- More refined and quiet than the old model
- Punchy diesel paired to a smooth manual
- Quality interior
- Tray sides are very high for loading equipment
- Power, torque, payload and towing not class-leading
- New look may be bold, but it's not handsome
New utes are launching left, right and centre in Australia's light commercial market. With each new model more refined and car-like, that's making the choice less obvious for all sorts of buyers. These utes, including the new Mitsubishi Triton that we borrowed recently, still have be workhorses—but the rise of the utility for private use given their attractive small business tax status, means these models have got to compete with SUVs for comfort, as well.
The new Triton is the latest of the new models to drop, but it will be closely followed by the Nissan Navara NP300 (details here), and the eighth-generation Toyota HiLux (details here) later this year. Is Mitsubishi's offering good enough to ward off the other newbies? And has it been improved so much over the old shape that it's able to play with the leaders of the segment, the Volkswagen Amarok and the Ford Ranger?
We took home a mid-spec GLS dual-cab manual to find out all that. So, how does the Mitsubishi stack up? Don't miss our video review above—just click the image to start playback.
ChasingCars.com.au borrowed this vehicle for our Mitsubishi Triton review:
- 2015 Mitsubishi Triton GLS (middle trim), with the 2.4-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder (133kW/430Nm) and six-speed manual, in Impulse Blue, with black cloth, priced at $40,990 before on-road costs.
When an old model is replaced by something new, it's very easy to tell whether the change is evolutionary, or revolutionary. It's the latter in the new Triton: this is a radically better ute to drive than the old MN model it replaces.
That starts at the new turbodiesel, which is the sole motor. It is a 2.4-litre unit producing 133kW of power at 3500rpm, and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm. Those numbers are not class-leading, though they're not weak in comparison to similar utes. What is remarkable is the way the character of the engine has changed. It's much smoother, more refined, and quieter in the cabin. For those who haven't had much experience with utes, the new Triton is deeply approachable. It's almost easy to drive.
The six-speed manual is the best transmission, though an optional five-speed automatic gearbox carries over from the last car. Notably, the clutch is lighter in the new car making town driving less of a chore. The manual gains that crucial sixth gear, allowing for quieter, more fuel efficient, and more relaxing highway cruising. Adequate torque is still available in sixth on hills to haul you up without the need to downshift into fifth. In the old model, even 110km/h was rowdy in fifth; where we drove the last car in the Northern Territory it was seriously loud at 130km/h. That's not a problem in the new MQ Triton.
Fuel economy isn't bad. The claimed figure for the GLS four-wheel-drive manual is 7.2L/100km. That is overly optimistic; over our week with the car we recorded figures in the high 9L/100km range, but that was inclusive of mostly town driving. Still, with a 75L fuel tank, that still equates to a range of over 700km which allows a good amount of flexibility.
Handling is improved, as well, with impressive steering feel and a solid feeling of connection to the front wheels. The Super Select four-wheel-drive system allows for on-the-fly changes into high four from high two, which proactively kicks in the front wheels for extra grip in the wet. It's a sure-footed feeling machine. Low range four-wheel-drive is also included for really hard work, and the Triton is perfectly capable on sand.
It's still a ute and that makes for a jittery rear end with no weight over the back wheels, though work has been done to improve matters. That's noticeable, with far less intrusiveness over speed bumps and potholes: flex from the tray has really been minimised, particularly over imperfections while driving through a curve. That adds to a generally improved air of refinement: road and wind noise is lower, thanks to better insulation from the air and from the noise of the engine.
It's rare that a commercial vehicle has the best cabin of the whole brand—but that's the case with the Mitsubishi Triton's interior. Mitsubishi are known for fairly bland designs inside their cars, but the Triton has been spruced up nicely, with better materials, attractive dashboard styling, a decent infotainment system, and more comfortable seats.
That's all good news for Mitsubishi, given how good the cabins also are on the new Nissan Navara and Toyota HiLux. It's amazing how fast this segment has raced towards car-like interiors: plenty of utes still on sale, like the Holden Colorado, feature very barebones interiors geared towards commercial use only. Mitsubishi weren't as fast as Volkswagen or Ford to recognise that utes needed to cater to the private market as well, which demands much better interiors—but they've got there with the new Triton. Great cabin: check.
The GLS gets hard-wearing black cloth but it's not too harsh to the touch. While the front seats aren't exactly sculptural, they are supportive, and a full day's driving doesn't tire you out more than its competitors. There is enough adjustment in the seat, though the leather pews in the flagship Triton Exceed are even better, if you can stump up for that fifty-grand proposition.
The GLS actually outshines the Exceed in terms of its dashboard design. That's thanks to the more simple infotainment screen used on the GLS, which can't do navigation, but it makes pairing your phone for Bluetooth audio, and using the standard DAB digital radio, much easier. The Exceed's ageing satellite navigation system is crisp enough, but it's really hard to use: Bluetooth pairing on the top model is comically difficult. Both cars get audio systems that are decent enough.
Materials in the cabin are still hard and durable for the most part, including the dash tops and door sills. This'll make the Triton easy to take care of and clean, of course. This is still a ute that can cop the worksite without any trouble. However, key touch points like the steering wheel and gear shifter get softer leather wraps which feel really nice.
The driving position is aided by the addition of telescoping in the steering wheel. Plenty of utes still only offer a tilting adjustment, meaning you never feel close enough to the wheel—the Triton's setup is better, allowing you to sit in a more comfortable and safer position relative to the wheel and its airbag.
Apprentices and occasional friends will be fine in the second row, where three adults can sit side by side. Headroom is sufficient for six-footers, and there's enough space on the floor given a low tunnel for the four wheel drive system. The seats aren't overly supportive, though, so if you're buying this for travelling with your family all the time, they won't find the last word in comfort back there.
Utes are all about what you can get back there in the tray. While the Triton's numbers aren't class-leading in many areas, its tray capacity is near the top. In terms of measurements, length comes in at 1520mm, width at 1470mm and depth at 475mm. It does sit high over the rear wheels, though. It's fine for loading through the tailgate, but lifting heavier equipment over the very tall sides is a chore. There's not (quite) space for an Australian pallet between the wheel arches, with the 1050mm measurement there falling 115 mil short.
The Triton's payload clocks in at 950kg for the mid-spec GLS (970 for the base GLX and 930 for the flagship Exceed). That's just average, though: the HiLux offers over 1,100kg. The comparable Ranger allows 1,041kg.
Inside the cabin, space for everyday equipment and clutter is available, but not plentiful. The Toyota HiLux offers more cubby holes. In the Triton, you're limited to a fairly small central box between the front seats, map pockets in the doors, the glove compartment and stashing stuff in the cupholders.
Though the cubby spaces are limited, though, the cabin feels large. There's plenty of light and air thanks to lots of glass all around, and when you don't have passengers in the back, the second row and the space behind the front seats is pretty massive for stowing extra gear.
The Triton doesn't have an opening hatch through the back window which helps for carrying really long items in the tray. The new Navara has a power-operated rear window, trumping the Mitsubishi in that area.
RELIABILITY & RUNNING COSTS
The servicing arrangements for the Mitsubishi are based on a four-year capped price servicing programme, with annual services (or every 15,000 kilometres). There's a five-year warranty, but Mitsubishi announced at the recent Outlander launch that it had lopped 30,000 kilometres from their standard warranties, which includes Triton. The new coverage is for 100,000 kilometres—Mitsubishi say most Australians do 15,000km yearly (given the capped price servicing allowance), so the warranty should still be generous.
Unlike the Argentinian-produced Amarok, but like the Navara, HiLux and Ranger, the Triton is built in Thailand. Thai quality has been on the up in recent years, and our tester felt tight and solid, with only a loose seatbelt fitting causing any rattling in what is otherwise a tidy cabin.
This is an all-new model so we can't speak conclusively about reliability. The last model enjoyed a reputation for strong dependability over many years of ownership in harsh conditions, including a friend of ours who runs a Triton between Katherine and Darwin at high speed on a regular basis.
Safety is a strong marketing point for Mitsubishi here. On the same day that two BMWs took home four star ANCAP safety ratings, the Triton scored the full five stars. That's complemented by seven airbags and a number of active safety features. There's hill-hold assist to prevent rolling back, even in the manuals. The GLS and Exceed also gain a reversing camera in the dash.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Mitsubishi Triton price depends on which of the three trim levels, and various utility body styles you opt for. Broadly, the Triton range is divided into a base model, called the GLX; a mid-range model that we tested, the GLS; and the flagship Exceed.
The cheapest Tritons are the two single cab models. If you're after a single cab, either with tray or as a cab chassis, you can only get it in the spartan GLX base model. The two-wheel-drive model as a manual comes in at $24,490. Four-wheel-drive adds $2,500, taking the single cab GLX up to $26,990. The base models are equipped with cruise control, stability and traction control, and they get the full complement of seven airbags.
There's just one club cab model available, and it's also a base GLX. You do get four wheel drive as standard, though, alongside the manual transmission. There is a big step up in price, though, with the club cab listing at $35,290.
There's plenty of choice among the dual cab models, which we sampled. A rear-wheel-drive GLX model is available with the automatic ($35,990), plus both manual and auto four-wheel-drive GLX base utes ($36,990 and $39,490, respectively). Stepping up to dual cab doesn't get you any extra equipment on the GLX, over and above the extra doors and seats.
It's only the GLS and Exceed dual cab models that get you more fruit. Both the GLS manual ($40,990) and automatic ($43,490) gain touchscreen audio, a reversing camera, leather wrapped wheel and gearstick, dual zone air conditioning and alloy wheels.
If your'e after the lot, the Exceed is a relative bargain among flagship utes, at $47,490. It packs satellite navigation, push-button start, and paddle shifters for the automatic (this one isn't available as a manual).
Ford Ranger XLT 4x4 Dual Cab ($53,890): the Ranger represents another step up in refinement over the Triton, and to our eyes, it's still the most handsome option in the ute segment. However, Ford have placed it as the premium vehicle, and it's priced like it too—the XLT model is broadly comparable to the Triton GLS, but it's another $10k outlay. With the competition getting better and better, it's becoming harder to justify spending the additional money.
Nissan Navara NP300 ST 4WD ($45,990): the Navara might be more expensive than the Triton, but the margin is much less than the Ranger. Like the Mitsubishi, Nissan's ute is an all-new model for 2015 and it will arrive around July. With a car-like interior, advanced coil-sprung multi-link rear suspension, and tougher looks outside, the Navara will bring the fight straight to Mitsubishi.
Toyota HiLux SR 4WD Dual Cab ($42,490): almost a price match with the Triton GLS, the current-shape HiLux is long in the tooth now. This will be fixed by the new model in October, but for now, the Toyota soldiers on. It's remarkably more agricultural, with a rowdy (but strong) diesel, and a hardy interior. There's a reason the HiLux has an unbreakable reputation, though, and that's due to their absolute longevity. For many buyers in this segment, toughness is most important and the Toyota has it in spades, at the expense of comfort.
|Power||133kW @ 3500rpm|
|Torque||430Nm @ 2500rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||71kW / tonne|
|Fuel consumption (combined)||7.2L / 100km|
Transmission and Drivetrain
|Drivetrain||Four wheel drive|
Dimensions and Weights
|Cargo space (seats up)||1061L / 950kg|
|Cargo space (seats down)||N/A|