It’s the first all-new Mitsubishi Triton in almost 20 years, and we got our first taste of a pre-production model on sand dunes.
- Twin-turbo engine feels strong
- New chassis feels composed and capable
- Interior and exterior design feels mature
- Potential performance fade in higher rev range
- Front-end look may take some getting used to
- A better ute means a higher price
The last time Mitsubishi released an all-new Triton, George W Bush Jr was inaugurated for his second term as US president, ‘glamping’ was added to the dictionary, and the first-ever video was uploaded to a recently launched website called YouTube.
The motoring landscape in Australia also looked a lot different, with the Holden Commodore taking its 10th crown as the country’s best-selling car, ahead of the Ford Falcon.
It was a simpler time, and utes didn’t even have their own segment within industry reporting – they were lumped in with light commercial vehicles – with the Triton showing strong sales next to the Holden Rodeo, Ford Courier, Toyota HiLux, and Toyota HiAce.
It’s almost two decades later, and thanks to a number of major upgrades and facelifts to the outgoing model, the Mitsubishi Triton was the third-highest-selling ute in 2022 – behind the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger, the two best-selling vehicles of the year respectively.
But it’s a new world, where utes dominate the marketplace, and pressure is mounting from Chinese newcomers who are quickly finding their feet, offering a lot of features for not a lot of money.
From the outside, it appears as if the Japanese car maker is hedging its bets: pushing the Triton more upmarket in an effort to steal customers away from the segment leaders, while also offering an automatic dual-cab for less than $44,000 before on-road costs – placing pressure on its competitors at each end of the spectrum.
And while pricing has increased by as much as 15 per cent for some Triton variants, buyers are getting a lot more of everything.
There’s a new twin-turbo engine, a larger infotainment screen with plenty of tech, and significantly more safety gear than on the previous model – with Mitsubishi targeting a five-star ANCAP rating within the first three months of launch.
Bigger is better, and the tray is now 35mm longer at 1555mm, 30mm wider at 1545mm, while the dual-cab Triton’s body is only 15mm longer overall at 5320mm, 50mm wider at 1865mm, with its wheelbase increasing by 130mm to 3130mm, and its wheel tracks pushing out by 50mm to 1570mm front and 1565mm rear. Only its height remains unchanged at 1795mm.
The turning circle isn’t as good as the outgoing model, increasing from 11.8 metres to 12.4 metres – however, the company says the steering, now electric, is quicker from turn to turn, reducing the amount of input by the driver to get around corners. Or, at least, making it easier to do a three-point turn now.
Mitsubishi also says it has improved aerodynamics by 8.1 per cent, while improving torsional rigidity in the ute’s chassis by 60 per cent compared to the outgoing model.
The Triton can now tow up to 3500kg (braked) while offering a payload capacity of 665kg in the GLS and 635kg in the GSR.
Those numbers are significant, given the industry-leading Toyota HiLux SR5 can handle a payload of just 240kg when towing 3500kg (with a tow ball weight of 350kg), while the Ford Ranger XLT offers 586kg. Step up to the Ranger Wildtrak and that number falls to 521kg. Select an Isuzu D-Max LS-U, and you can only carry a payload of 390kg.
All of which should make the new Mitsubishi Triton a prime candidate for boating types and grey nomads looking to avoid fines at weigh stations.
For the time being, the Mitsubishi Triton comes in just four variants: the base GLX, the GLX+, the GLS, and finally the range-topping GSR – the one we’ll be driving. For detailed pricing and specifications, you can read our previous coverage by clicking here.
Mitsubishi has said cab-chassis models will be coming before the end of 2024, and the boss of Mitsubishi’s Australian arm has dropped hints about a potential Triton Ralliart model.
While yet unconfirmed, the Ralliart is expected to sit above the GSR, and could potentially offer either a V6 or a boost to power thanks to some kind of hybrid system. Stay tuned for that one.
What engine does the 2024 Mitsubishi Triton have?
All 2024 Mitsubishi Triton variants at launch will come with a new 2.4-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, which the company admits was derived from the previous single-turbo engine, but is essentially all-new.
However, performance, fuel economy, and emissions have all been improved with the new powerplant – which isn’t an easy trifecta to hit.
No matter what variant you choose, you’ll have 150kW and 470Nm to play with, being fed through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Curiously, Mitsubishi does have access to an eight-speed automatic – as fitted to the Pajero Sport, being the off-road, seven-seater SUV based on the (outgoing) Triton. Mitsubishi’s people wouldn’t be drawn on exactly why they didn’t go with the eight-speed, though we suspect the six-speed might simply be a stronger gearbox, and will have a better chance of outliving a 10-year warranty with the extra torque and towing capacity of the new Triton.
At this stage, only the base Triton GLX can be optioned in either two- or four-wheel drive, while all other variants come standard with dual-range four-wheel drive.
We did spot a prototype dual-cab with a manual transmission, and Mitsubishi has said a manual is coming – though whether it’s just for base cab-chassis models or the wider range, we’ll have to wait and see.
|2024 Mitsubishi Triton GSR
Mitsubishi claims the new Triton now consumes diesel at a rate of 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres (or 7.5L/100km for the GLX 4×2) – down from a claimed 8.6L/100km in the outgoing model.
As mentioned, emissions are also down – from 225g/km in the previous GSR to 203g/km in the forthcoming GSR, and even as low as 199 in the GLX 4×2.
That’s thanks to the new Triton requiring a urea additive, commonly marketed as ‘AdBlue’ in Australia. Mitsubishi says the Triton will typically only need topping up at service intervals, which are scheduled at 15,000km intervals.
While most European commercial vans now use AdBlue, it’s been fairly rare to see it in the dual-cab ute market to the point – though it’s worth mentioning the 2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak X also requires it for its 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine. We suspect Mitsubishi is future-proofing the Triton for any potential changes to Australian legislature.
What is the 2024 Mitsubishi Triton like to drive?
Before we jump into it, there are a few caveats you need to be aware of. This is a pre-production prototype, and while Mitsubishi has locked in the features and specifications of the new Triton for Australia, there’s always the possibility of something changing on the car when it enters production.
Then there’s the fact that this wasn’t a normal road test. We weren’t allowed to take the prototypes onto public roads, which means we were limited to a small desert composed mostly of soft sand dunes with some rocky terrain mixed in. However, after a few laps with our minders, we were let loose in the sand pit with our new toys.
The first thing that is immediately obvious is that Mitsubishi has been paying attention. To its customers, to the market, and to its competition.
While I personally don’t mind it, some people aren’t sold yet on the front-end look – but Mitsubishi has played it very safe when designing the rest of the ute. It’s handsome, understated, masculine, and has done away with many of the design quirks of the last generation. Which should go some way to win over Aussie buyers.
That design philosophy has continued into the cabin. It’s understated, mature, and Mitsubishi seems to have made sure ergonomics took precedence – with my perfect seating position easy to find quickly and all the controls falling to hand naturally. For a bigger guy like myself, the seats were very comfortable and did a good job of holding my heft over the bouncy stuff.
Ingress and egress were especially easy. I just happened to have spent a few days driving around in a new Ford Ranger less than a week earlier, and found there was a huge space between the edge of the side steps and the seat – like Ford had taken inspiration from a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. While there were no side-steps on the Triton, there doesn’t appear to be the same kind of large gap between the edge of the car and the seat.
I had prepared myself for a pre-production prototype that was stuck together with spit and gum, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this Triton felt as if it had rolled off the showroom floor. The fit and finish were excellent, the quality of plastics was great, and the special orange contrast stitching of the GSR was striking, lifting the feel of the interior without being over-the-top or garish.
When we were taken for sighting laps – with an engineer spruiking the off-road technology from the back seat – it all felt like this four-wheel-drive ute was doing what it should, right? Driving off-road.
At one point, with another driver at the wheel, the car slipped into the soft sand, which always feels concerning (especially as a passenger), but with a bit of steering correction the Triton was able to recover and pull itself out safely.
During my alone time with the Triton, while filming, I have to admit I got myself bogged – twice. It wasn’t until the second time that I realised I had forgotten to engage ‘sand’ mode on the multi-terrain control dial after turning the engine on. After doing that, the ute literally crawled out of soft, deep sand and away I went, and I didn’t have any issues after that.
Keep in mind, the Triton was running highway tyres – albeit at 18psi.
It’s one thing to be told how great a technology works, but to see it do what it says on the label after seeing what can happen without it – that’s when it feels really impressive.
Mitsubishi has also stuck with its ‘Super Select II’ four-wheel-drive system that allows 4×4 high to be used on sealed surfaces with an open centre differential, but also retains 4×2 and off-road 4×4 high and low range (the latter two with a locked centre differential).
The two most immediate changes I noticed to the way the new Triton drives were the stiffness of the chassis, and the bank of torque in the low-to-mid rev range thanks to its sequential turbochargers. The whole ute feels stiff, composed, and with a strong engine with more than enough performance to get you off the line and to the speed limit without being overworked.
Only in the upper rev range did the engine feel as if it began to run out of puff. Mitsubishi quotes 470Nm of torque from 1500rpm to 2750rpm, while peak power hits at 3500rpm. It was hard to get an accurate read on those sand dunes, but there might be a performance dip from around 3000rpm. We’ll have to wait and see once we drive it on the road.
I didn’t really notice the six-speed auto, which is to say it was working away in the background without needing any intervention from me. It was smooth and geared well in low-range. I also liked that it had a conventional gear selector – why reinvent the wheel? Or stick, as it were.
Steering. Mitsubishi is now using electric power steering in the Triton, and while it was difficult to evaluate it with the low-pressure tyres on soft sand, the Triton didn’t feel as if it suffered from the industry fad of making the steering as light and flaccid as possible. There’s some weight, some feedback, and the ratio was right where I wanted it to be.
|2024 Mitsubishi Triton GSR
|2.4-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel
|150kW @ 3500rpm
|470Nm @ 1500–2750rpm
|6-speed torque converter automatic
Mitsubishi made a big deal out of the fact that the Triton has special suspension tuned for Australian conditions. That includes larger-diameter shock absorbers with 10 per cent more travel, which means the shocks can handle rough roads and corrugations for a longer period of time – as well as offering greater comfort and towing performance.
Off-road, and no doubt helped by the stiffer chassis and wider track, Mitsubishi’s new ute felt comfortable and capable and as if it was always in contact with the ground, even when running across bumps and lumps at speed.
Mitsubishi’s people are clearly proud of their new Triton, and my initial impression is they have every right to be. This looks and feels like a vehicle they’ve spent some serious time and effort in making it a contender in its class, and so far, I haven’t been able to find any serious compromises.
That could all change once we get a production car out on the road and test it against the industry leaders, but here, right now, this feels like the first draft of a story with a happy ending.
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