Mitsubishi’s tough blue collar ute is thoroughly deserving of its workhorse reputation. By my estimation you need at least three cars to meet all of today’s common transport needs. There’s the small hatchback with great fuel economy for zipping around the suburbs; a vehicle with a spacious cargo area for picking up some new furniture or helping a friend move house;
And then there’s the 4WD with a decent towing capacity – comfortable enough for a long distance trip and powerful enough to hit the tracks with the trailer in tow. The 4WD Mitsubishi Triton may not tick that first box, but it definitely ticks the other two. This thing will get your friend into their new house, and boy can it tow – up to 2700kg, in fact.
Mitsubishi Australia recently loaned CTA a five-speed manual diesel 4WD Triton with club cab and aluminium tray. This vehicle comes in myriad body specs — there’s the single, club or double cab, 2WD or 4WD and a choice of trays.
In my opinion, and from a camper trailer perspective, our test vehicle is the pick of the bunch – the two-door club cab utility format is just brilliant. You get the benefit of a longer, rugged aluminium tray (as opposed to the shorter and more vulnerable cargo tray) while still being able to carry four people in relative comfort. With just the two of us, the club cab allowed us to keep all of our camera gear safely stowed and within arm’s reach in the back.
You do lose 450mm of aluminium tray with the club cab, so if you’re considering buying a ute to pair with a trayback you might be limiting your options. But it was still easily long enough to accommodate bicycles or surfboards, and the aluminium tray is by far the tougher option if the car is to be a tradie’s workhorse as well as a weekend camper trailering warrior.
My only real gripe concerned the back seat’s headrests – they’re fixed, and they impede the driver’s vision when reversing.
The interior styling is rather plain, with a standard plastic dash and centre console. The floor is vinyl, with carpet mats. But while less than inspiring, the design is eminently practical, being very easy to clean.
The Triton’s exterior styling has been lauded since it was first released, and it continues to please. It’s all about rounded contours coming to aggressive points — it’s much more aesthetically pleasing than your average ute, and in this respect it makes up for the plain interior. It’s the ultimate combination: maximum utility inside, hot looks on the outside.
On the move the ride is comfortable and remarkably quiet, especially for a diesel. And considering the Triton’s blue collar background, it comes with quite a few standard inclusions that really enhance the long distance driving experience.
The CD player has a Bluetooth option, which allowed us to listen to the music on our iPhones with no forward planning or extra equipment, and you can switch radio stations and adjust the volume using buttons on the steering wheel. There are drink holders scattered liberally throughout the front of the cab, one of which has a removable insert to accommodate both 1.25L and 600mL bottles – this impressed my soft drink obsessed boyfriend no end.
The front seats are comfortable and while I didn’t sit in the back, a Canadian hitchhiker who joined us for a while wasn’t complaining. The back will be perfect if you’ve got some kids to cart around.
I’ve never come across an easier-to-use cruise control system, which has its controls conveniently mounted on the steering wheel. A standard inclusion, the cruise control is a big bonus on longer trips, saving your right leg from those otherwise inevitable aches and pains.
The gear ratios felt quite different to those of Nissan’s Patrol or Toyota’s LandCruiser 70 Series. You really have to get her going before shifting, and it felt quite happy in second gear up to around 50km/h. Despite covering almost 1000km of highway, we only got into fifth a few times, with the engine feeling totally comfortable in fourth at speeds up to about 95km/h.
The heaviest trailer we towed weighed around 1500kg, and there was no appreciable loss of urge with it on the back — we easily cruised along the highway at 110km/h. Considering the Triton’s 2700kg towing capacity, this is hardly surprising, but welcome all the same — it’s bound to make a difference when towing your trailer through the rough stuff. That high towing capacity also makes it a ready contender for pulling the heavier crossover trailers that are becoming so popular these days.
We took her down a few 4WD tracks with a light offroad trailer (under 750kg) with absolutely no issues, despite encountering some soft sand and muddy terrain. We were running road tyres and standard suspension, and it is clear that with a few upgrades the Triton would be an eminently capable offroad rig. With a huge 400Nm of torque, in low range it’s just about unstoppable.
Mitsubishi’s independent double wishbone and coil spring suspension, which it first introduced on the short-wheel-base Pajero some 25 years ago, gives a comfortable highway ride (even with an empty tray), while still being stiff and tough enough for effective 4WDing.
Getting into and out of 4WD was easy in the Triton, unlike in some other 4WDs I’ve driven. The three available modes — 2WD, 4WD low range and 4WD high range — are clearly marked on the transfer lever, and there’s an indicator light on the dash for instant, at-a-glance visual confirmation.
CTA’s test ute also had the optional pushbutton rear differential lock, which we engaged on loose terrain and which performed well. This meant there was no need to get out of the car and fiddle with the hubs – a big bonus in bad weather.
The Mitsubishi factory warranty is pretty hard to beat, and it shows how much confidence the company has in the Triton. There’s a 10 year/ 160,000km (whichever comes first) warranty on the powertrain, and a five year/ 130,000km new vehicle warranty, which also includes roadside assist. The servicing costs are also capped for the first four years/ 60,000km, so there are no excuses not to get each service done bang on schedule, and the vehicle will only receive genuine Mitsubishi parts — both will invariably help bolster the Triton’s resale value.
The Triton truly deserves its reputation as a workhorse — it does everything it claims, and does it well. It may not have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive touring options, but it’s a very practical machine at a very competitive price, with great warranty backup. Of course, of particular note for RV owners are its excellent towing and offroad credentials.
The club cab layout is versatile and practical and you can’t go past the aluminium tray for durability. It’s probably not the best long-term touring prospect for families, but it’s an excellent vehicle for couples that can double as a great work truck for during the week, and it’s also ideal for weekend family getaways.
SPECIFICATIONS - MITSUBISHI TRITON, GLX Club Cab 4WD
Engine: 2.5L, 16-valve, four-cylinder, DOHC common rail diesel with intercooled turbocharger
Max power: 131kW at 4,000rpm
Max torque: 400Nm at 2,000rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Length: 5210mm, Width: 1750mm, Height: 1775mm
Wheelbase: 3000mm, Wheels: 16x6in (205R16C 110/108R 8PR)
Ground clearance: 200mm, Kerb mass: 1873kg
GVM: 2930kg, GCM: 5400kg
Fuel tank capacity: 75L
Towing capacity: 2700kg, Towball mass maximum: 270kg
Price (as tested): $39,440 (plus ORC)
Image: Claire Wilson