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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - GLX

Our Opinion

We like
Design, toughness, performance, economy, capability, comfort, versatility, value, equipment
Room for improvement
Unladen ride can become quite bouncy

Mitsubishi logo24 Oct 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Price and equipment

SMALL pick-ups are huge in both size and popularity, and growing by the year it seems. But one old stager has stayed true to its compact dimensions while still commanding a decent share of the one-tonne pick-up market.

That, of course, is the Mitsubishi Triton. Five generations have been offered here since the series surfaced as the Chrysler D-50 in 1979, gaining the diamonds and L200 badge a couple of years later, before adopting today’s name with the Mk2 of 1986. And all have only grown marginally over that time. No huge spurts.

Fascinating fact: this vehicle has many aliases, including Forte, Ram, Arrow Truck, Cyclone, Colt, Strada, Magnum, Storm, G-CAB, Sportero, Hunter, and Mighty Max. That must be some sort of world record.

Additionally, there’s also now a Fiat version known as the Fullback for Europe and the Middle East. And it gets a much better looking grille than the existing Mitsubishi version.

Now in its fifth iteration, the MQ Triton was launched last year after a three-year gestation with a stronger and more aero-efficient body redesign, fresh interior and all-new 133kW 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (on all but the base 94kW 2.4 petrol cab-chassis). Crucially, the dimensions pretty much stayed put with its decade-old predecessor, meaning smaller than the latest Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado.

Three body styles are available – Single, Club, and Double cabs – in rear-drive 4x2 and 4x4. Significant engineering upgrades have seen a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating, lower prices in some cases, and higher equipment levels throughout.

Our test vehicle is the base Double Cab GLX 4x4 auto, at a very fleet-friendly $39,490 plus on-road costs. Tempting for mining and government departments too, especially as the MQ’s newfound safety ranking makes it eligible to buyers who demand a top score. More money – $3500 and $7800 – buys the mid-range GLS and flagship Exceed respectively.

For the record, the 5.2-metre Triton is built on a ladder-frame chassis and sits on a 3000mm wheelbase. The tray area on the Dual Cab is a little wider and higher than before at 1520mm and 1470mm respectively, while the payload is around 935kg. Braked towing capacity is 3100kg.

Standard features include seven airbags (front, side, curtain, and driver’s knee item), stability and traction control systems, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, an emergency stop signal that flashes the hazards under heavy brakes, hill-start assist, trailer sway control, cruise control with speed limiter, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, CD player, USB port, trip computer, alarm, immobiliser and 16-inch steel wheels.

A reversing camera is a $750 option.

Interior

No doubt about it. The Triton’s interior design and presentation is better than most rivals’ efforts. And though it is relatively compact compared to some of the flashier competition, this four-door five-seater dual-cab is far from cramped and uncomfortable. Headroom is up by 8mm, shoulder space by 10mm, the front seats slide back an extra 24mm, and rear legroom edges up a sizeable 20mm.

Friendly and inviting, the all-new dashboard may not be the last word in opulence or originality, but it is the very picture of clarity and functionality, offering a great driving position with commanding views out, easy-to-read dials, excellent ventilation, stacks of storage options, and all the adjustability a mobile workspace demands, including a reach and tilt steering column. Cop that, Ranger! Seating seems a tad flat at first, but actually they work well in offering support. The rear cushion is now denser and so feels better padded for more comfort and greater safety protection in an accident (by restricting forward sliding), and the angle is not too upright as in some trucks back there. The headrests have also been revised to provide more optimised anti-whiplash properties.

Steelies, rubber mats, and a plastic wheel (albeit with steering spoke controls for audio and cruise) means the GLX isn’t going to wow a Ranger Wildtrak owner, but every necessary amenity is present and ready for duty. And the contrasting black-on-grey plastic trim is really quite smart. The quality is in the craftsmanship and thought behind the way it works. Never mind the blanks.

Savour the austere efficiency. Very refreshing.

Finally, though this is a pick-up truck, there is not too much engine or mechanical noise coming through, while the cabin also seems to resist road and tyre noise at least as well as the majority of the competition does. That’s because plenty of effort has gone in with better sound-insulation processes and materials. Additionally, at 0.42 Cd, the Triton is one of the most aero trucks on the market.

Remember: Mitsubishi’s been building one-tonners like this since the 1970s. And it shows.

Engine and transmission

Behind that challengingly styled grille is Mitsubishi’s 4N15 2.4-litre low-compression, MIVEC variable vale timing-equipped four-pot turbo-diesel.

Brandishing new bits and pieces like a variable geometry turbo, all-alloy block and a timing chain to replace the previous Triton’s belt arrangement, it delivers slightly more power at 133kW at 3500rpm, but a handy 80Nm more torque at 430Nm at 2500rpm. There’s now an electric throttle for improved performance, while a particulate filter is fitted to help cut emissions. It is now Euro 5 rated.

The auto is the company’s tried and tested five-speed torque-converter, and though it isn’t the newest ‘box on the block, it does offer a very well spaced set of ratios for spirited acceleration, sufficient mid-range response, and quiet higher-speed cruising capabilities.

Indeed, the new 2.5 DiD turbo-diesel is quite civilised around town, and beavers away unobtrusively even when your right foot demands a bit more oomph – which it obliges with torquey effortlessness. Plus, the GLX’s fuel consumption average is an extremely commendable 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres.

The 4x4 system is called Easy Select, with a lower-range ratio in 4L for better off-road ability, while regular 2H (high-range rear-drive) and 4H (high-range 4x4) are also included. Drive split front to rear is 40/60.

For extra driving modes including a locked 4WD mode, you’ll need to step up to the GLS, while an electronically locking rear differential is only available on the Exceed.

Ride and handling

For a truck with humble leaf springs out back, the Triton sure feels agile, with steering that’s light yet nimble and responsive, and relatively free from kickback. Compared to before, the rack is faster, there are fewer turns lock-to-lock, and effort has been reduced. It just feels more precise and measured – more like a regular car’s, in fact.

And there is a decent amount of roadholding too, making the GLX seem stable and controlled in most normal driving conditions – including out on the wintry wet back lots we tested it on.

To that end, Mitsubishi says there is a heavier duty anti-roll bar, thicker springs, and beefier dampers for the dual wishbone front end. The leaf springs have been elongated by 120mm and mounted on a more rigid section of the underbody, while revised rear dampers are also fitted.

At speed, the Triton certainly feels four-square and solid on the road, but there is a small price to pay around town, with a quite firm ride, though it isn’t bouncy or unruly as in many lesser utes. The brakes have less pedal travel than before.

We never went bush, but it is worth remembering that the MQ’s approach angle is a workable 30 degrees, while the departure angle is 22 degrees.

Safety and servicing

The Triton has managed a five-star rating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.

Mitsubishi offers a five-year/130,000km warranty, with intervals at 15,000km or one year. Capped-price servicing for four years is also available, at $350 the first year and $580 for the following three.

Verdict

As one of the company’s most consistent products, it should come as no surprise that the Triton is probably the best new Mitsubishi vehicle available in Australia.

Indeed, it performs brilliantly as a workhorse truck, yet is civilised enough to give the slightly larger Ranger, HiLux and Colorado a real run for their money. Even in base GLX guise, the Dual Cab lacked for pretty much nothing.

No wonder the Triton is now a regular visitor in the Australian top 10 sellers.

A deserving result.

Rivals

Ford Ranger XL Double Cab 2.2 4x4 auto from $47,265 plus on-road costs
Developed and designed in Australia, the big Ranger is wildly popular for a reason – tough, refined, good to drive, well connected, safe, and dependable.

The four-pot turbo-diesel is smoother and quieter than the gruff but gutsier 3.2 five-pot. Expensive but worth it.

VW Amarok TDI420 Dual Cab Core 4x4 auto from $45,990 plus on-road costs
Look no further for the smoothest, comfiest, and most refined pick-up, with the dynamically capable Amarok sticking with brand values. Its full-time 4WD system also gives it sophisticated on-road manners. But it’s not cheap, while high-tech repairs and servicing might work against it in the long term.

Nissan NP300 RX Dual Cab 4x4 auto from $42,490 plus on-road costs
Surprisingly comfortable, with many car-like features, the latest Navara has refinement, strong performance, efficiency, handling, ride, and towing capacity on its side (with the segment’s sole coil-sprung rear end). But the steering is remote and heavy.

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