This year could well come to be known as the year of the ute – there is plenty of new model activity in the light commercial vehicle segment due in 2015, and one vital part of that mix in the Australian market is the 2016 Mitsubishi Triton.
Following the launch of the heavily revamped Mitsubishi ute in April this year, we took the opportunity to sample a mid-specification Triton GLS 4x4 model with a manual gearbox to see how the workhorse truck dealt with a week of duty as part of the CarAdvice garage.
The GLS is priced at $40,990 plus on-road costs, making it a relative bargain in the dual-cab ute segment. It doesn't skimp on standard gear either, with 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon high and low beam headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog-lights, side steps, a rear step bumper and a sports bar. Our test truck also had an optional dealer-fit soft tonneau cover and hard tub-liner.
Read the full 2016 Mitsubishi Triton pricing and specifications story.
Say what you will about that big chrome nose – it’s been the main bone of contention surrounding the new Triton in the CarAdvice offices – the new-look model certainly appears a far more contemporary offering than before, and inside the changes are dramatic, too.
In the cabin, there are specification highlights such as dual-zone climate control, while the cockpit feels notably fresher than in the ute it replaces, including tasteful fabric seat coverings that Mitsubishi labels “sport trim”. The seats themselves have been rethought, too, and there’s reasonably good comfort for the driver – though it’s still not as upright a seating position as you find in the likes of the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger.
Still, the mix of grey on dark grey plastics makes the Triton’s cabin feel more upmarket than pretty much any of the brand’s other current offerings. Several CarAdvice team members rank the Triton’s interior presentation as the best of the brand’s current crop of vehicles.
Unlike lower-spec Triton models, the GLS specification (and the Exceed above it) sees fabric inserts on the doors, as well as splashes of piano black plastic on the doors and dash accompanied by silver accents, and a leather trimmed steering wheel and gearknob.
The 6.1-inch touchscreen media system is simple and effective to use, and it has nice touches including DAB digital radio and a six-speaker sound system. The menus on the control screen are much more logical than in the upper-spec Exceed, which adds satellite navigation but also gains a plethora of confusing buttons.
As you’d expect, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is standard. The phone system is generally good – it hooks up quickly and reconnects reasonably fast, too – but annoyingly you cannot access more than four contacts alphabetically. So, choose contacts under the letter ‘C’, and you get the first four on your phone under that letter – and you can’t scroll down to find more. You can, however, use the voice control system to dial contacts by name.
Backseat accommodation is not nearly as good as the best in the class – there’s not as much leg room as you find in a Ranger, and not quite as much head room as the Amarok. The bench feels quite narrow, too.
That said, the actual comfort of the seat in the rear is much better than some rivals, and there are ISOFIX anchor points for child restraints.
The new Triton has a strong safety stance, too – with a standard reverse-view camera, seven airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtains as well as a driver's knee airbag) and ESC standard, as well as a five-star ANCAP crash test rating.
On the road, the improvements are marked, too.
The engine is a grunty thing, and far more refined than its predecessor. It pulls heartily in higher gears, and churns willingly at low revs, too. As is the case with most turbo diesels there’s some low rev lag, but the progress is swift as peak torque is delivered (at 2500rpm).
Unlike the old model, the engine will idle comfortably at a stop, and there’s little of the unwanted grumbling and vibration through the cabin.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a lot more smooth-shifting than we recall the old model being, and the clutch action is light enough as to make it a fine companion for those who prefer to choose the gears themselves.
The steering is possibly the best of any Mitsubishi currently on sale – it is well weighted and nicely direct at most speeds, and yet the wheel is easy enough to twirl at low speeds for parking manoeuvres.
The ride, too, is greatly improved, with a lot less of the uncomfortable bouncing and wobbling over most bumps. There is still some shuddering over small inconsistencies, and it’s still not on the same level as the Amarok - which drives more like an SUV than a workhorse ute - but it is definitely more liveable than ever before.
Indeed, the overall levels of refinement are impressive considering the old model was quite the agricultural truck. It is almost car-like in how quiet it is on the road, with just a hint of wind noise above 100km/h and the requisite tyre roar over coarse-chip surfaces.
The new Triton boasts 3.1-tonne braked towing capacity, which isn’t quite as good as the best in class (the Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max and others have 3.5-tonne towing capacity).
The tray is one of the best in the class. It measures 1520 millimetres long, 1470mm wide and 475mm deep, but we noted the tailgate is quite high (850mm from the ground), and loading items in and out over the walls of the tub is quite the task. Lifting really heavy stuff over the sides could verge on too hard. The gap between the wheel arches is 1050mm, which is not quite spacious enough to fit a pallet (standard Australian size: 1165mm wide).
As with many of these large pick-up models there are four tie-down hooks in the tray, but none on the top rail. The optional ($561) soft tonneau cover features a tray-topping feeder for it to clip into, and we’d hope that the optional kit is fitted better for buyers, as the rivets on ours didn’t actually hold it in place. The hard tub liner is an option as well ($453).
As is the case with all Mitsubishi models, the Triton is covered by a five-year, 100,000km warranty (recently reduced from 130K) and has a four-year capped-price service program, with maintenance due every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. The annual cost for the first year is $350, and then $580 per successive year.
The new-generation Mitsubishi Triton has taken a big step forward in the tough-fought ute segment, and this GLS specification could be the sweet spot in the range. It is more refined and generally a much more enjoyable vehicle to drive, but there are still other utes on the market that offer a little more polish.