A model-year change for a car is like a birthday. Sometimes it’s a big one, but other times it is just another page on the calendar.
For example, when the Mitsubishi Triton was updated to the 2020 model, it was the dramatic equivalent to that 33rd, 34th or was it the 36th birthday... Still good, but largely unremarkable.
That's why we've chosen to cover the MY19 Triton again, as a runout review, instead of simply sliding into another MY20: there are still so many brand-new MY19 Tritons sitting in dealerships with fresh warranties and massive savings to be had.
Our test car is the GLS Premium, which topped out the Triton range prior to the GSR variant arriving to share the limelight. The change to the 2020 spec? The rear sports bars change from chrome to black – but, in a strange twist of irony, ours had black ones fitted as an option by the dealer anyway.
So, ah, this 2019 Triton is identical to a 2020 Triton, with just a 12-month gap in the compliance date.
To be fair, though, the MY20 Triton range did receive a few updates in other models, namely the inclusion of a rear differential lock on the GLS and GLX+, so, depending on your needs, there is still reason to look at the current line-up.
But for now, we’ll roll back to the future in big blue here.
Back in 2019, this Impulse Blue double-cab rolled off the lot for $51,990, plus $740 for the metallic paint (amongst seven choices available) and associated on-road costs. We’ll assume the $1316 list price for the black sports bar was negated in a swap for the chrome item. If you did the same thing today, you’d pay exactly $800 more.
The thing is, although Mitsubishi is offering the MY20 GLS Premium, in all but the pearl-finish white-diamond paint, for $50,290 drive-away, itself a good deal, you can pick up a brand-new MY19 Triton pick-up for under $44K on the road.
That’s a whopping $10,000 off list, with stamp duty, registration and all those other cumbersome fees thrown in to boot.
The Triton’s no challenger outsider either. It sits on the podium behind the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux in the competitive 4x4 pick-up sales category. Plus, in terms of the GLS Premium, there’s plenty of equipment on offer, too.
Power comes from a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel with 133kW and 430Nm. The peak torque band is higher, 2500rpm, than something like a HiLux, which peaks at 1600rpm, but on our test it matched the claimed 8.6 litres per 100km fuel consumption on a combined cycle.
Note, too, that there is no instant fuel economy reading on the instrument display, just the average.
The lack of low-down response makes it feel a bit slow off the line, but it carries urban and touring pace well enough. The six-speed automatic works well, and there are even paddles fixed to the steering column, like a Lambo, should you wish to change cogs yourself.
Underneath is Mitsubishi’s Super-Select II 4WD system that allows the car to be driven in four-wheel drive all the time, like an SUV. You still get a high- and low-range off-road all-paw option as well as a rear differential lock.
It’s still a ute, though, and the ride is what could best be described as fidgety. You’ll always get a bit of movement from the leaf-sprung rear, especially without a load, but the Mitsubishi is just a little too bouncy, especially considering other cars in this price band, like the Ranger, offer much more composure.
Yes, it can tow (3100kg rating), it can carry a load (858kg), and it can bash around off-road (27.5-degree approach, 23-degree departure, 25-degree ramp-over), but it’s not a standout in any one of these areas. Treat it as a genuine all-rounder, though, and the Triton starts to work unremarkably well.
There’s room enough in the rear, with the backrest offering decent support. There is a 12-volt charge point, a handy shelf, and roof-mounted air vents to keep people comfortable, too.
Up front, you have a 7.0-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It has integrated DAB digital radio and support for Bluetooth and USB audio inputs, but strangely, despite having a GPS function to explain where it is, there’s no native navigation feature.
You score parking sensors, heated seats, and even a surround-view camera… Which isn’t very clear, or at all useful at night, or in the wet. But hey, it’s still handy at the shops.
There’s digital climate control that strangely didn’t go cooler than 18 degrees, and perhaps even more strangely felt Antarcticly cold when set at 20 degrees. No pleasing some people is there!
Most importantly, the GLS Premium includes a broad suite of Mitsubishi’s MiTec safety and driver-assistance equipment. There’s rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot alert, lane-departure warning, a forward-collision mitigation function, and even conveniences like automatic headlights and wipers. This is all pretty impressive to see on a vehicle like the Triton, and yet another reason as to why we’re seeing plenty of Australian families move to a double-cab as regular transport.
It’s not perfect, however. Set the cruise control and there’s no feedback on the instruments to note what speed you’ve set it at. Plus, despite all that tech, it’s a regular cruise system and not adaptive.
Fit and finish are still strongly linked to the Triton’s working-class roots, and while solid, it isn’t as ‘nice’ as some other utes.
You could argue, though, that as a package, the 2019 Triton GLS Premium is greater than the sum of its parts. Adequate and generous in equal parts, despite its lack of finesse and refinement in areas, you can see why it has become such a popular option.
So, will that $10K saving now hurt your resale down the track? Not likely.
A quick scour of the classifieds has four- and five-year-old Tritons priced within a few hundred dollars of each other. The mathematics is simple: the longer you keep the car, the less the compliance plate will matter. You’re at another set of birthdays now, 40-something or 40-something and one, they all blend. Trust me.
Servicing is capped at $299 per year for the first three years on both MY19 and MY20 Tritons, and Mitsubishi offers a seven-year, 150,000km factory warranty program, which is excellent peace of mind regardless of the year it was built.
It might not be the most premium or most capable, but in terms of being a strong-performing all-rounder, the now tough-looking Triton is certainly worth a look. The runout model simply presents an even stronger value argument to an already well-priced machine.