There are times when you wonder where you went wrong in life. I've recently found myself pondering this question as I wrestle a 2008 Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R along the highway. Coming from a 2012 Ford Ranger I feel I have been transported to a time where not requiring a horse to transport your load was a novelty.
From the moment you climb up and fall into the seat you feel that something isn't quite right. The body sits high and yet the seat is low, more like a sedan than a modern ute. Padding could be described as adequate. It would be a lie, unless you weigh less than 50 kg. For anyone larger than a supermodel the seat is thin, uncomfortable and unsupportive. Maybe this was an attempt to mimic the seating of a sports car. An Evo perhaps? It fails dismally.
Reaching for the steering wheel you can't help but feel sorry for the owner of the boat from which Mitsubishi have stolen it. It is enormous. I've driven Kombis with smaller steering wheels. I've also driven Kombis with more steering feel. The Triton has vague, lifeless steering with an alarming amount of play around centre. I used to think the actors on Play School were hamming it up when they pretend to drive with their arms flailing up and down. To a three year old that's how you drive on a road. To a thirty three year old that's how you drive a Triton. I have concluded that the ABC must provide their actors with Tritons. When will the government learn that funding cuts have consequences?
If you thought the steering couldn't get any worse you haven't met its dim-witted, mouth breathing, inbred cousin otherwise known as the suspension. Suspension is typically tasked with keeping all four tyres on the road at any one time whilst protecting the driver and passengers. Not the Triton! It does its best to ensure the tyres are kept on the road while transferring as much pain as possible to those sorry enough to be in it. In addition to this it has a serious lack of concern for its own safety. Driving on the road at any speeds greater than walking is a lesson in futility. Any change in camber or slight bump in the road has it pitching and wallowing. The suspension feels stiffly sprung and severely under-damped. It never completely settles and if for a second you think it has it's because the suspension has finally got its act together and has combined to try and spear you over the closest embankment.
Unfortunately being speared over the closest embankment becomes tempting the longer you're subjected to the Triton's 3.2 litre diesel. The moment you fire it up you instinctively bring your knees together. This is to protect your valuables as it sounds like a piston is going to explode out of the block. I've driven Hiluxes with injector issues that woke the entire street when started. The Triton wakes the entire neighbourhood. Thankfully I haven't had any complaints as the quantity of black smog from the exhaust puts everyone back to sleep due to oxygen deprivation.
The downside to this environment friendliness is the fuel efficiency is poor. If you can get less than 10 L / 100 kms you've done very well. Either that or you've let the suspension have its way and let it send you over a cliff. In this situation most Triton drivers would turn off the engine to enjoy a brief moment of quiet.
My family wasn't very impressed with the Triton either. Well I assume they weren't impressed but I couldn't hear my wife over the roar of the engine. She didn't have her happy face on though. In a positive my toddler now calls every other car we travel in “the not-noisy car”.
An upside to buying a Triton is that you can buy one extremely cheaply. The downside is your medical bills will increase exponentially. Chiropractors aren't cheap. Nor are hearing aids.
To summarise I highly recommend the Triton to Mother-in-laws, dictators and friends who really shouldn't breed. You never know, if the aerobic exercise of trying to steer this boat doesn't give them a heart attack then the suspension might send them over a bridge. If all else fails the engine may shoot a piston into them or the smog will make their swimmers lazy. As for me, I'm going to research the fuel efficiency of a draught horse.