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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - GLX 4x2 DI-D utility

Our Opinion

We like
Styling, value, performance, economy, Euro IV emissions, ANCAP four-star crash test result, equipment levels, auto availability, manual driveability, warranty
Room for improvement
No lap/sash centre rear seatbelt in double-cab, flat front seats

2 May 2008

IN THE 4x2 one-tonne pick-up/utility end of the market, pricing, pricing, and pricing seems to be the overriding element that determines the success or otherwise of the handful of players competing.

If you need proof of this, witness Nissan’s re-introduction of its ancient D22 Navara range, or Ford and Mazda’s re-skinning of the pair’s equally geriatric Courier/Bravo over the last couple of years. Just because the badge declares ‘Ranger’ or ‘BT-50’, it doesn’t mean there’s an all-new truck lurking underneath.

All three firms know that keeping the price down low is the only way to keep sales up and reheating old models is often the only way to maintain this.

Meanwhile, the high-flying Toyota Hi-Lux and Nissan D40 Navara out of Europe are making hay in the high-end of the 4x4 segment.

Lately, so has Mitsubishi, with its modern – futuristic even – ML Triton series. And while the lowlier 4x2 versions are also recording healthy sales increases compared to the previous MK models, they haven’t really had the right engine – diesel power – to make the right sort of impact with the fleet buyers that make up the overwhelming number of sales in this segment.

Until now.

Batten down the hatches, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Holden: the all-new 2.5-litre DI-D common-rail turbo-diesel, combined with automatic transmission as well as manual gearbox availability and sub-$23,000 pricing for the Single Cab (sub-$30,000 for the Double Cab too) is likely to blow the segment status quo sky high.

For starters, the Triton is a Thoroughly Modern Millie of a pick-up truck, no some 1990s re-hash that most of the Mitsubishi’s cheaper competition are.

This translates into a roomy and airy interior that is easy to get in and out of thanks to large door apertures and a high hip point.

The cabin is dominated by a stylish and contemporary dashboard with groovy blue instrumentation and plenty of places for odds and ends.

And the rear bench in the Double Cab is not bolt upright, so there is comfort potential for the outboard occupants.

Unfortunately and inexplicably though, Mitsubishi does not fit the lap/sash centre seatbelt in the 4x2 model like it does in Triton 4x4s. This is an outrage, and makes us sceptical of the class-leading four-star ANCAP result that other ML Triton models have scored.

At least there are dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, power windows, air-conditioning, power steering, remote central locking and seat-belt pretensioners fitted as standard.

Some 4x2 trucks are so sparse on the safety equipment front they seem to imply that their drivers’ wellbeing does not matter.

Happily, even the $22,990 base Triton GLX 2.5 DI-D drives like a much more expensive truck than its bargain pricing suggests.

This common-rail turbo-diesel application is a flexible, strong and presumably frugal unit (MMAL says it returns under 9.0L/100km in the combined cycle) that is neither oppressively loud nor frustratingly languid in its power and torque delivery.

In fact, for a truck diesel, the DI-D is decidedly quiet and refined, ending up being acceptably noisy at idle, fairly quiet on the move and surprisingly eager to rev.

We preferred the slick and light five-speed manual to the slower but still quite smooth and responsive four-speed automatic, although both transmissions work fine with what can only be described as a modern and high-tech powerplant.

Even with empty trays out back, the Triton 2.5 DI-D steered and handled in a way that might be a revelation to owners of older-generation trucks of this ilk, while the vehicle’s high-speed stability, braking ability and noise levels all appear to be at the pointy end of this sectors’ standards.

After a while behind the wheel, we did wish for a little more front-seat padding, but other than that, we found it difficult to fault the latest Mitsubishi offering.

Having spent extensive time in all of its competition, we feel that the resurging brand has a real winner in this 4x2 diesel truck, offering little to no compromise while delivering a palpably more appealing vehicle that majors on value, driveability, comfort, style and utility.

The fact that it is also one of the least expensive should be music to the buyer bases’ ears.

In 2.5 DI-D guise, Triton is right-on!

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