triton - mitsubishi triton ute 1 - Mitsubishi Triton: if looks could thrill

What is it?

Mitsubishi is one of just a few brands enjoying increasing sales in a depressed market.

Its Triton, for instance, has leapt from nowhere to number three on the national sales charts, and its ATV is king of the small SUV sector.

Apart from new styling that has made it one of the best-looking utes on the road, Triton has benefited from a lot of extra standard equipment — there’s even a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera on the top model and other items not normally associated with utedom.

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What’s it cost?

The choice is vast: 20 models in the range, starting with the sole petrol-powered 4×2 GLX cab chassis at $22,490 through double cabs, club cabs, with or without ADAS (Mitsu’s comprehensive safety kit) and in 4×2 or 4×4 drive, manual or automatic and in three levels of specification — to the GLS Premium double cab 4×4 at $51,990.

As a measure of its success, the 4×2 Triton knocked Ford’s Ranger 4×2 off the number 2 perch in Western Australia last month.

However, we’re looking at the top-of-the-tree GLS Premium today, and we noticed we weren’t the only people looking.

The vehicle, with its so-called ‘dynamic shield’ front end flanked by squinty LED headlights and an imposing twin-bar bumper, attracted a lot of  attention wherever it went.

There’s a lot of leather in the cabin: seating, steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever, plus new soft-edged sections here and there and extra grab handles for the less athletic to haul themselves into the pleasant and spacious air-conditioned interior.

There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus GPS, DAB+ digital radio, and Bluetooth — but for satnav you need to pair your phone to the system.

That way the phone is always up to date and saves the manufacturer from having to install new software every two minutes as our towns and cities grow.

Dashboard controls are straightforward and easy to use and there are also USB sockets for whatever you need to plug in.

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What’s it go like?

The vehicle is a bit bigger than previous models.

The dual cab pick-up is now 25mm longer 15mm taller and ground clearance is also up 15mm to 220mm.

The GLS Premium will probably not be used to cart stuff like building materials around in. It’s a sport utility, a smart, classy ute one might like to use on a holiday trip.

I for one, would never consider taking it into the rough stuff – not with those gorgeous chromed mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels with road tyres and pool-deep paint.

There are lots of workhorse Tritons for hard work or bush bashing.

This one is for the company president.

Despite that, the GLS Premium comes with a rear diff lock. Bet it will never be used.

Other standard bits include push-button start, heated front seats, power adjustment for the driver’s pew, even paddle shifters which you’d use for sporty driving on tarmac — not in the Outback.

And there’s a neat round switch you can twirl should you want to crawl through a variety of unpleasant terrain.

Mitsubishi kindly fitted a wonderful crow’s-view camera system, which is a boon in car parks, where the Triton’s size can be a bit of a problem.

But if you really want to chuck something into the tray, well, it does come with a liner and a set of tiedown points.

Drive-wise, the GLS wants for nothing.

Under the shapely bonnet is a 133kW/430Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, matched to a new 6-speed automatic (last year’s had a five speed auto) for steady and seamless performance, making a country drive effortless.

It’s a comfortable ride with good visibility and a steering that needs tad more twirling than I expected at low speeds.

The suspension has been tuned for a slightly softer ride, by removing one of the leaf springs.

The Premium is a five-leafer, as opposed to six leaves on the ones expected to cope with tradie, farming or mining demands.

The ‘speed kills’ brigade will be happy to know the Triton is unmatched in its class for safety features.

There’s ‘forward collision mitigation’ which includes auto emergency braking (AEB) lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist,  parking sensors and a bunch of other stuff that you won’t find on any other ute.

Plus, of course, airbags everywhere, the maximum number of stars for crashworthiness, a huge seven-year warranty and low-cost servicing plan.

Fuel consumption probably wouldn’t matter to folk who buy this kind of vehicle, but Dr Bobla took our test Premium on a country squirt and came back beaming.

“It runs beautifully,” he said.

“I got 8.8L/100km on a long, undulating road, suggesting around 9.5-10 around town.”

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What we like?

  • Big power
  • Good looks
  • Unmatched safety
  • Fair pricing
  • Excellent finish

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What we don’t like?

  • Silver accents on dash reflect in mirrors

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The bottom line?

All in all a very competitive package. There are lots of reasons for its massive surge in popularity.

CHECKOUT: Triton Absolute: it’s your call

CHECKOUT: Chainsaw Magna a forgotten classic

 

Mitsubishi GLS Premium double cab 4x4, priced from $51,990
  • 8.5/10
    Looks - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 9.5/10
    Safety - 9.5/10
  • 8/10
    Thirst - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Practicality - 7.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Comfort - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
8.3/10

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.