Mitsubishi Triton ute review & buyer's guide

 

Triton's a quiet achiever with decent performance and a proven track record of good reliability and support - unlike most other utes in the market

 
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The current model Mitsubishi 'MQ' Triton has been in play since 2015, and on paper you might not think it's quite up there with the best-in-class utes currently on sale.

For example, Triton is a little down on engine output compared with Colorado, BT-50 and Ranger, and about 400kg light-on for towing compared with those three.

But in the real world, Triton is a rewarding drive, with good performance.

Mitsubishi is going after the 'suits in utes' market aggressively - targeting families and professionals in its marketing communications with the GLS and Exceed models. They're pitching the Triton as a real alternative to a wagon-type SUV, which it is, up to a point.

Pricing and features make the Triton worth a good look, as does the long warranty and extended service interval. I get complaints about plenty of utes, from owners getting hung out to dry - typically Rangers and Colorados. Triton is the exact opposite. The few complaints I've had over Triton in the past few years were mainly dealers behaving badly - once they were made aware, Mitshbishi Motors resolved them pretty quickly.

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TRITON: LOVE VERSUS HATE

LOVE THIS

  • Decent performance from a small-displacement diesel engine, and good economy

  • Well featured for recreation and daily driving in the upper models (GLS & Exceed)
  • Decent workhorse in the lower grades
  • Although it looks a little inferior on paper, the performance is actually there, in the real world (like, do you really think it's a good idea to tow 3.5 tonnes with a ute weighing just two tonnes?)
  • Five stars on safety (tested 2015). More >>
  • Excellent warranty & support
  • Annual service intervals (for ordinary drivers)
  • The value proposition is right up there, compared with Ranger, Colorado and Hilux
  • Super Select II (upper models) is an advanced 4WD system that works brilliantly

HATE THAT

  • Five-speed auto: Really? (Newsflash: It's 2018...)
  • Pajero Sport >>, which is a derivative of the Triton ute, gets an eight-speed auto and suffers not at all as a consequence...
  • Triton can be used as daily transport, but it's not really an alternative to a car or soft SUV (against rational criteria)
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SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 2.4 turbodiesel
Power: 133 kW @ 3500 rpm
Torque 430 Nm @ 2500 rpm
Economy: 7.6 L/100km
Transmission: 5 sp auto or 6 sp manual
Manufactured: Thailand
Length: 5280 mm (dual cab ute)
Width: 1815 mm
Height: 1780 mm
Kerb weight: 1950 kg (GLS)
Maximum tow capacity: 3100 kg
Seating Capacity: Five (max.)
Safety: Five-star ANCAP (2015)
Warranty: 5 years / 100,000 kilometres
Service interval: 12 months or 15,000 km
(whichever comes first)
Spare wheel: Full-sized

Download the full specifications >>


Specification levels

Utes are among the hardest model ranges to wrap one's brain around. Here goes.

There are three cabs: Single cab, 'Club Cab' - Mitsubishi-speak for the cab that's halfway between single and double, and offers two 'Marquis de Sade' seats in the rear, presumably for people you hate - and dual-cab.

At the other end of the vehicle, there's a tray back option (cab-chassis) and a ute, or 'pick-up' option with a separate, but integrated sheetmetal tray.

Essentially there are four spec grades: GLX, GLX+, GLS and Exceed, and Mitsubishi sometimes sexes-up the range with a limited-run model like a GLS Sports or Blackline edition.

You can have two powertrains: 4X2 (four wheels, only the two at the rear doing the driving) and 4X4 (four wheels, up to four wheels driving) and two engines - both 2.4 litres, one atmo petrol and one turbodiesel. Finally, there are two transmissions - five-speed auto (rest of the market: six) or six-speed manuals.

I guess if you really want to split hairs, there are two 4WD systems as well: A Dickensian one in the lower grades calles 'Easy Select' and a far more advanced one called 'Super Select II' in the higher grades - with a centre differential, allowing you to use 4WD on high traction surfaces.

Obviously you can't mix and match all of these things at will, because complexity would go out of control. So there are limits on what specs go with what cabs and what powertrains.

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4X2 Tritons

The range kicks off with a Triton GLX single cab petrol manual. Then there's the same thing with a diesel in either manual or auto. The 4X2 range tops out at GLX auto diesel pick-up. Basically the 4X2 Triton range comprises four different flavours of poverty pack - they're workhorses built down to a price to keep beancounters happy.

4X4 Tritons

Much more complexity here. But there's no petrol available in 4X4 - they're all diesel.

You can have a GLX cab-chassis in either manual or auto and either single, Club Cab or dual cab at the bottom of the range. 

One step up and GLX+ is available as a Club Cab auto-only pick-up or dual cab pick-up in either manual or auto.

GLS is only available as a dual-cab pick-up, but you can choose between manual and auto. 

Finally, at the top of the range, Exceed is available as a dual-cab only pick-up and the only available transmission is the auto. 

It's still a pretty comprehensive range in line with most people's expectations, but if you had always dreamed of owning a Club Cab, cab-chassis, manual Triton Exceed, I apologised after the fact for dashing your hopes...


Equipment grades

This, too is more complex than de-coding the Dead Sea Scrolls, with more caveats (seemingly) than a Donald J Trump pre-nup. However, if you're looking at dual cab 4X4 variants of the Triton, here's how the major equipment differences play out:

Triton GLX

Standard equipment: 16-inch steel wheels, power windows front & rear, five seats, four-speaker audio, child safety rear door locks, two child restraint anchor points with ISOFix, front and rear mud flaps, rear step bumper, six cargo restraint hooks in the tray (dual-cab tray dimensions 1470 W x 1520 L), one-touch tailgate latch, rear window guard, remote fuel filler release, reversing camera.

Triton GLX+

Additional standard equipment: 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control air conditioning.

Triton GLS

Additional standard equipment: 17-inch alloy wheels, Super Select II 4WD system with centre diff, sports barHID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, front fog lamps, dark chrome grille, privacy glass, integrated turn repeaters in the wing mirrors (wing mirrors with motorised folding function), high-mount stop lamp, leather-bound steering wheel & shifter, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, passenger vanity mirror, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, USB input x 2, HDMI input, six speaker audio, multi-info display (trip computer, etc.)

Triton Exceed

Additional standard equipment: Sports mode on the auto transmission, plus paddle shifters, rear differential lock, proximity key with pushbutton start, leather facings on the seats, heated front seats, power adjustable driver's seat, rain sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, auto-dimming centre rear vision mirror.


Safety

ANCAP’s all-up safety score was 36.22 out of a possible 37 for crashworthiness. (Tested 2015) Hard to argue with that.

One contentious point on safety has been fixed since the 2015 launch: Mitsubishi initially made the reversing camera optional in the lower grades - which was a pretty poor decision in my view. That's been fixed - thankfully a reversing camera is now standard across the range.


Towing with Triton

Triton 4X4 towing capacity is up to 3.1 tonnes - that's for 4X4 dual cabs. The 4X4 single cabs and Club cabs are 3.0 tonnes. Towball download limits are 10 per cent of the towing capacity (300kg for 3000kg vehicles and 310kg for 3100kg dual-cabs).

4X2s tow less, depending on configuration: 1800kg for the GLX manual single cab chassis petrol (base model), GLX single cab chassis diesel tows 2500kg and the GLX dual cab 4X2 tows 3000kg maximum. (Towball limits remain at 10 per cent.)

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Technically, you might think the new Triton is eclipsed by the Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado, etc, which are rated to tow 3.5 tonnes. That’s on paper, but you have to ask yourself how sensible it really is to tow 3.5 tonnes of anything, using a vehicle weighing more like 2.5 tonnes.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. (It's pretty easy to get yourself into strife unless you are very experienced at this.)

The other reason this isn't of great concern is the gross combination mass, or GCM (the limit of the all-up weight of the fully loaded vehicle plus the fully loaded trailer).

Just running the numbers on the Triton Exceed: Towing limit is 3100kg. Kerb weight is 1955kg. GCM is 5885kg.

So, 5885 minus 3100 minus 1955 equals 830kg. That's the amount of weight you can carry in the ute itself while you're towing 3100 kilos, and just meet the GCM limitation requirements. Crunch the same numbers on a Ranger Wildtrak and see how little gear the ute itself can carry when towing its limit of 3500kg.

I still don't think it's a great idea for most people to tow more than 3000kg with their utes. Personal opinion - it's perfectly legal.

Read more on towing & load limits for SUVs and utes >>


Limited editions

Mitsubishi refreshes the range from time to time by deploying some limited edition Tritons into the market to reinvigorate consumer interest. 

One such model, released in March 2018 was the Triton Blackline.

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Here's what Mitsubishi said about the Blackline:

"Mitsubishi releases limited edition Triton Blackline. Mitsubishi Motors Australia has announced a limited edition Triton Blackline model based on its popular 2018 GLS 4x4 Double Cab.

"Triton Blackline comes complete with a number of unique styling and specification enhancements to deliver a smart but tough on-and-off-roader.

"In addition to the exceptional value-for-money GLS features of Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA), keyless entry and reversing camera, Triton Blackline gains enhancements including Smart Key with One Touch Start, black grille, black exterior handles, black finish 17-inch alloy wheels and black door mirrors.  An exclusive Triton Blackline door decal is also fitted.

"Customers can choose from three premium paint colours: Black, Starlight and Titanium.

"Now on sale at Mitsubishi dealers, drive away pricing is $41,990 for the Triton Blackline with manual transmission and $43,990 with automatic transmission."

Triton Blackline features:

  • Smart Key with One Touch Start
  • Black mesh grille
  • Black exterior handles
  • Black door mirrors
  • Black finish fender flares
  • Black finish side steps
  • Black finish rear step bumper
  • Black finish sports bar
  • Rear differential lock
  • Triton Blackline door decal
  • Tub liner
  • Carpet mats

I actually thought that was pretty good value at the time. 


Family friendly?

Mitsubishi calls the new Triton the “most comfortable and family-friendly light commercial yet”. Obviously the company is targeting those ‘suits in utes’ just as heavily as it is hardcore tradies.

Passenger comfort and refinement are good - in comparison to other utes. However, if all you are intending to use the vehicle for is family transportation, there is a massive tradeoff in refinement and equipment that you lose when you buy one of these half agricultural vehicles. Even the Exceed - a bit of leather and a proximity key don't make it luxurious. They make is a ute with some luxury features.

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If all you want is family transportation, check out a Hyundai Tucson >> or Santa Fe >>, or a Kia Sportage >> or Kia Sorento >> at the same price point. I'm not saying they're better - I'm saying they're better and more refined as family transportation, as well as being better handling vehicle and better value in terms of equipment per dollar spent.

However, if you need that big tow capacity, or if you need the tray for carting stuff around, or if you need rugged, severe all-terrain capability ... you've come to the right place.


4WD Systems

This is simple: GLX and GLX+ models both get the basic Easy Select 4WD system. The the controller knob is quite slick looking but the underlying mechanism is as old as the hills. There are three modes: 2H (or '2WD, high range' for most driving on high traction surfaces). Next you get 4H (4WD high range) for low traction (slippery) surfaces at normal driving speeds. Finally there's '4L' (4WD low range) for extremely rugged, slippery terrain at low speeds.

You can switch from 2H to 4H and back 'on the fly' at speed up to 100km/h, but you need to stop to engage 4L.

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GLS and Exceed get the far more advanced Super Select II 4WD system. It's very clever, mainly because it includes a centre differential, and that lets you use 4H on high-traction surfaces (for example, it's ideal for a downpour on the highway). You can also lock the centre differential in high range (4HLC mode) for use in slippery conditions. There's also a 4LLC mode (4WD, low range, centre diff locked) for rough, slippery conditions, and a '2H' mode for normal driving. (4HLC and 4LLC modes in Super Select II are operationally identical to 4H and 4L modes with Easy Select.)

The bottom line is that Super Select II offers one key benefit, which is the ability to use 4WD when traction is too high to use 4WD in Easy Select.

You should never engage 4H or 4L on a high traction surface with Easy Select, nor should you engage Super Select II's 4HLC or 4LLC modes in the same conditions. If you do, you could damage the transmission.


Conclusion

Triton is far from the most popular ute in Australia - but is remains one of my top picks, especially the GLS, which is excellent value for money.

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Triton is up there simply because it manages to punch well above the weight suggested by its specifications alone. Sure, a sixth speed in the auto would be nice, and maybe another 40 or 50 Newton-metres of peak torque. But when you actually drive it, none of these things proves to be a deficiency.

And while other utes have been dogged by recalls and other reliability nightmare stories, Triton seems to have come out of the blocks relatively well sorted. Super Select II is a real bonus in the drivetrain departments (on GLS and Exceed), and the support from Mitsubishi is quite good in comparison to other carmakers with competing products.

If I were you I'd ask myself if you really needed a ute, and if you do - I'd be putting Triton on my short list. Closest competitor I recommend you consider owning? It's got more grunt and notionally more tow capacity, but a less sophisticated drivetrain than Triton's Super Select II - but I advise you also to consider the Mazda BT-50 ute >>

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