Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - range
Tougher looks, better cabin materials, available advanced driver-assist systems, turbo-diesel performance, smooth-shifting transmissions, off-road ability
Room for improvement
Range-wide price rises, no digital speedo or built-in satellite navigation, unsupportive front seats, reduced payload, lifeless steering, jittery unladen ride
Mitsubishi’s popular Triton ute gets tougher with significant mid-life facelift
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7 Feb 2019
YOU’D have to be living under a rock to not realise that dual-cab pick-ups are taking over our roads at a rate that’s almost as alarming as that of SUVs.
As a result, the ute segment is as competitive as ever as each brand attempts to claim its own high-volume portion, and Mitsubishi is no different with its venerable Triton.
Now four years into its fifth generation, the Triton has been facelifted with a bold new look and a more premium cabin, while a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and advanced driver-assist systems are available for the first time.
With wide-ranging and significant changes made, has Mitsubishi given the Triton the class-leading edge it needs to compete with the best-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger? Read on to find out.
We were blown away by the fifth-generation Triton’s tough new facelifted look upon its reveal in Thailand in November last year.
As far as first impressions go, it was a good one, with the somewhat awkward appearance of the pre-facelift model making way for a more purposeful body punctuated by the latest version of Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield front fascia.
Rather than just improving the Triton’s rugged styling, the Japanese brand also improved its capability with the side steps moving 20mm higher, increasing ground clearance by 15mm, to 220mm.
Similarly, its approach, departure and ramp breakover angles are handily up by a degree each, to 31, 23 and 25 degrees respectively.
Unfortunately, maximum braked towing capacity remains at 3100kg, leaving the Triton well short of its class-leading rivals that offer 3500kg.
To make matters worse, the Triton’s payload has taken a step backwards, down 57-63kg to 902-908kg, due to its kerb weight increasing by – you guessed it – 57-63kg.
Part of this weight gain can be attributed to the excellent range-wide availability of a suite of advanced driver-assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning.
Critically, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on the GLS and GLS Premium grades, both of which are firsts in the ute segment – a great move that gives the Triton some serious bragging rights.
Mitsubishi also took to the Triton’s rough-and-ready interior to improve comfort, adding much-needed padding to the centre console’s knee rests and storage bin lid, as well as the door inserts.
Second-row occupants can finally grab onto B-pillar grips when entering and exiting the Triton, while a trick and effective roof-mounted air circulator replaces traditional rear air vents in the GLS and GLS Premium.
While these cabin upgrades are minor, they go some way in making the Triton a much more accommodating vehicle to sit in, although the lack of a digital speedometer and built-in satellite navigation continues to puzzle.
However, these changes are more than skin deep, with the Triton’s leaf-sprung rear suspension undergoing local testing that resulted in revisions to its spring rates, damper settings and shock absorbers.
Entry-level GLX and GLX+ variants run a heavy-duty calibration with an extra leaf spring due to their workhouse nature, while the lifestyle-orientated GLS and GLS Premium grades instead run a standard set-up with five springs.
We’ve tested both configurations, with the GLX+ dual-cab pick-up proving to be relatively composed over uneven tarmac with a 350kg payload in its tub.
The GLS Premium dual-cab pick-up is a little bit more jittery without a payload to settle down its rear end, however, its tendency to skip over bumps and lumps is better than that of most Triton rivals … but it’s still not composed.
No major changes have been made to the Triton’s steering, which continues to fall short of class honours by being slow and lacking feel.
Crucially, the Triton still struggles to hold its line when guided around corners, with understeer a constant threat to progress.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Triton isn’t the first word in dynamics … not that it was expected to be, anyway.
That being said, it is serviceable for a ute, with decent body control exhibited, although the lean encountered during hard cornering exposes how flat and unsupportive the front seats are.
The Triton’s 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine returns unchanged, developing 133kW of power at 3500rpm and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm.
This, of course, is not a bad thing as the tried-and-true powertrain still impresses with its rev-happy nature, overall smoothness and ability to pull down low without complaint.
The engine’s clatter is less noticeable thanks to the additional sound-deadening materials Mitsubishi added to the Triton to improve its noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.
While the smooth-shifting five-speed (petrol) and six-speed (diesel) manual transmissions also carry over in the new Triton, its predecessor’s five-speed torque-converter automatic has been swapped out for a six-speed unit with shorter, lower ratios.
The new transmission is almost flawless in its execution, offering gentle and timely gear changes while being receptive to throttle inputs.
Nonetheless, despite the unit’s longer higher ratios, claimed fuel consumption is up by 0.7-1.0 litres per 100 kilometres, to 7.9-8.6L/100km, due to the Triton’s aforementioned weight gain.
Tackling gravel, rocks and sand, we were able to explore three of Super Select II’s corresponding new terrain modes, although it was hard to pick the difference between them over a short period of time.
At the very least, though, the Triton has built upon its established off-road prowess, conquering steep inclines with ease – no matter the terrain – when low-range is engaged.
Given the transfer case is the same as before, the Triton still offers drivers plenty of confidence when the going gets tough, with most off-road drivers unlikely to come close to truly challenging its capabilities.
All of these welcome improvements come at a cost, however, with prices rising from an insignificant $200 to an unfriendly $3000, depending on which one of the 20 variants on offer is on the shopping list.
In any event, buyers will likely be pleased with their purchase, as Mitsubishi has undoubtedly built upon the Triton’s already strong foundations to develop a highly capable ute that is worthy of consideration.
Is the Triton now the outright class leader? For ours, it’s definitely in the top three, and given its sharp pricing – even with the cost increases – it is harder to ignore than ever.
Model release date: 1 January 2019
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