The Mitsubishi Triton – Australia’s third most popular ute behind the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger – has been given a significant update for the 2019 model year, headlined by a more macho new design and the addition of extra active safety features.
We’re looking at the new range-topper here, badged GLS Premium, which replaces the axed Exceed and sits above the GLS and GLX+ (read the full breakdown of the range here). Reflecting the suite of changes made, it also wears a $3000 higher sticker price than before, of $51,990 before on-road costs.
Of course, reflecting the great nonsense that RRPs are, Mitsubishi is already advertising it at $50,990 drive-away. It’s not stupid after all, knowing well enough that comparatively sharp pricing has long been the Triton’s biggest asset, positioning it somewhere between the budget Chinese-made stuff and said Ranger/HiLux.
However, it would be entirely fair to say this new Triton leads the industry in some areas. For one thing, safety. Crash-prevention tech includes stuff limited a decade ago to luxury cars, and eclipses the vast majority of rivals (oddly, the little-known SsangYong Musso probably runs it closest here, for the price).
The list comprises AEB with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam dipping, and a system called Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation that stops you accidentally putting the car in D instead of R in the garage and driving into a wall, or something situationally similar.
That array sits alongside the seven airbags and twin sets of both top-tether and ISOFIX child seat anchors fitted, meaning if you’re after a dual-cab ute that doubles as a family car, this GLS Premium is a decent bet. Its five-star ANCAP crash score dates to 2015, but its technology suite would likely serve it well were it to be re-tested today.
Likewise, if you’re someone who buys a dual-cab because of its tough looks, the Triton is now at least a feasible offering. It’s more upright and bluff at the front with a taller bonnet and much less ‘cheesy’ grille, has squarer wheel arches, greater side sculpting and a more resolved and symmetrical tailgate with metal bumper.
It’s all subjective, but to my eyes the Triton has gone from fugly to passably tough. Let us know what you think on that matter in the comments below.
There are comparatively few changes inside, though, limited to a new mono-tone colour scheme, double-stitched soft knee pads on the transmission tunnel and same trim on the centre console cover, new storage trays for both seating rows, and different analogue instruments.
First with the positives: it’s well equipped, with features such as heated leather seats, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, a 360-degree camera with different views to cycle through, parking sensors at both ends, a seven-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a proximity key with button start, and two-zone climate control.
On a side note, that 360-degree camera offers a great kerb-side view for parallel parking and an overhead view for reversing into tight bays, however the resolution is really grainy. 10/10 for the idea and 3/10 for the execution...
The build quality inside is excellent, free of any squeaks or ill-fitting panel gaps, there’s telescopic adjustment on the steering column, the leather steering wheel is nice enough and is accompanied by Evo-style column-mounted metal paddle shifters, and the phone-mirroring software is great.
On the downside, it’s a little narrow (especially compared to a Volkswagen Amarok) inside, for you burlier types. There’s also no conventional sat-nav system, meaning if you stray beyond 3G/4G zones you’re without guidance, and there’s still no digital speedo. More subjectively speaking, it all looks and feels built to a price. Which it is, to be fair.
Back seat occupants get B-pillar-mounted grab handles and an acceptable amount of legroom and headroom (not worst-in-class, which would be the Nissan Navara and Amarok, nor the best). Shoulder room is less good, though. There’s a new air circulating system mounted in the roof which is better than nothing, but a damn sight bulkier than just feeding plumbing through or below the console, and we applaud the addition of two rear USB points.
Features outside include 18-inch wheels with Bridgestone Dueler tyres, a full-size alloy spare, LED headlights in both low beam and high beam settings and for the daytime running units, auto power-folding mirrors, chrome sports bar bolted to the edge of the tub rather than the base, and a plastic tub-liner of acceptable quality.
As flagged, the tub comes with a liner and sports bar, and also features six tie-down points. The loading area is as long and deep as rivals’ (1520mm x 475mm), but is a bit narrower than some, at 1085mm between the arches and 1470mm at the widest point. The tailgate is held up by two cables.
Despite the new nose and bonnet design, what’s underneath is the same. The 2.4-litre turbo-diesel still makes 133kW of peak power at 3500rpm and 430Nm of peak torque at 2500rpm, which is more power and equal torque to an Isuzu D-Max’s 3.0-litre, and close to the HiLux’s 130kW/450Nm outputs.
There’s still a bit of a torque gap right down low however, meaning you need to wait a second before you get a real shove in the back. For comparison, a HiLux’s 2.8-litre diesel makes its 450Nm much earlier, at just 1600rpm, while the D-Max is at full pulling power at 2000rpm. It’s a small difference that’s evident under heavy throttle.
It’s pretty good on fuel, with an ADR claim of 8.6 litres per 100km backed up by my yielded 9.1L/100km. The tank is 75L, though I should point out the fact that our test car had a dud fuel-filler-cover latch, which required about 10 pulls to finally work. A cheap warranty fix, we’re sure.
While it doesn’t get the eight-speed automatic gearbox from the Pajero Sport spinoff, the old five-speed auto has at least been replaced by a six-speed unit with manual override, with generally smooth and sufficiently intuitive operation and a taller top gear to again improve NVH, especially under load. Still, said 8AT would likely be even better at addressing that initial lack of torque issue.
In terms of capacities, the GLS Premium shares its 2900kg Gross Vehicle Mass with the MY18 predecessor model, but because its kerb weight has climbed by a hefty 87kg, the maximum payload had dropped by that same amount, to 858kg. For further comparison, the MY19 GLX grade has a payload rating of 945kg.
The suspension is more or less the same – double-wishbone at the front and leafs at the rear – though Mitsubishi has big larger-diameter rear dampers (meaning more oil to pass through) to improve ride comfort. Yet the Triton is still not the most ‘settled’ dual-cab to drive around, with jitteriness and skipping from the rear when unladen, though it settles down well enough with a few hundred kilos on board.
It still lacks a Ranger, Holden Colorado or Amarok’s higher degrees of ride comfort and steering assistance, but then again it’s still better to drive than any previous-generation utes out there. The segment has come a fair way…
The brake setup comprises larger ventilated discs with twin-pot calipers up front and drums at the rear. None of these big utes are masterclasses in braking feel or speed, but even hard stops on gravel didn’t alarm us particularly in the Triton. Some emergency gravel swerves revealed the ESC and ABS systems to work as intended.
The other dynamic change is the addition of more sound-deadening material and sealing to improve NVH isolation. Indeed, there’s excellent road and wind-noise suppression and a fairly refined engine keeping things nice and hushed on the highways, helping you make a Bluetooth phone call between job sites.
As we know from previous experience (our test car lacked a trailer brake and tow ball), the Triton’s long rear overhang and short-ish wheelbase means it feels little less stable and planted when towing really heavy loads than some rivals, and its 3.1-tonne trailer limit is 400kg off the class leaders.
The Triton may not be the tool-of-choice for many hardcore 4x4ers, but it’s a proven machine, used in mine-sites all over South America and south-east Asia. The basics such as underbody bash protection, low-range gearing, a locking rear diff and decent ground clearance (220mm) are all covered off, of course. The only real issue is the 23 degree departure angle is a little small, because of that big rear overhang.
The trickier stuff includes Mitsubishi’s Super-Select II 4WD system with dial-operated, shift-on-the-fly operation between rear-wheel and four-wheel drive. Unlike most rivals, it also has a full-time road-friendly 4WD mode called 4H, and a high-range locking mode called 4HLc, in addition to proper 4L low-range gearing.
The 4H model’s ability to be used 100 per cent of the time has a fuel economy impost, but also makes getting away on steep and slippery hills, or on gravel and snow, vastly easier and quicker. It’s a comparable system in this respect to an Amarok’s 4Motion or Mercedes-Benz X-Class’s 4WD setup. Big tick.
There are also various modes that adjust the throttle, gearing and ESC tune depending on the type of surface you’re driving over, and a hill-descent control system, though naturally traditional off-roaders will use 4L and engine braking to do the job for them.
There’s also a heap of Mitsubishi accessories including a new AEB-friendly factory bull bar, and naturally the aftermarket guys such as ARB have a heap of add-ons due to the Triton's popularity out there.
From an ownership perspective, Mitsubishi will sell the Triton until at least June 30 next year with a seven-year warranty, active for 150,000km, matching the year period of said SsangYong Musso, and ahead of every other rival. This should offer some reassurance.
The first three services (every 12 months/15,000km) are also capped at $299 per visit, which is pretty sharp. After that, there is no fixed national pricing structure for the dealer network to abide by, though history and experience suggest Mitsubishi’s more humble vehicles (Evos excluded) aren’t particularly expensive to maintain.
That seems about the right place to wrap up this Triton GLS Premium review. First, there are things we think could still be better: the cabin design is ageing, the maximum payload and tow ratings are below average, the unladen ride quality is jittery, and the low-down torque delivery is notably lacking. Though remember, the MY19 model is an update, not a brand-new generation.
We’d also hope Mitsubishi continues to undercut established rivals with its real-world pricing, a tactic that has brought it huge success culminating in a 2018 sales record. A small price bump is fair enough given this model gets many improvements and has just gone on-sale, but do be aware of the discounts out there across the ute market and shop with diligence.
With these in mind, the Triton GLS Premium is satisfyingly a more fitting flagship than before, with its tougher looks, great warranty coverage, great active and passive safety credentials, proven engineering integrity and reliability, and high levels of driving refinement.
There’s a solid case for getting a Triton GLX+ or GLS and saving some money for sure, but either way the Mitsubishi continues to do its thing unpretentiously and (relatively) affordably, with a little more seasoning and design awareness now thrown in.