ON BUDGET, ON TIME
With ongoing factory discounting, the Triton is the cheapest of the mainstream 4x4 dual cabs available in Australia
Mitsubishi’s fifth-generation (MQ) Triton arrived in Australia in mid-2015, replacing the MN that first went on sale in 2009. In designing and building the MQ, Mitsubishi didn’t attempt to match the notably bigger size of the newgeneration utes led by the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok, but instead reworked what it already had in the MN, which means a smaller ute. The main changes from the MQ centred around an all-new Euro 5- compliant 2.4-litre four- cylinder diesel, a new six-speed manual gearbox, a revised five-speed automatic (available on all models and not just the Exceed), various chassis changes and a re-styled body. Thanks to very sharp pricing and ongoing factory discounting, the Triton is only outsold by the Hilux and Ranger. And, if you want a less- expensive ute than the Triton, you’ll have to look at either a Chinese or a Indian offering.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
Aside from the Navara and X-Class’s shared 2.3-litre diesel, which employs a sophisticated bi-turbo arrangement, the Triton’s engine is the smallest capacity here and is down towards the bottom of the list when it comes to on-paper power and torque outputs. Countering this, the Triton doesn’t weigh as much and isn’t as tall-geared as most utes here, so remains competitive in terms of its pedal-to-the- metal performance. The Triton’s ‘little’ diesel also revs much harder than most to do the same job, as evidenced by the fact that it doesn’t make its maximum torque until 2,500rpm, an unusually high engine speed for a diesel and 1,000rpm above where some of the bigger diesels achieve their maximum torque.
Despite the fact that the Triton’s engine likes to rev, it’s still reasonably quiet, refined, smooth and economical, so this is more a characteristic of the engine rather than a criticism.
The Triton is unique here in having a five-speed automatic (all the rest have six or more speeds) and the gearbox is also an old design, even if it’s been updated for this generation Triton. It still offers
agreeable enough shifts but certainly isn’t as slick or smart as the best gearboxes here.
ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING
The Triton continues to stand out in this company in terms of its on-road dynamics thanks to the fact that it’s smaller and lighter than most of the utes here. It certainly feels more agile and nippy, especially compared to the bigger utes, namely the Ranger and BT-50.
More significantly, the Triton offers full-time 4x4 via its unique Super Select system that also allows the driver to select rear-wheel drive.
The only other ute here with full-time 4x4 is the Amarok. Full-time 4x4 offers significant safety and driveability benefits, particularly on wet bitumen and where the road conditions are alternating from sealed to gravel and from wet to dry.
The Triton’s suspension is also generally well resolved, even if the ride quality could be better when unladen. Perhaps the relatively short wheelbase and the fact that the rear axle is right under the rear of the cab is part of the issue here?
The Triton has relatively low payload ratings and the lowest tow rating of all the utes here, a reflection of its small physical size, relative light
weight and low GVM and GCM. The fact that its short wheelbase means all of the tray overhangs the rear axle doesn’t help either when heavily loaded. In this company, the tray is slightly smaller than most – both in overall dimensions and the width between the wheel arches.
With our 900kg payload on board, the Triton still coped okay chassis-wise but felt the weight more than most and demanded a steady-as-shegoes approach behind the wheel.
The engine, however, fared better, even if it works harder than most to carry what is effectively its maximum payload.
While Super Select’s main benefit comes on road, it also offers some convenience off road, given its full-time setting allows you to go from on-road to easy off-road without touching anything. If conditions get a bit more difficult, you can readily lock the centre diff in an action, which is generally more seamless than engaging 4x4 with any of the part-time utes, all of which can be a bit fiddly and slow to engage on time given they all rely on electro-mechanical switching rather than an ‘old-fashioned’ lever.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news, for what it’s worth, ends for the Triton in terms of off-road ability. The main issue is that the Triton isn’t blessed with lots of wheel travel, nor is the traction control all that effective. And while it has a rear diff lock (at this spec level), engaging the rear locker cancels the traction control completely, so it’s not always of benefit. Like the D-Max, the Triton couldn’t make it up our set-piece hill, although it did go further with the diff lock than without it.
A relatively low wading depth doesn’t help either. With a bit of work (snorkel and after-market locker) it could be much improved off road but out of the box it’s down the back of the pack.
CABIN AND SAFETY
The Triton’s cabin is arguably the smallest here, which makes its presence most felt if you wish to seat three adults across the back seat. Even
“THE TRITON IS THE LEAST EXPENSIVE OF THE UTES HERE.”
up front, the driver and passenger don’t get the space of the others, something that tall people will notice but is not an issue for most.
More positively, the Triton offers both tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment and one of the better-finished cabins here.
Smart-key entry and start at this spec level (and relatively low price) is also a bonus, while no less than seven airbags help contribute to a five-star ANCAP rating.
Perhaps the most practical thing about the Triton is that it’s the least expensive ute here, so you can buy one, add a truckload of accessories, and still come away better off than any of the other utes. The Triton’s small physical size and tight turning circle also makes it handy anywhere where space is at a premium. The wheel and tyre spec (245/65R17s) is a little smaller than the popular 265/65R17 size on most utes here but this doesn’t limit replacement options.
Top of the console are the media touchscreen and dual-zone air-con