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Mitsubishi Triton GLS

 

Mitsubishi hopes the new Triton will be its next big thing. We test the flagship double-cab GLS version.

Base price: $59,490.

Powertrain and perforance: 2.4-litre turbo diesel four, 135kW/437Nm, 5-speed automatic, selectable four-wheel drive with low-range, Combined economy 7.6 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 5280mm long, 1780mm high, 3000mm wheelbase, tray length 1520mm, fuel tank 75 litres, 17-inch alloy wheels on 245/65 tyres.

We like: Efficient powertrain, multi-mode all-wheel drive, good towing and payload, smart styling.

We don’t like: Still feels crude on-road, not as luxurious as some rivals.

How it rates: 7/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Mitsubishi has big ambitions for the new Triton, hoping to double sales and crack the top three in terms of sales volume (behind Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux).

So much rests on the performance of the flagship double-cab GLS model, which is expected to account for half of Triton sales. In this segment, it’s not good enough to be a tough ute any more: with double-cab models serving as pseudo-sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for many buyers, a fully loaded pickup like the GLS has to be strong on performance, refinement and equipment as well.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? On paper, the Triton looks pretty good. The 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine is in the middle of the ute segment for power and torque, but Triton is one of the lightest one-tonners you can buy (second only to the outgoing Hilux) which makes for very good power and torque-to-weight.

Mitsubishi also claims that low weight results in a class-leading payload of close to 3950kg, ahead of the Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger. Tow rating alone is impressive at 3100kg. It’s also frugal: no four-wheel drive ute can claim better than the Triton’s 7.6 litres per 100km in the official Combined cycle.

So far, so good: Triton is tough and efficient. Does that translate to a driver’s dream on the road? Not so much. The new model is much more capable on the sealed stuff than the previous model, with quicker steering and a much more settled chassis. But it’s still relatively crude by contemporary standards: the engine is noisy and vibration intrudes into the cabin through the driver’s main points of contact with the car: steering wheel and pedals. The gearbox is only a five-speeder rather than six-cog units of most rivals, although you do get paddle shifters in the GLS. Nor does a paucity of ratios seem to affect its fuel economy.

The chassis is stable in corners but the ride is still off-roader bouncy rather than passenger-car smooth.

You have to give Mitsubishi its due when it comes to the Triton’s four-wheel drive technology – or rather the Super Select system fitted exclusively to the GLS. The company claims it’s one of only two utes that can actually run in all-wheel drive on the road (the other is the Volkswagen Amarok). Every other one-tonne pickup is rear-drive and can only locked into four-wheel drive for off-road operation.

This is relevant for the Triton’s application as a recreational and lifestyle vehicle, as it means you can drive it on gravel roads or up a ski road in all-wheel drive at speed without the locked axles binding up. Fuel for thought.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? The GLS has the lifestyle market in its sights, although Mitsubishi hasn’t gone as far as the likes of Ford, Holden and VW in dressing up its ute.

The Triton’s dashboard isn’t as cohesively designed as the Ford Ranger’s, nor does it have the car-like look and quality of the Mazda BT-50 or VW Amarok. The plastics are pretty hard and the touch-screen system has crude graphics. Don’t try hooking up a fully loaded iPod to the audio system, either – you’ll be waiting a very long time for the indexing to finish and menus to become available. We’re talking minutes rather than seconds.

But the GLS does have extra silver trim inserts and a few luxury touches, such as privacy glass, keyless entry/start, dual-zone air conditioning and a reversing camera.

One of the big challenges in adapting a ute to family/lifestyle use is the rear seat, which tends to sit at a very upright angle due to a pickup truck’s cabin/tray configuration. Triton still isn’t SUV-comfortable but it’s passable: the backrest angle of 25 degrees is the same as Hilux and Colorado and slightly better than Ranger.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? The new Triton still hasn’t achieved the car-like feel and cabin ambience of rivals like Ford Ranger and VW Amarok. It falls down in refinement and on-road handling.

But it makes a strong case in terms of sheer ability and versatility, with a highly efficient powertrain and the GLS model’s Super Select four-wheel drive system, which can run in rear-drive, full-time four-wheel drive, locked four-wheel drive and low-range.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/no
  • Parking radar: Reversing camera
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Head-up display: No
  • Satellite navigation: Yes
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Stop-start: Yes
  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Heated/ventilated seats: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: No
  • Leather upholstery: No


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