When Australia invented the ute, back in 1934, the motivation was all about working all week but being civilised enough to take to church on Sunday. We may not build utes anymore, but we still expect a similar duality from their modern counterparts.
We want them to be comfortable and safe enough to ferry our families, but also tough enough to get the job done on a worksite or capable enough to be our ticket to the great outdoors.
Proving this is the popularity of top-of-the-range utes with leather trim, swish bodywork, dual-cab bodies with four-wheel drive, and we can’t seem to get enough of them.
Mitsubishi is doing its best to keep up with this trend, within the heavily styled MR-generation Triton being updated within eight months of its 2019 arrival, and the subsequent addition of the mid-spec GLX-R and new top-spec GSR just months later again.
The GSR is being offered with three different tub cover options, starting with a basic soft tonneau and moving up to hard tonneau and roll top choices to cover the full spectrum of tub covers this side of a full canopy. The roll top theoretically offers the broadest practicality, so that’s what we’ve tested here.
At $54,990 drive away, it carries the same price as the hard tonneau GSR and sits $2000 above the soft tonneau option. It’s also $4700 above the GLS Premium that used to represent the top of the range.
My family of two adults and two toddlers spent a week on board the Triton GSR, and here’s what we found.
The current MR Triton’s looks are certainly polarising, but those who like it tend to really like it, and I’m inclined to agree. Australians spend a lot of money on these utes, and it’s about time they started to offer the levels of design consideration we see in regular passenger vehicles.
The GSR shifts things up another level of aggression by painting all the usual chrome and silverwork black.
The GSR shifts things up another level of aggression by painting all the GLS Premium’s chrome and silverwork aside from the badges black, and cuts the colour options back to metallic white, charcoal, black and the Sunflare Orange of our test car that was previewed on last year’s Toby Price limited edition. It does drop the GLS Premium’s nudge bar, but I doubt anyone will notice.
The Triton is fundamentally a particularly capable off road vehicle, with a relatively short wheelbase and narrow body making it easier to manoeuvre around tight obstacles than bigger utes like the Ranger and BT-50. This is equally handy around town.
The Triton's relatively short wheelbase and narrow body makes it easier to manoeuvre around tight obstacles than bigger utes.
The off-road systems are well calibrated too, in Australia mind you, to make the most of the suspension and tyres. The GSR’s setup includes selectable off-road modes that tailor the traction control to suit different terrain types.
This Super Select four-wheel drive system also gives you the option of full-time four wheel drive in high range with a centre differential like an SUV, to give you more grip on wet or snowy bitumen as well as all rugged low range off road abilities.
Without any load in the back or any back seat passengers, the ride is more jiggly than what you'll experience in a Ranger and the Triton’s steering ratio will keep you twirling the wheel more than you might expect.
The smooth diesel engine and transmission are a great combination.
The smooth dieselengine and transmission are still a great combination, even though it's still only a six speed auto, unlike the eight speed in the Pajero Sport.
Like all modern dual cabs, the Triton GSR has ample room inside for four adults. The relatively narrow cabin will be a bit of a squeeze for three adults, and you’ll therefore really need to trial fit your three child seats if that’s your ambition.
The relatively narrow cabin will be a bit of a squeeze for three adults.
The middle one will have to be a booster that only requires a seat belt if so, because there’s only ISOFIX and top tether child seat mounts in the outboard positions. Those top tethers are also annoyingly located on the back of the cabin rather than the back of the seat, so it’s difficult to get proper tension on the strap.
There’s only ISOFIX and top tether child seat mounts in the outboard positions.
There are child-proof locks on each rear door, and all passenger windows can be locked out by the driver.
There are child-proof locks on each rear door.
That tub is of course bigger than any car boot, with its 1520mm length, 1470mm width and 475mm height suggesting a litre measurement of around 1040 litres, taking the wheel arches into account. But just how useful this is is defined by the roll top tonneau.
The tub is 1520mm long, 1470mm wide and 475mm high.
How useful the tub is is defined by the roll top tonneau.
Right, this is where that roll top tonneau comes in. A normal ute with no tonneau is next to useless for family duties, as you’ve got to keep everything precious within the cabin.
A normal ute with no tonneau is next to useless for family duties.
A soft tonneau isn’t exactly sealed from the elements either, and far from secure. A hard top tonneau can be as handy as a giant hatchback, but then you can’t carry things taller than the tub sides unless you remove it. Which is rarely a simple operation and will require more than two hands and somewhere to store it in the meantime.
As mentioned above, a roll top theoretically has the broadest practicality as it gives you all the security of a hard tonneau but retracts toward the front of the tub when not in use. But it still comes with limitations.
The first I encountered was when trying to load my mountain bike with both wheels fitted. Generally, I can fit it diagonally across the back of a dual cab tub, but the 300mm or so the roll top still protrudes over the tub when retracted didn’t leave enough room for this. So it was front wheel off and bike on its side. This was annoying as I didn’t have a blanket to put underneath it at the time, but thankfully the standard tub liner prevented any metal-on-metal chafing.
The roll top still protrudes over the tub when retracted which didn't leave enough room to load up a bike.
With the front wheel off and the bike on its side the standard tub liner prevented any metal-on-metal chafing.
The second was when I stuck the weekly shopping back there. No worries keeping it secure and away from the elements, but by the time I got home it had spread throughout the tub. This would have been made easier if I’d brought enough shopping bags to help contain things or set up smaller compartments back there, but it was a royal pain to climb into the tub to retrieve items from the front.
There was no issue with keeping the weekly shop away from the elements with the roll top tonneau.
By the time I got home the shopping had spread throughout the tub.
The Mitsubishi roll top also seems to be from the same supplier as that fitted to the Ranger Wildtrak, which in my experience is a royal pain to operate once you get some grains of sand in the runners and when the clasp near the tailgate fails to engage. It’s also quite annoying when you can’t reach the strap to pull it closed.
One other minor niggle is that the roll top has a separate key to secure it, which makes it feel a bit like a garage door considering the tailgate has been integrated into the central locking system.
If you can work around all these things, the roll top is a great option. But it’s important to consider your needs before deciding which solution is best for you.
Regardless of your tonneau choice, the surface of the GSR’s tub liner is like ice to step on, even when dry. Hopefully this is due to some sort of mould release agent still being on the new plastic, but it’s something to be very careful of.
It is fantastic to be able to load things at will into the tub without scratching paint though, and the GSR pack’s dampened tailgate hinge is great for stopping that huge metal panel from dropping open.
Back in the cabin, the Triton's reach and rake adjustable steering column is still a real luxury in the ute world.
Other fundamental regular car features include the two cupholders up front and another two in the rear armrest, with bottle holders in each door.
One standout feature for high-end Tritons is the roof-mounted air circulator. Rather than sending the air conditioning to the back via console ducts, it sucks it from the front part of the cabin and then redirects it where you point it in the back.
The roof-mounted air circulator is a standout feature for high-end Tritons.
This was handy for sending warm air downwards during the winter weather of our test, but it’s probably not as effective as the conventional setup.
All versions of the Triton carry a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, but be mindful this is based on more primitive 2015 standards and based on testing the generation prior when new.
There’s dual front and side airbags plus a driver’s knee bag, along with curtain airbags covering both rows.
It thankfully gets 'forward collision mitigation' AEB that works at high and low speeds, plus front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree Multi Around Monitor camera system, lane departure warning, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The GSR is fitted with a 7.0-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus there's Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, DAB radio and GPS location - but not built-in sat nav. The screen is a bit smaller than the passenger car norm these days, but it’s big enough. Two USB and 12V power sockets each handle connecting and charging duties.
The GSR is fitted with a 7.0-inch multimedia screen.
Beyond the GSR with roll top tonneau’s $54,990 drive away price, Mitsubishi caps servicing at $299 for the first three services only, which are scheduled to happen every 12 months or 15,000km.
The MR Triton's introductory seven-year/150,000km warranty deal is currently still offered, and builds on the brand's existing five-year/130,000km plan. Mitsubishi includes roadside assist as part of the ownership plan at no cost.
The MR Triton's introductory seven-year/150,000km warranty deal is currently still offered.
The GSR is rated to use a decent 8.6L/100km on the official combined cycle, but we managed to beat that with 8.0L/100km showing on the trip computer at the end of our mixed conditions testing.
Based on the official combined number, this suggests a range of 872km between fills of the 75-litre tank.