The good old Mitsubishi Triton has been around for over 30 years, and this sometimes mundane utility has seen a lot of changes in this time. Notably, when the ‘new’ model came out in 2006 things suddenly became a lot more refined and business-like in the Triton’s world. A lot of tradies and people looking for a weekday work vehicle/Sunday Funday car suddenly took notice of what the Triton offered: a reasonable ride, lots of load capacity and interior room plus a diesel engine which was adequate but not overbearing in the power stakes, and yet with some economy.
Although never a class leader among some very stiff competition, the reliable Triton has gained a reputation for dependability and value for money as a fully functional 4WD that can both work hard and play hard.
Over 80% of the latest Triton is new, even though it might not appear so at first glance. There’s new styling, new engine, new suspension, new steering, new transmission and new cabin proportions, plus a five-star ANCAP rating.
This revamped Triton now edges out some of its formerly more sophisticated competition, thanks to its lower initial cost and enhanced appearance, much improved levels of refinement, ride and handling, the upgraded diesel engine’s increased torque (430Nm vs 350 Nm in the previous auto) and increased fuel economy. With enhanced external lines and an improved interior finish, the new Triton looks as modern as tomorrow.
And let’s not overlook towing and load capacity either, as the new Triton dual cab (as reviewed) has a tow rating of 3100kg (braked trailer) for both auto and manual variants, which sits alongside a high gross combination mass rating of 5885kg. This means that the driver can have the entire 3100kg behind the vehicle, which is mighty handy. Towing capacity with an unbraked trailer is 750kg.
Mitsubishi’s fifth generation Triton has same model names as the Outlander and Pajero, so now we have the entry level GLX, mid-level GLS, and the top-of-the-range Exceed, which I was very pleased to review. All three models offer a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, hands-free Bluetooth with voice command and wheel controls, twin LCD trip meter and multi-information monitor.
The GLS – arguably the best value for money – comes with a rear view camera, auto folding mirrors, dual zone auto climate, display audio with big colour screen, and six speaker audio plus leather trim on the wheel and gear selector. The Exceed adds leather trim, paddle shifters, powered driver’s seat, smart key and one touch start, 7” touch screen with digital radio, 3D sat/nav mapping and SD card input.
Seated at the wheel of the 2016 Triton you immediately notice the vastly improved interior, with door trims far more car-like and a much sleeker and more integrated centre dash set-up. All the dials are smart looking and easy to read, and brushed metal inserts and soft feel surfaces highlighted the dash appearance across all models.
Front seating comes with an enhanced shape, thicker padding, better support, and tends to both hold and support front passengers with ease in the rough stuff. The rear seating has also been improved, with more room all round and a more comfortable seat angle, thanks to the Triton’s exterior body modifications allowing some beneficial changes inside. Incidentally, the length of the Triton’s rear tub is now 1520 mm.
So how well did the Exceed drive? Very well indeed! Under the bonnet there’s a 2.4L MIVEC common rail turbo diesel engine mated to a 5-speed auto transmission. Rated to produce 25% more power at 1500rpm than the previous engine, 133kW of power and 430Nm of torque are the figures. With a dual range (with locking centre diff) drive system plus double wishbone/coil spring suspension up front and an upgraded rear leaf set up at the rear, the Triton is very capable off road, and extremely pleasant to drive on road as well.
Nippy, powerful, free revving: these are not terms usually associated with diesel engines but they’re entirely at home with today’s Triton. This new engine has a cam chain, so replacing a timing belt at 100,000km won’t hurt your hip pocket. The new 5-speed Aisin auto transmission (borrowed from the Pajero) proved to be super smooth, reducing engine revs significantly to enhance fuel consumption, and manual override via paddles or console selector also offered easy driver input.
Engine and road noise were reduced to the levels you’d expect of an upmarket SUV, not a dedicated 4WD. In fact, even when we were cruising at M1 speeds about the only intrusive noise was a slight whistle from the external wing mirrors.
In both city and country driving, the Triton’s very responsive throttle and a sensation of far more torque on tap from lower revs was evident. On a country run with the Trek trailer on the tow bar, all it took to overtake slower vehicles was a tap on the accelerator. When towing on rough bush tracks it was easy to select 4WD with the push of a button on the console, and when easing over bad ruts and washouts the suspension soaked up bumps brilliantly while the powerful diesel just kept ticking away quietly. Steering at 3.8 turns lock to lock was great for those tight spots, and it’s definitely something parents would appreciate with school runs or supermarket parking.
Fuel consumption figures show the benefit of the new engine/transmission package. With the smooth diesel ticking over at 2000rpm at 100km/h, I achieved figures of 10.4L per 100km on a country run with the Trek hooked up. The fuel tank size is 75L.
Mitsubishi have always built strong workhorse-style Tritons but the 2016 offering provides the kind off comfort and refinement, plus easy power and road manners, that could only be dreamed of a few years ago. Yet off-road capability is as good as, if not better, than anything else in its sector. Brake assist, stability and traction control are just a few of the safety features offered. And with some very significant cost savings over competitors such as the Ranger and new Navara, the Triton is a must-drive for new ute buyers. The warranty is five years or 100,000km, whichever comes first, and capped price servicing extends for four years or 60,000km. The price of the Triton Exceed was $51,500.Reads: 2641