Review: Mitsubishi Triton GXL 4x4 single-cab

By: Fraser Stronach

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Mitsubishi’s Triton is proof that good things come in (relatively) small packages, Fraser Stronach writes

The Mitsubishi triton front on
Mitsubishi’s Triton is proof that good things come in (relatively) small packages

Utes for sale

If you’re after a single-cab 4WD ute then they don’t come much more attractively priced than Mitsubishi’s Triton – outside of the Chinese and Indian brands.

Right now the Triton 4WD single cab-chassis is listed at $32,500 for a six-speed manual. The only Japanese single-cab 4WD that has a lower list price is Nissan’s Navara and then there’s only $510 in it. And that’s before Mitsubishi’s regular factory discounting and drive-away pricing. All that’s good reason alone to have a close look at the Triton if you’re after a basic farm or work ute.

This is what’s known as the Triton MQ, which arrived in Australia in mid-2015 as the fifth-generation Triton to be sold in this country. It wasn’t entirely new but more of a remake of the previous MN model and bought a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel engine (to meet Euro 5 emissions regulations), a new six-speed manual gearbox, a revised five-speed automatic, a restyled body and changes to the front and rear suspension.

Like its predecessor, it’s a notably smaller ute than the most of its direct competitors bar Nissan’s Navara and, to a lesser extent, Toyota’s Hilux.

 

The Triton interior
Standard equipment runs to practical vinyl floor coverings, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control, AM/FM radio, a CD player, a USB port, and no less than seven airbags

CLIMB ABOARD

It’s a fair step up to the cabin of the high-riding Triton and while there’s no sidestep to help you get a leg up there is a conveniently placed assist handle on the A-pillar for those short of stature.

Once on board you shouldn’t have any trouble getting comfortable, thanks to both tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment (which many utes don’t have) and height adjustment for the driver’s seat, even if the cabin isn’t as spacious as something like a Ford Ranger or Holden Colorado.

The Triton single-cab 4WD is only sold in one equipment level, namely the base-spec GXL, but is available both as a manual and an automatic. When it first arrived in 2015 only a manual was available but an automatic, as tested here, was subsequently introduced due to the increased demand for automatics even in work utes. The automatic option adds $2,500.

Standard equipment runs to practical vinyl floor coverings, Bluetooth phone connectivity (with voice command), cruise control, AM/FM radio, a CD player, a USB port, and no less than seven airbags, which help contribute to the five-star ANCAP safety rating. With the factory accessory tray fitted to the test vehicle (adds $1,750) you also get a reversing camera.

 

ON THE ROAD

Fire the engine up and you’ll be surprised how quiet it is for a diesel even if there’s no mistaking the telltale diesel ‘rattle’. Once under way the engine continues to impress with its relatively low noise levels and smooth running. The 2.4-litre diesel was new from the ground up in 2015 and is common to all diesel Tritons, dual-cabs included.

For a diesel it’s quite revvy with maximum torque not on tap until 2,500rpm whereas most modern diesels produce their maximum torque by 1,500-1,800 rpm. The automatic effectively masks this so the engine never feels lacking at low engine speeds, even if it needs more revs to do the same job as most of its competitors. And while the engine likes to rev more than most, it never feels strained or particularly fussed and is always willing to get on with the job. The fact that the single-cab Triton is quite a light ute (around 1,770kg with the accessory tray) also means less work for the engine, so the performance is quite spritely.

For its part, the five-speed automatic is generally cooperative even if it’s not as slick or as smooth as the more modern automatics in competitor utes. Behind the wheel you also notice the Triton feels smaller and more nimble than its competitors with steering that is direct and positive. The Triton also has the tightest turning circle of its competitors, which is especially handy anywhere where manoeuvring space is at a premium.

As you would expect, the ride is firm at the back when not carrying a load but it’s certainly not overly uncomfortable. The handling also remains tidy enough on bumpy country roads when unladen.

 

The Mitsubishi tritons' tray
If you’re after a tow ute the Triton single-cab is fitted with trailer-sway control as part of the chassis electronic package

IN THE PADDOCK

Unlike the most expensive dual-cab Tritons, which have selectable full-time 4WD, the single-cab has conventional part-time 4WD operated via a rotary dial. High-range 4WD can be selected on the move and engages and disengaged easily. To engage low-range 4WD you have to stop however, and like most utes with this style of electronic shifter (rather than a good old-fashioned lever), four-low can be slow to engage and disengage. The five-speed automatic also has a ‘manual’ mode, which can be handy for low-speed control.

For paddock work the Triton’s ground clearance seems far better than the 205mm claim while the good vision from the driver’s seat and short, low bonnet means you’re less likely to run over something you shouldn’t!

On broken and rough ground the Triton’s star does fade a little however as it lacks the wheel travel of some competitors so will more readily struggle for traction in more demanding going. And unlike the more expensive Triton variants there’s no rear differential lock. On a more positive note the Triton does come with more paddock-friendly all-terrain tyres (on 16-inch steel wheels) rather than the ‘highway’ tyres fitted to many work utes.

 

LOAD CARRYING AND TOWING

With a GVM of 2,900kg, the Triton single cab is 300kg short of the best in the class, which reaffirms its design as a smaller, medium-duty ute rather than a heavy-duty load hauler. But given it only weighs 1,665kg (in cab-chassis guise) that still means a decent payload of around 1,100kg once you take into account the weight of the factory-accessory tray as fitted to our test vehicle.

To test the Triton’s load-carrying ability we put 800kg (plus pallet) in the tray. Added to the weight of the driver and passenger that means a total payload around 1,000kg, so close to but not quite the single-cab’s maximum. With that weight on board the rear of the Triton dropped 50mm at the axle line and the rear springs when from being almost flat to being slightly inverted.

On the road with that weight on board the Triton had a reasonably neutral stance, so not too light in the steering, and while it carried the weight well enough it did squirm around a little at the rear on bumpy corners and didn’t feel as rock-steady as the better load haulers in the class.

If you’re after a tow ute the Triton single-cab is fitted with trailer-sway control as part of the chassis electronic package but is rated to tow 3,000kg, so 500kg less than the best in class.

 

OWNERSHIP

The Triton comes with Mitsubishi’s five-year, 100,000km warranty and 15,000km/one-year servicing with fixed prices. For any Triton diesel the 15,000km service will cost $430, the 30,000km service is $530 and the 45,000km service is $550.

As for resale value, leading used-car value service Red Book has the resale value of single-cab 4x4s automatics (as tested) at 58.3 per cent after three years and most Tritons average out around 60 per cent resale value after three years.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Unless you’re after a heavy-duty load carrier or heavy-duty tow ute it’s hard to find a reason not to like the Triton single cab 4x4. It’s sharply priced, well equipped for the money, drives surprisingly well on road even unladen, is small and handy in confined places and will do the job in the paddock or work site.

Of all the 4x4 utes on the market, dual-cabs included, the Triton is the third best seller (behind Hilux and Ranger), so all those buyers can’t be wrong.

 

Engine 2.4-litre 4cyl turbo diesel
Power 133kW @ 3,500rpm
Torque 430Nm @ 2,500rpm
Gearbox Five-speed automatic
4WD System Part-time dual-range
GVM 2,900kg
Payload 1,235kg (minus tray)
Towing

3,000kg

Fuel Capacity 75 litres
ADR Fuel Claim 7.5 litres/100km
Turning Circle 11.8m 
Price $32,500 (4x4 GXL single-cab/chassis)

 

As well as single-cab 4x4 models, the Triton is also available in 4x2 as a single-cab/chassis with both petrol and diesel engines, and as a 4x2 diesel dual-cab. Extended and dual-cab 4x4s, with and without a factory tub, are also available. All 4x4 models are diesels.

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