The Mitsubishi Triton is a compact ute that has a history dating back to 1978. The original ute that Mitsubishi produced was called the Forte in Japan, and over the years, it has been known by a number of names before the Triton moniker finally stuck. The earlier versions were very boxy, commercial vehicles, but the models built after 1996 started to take on a friendlier look. By the fourth-generation vehicles of 2005, the Triton was a softer, styled vehicle, designed to appeal to domestic users looking for a ute with a little more poke.
The current Triton is a bullish, hard-nosed looking ute, with a full rounded front, prominent grille with the ‘Mount Fuji’ pattern, deep bumper, and relatively small headlight cluster. The cabin and side panels are well rounded, and the car end with a cut-off tailgate. There are 3 trim levels available: the base Triton GL which is a 4x2, the GLX in both 4x2 as well as 4x4, and the GL-R 4x4, along with 3 different cab styles including single or double and duel cab.
The interior is built for comfort, so even over rough terrain, occupants are carried about with ease. The double cab is capable of taking 5 passengers without a problem. All models are packed with storage cubbies, compartments, pockets, and a large rear tray.
The 4.2 single cab Tritons are fitted with a 2.4L engine that produces 94kW of power and has a torque rating of 194Nm, while the slightly beefier 2.5L puts out 100kW and 314Nm of torque. The 4x4 Tritons come with the more powerful 2.5L turbodiesel engines. These are rated at 131kW and 400Nm of torque and will grind their way over any terrain. The fuel costs on the Triton are pretty decent, as you can get an average combined trip of 12.8L/100km.
There are also 3 options of transmission on offer: a 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, and a 5-speed auto with a sports mode. The Triton comes equipped with the Mitsubishi All Terrain Technology (MATT), which controls the all-wheel drive system and can be set for differing conditions like snow or gravel.
The rough off-road nature of the Triton means that safety is paramount, and Mitsubishi has paid particular attention to these features. Sturdy side impact beams and driver and passenger SRS airbags help to keep everyone secure. The body is of tough tensile steel construction and designed to preserve the vehicle’s integrity in the event of an accident.
The base model Triton still comes particularly well packaged with air-con, powered windows, powered steering, central locking, and remote keyless entry.
Take it up a notch to the GLX model and along with the 2.5L turbodiesel engine, there is the option of an automatic transmission, stylish black grille with chrome bars, slip differential, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, active stability, traction control, and powered mirrors. Inside you get more too with the Mitsubishi Communication System that has satnav, a DVD player, Bluetooth, an audio system with MP3 port, USB, iPod and auxiliary connections, and cruise control. The top-range GLX-R has plenty of additional refinements with a leather-covered steering wheel and gear lever, alloy pedals, and a titanium instrument cluster, all of which are only options on the other packages.
The outback has always been a proving ground for anyone trying to make it in the 4x4 ute market, and it is not a surprise that the Triton has constantly faced stiff competition. The current crop of contenders include the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT50, Ford Ranger, Land Rover Discovery, and the home-grown Holden Colorado.
The Mitsubishi Triton has a long and prestigious history in the ute segment, and it is tough due to the rival vehicles and the landscape they are judged against. The Triton is perhaps not top of class, but it is certainly not a lame packhorse either. It’s nicely styled and has good performance and handling abilities.
In the Triton, Mitsubishi has built a great outdoor vehicle, whether you want one for commercial travel between businesses or something durable in which the family can get away. The proof of its abilities lies in the fact that it has competed in the Dakar Rally, probably one of the sternest tests a vehicle can undergo.
Second-hand ones are holding their value well, but it’s worth giving them a good look over as any ute used extensively for commercial purposes may be carrying a few battle scars along the way. Earlier models that have been looked after and serviced regularly are a good investment.