS
Reach and rake steering adjustment, ride, cabin refinement and quietness, versatile 4WD system
Room for improvement
Column-mounted paddle-shifters, tray size, low-slung tow-bar, five-speed auto, no rear vents, low-slung bits, rear diff lock only on Exceed
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31 Oct 2016
ONE of the sales stars for the three-diamond brand since the global financial crisis has been the Mitsubishi Triton and while it has come under renewed attack from the likes of Holden with its new Colorado, the Thai-built ute has plenty to offer those looking for a versatile workhorse.
The drive route in this instance involved what rally drivers would term a transport leg from Port Augusta through to Wilpena Pound, just under 200km of sweeping bitumen roads in varying degrees of repair.
Recent inclement weather had only added to the undulations and broken bitumen, but much of it presents few issues for the Triton, in this instance the $40,990 plus on-road costs GLS dual-cab with a six-speed manual bolted to the back of its 133kW/430Nm 2.4-litre alloy turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine.
The flexible unit – variable valve timing and variable-geometry turbo among its features – allows for a gear taller than perhaps would be the first choice, without fear of causing consternation from the engine.
It quietly lopes along on the open road at the state limit ticking near 2000rpm in sixth gear, leaving the trip computer to return open road numbers in the high single digits (albeit largely unladen) as it sits at the beginnings of boost, with peak torque only a short flex of the ankle away, although a down change to fourth will bring more immediate results.
The gearshift is clean and reasonably quick, if long in the throw, but there’s not masses of driveline shunting once into the harder low-range duties off-road.
One steep incline within the Willow Spring’s Skytrek off-road course, littered with slippery loose stones and loose soil, was dispatched without any throttle input at all – the Triton was released uphill in first gear low range and idled (as low as 600rpm) up the hill without complaint.
Ride quality off the beaten track remains civilized – given the vehicle’s nature – although not quite as cosseting as the Pajero Sport models also being pushed over the same demanding terrain.
Clearance issues were few – several of the vehicles were fitted with tow bars that are low-slung on both vehicles’ rumps, but few found the ground in any damaging way.
We were waiting for the harmonic mass dampener just ahead of the rear diff to find some hard, brown rocks but the device seemed to stay away from trouble.
Steep downhills rarely presented an issue either, with solid engine braking, as the manual offers slightly better pace than the five-speed auto – yes, it’s still five ratios, unlike the eight in its Pajero Sport cousin – but even the auto acquitted itself without sin on the steep descents.
A genuine manual gear change for the two-pedal model $47,990 Exceed was also welcome in the off-road work, although the column-mounted paddle shifters (attractive though they may be) need some time to become familiar – wheel-mounted versions are a personal preference but some would rather the Triton’s as they are.
Given there’s more than a few turns lock to lock – 3.8 to be precise – it’s sometimes easier to use the gear selector anyway.
The steering itself has reasonable weight and doesn’t leave the driver wondering which way the wheels are pointing on an unsealed surface.
Faster dirt roads were completed with a minimum of hard kicks through the suspension, despite some serious ruts from recent rains, and corrugations were distant intrusions as well.
The ability at least in the two top spec models to drive all four wheels with the centre differential unlocked offers a reassuring level of security in terms of traction.
The electronic safety measures could be snoozed without fear of swapping ends over fast loose-surfaced corners, even when provoked by the driver even switching back to rear wheel drive and loosening the tail (purely for the purposes of science) didn’t fill the driver with dread.
While certainly not the most powerful of the light commercial brigade, its one of the more refined machines you can get your tools into and still do the school run – although a bigger tray for the style-side models wouldn’t go astray.
Rounded looks didn’t work for the Mazda BT-50, but its seems to have done Mitsubishi less harm and what lies beneath is composed, refined and competent enough to put it high on the LCV shopping list.
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