The line between traditional 4WDs and all those ‘pretenders’ is now so blurred we were unsure what to expect from the new Mitsubishi Triton. Would it be a car-like SUV with limited off-road and load-lugging potential or would it be a genuine workhorse?
Well, we can tell you it’s the latter.
With a separate chassis, a leaf spring, live axle rear-end and the availability of a new common rail direct injection turbo diesel engine, the Triton has all the ingredients of a commercial vehicle. Don’t be confused by its daring style and the sports accessories thrown in on the sports-spec GLX-R.
Unlike many other dual-cab utes, the Triton has genuinely useable space for front and rear passengers – no need to draw straws to decide who’s stuck in the back. The rear seat offers plenty of legroom (even behind tall front passengers), generous headroom and a comfortably angled backrest. Cabin width is also adequate to accommodate five people when required. The only criticism in this department is the shape of the rear door opening – it’s slightly awkward to step through.
And despite its spacious cab there’s no lack of cargo area or load capacity.
The dual cab’s cargo area is big enough to swallow all but the longest load, the tray walls are double skinned and there are some handy tie-down facilities. Payload is a healthy 1 tonne – no skimping here. The GLX-R model is also equipped with a lockable hard tonneau cover which helps keep cargo secure. Towing capacity is up to 2300kg when using the factory option package.
The standard engine in the Triton is a 3.5-litre petrol V6 but our test vehicle was equipped with the optional 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel. This engine employs common rail direct injection technology and an air-to-air intercooler mounted in the nose. With 347Nm at 2000 rpm, the engine has plenty of accessible grunt to get the Triton moving even when lugging a heavy load. But with peak power a modest 118kW at 3800 rpm, don’t expect to pass anyone uphill. Engine clatter is also prominent.
The standard gearbox for the common rail diesel engine is a five-speed manual. Unfortunately, this feels a bit antiquated in comparison to the engine – the gear shift is long and it’d be nice if there was another ratio available. A six-speed gearbox would make all the difference when cruising with traffic at 60 km/h – the current top gear is slightly too tall.
At 1920kg, the Triton is never going to be frugal in an urban environment or when making lots of short trips. In these circumstances we saw the average fuel consumption display in the low 12 litres per 100km range. However, the average over our test was 9.8 litres per 100km – slightly more than the ADR 81/01 figure of 9.1 litres. Note that the ADR 81/01 figure for the petrol version is 12.9 litres per 100km.
The Triton’s driveline is described as ‘part-time 4WD’. In normal conditions, only the rear wheels are driven but a selector lever can be used to engage high-range 4WD or low-range 4WD. You can select 4WD on-the-fly at up to 100 km/h and the transition is extremely smooth. All Triton models are equipped with a limited slip rear different but an electronic rear diff lock is offered as an option.
The suspension is a mix of sophistication and brawn. At the front is an independent double wishbone, coil spring suspension while the rear uses a heavy-duty leaf spring rear with a live axle. Ride quality is in the category of commercial vehicles but, unlike some other one-tonners, the ride is quite well balanced front-to-rear. Hustle it through a corner and there’s good grip from the GLX-R’s 245/70 16 tyres but there is plenty of body roll and the inside rear tyre can spin when applying power in tight conditions.
A power-assisted rack and pinion steering arrangement is used and there’s a suitable amount of sneeze factor at the straight ahead position. But with about 4.25 turns lock to lock, you’re kept busy steering the Triton along a twisty road. The turning circle is relatively compact at 11.8 metres but poor rear visibility makes the Triton difficult to manage in carparks.
Braking performance is strong and stable using a combination of ventilated front discs and large rear drums. ABS, EBD and a load-sensing brake force proportioning valve ensure maximum stability under hard braking.
The interior of the sports-spec GLX-R offers a strange combination of equipment. Amazingly, you don’t get electric driver’s seat adjustment or even manual adjustment of seat height. And don’t bother trying to adjust the reach of the steering wheel. This lack of adjustment makes it difficult for some people to find a comfortable driving position – especially those who are relatively short. There’s also no cruise control, driver’s side vanity mirror or climate control.
But you get sports cloth trim, electric windows, a rear power window (a great novelty), a leather wheel and gear knob, alloy pedals, folding rear armrest, a Bluetooth mobile phone kit and a multi-function central display. A single CD/tuner provides good sound quality and punch. Only two airbags come standard and there is no option for side airbags.
And that all-new body is pretty radical. The Triton is daringly styled with bold curves and an aggressive front-end appearance. The GLX-R brings a polished nudge bar, fog lights, roll-over bar, side steps, chrome mirrors, privacy glass, colour coded wheel arch flares and 16 inch alloys. It has everything to create a ‘sports truck’ look.
So what’s it worth?
As tested, the Triton GLX-R turbo diesel retails for AUD$44,990 which is cheaper than the comparable Nissan Navara ST-X and Toyota Hilux SR5. Take into account Mitsubishi’s 5 year/130,000km warranty and we reckon this is a good buy.
So long as you accept that it is built as a commercial vehicle...