Splash of the Tritons – Mitsubishi improves its Ute range  

Much needed torque increase, stronger auto box, more comfortable driving position and subtle styling changes make the 2015 Triton more appealing, .

Mitsubishi invited T&TT to a preview of the 2015 Triton in March, but the only vehicle available was a top-shelf crew-cab Exceed model. We’d like to have checked out more basic machines, but a presentation and drive program left favourable early impressions of the new vehicle.

Other specifications are available from late April and include short-cab, extra-cab and crew-cab models. The mid-cab version has rear ‘suicide’ doors for ease of access to the small rear seats.

The Australian ute market continues to grow at a rapid rate, as newer designs with turbo-intercooled, common-rail-injected diesels bury the old image of the ute as a necessary, but sluggish beast.

As car-like performance was delivered, ute makers have had to come up with car-like features to match.

The current-shape Triton was launched in 2006, with 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel or 3.5-litre V6 petrol power. The petrol option was deleted in 2010 and, in a somewhat out of step move, Mitsubishi downgraded diesel engine capacity, power and torque.

The 2010-2014 Triton’s 2.5-litre diesel engine was horrible, lacking torque and response. It replaced the initial 3.2-litre diesel engine that was shared with the Pajero and no-one could work out why Mitsubishi did it. In all our testing the larger engine had much better performance and fuel economy.

The unloved 2.5-litre has been replaced from 2015 by a new, aluminium block-and-head 2.4-litre four. Before you jump to another downsizing conclusion, take note that it’s an up to date design, with a variable geometry turbocharger and more refined fuel system.

Claimed fuel economy improvement is a whopping 20-percent.

Comparative torque curves show that the new engine has more torque than the old 2.5 throughout the range and has heaps more at low engine revolutions.

The engine mates to a new six-speed manual or five-speed auto and there’s no engine torque limitation on the auto, as there was with the previous four-speed transmission.

A new transfer case low-range ratio of 2.56:1 has been adopted.

The new engine is some 30kg lighter, contributing to less front axle tare weight – important when it comes to fitting a bar and winch.

The chassis is retained, but has been strengthened at key points. The spring hangers are new, spaced 50mm further forward at the front and 70mm at the rear, to accommodate 120mm-longer leaf springs.

The 2015 Triton has an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, body design. Overall shape is preserved, but the cab is moved slightly forward on the chassis and the familiar sloped C-pillar on crew-cabs remains, but is less curved than before. Ridged highlights grace front and rear mudguards, giving the Triton a sharper appearance.

 On and off road

The interior space is slightly enhanced and rear seat legroom in crew-cabs is still class-leading, Mitsubishi claims. Fit and finish is excellent and quite car-like.

By far the biggest improvement is to the front seats. We’ve complained for years about the lack of padding and thigh support in Triton seats and at last Mitsubishi has listened. We drove and passengered on- and off-road all day and felt quite comfortable.

The steering column on the evaluation vehicle tilted and telescoped, so getting foot and arm ergonomics worked out was easy.

Damping  is another real strength and the Mitsubishi engineers  have done a great job at  giving a ute like this  a compliant yet firm and controlled ride, qualities that are often missing from Japanese pick ups.

Matched to a new Aisin five-speed auto in the test vehicle the new engine was a delight to operate.

Accelerator response was instant and lag-free, while great shift quality from the box ensured that the donk kept operating in its optimum band. The engine felt completely unfussed at all times, so economy should be good.

Mitsubishi has upgraded the front and rear Triton suspensions. I liked the stiffer front end feel and the steering was more precise than before. Longer leaves at the back end have improved ride quality and road surface compliance, but the dampers still felt a tad underdone on corrugated surfaces.

The 2015 Triton’s off-road behaviour was significantly better than its predecessor’s, thanks to improved torque, deeper-reduction low-range gearing and more complaint rear suspension.

The new 2WD-4WD-4Low dial-control worked easily, as did the rear-axle diff-lock switch.

Engine braking in this automatic-transmission vehicle was surprisingly good.

Another area  Mitsubishi emphasised during the launch was that it is not interested in engaging in the almost ludicrous towing capacity and horsepower/torque wars that have been raging  between some of their competitors. The Mitsi engineers emphasised that many of these figures neglect the reality of GCM limits and while the Triton boasts a tow capacity of 3100kg, 400kg shy of some competitors capacities,  the reality is that with GCM  limits those competitors would struggle to have more than a few hundred kgs of cargo and passengers onboard when towing at the limit. The Triton’s lower stated capacity fits the majority of towing needs in Australia and means you won’t have to leave the wife and kids behind when towing at capacity.

We’ll have a full test of the new Triton working vehicle models as soon as possible.