The right balance

What has always struck me about the Mitsubishi Triton is its accommodating balance of a reliable, sturdy work ute that gets the job done, while retaining cabin comfort and a relaxed on-road driving experience.

The latest Mitsubishi MR Triton range has even better subdued the gruff edges normally present in a vehicle with commercial orientated underpinnings. The result is a robust work vehicle, which is also perfectly capable of contending with all manner of family chores as a daily commuter, holiday tourer or weekend fun machine.

The GSR is the range topping variant in the Triton stable. Prices start from $48,240 for the base GLX 4WD dual cab and top out at $65,740 for the flagship GSR plus any options you add. Our GSR came standard with a soft fold tonneau cover, an aggressive blacked out grille and gloss black 18” alloys wrapped in 265/60R18 rubber.

We also had the optional tan-orange and charcoal leather appointed seats with orange accent stitching on the doors, steering wheel, gear shift and park brake lever adding an additional $1,000 to the price. It left an indelible impression, albeit not appealing to my personal taste; but others may find its bold and brave appearance appealing.

While interior style is a matter of personal preference, the Triton’s best attributes are its practicality and comfort. There’s good head, shoulder, leg, and foot room for both first and second row passengers, with a fold down armrest and cup holders for those in the rear. Vibrant seats aside, from the driver’s seat, the visual landscape of analogue gauges and manual controls may not be particularly exciting, but it has a neat well executed design that’s both pleasing to the eye and straightforward to operate.

You get 12v, HDMI and USB sockets up front as well as a 7” central screen with Apple and Android Auto options available for your phone, so there’s plenty of connectivity. The multi-function, reach and tilt leather clad steering wheel provides quick access to an array of functions and helps in getting the right driving posture. Disappointingly at this price range, only the driver’s seat is power operated and, when compared to other manufacturers, the minimal variation of available adjustments made it more difficult to find that perfect seating position. With dual zone AC to keep those in the front cool, I did like the Triton’s clever use of the roof mounted air circulation system to keep rear passengers comfortable.

The Triton’s external dimensions don’t feel like a giant on the roads.

Sure, it’s long at 5,305mm but its slimmer width of 1,795mm means it’s easier to tackle tricky terrain off-road, letting you squeeze through tight spaces where others might collect pin striping.

There’s great outward visibility thanks to the raised seating position allowing you to clearly see the corners for track placement and read the terrain directly in front of the vehicle.

On top of that, it’s surprisingly manoeuvrable at low speeds, with a turning circle of only 11.8 metres – which means a little less stress in busy car parks during Saturday morning shopping duties!

Back on the road for a quick family weekend getaway, cruising at highway speeds, the first thing you’ll notice is that Mitsubishi has done a good job in minimising road vibration and engine noise entering the cabin. The steering is not the sharpest in this class in terms of quick off-centre response or outright road feel. But its slightly heavier weight does feel assured as it follows directional changes on winding roads with confidence.

At the front is a 2.4L intercooled turbo diesel engine that works in tandem with a smooth and responsive 6-speed auto gearbox to deliver a respectable 430Nm of torque and 133kWs of power, greatly aiding overtaking response. This is possible due to Mitsubishi’s Super-Select 4WD-II system, which lets you switch between 2H (rear-wheel drive only) for improved fuel economy, 4H (full-time 4WD) on wet slippery roads, 4HLc (locked) for moderate off-road trails or slippery gravel and 4LLc (locked in low range) to multiply engine torque when traversing more difficult terrain. With this vehicle you can easily configure its driveline to get the best traction, no matter what surface you encounter.

Given a kerb weight of only 2,000kg, the Triton takes a realistic approach to its braked tow capacity listed at 3,100kg. Our GSR was listed as a 900kg payload in the back. This however reduces proportionally to any accessories fitted, and by the tow ball weight from your camper trailer or caravan up to a maximum of 310kg.

If you push your braked towing capacity to the maximum tow ball weight, not something I’d recommend, then your stock standard GSR’s remaining load capacity is around 475kg. As always, consider what accessories you really need to fit to stay within weight limitations!

With an indicative drinking habit of 8.6L/100 and a modest 75 litre fuel tank capacity, optimum unladen range is likely 800km. For our week of freeway stop-start traffic, city congestion, highway hauling and moderate off-road adventures, we averaged 9.8L/100. Suggesting a probable 760k range – or less if towing a large white brick of a mobile home.

There was no better place to put the Triton’s might and tenacity to the test than in Perth’s wet and wild weather. With the occasional flicker of sunshine and blue sky on the horizon, we ventured onto muddy and slippery slush.

Staring down a forestry trail somewhat more under water than above, I was dubious about the ability of the Triton’s footwear to deal with the conditions. We utilized the Super Select rotary dial to enable full time 4WD and carefully charted our course through multiple extended, shallow pools. The surface was slippery, a combination of clay and gravel forming a thin coat over hard ground.

As expected, our road biased 265/60 highway terrain rubber quickly succumbed to the goop, rendering them near useless with all the available grip of a hockey puck on an ice rink.

While the traction control system did well, more was needed – so we shifted to 4HLc (locked), which distributes engine torque equally between the front and back axles for increased stability and maintaining forward movement.

The track slowly twisted its way around trees and bushes to present us with a moderate climb that would have been easy on a dry day, only this time it was covered in a thin coating of slippery clay. With the need to ensure stability through low speed but also enough torque to get the Triton moving, we stopped at the foot of the hill, put our transmission into neutral, shifted into 4LLc (locked in low range) and drove forward slowly.

Before long, the standard traction control settings began to struggle, not from inability but because of our tyres. It was time to engage the GSR’s ‘Off-road Mode’ settings, which are available in 4LLc low range. With a range of terrain choices such as gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock, engine power delivery will be adjusted, the auto transmission shift response is regulated, and brakes are used to control wheel slip and assist in maintaining traction for longer in challenging environments. And in most cases long enough to get through.

With our GSR electronically optimised for the terrain, it provided us with a smooth throttle application helping avoid wheel spin. If we could maintain three wheels in contact with the ground, the Triton worked hard to distribute the torque to the areas of best traction, allowing us to maintain a controlled and steady pace to follow a line that kept the vehicle as level as possible. The approach angle of 31 degrees let us avoid getting the nose caught on the ruts across the track, whilst the ramp over and departure angles of 26 and 23 degrees respectively plus 220mm of ground clearance saw the Triton clear everyday obstacles.

The final challenge came in the form of offset moguls, leading to diagonally opposing wheels front and back were in the air. The electronic traction control could barely maintain balance between the two wheels that remained in contact with the ground, since neither provided any real traction. It was time to activate the vehicle’s off-road party piece – the rear locking differential.

The locked rear differential ensured an even and smooth distribution of torque across the axle and to each wheel. This avoids sudden torque build up or surge generated by the brake activated traction control system aggressively arresting the opposing spinning wheel. The Triton moved forward smoothly in a controlled manner without any need for harsh acceleration or aggressive driving techniques, avoiding any damage to the track or the Triton.

When it comes to safety and driver aid systems, Mitsubishi’s MiTech integrated systems provide the GSR with a standard mix of features found in most modern dual cabs. There’s rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and land departure warnings. You also get autonomous braking, hill start and descent control, a multi around camera view great for parking, trailer, and vehicle stability control to name but a few.

With cheaper and equally well-equipped options now entering the market, the Triton’s price advantage has been slowly eroded. And with many competitors in the dual cab segment having lifted the standards for on-road handling, interior design, connectivity, safety features and performance, the Triton is beginning to feel somewhat outdated.

If budget remains your focus, the Triton offers an honest hard-working option with a reputation built over time for durability and build quality, that the newcomers have yet to establish.

And, whilst others are pushing the envelope for modern design and benchmark performance, so too have they pushed their respective purchase prices.

The Triton is a fantastic solid all-rounder – from town to off the beaten path, it does exactly as promised. Whether you need it for family transport or for an adventurous drive exploring the outdoors, this capable and comfortable pick-up can deliver on both.

Model: Mitsubishi Triton GSR Dual Cab

Price as tested: $67,735 (at time of writing)

  • Engine: 2.4 litre 4 cylinder intercooled turbo diesel
  • Output: 133kW/430Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Fuel: Combined 8.6L/100km
  • Warranty: 10-year 200,000km. (When serviced at Mitsubishi dealership at specified intervals)
  • Safety rating ANCAP 5 Stars


Drive Editor - Ray Cully
Drive Editor – Ray Cully

About our Motoring Editor: Ray has been passionate about all things automotive since he first started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels models when he was five. Since leaving his executive role at General Motors (GM), he’s been sharing his driving experiences with Australian audiences for nearly 20 years, commencing his automotive journalist career with a popular WA-based magazine and was writing his own column in The West Australian for 8 years.

Ray’s strong love of automotive engineering and clever design has seen his articles and photography featured in prominent national magazines in Australia and the UK. He loves sharing his passion with other drivers, including via a long running stint as Senior Instructor for Land Rover Experience, providing training and education for new vehicle owners.

Recently Ray has been presenting on TV shows including Ready for Adventure and the very popular Caravan and Camping WA, to showcase some of the great products, vehicles and companies that make getting out and exploring Western Australia that much more enjoyable.