The Club Cab version of the Mitsubishi Triton bridges the gap between single- and double-cab variants, but doesn't offer much in the way of second row comfort.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ Club Cab presents itself as an interesting alternative to the raft of dual-cab 4WDs being gobbled up by hungry buyers – many of them faux tradies. Indeed, those buyers who actually use their utes for work purposes are perhaps most attracted to the new wave of extra-cab/space-cab/club-cab/king-cabs (call them what you will) on offer.
The usual refrain as to why the ‘extra-cab’ section is so handy in the real world relates to the storage of toolboxes and the like behind the front seats.
In the case of the new breed though, accessing those items is made even easier by the adoption of ‘suicide’ rear doors, replacing the previous fixed panel. My 1993 Holden Rodeo Spacecab had plenty of storage space behind the seats, but it lacked seating in that area and an easy way to get to whatever you had stored there.
On the subject of seats though, don’t make the mistake of thinking the pads that resemble seats present in the extra-cab section of the Triton are actually useful for anything other than torture though – more on that later.
The Triton as tested here is priced from $38,500 before on-road costs and our test example has no options. At the time of writing, the GLX+ Dual Cab with auto (the same as the CarAdvice company Triton) was listed at $37,490 drive-away.
The 2.4-litre engine beneath the Mitsubishi Triton’s stubby bonnet churns out an easy 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. The ADR fuel claim is an extremely frugal 7.6L/100km, but in the real world expect to use 10.1L/100km, which is still excellent.
The Triton’s cabin is a glaring example of a few things – specifically how little has changed despite the price hikes in the commercial sector over the years, and how buyers at this budget end of the spectrum get nowhere near the comfort and amenity afforded to high-spec dual-cab 4WD buyers. Compare this specification grade to a Triton Exceed dual-cab for example, and there’s no doubt who’s getting the rough end of the stick.
Workers though – thankfully – are more concerned with how their ute drives and performs day-to-day than they are about whether you’ve got fancy electronics, touchscreens and electric seat adjustment. As such, we’re going to take a closer look at what this Club Cab delivers if you need to drive it every day.
From the driver’s pew, we’re familiar with the view ahead due to spending so much time in our CarAdvice Triton. The front section of the cab is therefore comfortable, functional and ready for work. The seat material and general comfort is good, in line with the redesign that saw the Triton cabin move forward dramatically from the previous model.
There is however, way too much hard plastic, and unlike a higher specification Triton, the cabin feels cheap and very basic. Touch points on the doors and the console bin lid are also fashioned from hard plastic and promise to create bruises if you come into contact with them hard enough – not ideal for a driver who spends a lot of time behind the wheel.
The infotainment screen is best described as adequate, with an excellent rear-view camera, but the system itself is very basic with ageing graphics and no real interactivity beyond a basic Bluetooth phone connection.
That link is rock solid though, meaning workers can make and answer phone calls on the job with confidence. The connection didn’t drop out once during our week of testing, and audio streaming works well, too. Part of that ease is the simple array of steering wheel-mounted controls that are perfectly positioned. And there’s a USB input and a 12V socket for charging devices.
There’s no digital speedo, which is a shame given the proliferation of varying speed limits around our capital cities, and how much easier a large display is to look at on the go. The gauges are very basic in their design too, adding to the low rent feel inside the cabin.
It could be my imagination, but I reckon the club-cab layout lets you move further away from the steering wheel than the dual-cab variant, a bonus for extra tall drivers, and while the cabin itself isn’t as big, it certainly never feels cramped up front. There are large door pockets for storage with bottle holders, but only a small centre console bin.
Now, into the extra-cab section where things get a little – shall we say pointless… Specifically, there is almost no point trying to squeeze an adult in there for anything other than a five-minute run around the corner.
There is no legroom, not quite enough head- or shoulder-room, and the seat back is so upright, you feel like you are tilting forward. I’d say it’s also unlikely a tradesman (or woman) is likely to toss tool boxes in there, ripping up the seat material in the process. Backpacks or soft bags maybe.
It does raise the question though, that if you need occasional seats, would you not buy the dual-cab? And if you don’t ever need them, would you not just buy a single-cab with a lockable box in the tray?
The way the doors work isn’t smart either, most of the time. When you’re in a tight parking spot, you have to partially open the front door as far as it will go before touching a wall or another car, then reach in to open the back door the opposite way, and execute an annoying shuffle between them to be able to actually load anything into the back section.
It’s not exactly ideal if you’re doing it many times a day. I love the look of the club-cab physically, but if this is a work vehicle, you’re buying it for more than what it looks like.
The gripes don’t end there either. Because of the ‘pillarless’ design of the back door, it is rattly and noisy more often than not. The front door doesn’t feel reassuring when you close it against the back door, and anything other than an ice-rink smooth surface will elicit a rattle from the whole assembly.
Despite the annoyances with the extra-cab design, there’s a lot of positives to take from the Triton drive experience, as we’ve noted many times now.
There is some driveline shudder at takeoff (something we’ve noted with other Tritons too) but the engine and gearbox are otherwise excellent. This model grade must miss out on some insulation and absorption because the oiler is a little louder than we remember from higher grades. It certainly feels like the cabin could do with more insulation.
The power delivery is smooth though, and effortless, meaning you can easily get the Triton up to speed in traffic. It will hold 110km/h on the freeway without raising a sweat either.
The steering is a little slow, but acceptable for a workhorse, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the ride isn’t great unladen on bumpy roads. It borders on very harsh over sharper bumps and the Triton can rock from corner to corner when you ask the suspension to cross-articulate coming out of a sharp driveway, for example.
With some weight in the tray, we know they settle down a lot, but no ute is especially proficient when unladen. It’s a fact that not even the adoption of coil springs in the new Nissan Navara for example, has fully managed to iron out. As such, unless you spend most of your working day with weight in the tray, prepare to be jostled around the Triton’s cabin.
There’s still a lot to like about the Mitsubishi Triton, even taking into account the small issues with the club-cab layout. It’s not the pick of the range in specification terms though the GLX+, with higher grades delivers a vastly more premium feel on a still-realistic budget.
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