Work Ute Re­view: Mit­subishi Tri­ton 4x4 GLS

Mit­subishi’s Tri­ton may not be as big and brawny as most of its com­peti­tors but it also doesn’t come with a big price tag, Fraser Stronach writes

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents -

In the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive and boom­ing 4x4 ute mar­ket – dom­i­nated by dual cabs – Mit­subishi’s Tri­ton is bet­tered only in sales by Toy­ota’s ever-pop­u­lar Hilux and Ford’s beefy Ranger.

That means the Tri­ton out­sells Holden Colorado, Nis­san’s Navara, Isuzu’s D-Max, Mazda’s BT-50 and VW’s Amarok, all largely off the back of sharp pric­ing and on­go­ing fac­tory dis­count­ing.

The pop­u­lar GLS dual-cab 4x4, as tested here, is listed at $41,500, which puts it $10K to $15K cheaper than its im­me­di­ate com­peti­tors.

But, as they say in the late-night gad­get com­mer­cials, that’s not all. For $10k less than that (so $41,490) Mit­subishi will also throw in a free au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and all on-road costs.

For $4K less than that (so $37,490 drive-away, no more to pay) you can get into a GLX+ dual-cab 4x4 au­to­matic. That means if you want a cheaper 4x4 dual-cab then you’ll have to look at a Chi­nese or In­dian of­fer­ing.

This model Tri­ton (called the MQ and the fifth-gen­er­a­tion Tri­ton) ar­rived in Aus­tralia mid-2015, re­plac­ing the MN, which de­buted in 2009. Com­pared with the MN, the MQ rep­re­sented evo­lu­tion rather than rev­o­lu­tion with a restyled body, a new 2.4-litre four-cylin­der Euro 5-com­pli­ant diesel en­gine, a new six-speed man­ual gear­box, a re­vised five-speed au­to­matic (avail­able on all mod­els and not just the Ex­ceed), and var­i­ous chas­sis changes.

In de­sign­ing the MQ Tri­ton, Mit­subishi hasn’t gone down the same line as just about ev­ery­one else by build­ing a no­tice­ably big­ger ute than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of­fer­ing (as did Ford/

Mazda in 2011 and Holden/Isuzu in 2012), in­stead stick­ing to same ba­sic di­men­sions as MN or the ML (2006) be­fore that.

CLIMB ABOARD

You no­tice the fact that the Tri­ton is smaller than most of its com­peti­tors as soon as you climb aboard. If you want a ute for five big blokes, this isn’t the one, but the Tri­ton’s smaller size and rel­a­tively short wheel­base also makes it more ma­noeu­vrable and handy in tight spa­ces.

Un­like many utes (Ranger and Colorado in­cluded), the Tri­ton also has both tilt and reach steer­ing wheel ad­just, which helps the driver get more com­fort­able in a cabin that’s bet­ter fin­ished than most and still roomy enough for four adults or a fam­ily with three kids.

ON THE ROAD

The Tri­ton’s smaller size and the fact that all but one of its im­me­di­ate com­peti­tors are heav­ier also pays div­i­dends on road with rel­a­tively nippy hand­ing and good steer­ing re­sponse. It’s got a well-sorted sus­pen­sion too, with a de­cent ride qual­ity even when un­laden.

The GLS model, as tested here (as well as the more ex­pen­sive Ex­ceed), also of­fers a con­sid­er­able point of dif­fer­ence to all its di­rect com­peti­tors – bar VW’s Amarok – in as much as it’s avail­able with full-time 4WD, rather than the in­dus­try-stan­dard part-time 4WD. Full-time 4WD means that four-wheel drive can be used any­where, in­clud­ing paved roads, and not just off-road as is the case with part-time 4WD. As well as op­er­a­tional con­ve­nience, full-time 4WD brings con­sid­er­able safety ben­e­fits, es­pe­cially on wet bi­tu­men. Other Tri­ton mod­els have con­ven­tional part-time 4x4. In the case of the Tri­ton, full-time

If you want a cheaper 4x4 du­al­cab then you’ll have to look at a Chi­nese or In­dian of­fer­ing.

4WD comes via Mit­subishi’s unique ‘Su­per Se­lect’ sys­tem, which also al­lows the driver to se­lect 2WD for gen­eral dry-weather sealed-road driv­ing.

The Tri­ton is also rel­a­tively small when it comes to en­gine ca­pac­ity – just 2.4 litres – the small­est­ca­pac­ity en­gine in any of the pop­u­lar utes that em­ploys a sin­gle turbo. There are smaller-ca­pac­ity en­gines (in Navara and Amarok) but th­ese have so­phis­ti­cated bi-turbo sys­tems that help them per­form more like big­ger-ca­pac­ity en­gines.

Still, the Tri­ton’s en­gine does well enough and doesn’t give much away in gen­eral per­for­mance to its com­peti­tors, thanks in part to the Tri­ton be­ing a lighter and smaller ute. It’s still a revvy en­gine com­pared to most of its com­peti­tors but is still rel­a­tively quite and re­fined and rarely gives the feel­ing that it is work­ing hard.

AT WORK

Eigh­teen months back we tested the Tri­ton with an 800kg pay­load in the tub (so pretty well max­i­mum pay­load when you take ac­count of the driver and a sin­gle pas­sen­ger), and then sep­a­rately with a 2800kg tow weight hooked up be­hind. That test was part of a seven-ute pay­load and tow com­par­i­son test and, while the Tri­ton wasn’t a star (es­pe­cially in the pay­load test), it wasn’t the worst per­former.

This time we de­cided to back off on both pay­load and tow weight to try to find the Tri­ton’s ‘sweet spot’. With 600kg in the tub (so more like 780kg to­tal pay­load with driver, pas­sen­ger and tow­bar in­cluded), the Tri­ton dropped far less at the rear and gen­er­ally felt bet­ter on the road with a more pos­i­tive steer­ing feel­ing and less bot­tom­ing out of the rear sus­pen­sion.

As for tow­ing, this time we dropped the tow load to 2500kg and the Tri­ton did well. Cer­tainly the en­gine per­formed well with this weight (as it did with 2800kg) and the chas­sis was also well be­haved. Note that the Tri­ton’s le­gal tow limit is 3100kg, so 400kg short of the best in class.

OFF ROAD

Com­pared with its com­peti­tors, the Tri­ton isn’t a fron­trun­ner off road. It’s still handy enough as a gen­eral-use 4x4 but for hard-core off-road­ing it’s not up with the likes of Ranger, Hilux and Amarok, the best of the utes in more chal­leng­ing off-road en­vi­ron­ments.

OWN­ER­SHIP

The Tri­ton comes with Mit­subishi’s five-year, 100,000km war­ranty and 15,000km/one-year ser­vic­ing with fixed prices. For any diesel

Tri­ton, the 15,000km ser­vice will cost $430, the 30,000km ser­vice is $530, and the 45,000km ser­vice is $550.

As for re­sale value, used-car value ser­vice Red Book has the av­er­age re­sale value at around 60 per cent af­ter three years.

Petrol mod­els (only in 4x2) do a lit­tle worse at 56 per cent while GLX+ au­to­matic dual-cab 4x4s sell best at nearly 63 per cent.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The Tri­ton’s trump card is, of course, its pric­ing and there’s no doubt it makes a strong case on value alone – pro­vided you don’t need a heavy­duty tow or load ute, or one to carry five big blokes reg­u­larly.

Be­ing smaller and lighter also has ben­e­fits in terms of ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and gen­eral han­dling and then there’s the no­table ad­van­tage of full-time 4x4 on the mod­els thus equipped. All up, the Tri­ton still does most things and is a more than handy mid­weight load and tow ve­hi­cle.

2

1. The MQ is pow­ered by a new 2.4-litre four-cylin­der Euro 5-com­pli­ant diesel en­gine 2. The en­gine per­formed well with a tow load of 2,500kg 3. Un­like many utes, the Tri­ton has both tilt and reach steer­ing wheel ad­just 3

1

Above: Be­ing loaded with fork­lift

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