SIMPLY being the best drive in class doesnít automatically make a car a best-seller, but brilliant value for money is a sure-fire way to make an impression on buyers. And thatís Mitsubishiís approach with the Triton.
The launch of the fifth-gen model in May 2015 helped Tritonís buck-beating credentials while attempting to bring its on-road and off-road abilities closer to those of its rivals. Trouble was, changes in the ute market reduced the impact of Mitsubishiís re-engineering and re-bodying, particularly in comparison with all-new rivals such as Toyotaís eighth-gen Hilux.
Our mid-spec Triton GLS auto brings safety features such as ESC, a driverís knee airbag and a reversing camera to put it firmly in the family-car frame. A five-star ANCAP crash rating is a must, while hillstart and trailer-stability assist systems are nice to have. Dual-zone climate, HID headlights, LED DRLs, fog lights and a sporty styling package with 17-inch alloys add to the attraction.
Tritonís appeal extends beyond price and equipment to a roomy cabin with a neatly presented dash with clear silverrimmed instruments, and an appealing 6.1-inch central touchscreen as part of the new modelís updated audio system (which features digital radio).
The GLS-spec side-steps make the Triton easy to get in and out of, and redesigned front seats banish the old modelís legsout- in-front seating position for a more comfortable, upright position. The new Tritonís cabin is 20mm longer, almost entirely translated into rear legroom, with more head and shoulder room as well. Pity the rear door aperture is relatively small, and rear occupants miss out on air-con vents. At least there are big door bottleholders for all.
Tritonís update included measures to better suppress combustion noise and a revised injection system on the 2.4-litre turbo-diesel, and it shows, though donít expect car-like refinement levels.
Aussie suspension tuning sought to improve high-speed stability on gravel roads, but it hasnít smoothed the ride, which remains jittery on lumpy surfaces.
The leather steering wheel is nice to hold and twirls through a typical 3.8 turns lock-to-lock, but itís connected to light, limp steering that is at odds with the uteís image and abilities. Big turning circles rule in this realm, though the Tritonís is relatively tight at 11.8m.
A beefier new five-speed auto means all Tritons now get the full dose of torque (a stout 430Nm, up 80Nm). In practice the Mitsubishi isnít as instantly punchy as some of its rivals, but it powers along with authority from the peak torque point of 2500rpm to the 4000rpm redline.
Clocking 11.5sec from 0-100km/h, it sees off Hilux, Amarok and D-Max, but not Ranger or Navara. In that context, an official consumption figure of 7.6L/100km is quite respectable.
Triton isnít the best ute off-road Ė or on it Ė but considering its roominess, equipment level and affordable pricing, and the fact itís well-mannered and capable enough for most buyers, we can still see the appeal.
Mitsubishiís five-year warranty could certainly swing punters in Tritonís favour, even if its styling does the opposite. JW
The Triton is at an initial disadvantage because it lacks a rear locker (itís standard only in the toplevel Exceed). Combine this with limited rear wheel travel and an unpolished traction-control system and the Triton does it tough on the gnarliest climbs. On the flipside, the full-time Super Select II 4WD system (in GLS and Exceed versions) means no switching between 2WD and 4WD when you go from tarmac to beaten track and back (you can engage 4x4 mode without locking the centre diff), which is handy.
Compact dimensions aid manoeuvrability while the engine now picks up air from the guard rather than beneath the bonnet lip.
$43,490 Engine 2442cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, TD Power 133kW @ 3500rpm Torque 430Nm @ 2500rpm Transmission 5-speed automatic Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) 5280/1815/1780/3000mm Weight 1950kg Tray capacity 950kg Braked towing capacity 3100kg Unbraked towing capacity 750kg Ground clearance 205mm Tyres Toyo A28 Open Country 245/65R17 ADR81 fuel cons 7.6L/100km 0-100km/h 11.5sec 0-400m 18.3sec @ 125.8km/h 80-120km/h 7.9sec 3yr resale 61% . Punchier and roomier than before; long warranty; value . Electronic diff not standard; limp steering; busy ride