1 Jul 2006
OWING much of its design inspiration to the 2002 Pajero Evo 2+2 concept and the Pajero Evolution racer, with its almost identical lines, evocative "Mount Fuji" grille and purposeful on-road stance, the 2006 Triton was an all-new direction for the venerable Mitsubishi utility range.
In profile, the integration of the cab with the utility tray area – always a difficult styling exercise because of the vertical cut-off necessitated by the rear window – had been done with flare and imagination.
Inside, Mitsubishi claimed best-in-class cabin room both front and rear.
As well as the wider, longer all-new body, the Triton also got new suspension, a brand-new 118kW/347Nm 3.2-litre CDi turbo-diesel and the 135kW/309Nm 3.5-litre SOHC petrol V6 already seen in the Pajero.
The range covered single cab cab-chassis and tray backs, and dual-cab one-tonne utes, all but the top line GLS double cab – which came as a manual CDi only – offered a choice of petrol or diesel power. Five-speed manual transmission was standard across the range, with just V6s offering a four-speed auto as an option.
All ML Tritons had a load capacity of at least one tonne - 1120kg for the GLX CDi single-cab and 1015kg for the manual V6 GLX-R dual-cab.
Mitsubishi steered away from fancy 4WD engagement systems, relying simply on a second shift lever jutting out of the floor, which could be engaged on the fly at speeds up to 80km/h. Slipping into low range requires the Triton to be stationary.
For 2007 Mitsubishi added a new entry-level GL cab-chassis version, powered by a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine developing 94kW of power and 194Nm of torque, driving through the rear wheels only.
One year after the ML Triton was first launched, Mitsubishi Australia added an automatic transmission option for its 4x4 diesel models in July 2007. Towing capacity was unchanged and fuel consumption rated at 9.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.
In mid-2008, Mitsubishi threw down a value and economy gauntlet by introducing a competitively priced diesel model for the two-wheel drive (4x2) versions, powered by a new, 2.5-litre double overhead cam 16-valve common-rail four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with 100kW of power at 3800rpm and 314Nm of torque at 2000rpm.
A facelifted Triton emerged in August 2009 featuring a new, more powerful 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine, improved towing capacity, an extended tray (length up to 1505mm and height up to 460mm) and cosmetic and detail feature improvements plus importantly, electronic stability control and traction control some models.
The new engine produced 131kW of power at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque at 2000rpm, that's 11 per cent more power and 17 per cent more torque than the outgoing 3.2-litre engine, even though the new engine was smaller and offered a nine per cent reduction in fuel consumption, at 8.3l/100km.
The engine in automatic variants generated a similar amount of power but slightly less torque, at 350Nm, with a combined fuel economy figure of 9.3L/100km.
Inside there were improved seats, a new instrument cluster, floor console sound system.
In October 2010, Mitsubishi added a 4x4 Club Cab variant, with flip-up occasional-use rear seats and fitted with the 131kW 2.5-litre diesel engine.
The Club Cab was available in both pick-up and cab-chassis form, both of which had electronic stability and traction control and a rear differential lock as an option. Dual front airbags and ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution were standard, along with the ‘Easy Select’ four-wheel drive system.
In addition to the rear seats, the Club Cab had a number of features over the single-cab version, including a lever-type park brake, bucket seats (with driver’s seat height adjustment) and a floor console with lid and cup holder.
Other standard equipment on the Club Cab included 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, remote central locking, electric front windows, steering-mounted stereo controls and a two-speaker MP3/CD audio system with USB input, iPod control and Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone operation.