does size mat­ter?


Earthmovers & Excavators - - Tow Test -


The Triton was an-all new de­sign as of early 2015. No­tably, it has a new-gen­er­a­tion 2.4-litre en­gine – the smallest en­gine here bar the Navara, which is 2.3 litres but has the ben­e­fit of two se­quen­tially ar­ranged tur­bos to pro­vide ex­tra grunt.

The Triton is also no­tably smaller and lighter than the Ranger and BT-50 in par­tic­u­lar, and it’s also smaller than the Colorado and the D-Max.

The Triton’s tub has four small and less use­ful tie-downs to se­cure the 800kg pal­let. Once loaded, the Triton’s rear drops some 105mm – almost twice the droop of the utes least af­fected by the load. The trou­ble is, the Triton has a no­tably short wheel­base, and most of the tub is be­hind the line of the rear axle.

The 800kg pal­let plus the driver/ob­server/tow bar also stretches the Triton in terms of le­gal pay­load. The base-spec model is okay, but the top-spec Ex­ceed falls 40kg short, so tech­ni­cally the ob­server has to get out and walk!

The Triton def­i­nitely feels nose up head­ing up the hill with the 800kg in the tub, although the steer­ing feel and gen­eral chas­sis sta­bil­ity is still okay, even if the rear sus­pen­sion does bot­tom out a few times on the big­ger bumps.

The Triton is the only ute here to of­fer full-time 4WD via Mit­subishi’s ‘Su­per Se­lect’ sys­tem, which also has a 2WD mode. Full-time 4x4 brings sig­nif­i­cant driv­abil­ity and safety ad­van­tages when haul­ing or tow­ing heavy loads on wet roads.

While the Triton’s chas­sis cer­tainly re­acted to the weight of the pal­let, the 2.4-litre en­gine made a much bet­ter fist of things. It needs more revs than the other en­gines here to do the job (max­i­mum torque is 2500rpm), but it still did it well none­the­less.

While it likes to rev, it’s still quiet and re­fined. If there’s one way to make a smooth-run­ning and quiet diesel, it’s to drop the ca­pac­ity to over­come the in­her­ent vi­bra­tion of the in-line four. Put sim­ply, big fours vi­brate more than lit­tle fours.

What’s more, the Triton’s 2.4 also has a low com­pres­sion ra­tio of 15.5:1 – an­other way to im­prove re­fine­ment and cut down NOx emis­sions, a ‘main-game’ is­sue right now for diesel en­gines.

The en­gine does well de­spite hav­ing only five ra­tios to play with in a gear­box that now feels old in terms of shift qual­ity. One pos­i­tive here, how­ever, is the Triton is the only ute with pad­dle shifters, which are more than handy for de­cent con­trol given the Triton doesn’t have much en­gine brak­ing.


I have to fess up and say that I wasn’t hold­ing out high hopes for the per­for­mance of the Mitsi on this test. It’s specced for lighter tow­ing, and the short wheel­base and long rear over­hang of the Triton has it pegged as not be­ing the most wor­thy of tow­ing con­tenders.

Well, I have to say I was most sur­prised. Our lighter 2800kg trailer didn’t have as much ver­ti­cal im­pact on the Triton’s pos­te­rior as I thought. It knew it was there, but it cer­tainly wasn’t drag­ging its bum on the ground.

But the big­gest star of the Mit­subishi show was the per­for­mance of the 133kW 2.4-litre en­gine. The diminu­tive donk punches above its weight once it gets some boost and some rpm up, and puts the 430Nm it cre­ates into play.

Sure, it’s a revvy lit­tle unit, and it suf­fers from turbo lag off the line. But at peak torque be­tween 2500-3000rpm, with the snail suck­ing in some at­mos­phere, it re­ally stepped up to the mark.

While the tranny still needed a nudge to do the right thing, this was negated by the rather nifty pad­dle shift on the steer­ing col­umn. Man­ual in­ter­ven­tion was a fin­ger­tip away, and Mit­subishi is to be com­mended for leav­ing the pad­dles fixed on the col­umn rather than spin­ning with the wheel it­self.

The smaller en­gine meant that it doesn’t have much to give in the back pres­sure stakes. Us­ing en­gine rpm to try and hold back the Triton un­der load re­sults in flight revs rather than any real brak­ing ef­fect.

Mit­subishi’s new Triton is the light­weight in this lot but does that re­ally mat­ter?

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