News & ReviewsLast 7 days
CarAdvice


The Mitsubishi Triton is a staple of Australia’s ute market, outsold only by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger in its segment.

This recently upgraded model gets a buffer design and a full suite of active safety tech designed to keep it fresh, and a new range-topping GLS Premium variant that we’re testing here.

While its obvious rivals are the pair mentioned plus the Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara, there’s a newish kid on the block out to make a name for itself.

The SsangYong Musso Ultimate is Korea’s only ute, and its pricepoint in flagship form is thousands cheaper than the Triton, which in turn undercuts most of its rivals.

Not the roughest and toughest ute, it instead offers a more refined driving experience and the interior of a luxury SUV, and covered by a Triton-equalling warranty term of seven years.


Price and equipment

The Triton GLS Premium replaces the axed Exceed atop the range. It also wears a $3000 higher sticker price of $51,990 before on-road costs. That said, Mitsubishi is already advertising it at $50,990 drive-away.

The flagship Musso Ultimate is priced aggressively at $39,990 drive-away. That kind of money will get you a base version of more established dual-cabs, but the Musso as tested comes loaded with spec more familiar to a luxury SUV. The angle is obvious.

Both are very well equipped, with shared features including leather seats heated up the front (also ventilated in the Musso), cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, 360-degree cameras with different views to cycle through, parking sensors, touchscreens (7.0 inches on the Triton and 8.0 inches on the Musso) with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, proximity key with button start, and climate control.

The Triton gets 18-inch wheels with Bridgestone Dueler tyres, while the Musso gets Kumho road tyres and garish 20-inch wheels. Both get full-size alloy spare, auto power-folding mirrors, and a tub-liner of acceptable quality. The Triton gets a sturdy steel bar, while the Musso has a cheap-feeling plastic sail-plane.

Crash-prevention tech on both includes stuff limited a decade ago to luxury cars, and eclipse the vast majority of rivals.

The list comprises autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Triton also gets a system called Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation. Both have rear-seat airbags. The Triton has a five-star ANCAP rating, while unfortunately the Musso is not tested.

The Musso wins here given its massive price advantage.

Car Mitsubishi Triton SsangYong Musso
Variant GLS Premium Ultimate
Price $50,990 drive-away $39,990 drive-away
Leather seats Yes Yes
Electric driver/passenger Yes/no Yes/yes
Seat heating Yes Yes
Seat cooling No Yes
Climate control Yes Yes
Touchscreen 7.0-inch 8.0-inch
Sat-nav No No
Digital speedo No Yes
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto Yes Yes
Bluetooth/USB Yes Yes
DAB+ Yes No
Keyless-go Yes Yes
Parking sensors Yes Yes
360-degree camera Yes Yes
AEB Yes Yes
Blind-spot monitor Yes Yes
Lane assist Yes Yes
Regular cruise control Yes Yes
Airbags 7 6
Rain-sensing wipers Yes Yes
Headlights LED HID
Sunroof No Yes
Alloy wheels 18-inch 20-inch
Sports bar Yes No
Tyre brand Bridgestone Kumho

Cabins

Changes inside the ageing Triton are limited to a new monotone 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.

The build quality inside is still excellent, and free of any squeaks or ill-fitting panels.

There’s telescopic adjustment on the steering column, the leather steering wheel is nice enough and is bizarrely accompanied by a Lancer Evo’s column-mounted metal paddle shifters.

Yet it’s a little narrow (especially compared to a Volkswagen Amarok) inside. There’s also no conventional sat-nav system, and 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).

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.

The Musso feels more luxurious and looks less dated, and offers good amounts of interior storage, a highly legible selection of digital speedos, front seats that are certainly comfier, similar telescopic steering column adjustment, and even a novel touchscreen font pinched from the Volvo XC90.

The only negatives that really leapt out were the shared lack of proper sat-nav, plus cruise control that creeps above the limit down hills, and a tacky gear shifter gate with a plastic button controlling the manual override.

The back seats are great, trimmed in leather with electric heating elements running through them, and the ability to tilt backwards by 27 degrees.

There are also B-pillar hand grips to pull yourself up, roof scalloping behind the sunroof section, a flip-down padded armrest with cupholders, a seatback section that folds down to help you fit a child seat, and rear air vents.

My 193cm frame also had ample space and good outward visibility, certainly more than what a Navara or X-Class offers, and by seat-of-the-pants about on par with a Holden Colorado. I can’t help but think of the Musso as a nice crossover SUV with a tray.

Reckon the Musso wins here too.


Drivetrains

The Triton’s 2.4-litre turbo-diesel 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 spin-off, 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.

The Musso stacks up on paper. It’s a new in-house Euro VI 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with class-competitive outputs of 133kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 400Nm between 1500 and 2800rpm.

You’d be hard-pressed to call it underpowered, though that peak torque output trails the main competitor set and those who value displacement will note it is among the smallest in the class.

I sat consistently at around 10 seconds for each 0–100km/h run, which is competitive, and got within cooee of the ADR fuel-use claim of 8.6 litres per 100km (managing 9.1L/100km on a combined cycle loop). The tank is 75L.

What really impressed about it was the NVH suppression. It’s extremely refined and smooth, even at idle. Again, urban-friendly. The six-speed automatic gearbox is supplied by Japan’s Aisin and is generally pretty crisp, though I noticed the odd indecisiveness at highway speeds, where it oscillated between fifth and sixth gear.

Our test vehicle lacked a tow ball (we’ll rectify that next time), though the company claims an equal-class-leading 3.5-tonne braked-trailer capacity, 400kg more than the Triton’s. As with most utes in this class, anything the low side of 2.5t is more appropriate.

The Triton claws back some ground, though note the Musso’s brilliant NVH suppression.

Car Mitsubishi Triton SsangYong Musso
Variant GLS Premium Ultimate
Price $50,990 drive-away $39,990 drive-away
Engine 2.4 turbo-diesel 4-cyl 2.2 turbo-diesel 4-cyl
Power 133kW @ 3500rpm 133kW @ 4000rpm
Torque 430Nm @ 2500rpm 400Nm @ 1400–2800rpm
Fuel use 8.6L/100km 8.6L/100km
Transmission Six-speed auto Six-speed auto
Drive type 4×4 with tarmac 4H mode 4×4 part-time only
Towing max 3.1t 3.5t

Ride and handling

In terms of capacities, the Triton 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 has 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 leaves 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.

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 set-up 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 experience (our test car lacked a trailer brake and tow ball), the Triton’s long rear overhang and shortish wheelbase mean it feels a little less stable and planted when towing really heavy loads than some rivals.

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 mode’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 the Mercedes-Benz X-Class’s 4WD set-up.

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.

The shorter Musso version tested here also comes fitted with double-wishbone suspension at the front and (like a Nissan Navara) road-oriented five-link rear suspension with coil springs to maximise sealed road contact and body control.

By contrast, the long version will use more segment-conventional leaves. The trade-off is a modest 790kg maximum payload, 230kg shy of said longer version.

I put 550kg of water barrels in the rear, and that rear end was squatted right down to near-full compression. Not great, that. Steering, braking and uphill performance were acceptable still, but if you regularly carry heavy things, then the LWB version is where you should look. Or towards a rival…

It’s quite clear that the Musso Ultimate we have here at least is a shorter, carpark-friendly ute that prioritises road comfort and ‘lifestyle’ buyers more than most competitors. And put aside your qualms, because there’s certainly a market for something like this.

With that as a brief, the SsangYong mostly succeeds. It’s a genuinely nice ute to get around in for the most part, with heavily assisted and rather direct steering, a hint of agility and more than acceptable body control against cornering loads, and road/wind/engine noise suppression to rival anything this side of a Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Colour me pleasantly surprised.

The only real weakness from this lightly laden perspective is soon to be addressed. The suspension calibration as it stands relays a little jitteriness into the interior, not helped by the fact the Ultimate sits on Kumho road tyres with slim sidewalls and 20-inch wheels.

Commendably, again, SsangYong is currently working on an Australian-market suspension tune based on this feedback.

The Ultimate is a standard part-time 4×4, with dial-operated 4H and 4L (low-range) settings, though its 215mm of ground clearance and those tyres mean it’s not going to match a D-Max or HiLux off the beaten path.

For that we’d suggest a Musso EX base model on chunkier rubber. It’s worth noting that you do get a locking rear diff, though, and a beach run is easily achievable.

The Triton wins, though testing the LWB Musso with leaves will be interesting, since it’ll handle a load with more assurance.

Car Mitsubishi Triton SsangYong Musso
Variant GLS Premium Ultimate
Price $50,990 drive-away $39,990 drive-away
Rear suspension Leaf Coil
Rear diff lock Yes Yes
Rear brakes Drum Disc
Kerb weight 2042kg 2170kg
Payload 858kg 690kg
GVM 2900kg 2860kg
Length 5409mm 5095mm
Width 1815mm 1950mm
Wheelbase 3000mm 3100mm
Height 1795mm 1840mm
Clearance 220mm 215mm
Tub length 1520mm 1300mm
Tub width 1470mm 1570mm
Tub depth 475mm 570mm
Fuel tank 75L 75L

Running costs

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, ahead of every other top-selling 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.

To its credit, SsangYong is also backing its product with an equal-market-leading seven-year bumper-to-bumper warranty with no distance limit, with ABN buyers covered.

There’s also roadside assist for the term of your warranty and seven years of capped-price servicing across each 12-month/15,000km interval. SsangYong lists each service at $375 and runs parallel intervals for items like brake fluid (every 24 months $98), transmission fluid (36m/45,000km $577), front and rear diff fluid (24m/30,000km $145), transfer case fluid (36m/45,000km $57), coolant (60m/200,000km $262) and fuel filter (24m/30,000km $141).

The downside of opting for a relatively new and niche brand is the small dealer network coverage (28 national sites for now, though this will grow), and a small carpark out there to guide you on appropriate resale value.

The Triton’s bigger dealer network gives it the edge.


VERDICT

If you want an affordable, luxurious pick-up that isn’t going to be worked too hard, then the Musso gives you a hell of a lot for $40K. Its cabin is well made and luxurious, it’s brimming with equipment, and it’s impressively refined to drive.

Of course, its road tyres and blingy wheels don’t help its cause off-road, its suspension needs a tune, its payload is ordinary (500kg is testing it), and there aren’t many dealers yet. Plus, the tub is tiny, though the leaf-spring LWB rectifies many of these concerns.

The Triton is still better at being a ute, and offers better value for money than equally established rivals. But the gap between this pair is close, meaning SsangYong is a brand to watch.

MORE: Triton news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE:
Everything Mitsubishi
MORE: Musso news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE:
Everything Ssangyong



MITSUBISHI TRITON BREAKDOWN

Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium v SsangYong Musso Ultimate comparison
  • 8
  • 7.5
  • 7.5
  • 8.5
  • 8
  • 8
  Submit an Owner Car Review

SSANGYONG MUSSO BREAKDOWN

Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium v SsangYong Musso Ultimate comparison
  • 7.5
  • 7.5
  • 8.5
  • 8.5
  • 8.5
  • 6
  Submit an Owner Car Review




SHARE THIS ARTICLE