Big, boofy, simple. Kinda like Lenny from “Of Mice and Men” or the Warner Bros. cartoon equivalent. That’s an easy way to think of Mitsubishi‘s revamped Triton range, especially with a manual in the GLS.
This is not damning with faint praise, however. Steinbeck’s classic novel has Lenny as one of the twentieth century’s iconic characters so to draw the parallel between the two is fair. Triton has been around for some time; the name plate goes back as far as 1978. In current guise it’s big (over five metres in length and one point seven in height), reasonably roomy but not without quirks.
It’s boofy, in that you CAN take it off road (with an advanced electronic four wheel drive system) with barely an issue (one team took the Exceed to the Simpson desert) and simple, in that you get exactly what you see and there’s no pretentiousness about it.
A Wheel Thing once sold Tritons (in a former life) and welcomed the second Triton in three weeks to the driveway after a break of a few years. Again, it came in blue, much like the aforementioned Exceed, sans hard top canopy, luggage rack on the roof and chrome nudge bar. The height and length are physically imposing, as is the fact that it weighs 1950 kilograms, dry. There’s a humungous three metre wheelbase, one of the longest you’ll find, yet a nimble track of 1520 and 1515 mm, front and rear, respectively.
When loaded up to the brim, Mitsubishi says the Triton dual cab spec will weigh 2900 kg’s; as a result, Mitsubishi has thrown in its grunty 2.4L diesel to move the best around. At 2500 revs, the donk twists out 430 metres of Mr Newton’s torques. Below that point there’s still plenty of pull; around town the Triton (with a six speed manual fitted, in this case) will happily do 60 kmh in fourth with just 1500 revs and do so without struggling. At 120 kmh the GLS lopes along, with a mere 2000 rpm on the tacho with sixth engaged.
It’s economical too; drinking from a 75 litre tank, Mitsubishi quotes 7.2L used for every 100 kilometres covered. That’s a combined cycle usage, too. As a result, one could comfortably drive from Sydney to Melbourne (around 880 km) on a single tank and have diesel to spare.
Driven normally, the GLS is left in two wheel drive (as displayed by a simple icon in the dash between speed and tachometer). There’s a sense of wave like oomph up to 3000 revs before running out of said oomph as maximum power of 133 kilowatts is delivered at 3500 revs. Redline starts at 4000. The six speed manual is surprisingly in its untruck-like smoothness. There’s a good weight to the mechanism, a true sense of refinement in its movement but doesn’t always slot home correctly and does not like being hurried. The clutch is also similarly well weighted, with a pickup point that is natural in the progression of the pedal.
Externally, the Triton retains a design issue that hasn’t changed since the current look was unveiled in 2007. Yes, it’s tall. Yes, it has big doors that open wide. Yes, you still have to duck your head when you get in. If you want metallic paint, you’ll need to shell out another $550 as well.
The main changes to the 2016 range are cosmetic yet do add a sense of modernity; chrome now adorns the front grille, LED driving lights inside the restyled head light cluster, a crease in the front and rear flanks to join the two together visually and a restyled bumper set (front and rear) finish off the behemoth.The test car also came with a fabric tonneau cover, tub liner and chrome bar behind the cabin.
Internally it’s been refreshed with an updated dash layout, simple in its presentation yet exceedingly readable as a result, a centre console mounted four wheel drive selector knob (high and low range with diff lock) that lights up the aforementioned icon in the main dash display and sitting atop a monochrome multi information screen, a simple to read and use aircon control set and a 6.1 inch touchscreen for audio and settings usage.
There’s also a digital tuner, one that is not as sensitive, unfortunately, as those supplied to other brands tested. The cabin also gets Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted phone controls, USB and Auxiliary inputs.
Trim wise there’s a pretty serious problem: there’s way too much reflection from the upper dash into the windscreen, causing a blurred view forward thanks to that reflection and providing a potential safety issue. Either a non reflective coating for the inside of the ‘screen or, more effectively, a proper matt finish for the dash is needed. There’s a couple of nice touches, with a leather bound gear lever knob, chromed interior door handles, whilst safety comes with curtain airbags and a kneebag for the driver. Oddly, the headlight switch doesn’t offer an “Auto” option. Not a glaring oversight but it does detract, somewhat, from the safety aspect of driving.
The seats are comfortable, cloth wrapped and manual in adjustment, with enough finger room to easily slot home the seatbelt. A minor point but there are some big cars around that make this a somewhat difficult operation. With 860 mm of rear leg room, back seat passengers shouldn’t feel cramped either, along with 970 mm of head room (once you’ve ducked your head to get in…).
On the road, the big ute handles pretty well, archaic leaf sprung rear suspension not withstanding. On some road surfaces it skipped about at the rear but, to be fair, it’s been driven unladen. The steering is on target enough to have a driver pretty well connected with the direction the GLS is going, with no noticeable rack shake either. Its offroad prowess is nothing to sneeze at either; with a proper and dedicated transfer case, it’s readily eats up gravel and mud surfaces as easily as it does tarmac. The rubber is from Toyo, in a 245/55 size, wrapping a stylish set of 17 inch diameter alloys.
The final ratio gearing and that effortless delivery of torque make it an ideal highway cruiser, but being aimed mainly at suburban usage, the torque also offers right foot controlled flexibility in the mid gear range as well.
Quite simply, the Mitsubishi Triton is a car/truck/oversized ute I’d more than happily own. A grunty diesel, a decently appointed cabin which is roomy enough for the family, a very good manual gearbox (the auto is five speed only…) and liveable ride quality combine to give it enough to win the heart. The range starts from the high $30’s (figure around $38K driveaway for the four door cab ute). The vehicle tested was: $40990 plus tub liner, tonneau, metallic paint and HaymanReese towing kit, taking the GLS to just over $45K.
There’s also Mitsubishi’s warranty, (five years or one hundred thousand kilometres), roadside assist and capped price servicing for four years or sixty thousand kilometres (whichever comes first) to consider as well. For all details, go here: Mitsubishi Triton range.