The Triton is one of the best-value options for the pragmatic ute buyer, but it has to work hard against some sharp competition. We give one a solid on-road and off-road test, to see how it stacks up.
Daily driving the Triton is a positive and painless experience. Suspension is nicely tuned, with the typical firmness in the rear end. Steering is tight, and the turning circle is impressively small. The engine purrs along at around the 2,000rpm mark on the highway – quiet and smooth. Mash the pedal, and the gearbox and engine work together to give you a solid punch of torque pretty quickly. Don’t write this engine off for just being 2.4 litres compared to the bigger donks out there: Beyond the spec-sheet, this one feels like it punches above its weight.
We loaded our GLS model up with around 800 kilograms of weight in the tray, and the performance didn’t change much overall. The steering didn’t wander or become vague, and the helper leaf in the rear suspension worked quite well. The five-speed automatic gearbox isn’t a bad unit, mating well to the 2.4L MIVEC donk. It’s a definite improvement over the older model, which was a bit slushy. It’s a shame there isn’t a sixth cog in there to compare with other models… and for that reason, I would prefer the manual option.
Having the extra flexibility of being able to run 2WD and 4WD on-road via the ‘Super Select II’ centre differential is also quite handy, for situations like rough fast dirt or slick bitumen where traction might slip up here or there. Then, you can lock the centre differential in high or low range – to ensure an even share of drive between front and rear.
Off-road, the Triton GLS is a good starting point for some decent capability. Good ground clearance of 205mm underneath and a 30-degree approach angle means you can get into some fairly technical terrain with the stock setup. The departure angle is something you’d want to be conscious of: 22 degrees could see you scraping the rear end if you aren’t careful. The wheelbase on the Triton is a little shorter than other utes, giving it a good turning circle; but the rear overhang suffers.
Everything underneath is tucked up quite nicely for off-road work, along with a decent 2mm pressed steel bash plate. The only bad aspect, on automatic model Tritons, is the strange vibration dampener that sits just in front of the rear diff pinion. This is in the firing line for off-road damage, as it hangs down a little bit.
One point where the Triton definitely lags behind other 4WD utes is with its traction control. Compared to the class-leading Amarok and HiLux utes in this regard, the Triton’s off-road traction control has a jerky, reactive nature that doesn’t foster forward momentum. Rather, it jerks around and struggles moving forward. In our situation, getting cross-axled on soft dirt and rocks saw us crabbing violently sideways instead of going in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Mitsubishi doesn’t offer a rear differential locker on anything bar the top-spec Exceed. Of course, you can punt some folding stuff over to the good folks at ARB, Harrop or TJM, and solve that problem for good – front and rear.
The interior of the Triton is a little bit basic and unassuming, but it’s also reassuringly solid and well put together. The big change in the interior is the new infotainment unit which is quite good. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay means it’s BYO maps via your phone, and you’ll use a bit more data; but the maps are slick and easy to use. Well-bolstered cloth seats are quite good, as are the ergonomics inside the cab.
The Triton does a good job of providing a combination of both good second-row passenger space and a good-sized tray. What does suffer here is the rear overhang…
There is plenty of tray aft of the rear diff, which can negatively affect the way the car drives. It’s not a huge problem; but something that it pays to be aware of. Just don’t be that guy who goes way over their GVM and GCM, and then wonder why their chassis starts bending.
The pessimist would call the Triton a jack of all trades, but a master of none. It’s not the flashiest, techiest, most powerful or most comfortable. But at the same time, it’s very competent across the board – without an obvious weak spot. The pricing is quite sharp as well: RRP for the GLS Triton is $44,000, so it does undercut most other options on the market. Whether it’s worth the extra $4,500 over the GLX+ is a question you’d have to ask yourself, because I feel like the real strength of the Triton range is in the lower-cost, lower-spec options. You can go up another spec level to the Exceed, but that means you’re paying another $4,500 from the bargain end of the equation.
The Triton doesn’t have the bigger engines and performance figures of other utes; nor does it have as much off-road clearance. But it’s a ute without any obvious weaknesses. The engine performs well. And where the Triton really beats all comers is: Price.