The new generation of Mitsubishi Triton shrugs off it’s predecessors reputation for being as uncouth as a bull in a China shop, it is by far a much more refined proposition.
We were impressed with the new Triton on first acquaintance when we drove it briefly at the media launch drive around Wellington in April. It was smooth, quiet and responsive with relatively decent handling for a light commercial vehicle – almost car-like in fact.
Although in fairness to Mitsubishi, the previous model was a nine-year-old design with relatively ageing technology, but the new Triton brings a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine to the party, as well as a roomier cabin, particularly for rear seat occupants thanks to the decent angle of the seat back, and there is a 5-star ANCAP rating across the range.
Sadly the automatic transmission remains a five-speed unit as found in the Pajero, and while also a rally proven and robust unit, it is now lagging behind the six, seven, and eight-speed automatic transmissions which are offered by the model’s competition.
Our test vehicle was the all-singing, all-dancing GLS 4×4 automatic which is the top banana of the Triton range.
Family owners will be pleased to know the GLS model gets Isofix child seat anchors, as well as a smart key system with push button stop/start, a touch screen infotainment system with voice activation for the Bluetooth phone system, and a USB port.
The GLS sits on 17-inch alloy wheels, it has a privacy tint on the rear doors and windscreen, as well as LED daytime running lights, plus dual zone air conditioning, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control with a speed limiter, and side steps.
Our press truck was additionally fitted with with a chrome sports bar on the tray as well as a lockable hard lid, and a front nudge bar for the total bling-bling effect.
The new 2.5-litre engine might not be the most powerful in the class at 135kW and 437Nm, but it’s the torque to weight ratio and the power to weight ratio, that sees the Triton become one of the sprightliest in the class.
The kerb weight of the Triton is lighter than all market competitors bar the Hilux, and this translates into very decent acceleration off the line, and reasonably good fuel economy as well. We saw an average consumption figure between 8 and 9l/100km.
Its also incredibly quiet, revs very nicely, and feels almost un-diesel like.
Dimensionally the Triton has grown in the places where it counts, it has a bigger body allowing more room in the rear cabin, and the tray has also grown as well, its 10% bigger than the previous generation.
At the wheel of the Triton you could almost be forgiven for thinking you are sitting in a Japanese sports sedan. There’s a paddle shift gear change option as well as remote steering wheel controls, and the touch screen and heating ventilation and air con controls are all intuitively laid out and easily used.
Apart from the VW Amarok 4Motion, which is a permanent all-wheel-drive machine, the Triton is still the only on-demand four-wheel-drive ute that can have high ratio four-wheel-drive selected for tarmac operation thanks to the super select transmission ( a la Pajero) incorporating a Torsen centre diff.
Switching from one drive programme to another is done electronically via a rotary dial, and you have four options, 2H, 4H, 4HL, and 4LL. The de facto setting for most daily driving will be 2H which drives only the rear wheels.
You can engage 4H on the tarmac in confidence to tow a boat or another trailer, or just simply enjoy more confident traction in wet or snowy road conditions, without being concerned about transmission damage.
In summary the new Triton is hugely improved and previous owners will be more than happy to trade up to the new one. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the VW Amarok, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak or the Nissan Navara ST-X, but nor does it have the price tag!
It is, however, a comfortable and well specified workhorse, and isn’t that what a ute is supposed to be?!
Facts and figures: 2015 Mitsubishi Triton GLS 4×4 double cab pick up
- Price: $59,490
- Warranty: 10 years
- Service interval: 15,000km or 12 months
- Safety: 7 airbags, ESP,ABS,EBD,ASR,
- Crash rating: 5-star ANCAP
- Engine: 2442cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Transmission: 5-speed automatic
- Dimensions: 5280mm(l) 1815mm(w) 1780mm(h)
- Towing capacity: 3100kg
- Payload: 960kg
- Tare weight: 2900kg
- Spare tyre: full size
- Fuel tank capacity: 75L
*This article first appeared in the August 2015 DIESELtalk magazine on page 30, with the story title Not a bull in a China Shop.*
Words and pictures: Robert Barry