4x4 Utes: 2015 Mitsubishi Triton Exceed -Vs- Toyota Hilux SR5

2015 looks like being a big year for Australian 4x4 utes and traybacks. The 2015 Mitsubishi Triton debuted in late April, and an all-new Nissan Navara will be launched this year as well, alongside updated versions of the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 (but these last pair are likely to be largely styling upgrades). Hopefully the hard-to-love face on the Mazda BT-50 will change. (I don't normally comment on styling, but: What were they thinking?)

The new Mitsubishi Triton is a huge step forward, detailed in this Triton model range review >>

Toyota Hilux: Still King?

Still, every time I write a 4x4 ute review, or post a new 4x4 ute video on my YouTube channel >> it always serves as a significant reminder to me that for some, the Toyota Hilux will always be king. And, historically, you know what happens to anyone who defames the king... Some of the comments are priceless - and totally out of kilter with the facts.

Toyota Hilux always leads the ute market in Australia - a testament to some degree to the vehicle's long-term sound fundamentals. More importantly, perhaps, no other carmaker has marketed 4x4 utes so aggressively or successfully as Toyota has over decades with the Hilux. Who could forget the Breaker Brothers in the 1990s and the 'unbreakable' 4x4 Hilux theme, which continues today? 

When it comes to the Hilux, its reputation precedes it. It is the Coca-Cola of 4x4 utes. But in many ways, as you'll see below, its reputation also exceeds it, at least currently.

The Toyota 4x4 ute fan boys really didn't like it when I carved up the ute market in this Best 4WD Ute Report >> which saw the Toyota Hilux range of 4x4 utes well and truly dumped out of the top three 4x4 utes you can buy today. But, hey - the facts are the facts, and on objective criteria the Hilux no longer leads the pack. That was back in August 2014 - eight months ago, as I write this. Interestingly, nobody complained when I also unceremoniously dumped the 2014 4x4 Mitsubishi Triton from contention...

Biggest Seller - By a Mile

Hilux led the market again for the first four months of 2015. That vehicle is a powerhouse - in 4x2 and 4x4 configuration. In 4x2, Hilux achieved almost 4000 sales in the first four months of 2015, securing almost 24 per cent of the market. So, almost one in every four two-wheel-drive utes sold today is a Toyota Hilux. The Mitsubishi Triton came second in 4X2 at about 1700 sales - call it half of what Toyota Hilux manages, plus a bit.

But it's 4x4 utes where all the sales action is. Toyota Hilux is ahead by a mile there, too. Almost 8000 sales in four months - call it one in five 4x4 utes. Ford's Ranger 4x4 ute came next on 6642 sales (the single successful Ford vehicle in Australia), with 4x4 Triton hot on its heels, achieving 6224 sales.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Triton's success is emblematic of the price-sensitivity of this segment of the marketin particular. It was an wholly outdated product (the 2014 Triton had a four-star safety rating and a four-speed auto on most models - so one rung up from Fred Flintstone's car back in Bedrock, basically).  So, when you're a carmaker, production has to equal sales - that's fundamental. If the product is as old as the hills, you slash the price. I don't know if it was profitable but there were great deals on offer during this fire sale, and Mitsubishi Triton sales went through the roof in one of the longest runout sales of all time.

New 2015 Mitsubishi Triton

That was then This is now. The 2014 Triton is a huge step forward:

  • Five star safety rating (up from four)
  • Brilliant diesel engine (basically the same power output, but 80Nm more torque and 21% lower fuel consumption)
  • Excellent standard features list (proximity key, digital radio, leather, HID headlamps and DTRLs)
  • Solid towing and payload capabilities (5.885 tonnes GCM...)

The new Mitsubishi Triton won't unseat the Toyota Hilux as the king - at least not in sales. Hell - it doesn't match the Holden Colorado on torque production (500Nm for the auto Colorado). Nor the 3.2-litre Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 (470Nm). It doesn't keep up with those three on tow capacity either (3.1 tonnes for the Mitsubishi versus 3.5 for the others). And the top trio have six-speed auto availability while the Mitsubishi Triton offers a five-speed auto.

But Toyota Hilux remains the king of utes - and it's an ageing king, trading off its reputation, rather than its current prowess with the sword and the pike. In the increasingly contested niche the marketers call 'suits in utes' (where the fully-loaded model variants serve as family transport and recreational facilitator rather than actually work for a living) let's see which one you'd rather buy, today.

I'm happy to hear from the Toyota fan club in the comments section below, but bear in mind, all I'm presenting below are the facts. 

COMPARISON: Hilux SR5 -Vs- Triton Exceed

TOYOTA HILUX SR5
$54,490 rrp

Safety: five-star
Manufactured: Thailand
Warranty: 3 yr/100,000 km
Service interval: 6 mths / 10,000 km
Seats: five
Drive: 4WD (2H, 4H, 4L)
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel 4 cyl
Power: 126 kW @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 360 Nm @ 1400-3200 rpm
Fuel: diesel
Injection: direct
Economy: 8.7L/100 km
Trans: 5 sp auto
Length: 5.260 m
Width: 1.835 m
Height: 1.860 m
Kerb weight: 1960 kg
Towing: 2500 kg
GVM: 2780 kg

Payload: 835 kg
GCM: 5280 kg
Tyres: 265/65 on 17-inch alloy rims
Full-sized steel spare wheel & tyre

STANDARD EQUIPMENT
6-speaker audio
Climate a/c (1 zone)
Standard key

-
Manual driver's seat adjust.
GPS sat-nav
Halogen headlamps
Auto headlamps
-
-
Fabric trim
Leather trim wheel & gear knob
-
Rear step bumper
Remote fuel flap release
Side steps
-

Trip computer
Cruise control
Multi-function wheel
Voice recognition system

MITSUBISHI TRITON EXCEED
$47,490 rrp

Safety: five-star
Manufactured: Thailand
Warranty: 5 yr/100,000 km
Service interval: 12 mths / 15,000 km
Seats: five
Drive: 4WD (2H, 4H, 4L)
Engine: 2.4-litre diesel 4 cyl
Power: 133 kW @ 3500 rpm
Torque: 430 Nm @ 2500 rpm
Fuel: diesel
Injection: direct
Economy: 7.6L/100 km
Trans: 5 sp auto
Length: 5.280 m
Width: 1.815 m
Height: 1.780 m
Kerb weight: 1965 kg
Towing: 3100 kg
GVM: 2900 kg

Payload: 935 kg
GCM: 5885 kg
Tyres: 245/55 on 17-inch alloy rims
Full-sized alloy spare wheel & tyre

STANDARD EQUIPMENT
6-speaker audio
Climate a/c (2 zone)
Proximity key

LED daytime running lights
Electric driver's seat adjust.
GPS sat-nav
HID headlamps
Auto headlamps
Auto wipers
Hill holder
Part leather trim
Leather trim wheel & gear knob
DAB+ radio
Rear step bumper
Remote fuel flap release
Side steps
Speed limiter

Trip computer
Cruise control
Multi-function wheel
Voice recognition system

CONCLUSION

So, let's see how this stacks up: the works burger of Mitsubishi Tritons - the Exceed, above - has more standard equipment than the Toyota Hilux SR5. A lot more standard equipment. It's got a more advanced 4WD system, too, which allows you to operate in 4WD on a high-traction surface because the centre differential can be unlocked.

The price is $7000 cheaper - so if you drive past the Toyota dealership and pull in at Mitsubishi instead, that's a saving of 13 per cent right there. (You can have a lot of fun for $7000.) The Mitsubishi Triton is more powerful and delivers more peak torque. It's also 13 per cent more fuel efficient. 

On towing and carrying stuff: there's a handy 100kg extra payload capacity in the Mitsubishi Triton (that's 12 per cent more payload) and 600kg more towing capacity (24 per cent more). There's two more years' warranty with the 2015 Triton, and essentially (if you drive 15,000km annually - which is the national average) you'll only need a service half as often. (Even if you drive extraordinary distances you'll still need 50 per cent more service stops in the Toyota Hilux.)

On objective criteria at the very least, the king is dead. (And it's not only the Triton that killed it - it's a bloodbath involving the Holden Colorado, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and, to a lesser extent, the Isuzu D-MAX as well.) Usually, in this situation, the town crier's next words are: 'long live the king'. 

I think we'll put the town crier on ice. A new Hilux is in the wings. There are occasional reports of one in full cammo being spotted here or there globally under test, but the reality is the global reveal is thought to be scheduled for late this year, with new Hilux on sale in Australia in early 2016 at the soonest. It will be interesting to see what happens in the meantime - perception might continue to trump reality, but there will definitely be better buying for objective, rational buyers. And then, in 2016, we might have a new, authentically justifiable king. Let's wait and see if the new Toyota Hilux turns the market on its ear.

My Mazda BT-50 report >> might also be of interest. (It's essentially a Ford Ranger with different hair and makeup.)

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