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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Triton - utility range

Our Opinion

We like
Grunty and efficient new 2.5-litre diesel engine, classier new centre console, longer and deep dual-cab tray, upgraded towing capacity, improved exterior cosmetics, class-leading safety credentials
Room for improvement
Demise of 3.5-litre petrol V6 and 3.2-litre diesel engine choices, HP 2.5 available only on 4x4 versions, upgraded five-speed auto only for GLX-R, ESC only available on HP diesel models, side/curtain airbags only available on HP dual-cabs

2 Oct 2009

WITH a bigger dual-cab tray and an upgraded 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine for four-wheel drive variants, Mitsubishi’s MN Triton upgrade is all about the twin-cab 4x4 diesel, which is why that’s all we drove at the launch.

In fact, despite the addition of a new 4x2 and 4x4 diesel GL-R dual-cab sports variant, the deletion of the 3.2-litre diesel from the top of the 4x4 range and the axing of the 3.5-litre petrol V6 from the top of both the 4x2 and 4x4 ranges makes the upgraded Triton range skinnier than ever.

But while the 2.4-litre petrol engine carries over unchanged – as does the low-output 2.5 diesel in 4x2 variants – the availability of electronic stability and traction control across almost the entire diesel Triton range, which already boasted a class-leading four-star ANCAP safety rating, only serves to boost the safety credentials of Mitsubishi’s one-tonne workhorse.

Along with the longer, deeper tray with flatter top section, which gives the dual-cab Triton a slightly different but no less appealing side profile, there is an increase in towing capacity for all 4x4 dual-cab models, while fresh interior and exterior cosmetics and new features and options give the latest Triton a significant shot in the arm.

Not that it needed too much. When it was launched in 2006, the then-radical new ML Triton averaged 886 sales per month – figure that has since increased by 68 per cent to 1488. In the same period, its market share rose from eight to 13 per cent, and its position in the in the pick-up/cab-chassis market, which has increased by four per cent overall, has shot from sixth to second.

Compared with last year, year-to-date ute sales have fallen nine per cent, while the Triton has attracted eight per cent more sales, with the 4x4 making the most inroads. To August this year, sales of the 4x2 Triton are up one per cent in a 4x2 market that has decreased by 12 per cent, while 4x4 triton sales are up 12 per cent in a 4x4 market that is down six per cent.

While the demise of the larger-capacity 3.5 petrol and 3.2 diesel engines may not be good news for Australian ute buyers who still maintain there’s no replacement for displacement, the addition of a higher-performance and more efficient version of the 2.5-litre diesel engine can only help sales overall.

Because the fact is that despite its smaller size, a state-of-the art turbocharger with higher boost pressure, new injectors and a revised combustion chamber shape combine to make the HP 2.5 better than the Triton’s 3.2 diesel.

The HP 2.5’s performance figures speak for themselves: 131kW of power and a muscular 400Nm of torque (for the manual) is a huge step up over both the garden-variety 2.5 and the outgoing 3.2 diesels, while fuel consumption also drops by up to nine per cent over the 3.2.

So in industry terms, the new 2.5 ticks all the boxes for the volume-selling 4x4 Triton models, and it is just as convincing on the road.

The HP 2.5 feels just as strong and lumpy from idle as the 3.2 and is in another world from the low-output 2.5 in terms of outright performance. In anything, it’s even more responsive down low, and revs cleanly and more willingly to beyond 4000rpm, with all of its substantial torque available right in the middle – at 2000rpm.

A reasonably testing off-road loop at the Crystal Creek four-wheel drive park in northern NSW showed that even with standard-issue truck tyres and road pressures, the 4x4 dual-cab is now even more of a go-anywhere ute.

The Triton was already among the best off-roaders in this class, and the extra bottom-end response and super-low reduction ratios in the proven 4x4 system work together to deliver even more impressive climbing capability on the loosest of steep inclines.

While the rear seating accommodation of the dual-cab Triton remains as big and comfortable as ever, the extra rear overhang as a result of the longer, deeper tray does little to reduce the all-important departure angle of the long-wheelbase twin-cab.

The HP 2.5’s free-revving nature makes also makes it a more effective road vehicle, while the revised cabin’s new centre stack, more vivid instrument graphics and upgraded audio systems make the Triton a more pleasant place to be.

Equally, improved front seat bolstering and the addition of driver’s seat height adjustment in the dual-cab make the most popular Triton more passenger car-like to drive, even is like most of its rivals there is still no steering wheel reach adjustment.

The availability of Mitsubishi’s advanced audio/navigation system with Bluetooth as a factory option makes the sharper-looking GLX-R flagship’s cabin more high-tech.

While the HP 2.5 easily eclipses both the 3.5 petrol and 3.2 diesel engines in most respects, it is a shame it is not available across the entire Triton range – not just 4x4s.

Similarly, the availability of ESC across almost the entire diesel range (standard on the GLX-R) and side/curtain airbags on HP dual-cabs are commendable additions to the four-star Triton range.

But both valuable safety features will make the Triton even more attractive and beneficial to buyers if they become available across the range – including the entry-level workhorses.

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