Of the myriad utes available – and selling their mud-encrusted boots off – the 2018 Mitsubishi Triton GLS absolutely looks like it is the most ‘balanced’ option on paper.
In its tested dual-cab, diesel-powered, four-wheel drive specification, the Triton GLS isn’t cheap but it isn’t expensive. It doesn’t have a plethora of standard equipment, but at the same time it covers more than the basics for less than almost all rivals.
While it isn’t the largest ute in its segment, it undercuts only slightly bigger but far more popular utes – Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux – by thousands. At the same time, the Mitsubishi is only slightly pricier than a Chinese-made LDV T60, for example.
Whether that on-paper ‘sweet spot’ translates to on-road (and off-road) prowess, however, will be the real test for this otherwise beautifully balanced dual cab.
Vehicle Style: Dual-cab ute.
Price: $44,000 (plus on-road costs).
Engine/trans: 133kW/430Nm 2.4 four-cylinder turbo-diesel | five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.6 l/100km | Tested: 8.9 l/100km
The pricetag for the Triton GLS may read $44,000 plus on-road costs, but at the time of writing Mitsubishi is selling it for $38,990 driveaway. And this wouldn’t be mentioned if it was a one-time offer, but that low pricetag is pretty much permanent.
At driveaway pricing, that’s only $2150 more than the Chinese T60 Luxe with which it shares most of its equipment (with the exception of leather-trimmed heated seats, auto on/off headlights and wipers, blind-spot monitor and keyless auto-entry).
A buyer does, however, score 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, sidesteps, a rear sports bar, chrome-tinted doorhandles, electric-fold door mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, and dual-zone climate control.
And here’s the kicker: for $38,990 and $39,490 driveaway at the time of writing respectively, a Holden Colorado LS 4x4 and Isuzu D-Max SX 4x4 get steel wheels, and miss foglights, a sports bar or a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Meanwhile a $55,440 (plus orc) Toyota HiLux SR5 is a kit-match, while only adding auto on/off headlights, satellite navigation and keyless auto-entry for its $10K-plus (!) premium.
- Standard Equipment: Keyless entry, multi-function trip computer, power windows and mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, electric-folding door mirrors and auto-off high-density discharge (HID) headlights.
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, digital radio, and USB and HDMI inputs with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
- Options Fitted: None.
As the above price and equipment dissection highlights, this Mitsubishi feels like an up-spec dual-cab for an entry-level price. Even considering the hard dashboard plastics, basic cloth trim and simple instrumentation, none of its rivals bar the soon-updated Ford Ranger – which is as pricey as HiLux – are substantially better inside.
Indeed the Triton GLS feels extremely well built, with tight fit and finish that shames the likes of the aforementioned LDV T60 – and on that basis alone this Japanese-badged and Thailand-built ute is surely worth the circa-$2K extra.
With height and reach adjustment for the steering, a great driving position can be found and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. There’s decent – if not expansive – storage and everything else is ergonomically ideal, with a particular nod going to the new-for-2018 standard touchscreen.
It may not have built-in sat-nav, but its high screen resolution, quick response rate, standard digital radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring more than compensate at this price.
These days, where dual-cab utes are used as family cars, the Triton also delivers one of the most comfortable back seats around. With a tilted-up base and gently reclined backrest, plus a fold-down armrest and competitive headroom and legroom, it feels more like a big small hatchback than a ute workhorse in the rear.
Impressively, it manages that competitive roominess with a body length and width of 5280mm and 1815mm respectively, which is adrift of a T60 (5365mm/1900mm) or Ranger (5362mm/1860mm) that are among the largest in the segment.
In the rear tub, the Mitsubishi is also competitive for cargo length (1520mm versus the LDV’s 1484mm and Ford’s 1549mm) if not width (1470mm plays 1510mm and 1560mm for that duo respectively). Meanwhile a tub liner also costs extra.
But if those extra 29mm to 90mm – talking a centimetre or so at best – aren’t a deal breaker, then best read on.
ON AND OFF THE ROAD
- Engine: 133kW/430Nm 2.4 4cyl turbo diesel.
- Transmission: Five-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Independent front and leaf-spring rear.
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear drum brakes.
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering.
The best utes in the segment can tow 3.5 tonnes – step right up Colorado, D-Max and Ranger. But the HiLux is the most popular vehicle in the country and it lugs 3.2t, so it’s clearly no deal breaker for many buyers. The Toyota, in SR5 trim, also has a 925kg payload versus similar 3.1t-towing and a higher 965kg payload for this Mitsu.
Best forget the 3.0t-towing LDV at this point, but not just for being behind in that respect. Quite simply this Triton strides comfortably ahead of that rival, which is slow and doughy – well behind even the tail enders of the class.
This GLS may not have the torque of the Holden (500Nm), but its 2.4-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder’s 430Nm is competitive with the Toyota’s 450Nm, while its 133kW of power beats the HiLux by a scant 3kW.
A five-speed automatic is no deal breaker here, either, because the transmission smoothly upshifts at 3800rpm and therefore more closely stacks each of those ratios than, say, a six-speed petrol-engined vehicle with a 6000rpm redline.
This diesel isn’t quick, but nor is it slow. It’s relatively vibration-free and smoothens out still under duress, where it proves willing to rev. Even a much pricier five-cylinder diesel Ranger certainly isn’t as refined as this engine.
With decently comfortable suspension and reasonably reduced road noise, the Mitsubishi treads a nice middle ground among rivals. It’s smoother than the Toyota but not as plush (or dynamic) as the Ford. This Triton can feel a bit abrupt and jiggly when unladen at urban speeds, but it smoothens out nicely as speeds rise.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues is its steering, which is slow and ponderous around town – but, once again, it becomes decently linear and consistent at speed.
At least on an equal billing to that disappointment is also the lack of any autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assistance or blind-spot monitor equipment, which should be standard these days.
Off road, meanwhile, and the Japanese dual-cab deals well with corrugations while remaining planted and stable, backed by a nicely tuned electronic stability control (ESC).
Over rocky terrain its approach and departure angles (30 degrees and 24 degrees) are competitive with HiLux (31deg/26deg), but its low-hanging rear differential reduces ground clearance to just 205mm – way off the Toyota’s 279mm.
With rear-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive high- and low-range, plus impressive suspension travel, the high-riding Mitsubishi clambered over our moderate test track without issue. However anything more severe could be a concern, keep in mind.
It’s also worth noting that this GLS misses the rear differential lock standard on the higher-spec Blackline and Exceed versions – which would have come in handy over slanted ground. Even so, the Blackline is currently on sale for $41,490 driveaway.
NCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Mitsubishi Triton range scored 36.22 out of 37 possible points when tested by ANCAP in 2015.
Safety Features: Dual front, front-side and full-length curtain airbags, ABS and ESC, and rear-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/100,000 kilometres.
Servicing: Annual or 15,000km servicing intervals at a capped-price $350 for the first and $580 for the following three until four years or 60,000km.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Ranger is best-in-class, especially for its steering, ride comfort, towing, and interior appointments. It’s hugely expensive, and a facelifted model is coming, but even now it’s still leaps and bounds ahead of a similarly pricey HiLux.
The Colorado is a good-value mix of torque and towing, as is the recently revised – and by all accounts bulletproof – D-Max. But for under $40K the Triton challenges them both, and trumps the underdone T60 Luxe.
- Ford Ranger XLS
- Holden Colorado LS
- Isuzu D-Max SX
- LDV T60 Luxe
- Toyota HiLux SR5
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Mitsubishi Triton GLS is perhaps the very definition of an all-rounder. It doesn’t hit absolute highs in any area, with the exception of its amazing price and equipment level. Equally, though, it never dips to any significant lows – unless, of course, ground clearance is a deal breaker, because only then does it literally dip too low.
The diesel engine is decently torquey yet refined, the cabin is very comfortable and reasonably quiet, its ride comfort is quite good even if the handling is merely average, the tray is competitively sized and towing is broadly even with top rivals.
If a buyer is seeking class-best performances in any one of those attributes, then surely other competitors will be worth paying extra for. If not, however, then there seems to be no significant reason to spend more than $40-45K on a family-oriented dual-cab ute.
Especially with excellent build quality and a five-year warranty, the Triton GLS stands tall with among the best balance of price, equipment and overall ability in the market.
- Interested in buying Mitsubishi Triton? Visit our Mitsubishi Triton showroom for more information.