Simon Lai reviews the new Mitsubishi Triton at its Australian Launch.
I got to check out the new 2015 Mitsubishi Triton ahead of time before it goes on sale round the country today.
For the launch, Mitsubishi flew us up to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, famous for its sand and local dingo population. Oh, did I mention they have sand?
From Hervey Bay we were all pilled into several small single-engine planes for the short flight over to the eastern side of the island.
We certainly made an entrance with a beach landing where the fleet of utes were all waiting for us.
Available to us were the top of the range Mitsubishi Triton Exceed and the mid-spec GLS. Both are 4WD, double cabs. The GLS 6-speed manual retails from $40,990, GLS 5-speed auto for $3000 more and for the Exceed auto you’re looking at $47,490.
There is a base model GLX that comes in manual single or club cab chassis’s. The range also accommodates 2x4s, and it’s only $24,490 for an entry level Triton.
The new 4×4 line up all come with a 2.4L turbo diesel engine that deals 133kW of power and a decent 430Nm of pull, more than before and out of a slightly smaller engine. It’s had a makeover with a new front grille and a lot more chrome.
New standard features include a-pillar handles, side steps, hill start assist, trailer stability assist, speed limiter, and best of all the simple but useful addition of telescopic steering adjustment.
The GLS package contains 17” alloy wheels, HID lamps and daytime running lights, dual zone climate control and 6” touchscreen.
Meanwhile, the Exceed possesses paddle shifters, smart key and push button, auto lights and wipers, leather power seats, rear diff lock and a 7” touchscreen (the same as in the new Outlander).
Rear view camera is standard on the models we drove and is an optional extra in the GLX range.
The first leg was a brief beach drive before we turned inland for the sandy tracks of the interior heading in an anti-clockwise direction towards the other side of the island. Fraser doesn’t have as much exposed sand as you would think.
The view from the air was a sea of green and this was confirmed on closer inspection, finding ourselves driving through long established rainforests and woodlands.
The tracks themselves were well worn creating ruts or tyre grooves making it easy to follow.
The sand was also packed down in most places and was on a solid foundation, so getting stuck was hardly an issue. We did all of the island drive in hi-4WD mode without deflating our tyres.
However if you do require low range capability to traverse tricky terrain, the Triton is fitted with a 4WD mode selector.
You can chose between 4-Hi and 4-Lo and with a centre diff lock.
Tracks were relatively level with some mild undulations so the most we encountered were bumps, divots and uncovered roots and the improved suspension in the Triton handled all of this satisfactorily.
Time for a change and into the manual GLS. The interior is much the same with a slightly small touchscreen and fewer buttons. Steering wheel controls are the standard Mitsubishi configuration and the gear shifter is quite long as is common with the brand.
The seats are fabric with a cool grey mesh lining.
Naturally, it’s hard work in a manual going over undulating sand without relying on an auto gearbox to select your gear. Any issue I had were down to my own driver error and the Triton responded in the same manner at the auto transmission.
Only drama I had was I did find myself fighting with the stick to put into reverse.
Having done something very similar only recently at the Isuzu launch, it provided a good point of comparison between two utes on sandy terrain. The most obvious difference was the noise from inside the cabin.
The Triton was a lot quieter than the D-MAX while off-road or even on bitumen. Mitsubishi has done work on the insulation and the engine (although the Isuzu has a larger 3.0L engine).
They both handled the identical environments with aplomb but the interior of the Triton is somewhat more refined with less of an industrial feel which is what their competitor was aiming to achieve.
The drive portion of the first day took us up till dusk with the sun disappearing as we arrived at our accommodation.
A hard day of off-roading deserved a well earned rest.
Rising early the next morning we resumed more sand driving as we made tracks for the southern tip of the island for the long trek back to Brisbane.
In convoy we crossed back over to the pacific ocean side and down a large portion of the even larger 120km beach ‘highway’.
At the bottom is a car ferry which bridges the gap across one of the shortest distances between Fraser Island and the mainland taking only a few short minutes.
Once back on solid land it was time to test out the Triton with more normal road driving conditions we’re all accustomed to.
Mitsubishi claims the Triton is more car-like and I found this to be the case. If you forget about the tub in the back, it felt like driving in an SUV. The feel of the steering combined with the driving position and suspension granted a steady, comfortable ride even at high speed down the highway.
Acceleration is acceptable and puts the power down to the road.
The maker is priding itself on the Triton’s impressive turning circle and the interior cabin space. I sat in the back and of course, being a ute the seats are fairly upright and non-adjustable but it was comfortable considering with ample legroom.
The final feather in its cap is safety, possessing, for the first time, a full five star ANCAP safety rating.
Mitsubishi has made some good improvements to the Triton inside and out especially with the upper spec models.
Whether you to do a lot of towing, holidaying, or just a tradie, the versatile range will have a model to suit everyone.