Mitsubishi’s ageing Triton is a conundrum. On one hand it represents excellent value and stands out from the other dual cab utes while delivering good performance and comfort, but on the other hand  it is an ageing platfom with some distinct handicaps compared with newer rivals. We climbed abord the Triton GSR for a 2000km drive and  tow test  and found this ageing Diamond is still a valued heirloom of the ute market.

The phone call from a friend came  on Monday and  the plaintiff voice  was clearly fishing for some help.

“I just bought a race car and a trailer and I have to get it from the Central Coast   up here to Brisbane,” was the statement without actually asking a question.

“Well you might just be in  luck,” was the reply.

It just so happens that we have a new Mitsubishi Triton GSR dual cab on test this week , with a towbar and  we wanted to do an extended tow test so how about we bring it up on Thursday.

The joy on the other end of the phone was palpable and  clearly we had made his day.

The Mitsubishi Triton is arguably the most unsung hero of the increasingly popular and vital dual cab ute market in Australia.  Before the  increasingly good crop of Chinese utes lobbed, the Triton clearly represented the best value amongst the Japanese ute brigade, and even against the lower prices of the Chinese makes, the Triton is still an excellent proposition.

We hooked up our friend’s new race car and trailer on Wednesday afternoon and  prepped ourselves for an early departure on Thursday morning to ensure we would arrive in the Queensland capital  around mid afternoon.

With the  load being hauled behind tipping the scales at a shade under two tonnes the Triton handled the task easily, cruising at 110km/h  on the motorway and not having too much energy sapped on  the big hills of the Pacific.

None of the other Japanese utes on the market represent the same value proposition that Triton delivers, not just in features, but in fit and finish and actual on road performance .

Others may have an edge in some areas of performance and handling but the cost is much higher, for instance Ford’s excellent Ranger, but the Triton like for like is thousands, nay tens of thousands cheaper that the big Ford ute.

The  Triton GSR we  were in was painted in a striking bronze colour, which seems to be. A trendy paint tone in the ute market at the moment and certainly one that makes it stand out on the road. The other aspect of the Triton is that it has a very distinctive styling  compared with its market opponents, and the GSR has a few other accoutrements  to make it an even more stylish vehicle to address the ‘lifestyle’ market in the dual cab segment.

These are the new family wagons, with a lot of  buyers choosing a dual cab for the advantages they offer with fringe benefits tax  and overall cost effectiveness.

The other thing that makes the Triton a good option on this market is Mitsubishi’s well earned and deserved reputation for reliability and durability that is a safer bet than some of the Chinese alternatives while  delivering similar reliability to its Japanese opponents, again at a distinct price advantacge.

The GSR  variant is  the top of the range in the Triton line up  and comes with a price tag of $56,940 plus on-road costs, which is way lower than the likes of Toyota, Isuzu, Mazda and Ford. If you compare it with like for like  models from Toyota, with its SR5 at $61,930 and Ford’s Ranger Wildtrack at $67,190, you start to understand the Triton’s fiscal attraction.

The test Triton GSR was not only fitted with the vital tow bar  ($1308) and electric brake package ($770), as well as an under-rail tub liner ( $642 )  but also the  optional front bullbar with a fog lamp pack at a cost of $4611 which bumped up the as-tested price a fair bit.

Inside the  Triton GSR is a roomy and comfortable environment with well bolstered and very supportive front bucket seats finished in black leather amongst an interior that is practical and well laid out, if a little dated in places.

The rest of the interior features harder materials on the dash top and door trims that  should be long wearing and able to cope with the rigours of being a work ute or the even tougher needs of coping with a herd of children as a family bus

Although a little dated in places Mitsubishi has updated  some aspects, adding a push-button start, dual-zone climate control, steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shifters, heated seats in the front, as well as plethora of storage options including cupholders, a central bin, and door pockets  with bottle holders for  the obligatory water, that comes in handy on a ling trip such as the one we had to tackle with the trailer.

The driver’s seat in the GSR also gets  power adjustment and the steering wheel adjustable  for both tilt and reach, meaning that no matter what the stature and size of the driver they can almost certainly reach an ideal driving position.

The rear bench seat  works fine  with reasonable room for three passengers, although with most dual cab utes, the second row of seats is mostly a bit of a compromise, but overall Mitsubishi has done a reasonable job with the latest Triton.

 When we mentioned a little while ago that some aspects of the Triton were dating a little, we were mainly thinking of its infotainment screen and system, which at just  7.0-inches  is a touch on the small side these days and at times the interface is a little clunky. It does have Apple CarPlay and  Android Auto with cable connection as well as digital radio  and Inbuilt satellite navigation, however screens in other dual cabs, like Ford’s Ranger, are  much bigger and have better interfaces. It is also positioned high on the dash which means it can be hard to read in certain light situations  when glare affects the ability to see it.

The small screen means it is hard to read navigation info on it, while the image from the rear view  camera isn’t great, but it is adequate.

The instrument panel in front of the driver is very  traditional  featuring a round  speedo dial on one side and a round tacho on the other, separated by a small old style digital screen  delivering  a variety of  information. It is not that easy to read or to scroll through, and again it is showing its age a little, but  that is judging it against the latest in the market. It still works fine, if a bit clunkily.

A pair of USB plugs are available in the front along with another two in the rear seat area along with a pair of 12 volt ‘cigarette style lighter’ plugs, which means there is plenty of charging options.

Overall we found the interior comfort, quietness and ambience of the Triton to be great and certainly made for a comfortable run to and from Brisbane.

The load tray of the Triton  isn’t as big as some of its market rivals, being both shorter and narrower than most others as well as having a load height that is further off the ground , making it hard to load heavier items. Still it is only fractions here and there  and even with a full load of spare wheels  the tray area took all we could throw at it.

The Triton’s 2.4-litre turbo diesel  delivers 133kW of power and 430Nm  torque  which is adequate but not stunning. It works well enough and  our tow test to Brisbane showed it  pumps along very smoothly and nicely on a highway.

It is coupled to a six speed torque converter automatic  that again is showing its age by comparison to the seven, eight and ten speed options in opposition utes. However again it works well enough and with the paddle shift on the GSR it makes it easy to tap down a gear and prepare for a down hill corner or to find more urge on a hill.

The 2.4 turbo diesel does have excellent  mid range torque and  has impressive urge for overtaking and  accelerating in that range from 50 km/h up to about 100km/h.

The four wheel drive system can be easily accessed via Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4×4 system, giving  the driver the ability to choose 4×2, 4×4 high range and 4×4 low easily and without fuss. There is also the option of an on-road 4×4 mode,  which opens up the  centre diff on sealed roads  delivering the advantage of good wet road traction without the driveline binding up and pushing mid corner.

Like a lot of Japanese utes, the Triton is a little over sprung and underdamped, with too much bounce and not enough damping at times. This means that over bumps it can bounce around for a while before settling down.

The Triton does boast a very good turning circle, which at just 11.8 metres is a long way ahead of the likes of the HiLux and Ranger, giving it a clear advantage in urban situations but also in the bush if you happen to take a wrong road and have to back track

Another advantage the Triton delivers is a relatively low tare weight of 1999kg, which is around 60 kg less than  the HiLux and a whopping 343 kg less than the Ranger.  It has a payload of 901 kg  while its braked tow capacity is just 3100kg. That number is possibly a deal breaker for some as a result of the fact that it puts the Triton around 400kg  behind  the segment standard  of 3500kg.

Fuel consumption wise it was an interesting exercise for us, towi ga heavy trailer up to Brisbane and comng back with just the bare ute and only the driver on board at highway running with the trailer we recorded  an average of just over 16 litres/100km. On the return leg empty the fuel consumption improved out of sight, dropping to an average of 8.9 litres per 100km, slightly above Mitsubishi’s claimed average of 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle.

The Triton’s suite of safety technologies runs to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection as well as junction assist there’s also blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning, although they are passive only, meaning they provide warnings but offer no assistance, such as gently nudging the ute back into its lane.

Another area  where Mitsubishi  offers a very attractive advantage is in the area of  warranty, with its industry leading 10 year 200,000km safety net, if you have it serviced throughout the warranty at an authorised Mitsubishi dealership. Otherwise, if you service elsewhere it falls back to a standard five year/100,000km warranty. That it not too onerous given the standard service intervals are one year or 15,000km, with a capped price of  the servicing which should average out at $600  a year over ten years.

Overall we enjoyed the Triton, despite a few foibles and the ageing  design and technology it boasts. It is a well-priced, tough durable ute option that has a great warranty, is cheap to run and simply does the job its meant to do without fuss and bother. Would we buy one? You bet, particularly if  we were on a tight budget. There are other better options but they will cost you, which is why Mitsubishi continue to sell this ute in strong numbers. Having said that I am sure Mitsubishi execs and Triton buyers are waiting impatiently for the next gen  model due in about two years time, and that may not be soon enough for many.