LDV T60 VS Mitsubishi Triton
- Packed with features as standard
- Solid all-rounder
- Too-firm suspension (Pro)
- Resale value
- A great ute made better
- Excellent value
- Excellent off road
- Still no AEB in cheapest variants
- Not the most comfortable when unladen
A lot is riding on the LDV T60. The dual-cab-only ute range is spearheading a new generation of better-built and better-equipped Chinese utes and (very soon) SUVs, aimed at carving out their own slice of the lucrative Aussie work-and-play market.
It’s the first Chinese commercial vehicle to receive a five-star ANCAP rating, it’s well priced and packed with standard features and safety tech across the range, but realistically is that enough to make it an appealing proposition in the eyes of the ute-buying public? And to overcome the public's wariness about vehicles from the People's Republic? Read on.
|Engine Type||2.8L turbo|
Remember the HD Holden? Even if you weren't around at the time, like me, you might be aware it had the shortest production run of any Aussie Red Lion models.
That's because its design was a bit of a stinker, and was replaced by the more sedate HR after just 14 months, at a time where model changes were more like half the four year typical span these days.
The MR Triton's looks may be polarising, but few will disagree that it's a country mile better looking than the MQ it replaced in January this year. So why is being updated again barely eight months later? With no styling changes of note?
Now, it is just a model year change rather than a full-scale update, and the Pajero Sport has been treated to similarly frequent changes since it appeared in 2015, but when its two biggest rivals, the HiLux and Ranger have been updated since (the Ranger is about to score its second!!), you may as well play every card you've got.
The LDV T60 is a big step in the right direction for Chinese-built utes and should go a long way to convincing Aussie ute buyers that these are finally a worthwhile consideration. Well priced and feature-packed, this dual-cab range exhibits a marked improvement in build quality, fit and finish and all-round drivability. Right now, the Chinese are not major contenders by anyone's estimation but at least they're moving in the right direction.
For our money, and for work-and-play versatility, the Luxe auto is the pick of the bunch; you get all the standard kit with a few nifty add-ons, including on-demand rear diff lock, chrome door handles and door mirrors, sports bar and more.
Would you consider buying a Chinese-built ute? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
From the outside, the LDV T60 is not unpleasant to look at – part-chunky ute, part-SUV styling – but there’s nothing startlingly special about it, either. It has the scalloped sides of an Amarok look-alike, the sporty stretch bonnet of a HiLux wannabe and everything in between.
I like it for its lack of pretension, as if its designers had a beer down the pub, scratched out their ideas on a coaster as a bit of a joke and then they decided they were actually pretty good, so those guidelines have stuck.
The interior is all clean lines and big surfaces, especially the plastic everything in the Pro, which is not a bad thing as this tradie-targetting model has a real everyday working ute feel to it.
The cabin is dominated by the huge expanse of dash-top and the ute’s 10.0-inch touchscreen entertainment unit.
If you can spot the design changes applied to the Triton range for 2020, you should be working in forensics, or perhaps step away from the Triton owners forum for a while.
The top spec GLS Premium's tray-mounted sports bar is now black instead of polished aluminium, and the next rung down GLS is now without a sports bar at all.
That is it, and fair enough at that. The MR Triton still has the freshest ute styling of all anyway.
The cabin is neat and roomy with adequate storage space for driver and front-seat passenger; a lidded centre-console bin, big door pockets, a dash-height cupholder for driver and front passenger (although our supplied water bottles only fit in with a little bit of twisting and forcing) and a knick-knacks tray, replete with two USB ports and a 12V socket.
Those in the rear get door pockets, a centre armrest with two cupholders and a 12V socket.
The front seats are comfortable enough but lack support, especially at the sides; the rear seats are flat and workmanlike.
Interior fit and finish is a big improvement on what’s come before in Chinese-built utes and these build-quality positives may go a long way to helping convince Australia’s ute buyers that the LDV T60 is a worthwhile purchase – or at least worth considering.
The 10-inch touchscreen is clear, neat and simple to operate, although prone to glare. I did see one colleague struggling to get his Android OS phone working through his Luxe. (I didn’t even bother trying to hook up my iPhone; I’m a dinosaur like that.)
The LDV T60 is 5365mm long, 2145mm wide, and 1852mm high (Pro) and 1887mm high (Luxe). Kerb weight is 1950kg (Pro manual), 1980kg (Pro auto), 1995kg (Luxe manual) and 2060kg (Luxe auto).
The tray is 1525mm long and 1510mm wide (1131mm between the wheel arches). It has a plastic tub liner and four tie-down points (one in each corner) and two ‘tub rim anchor points’, which seem like a bit of a flimsy afterthought. Loading height (from tray floor to ground) is 819mm.
The TDV T60 has a 3000kg braked tow capacity (750kg unbraked); many rivals hit the 3500kg benchmark. Its payload ranges from 815kg (Luxe auto) to 1025kg (for the Pro manual). Towball download is 300kg.
One final quirk we should mention is that the two Pros we tested had the indentation for a driver-side 'Jesus!' handle, but no actual handle. Strange.
Cabin practicality is unchanged, with comfortable, if a bit narrow for three adults, back seat accommodation in the Double Cab.
Not all utes get the Triton's reach and rake adjustable steering column and there's two cupholders up front. Double Cab models get another two in the back seat's centre armrest and there's bottle holders in every door across the range.
Single cab models get one ISOFIX for the passenger seat and Double Cabs get two on the back seat.
The top three variants, GLX+, GLS and GLS Premium, get 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 GLS and GLS Premium models' roof mounted air circulator also now comes on the GLX+ double cab.
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.
It wasn't hot or cold enough to really put it to the test during the Tiroton's launch event, but it's a novel approach that shows Mitsubishi has had its thinking cap on.
Braked tow ratings are also unchanged, with 4x4 Double Cabs sitting beneath the 3.5-tonne segment status quo with 3100kg. Single cab 4x2s are rated at 1800 for the petrol and 2500kg in diesel, with all other variants wearing 3000kg ratings.
Payloads tend to decrease as the variant gets heavier, with the lightest (and cheapest) 4x2 single cab petrol rated to carry 1280kg, while the heaviest and range-topping GLS Premium will only carry 855kg.
Price and features
In an age where each new vehicle seems to offer a mind-boggling variety of trim and spec levels, the LDV T60 range is a refreshingly small and simple one.
The diesel-only five-seater LDV T60 is available in one body style – dual-cab – and two trim levels: Pro, aimed at tradies, and Luxe, aimed at the dual-purpose or family recreation market. The range is limited to dual-cabs at the moment, but, at the launch LDV Automotive Australia did tease the arrival of single-cab and extra-cab models in 2018.
The four options are Pro manual, Pro automatic, Luxe manual and Luxe automatic. All are powered by a 2.8-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine.
The base-spec T60 Pro, the manual, is $30,516 (drive away); the Pro automatic is $32,621 (drive away), the Luxe manual $34,726 (drive away), and the Luxe automatic $36,831 (drive away). ABN holders will pay $28,990 (for the Pro manual), $30,990 (Pro auto), Luxe manual ($32,990) and Luxe automatic ($34,990).
The ute’s standard features in Pro form include cloth seats, a 10.0-inch colour touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic height adjusting headlights, 4WD with high and low range, 17-inch alloys with a full-sized spare, side steps, and roof rails.
Safety gear includes six airbags, two ISOFIX child-seat restraint attachment points in the rear seat, as well as a raft of passive and active safety tech including ABS, EBA, ESC, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, 'Hill Descent Control', 'Hill Start Assist', and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
Above and beyond that, the top-spec Luxe gets leather seats and leather-bound steering wheel, electrically six-way adjustable and heated front seats, automatic climate control and a 'Smart Key' system with Start/Stop button, as well as an automatic locking rear differential as standard.
The Pro has a multi-bar headboard to protect the rear window; the Luxe has a polished chrome sport bar. Both models have roof rails as standard.
LDV Automotive has launched a range of accessories including rubber floor mats, polished alloy nudge bars, tow bar, ladder rack, colour-matched canopies, tonneau covers and more. Bullbars for the ute are in the pipeline.
But Mitsubishi didn't have that many cards to play, with the key changes focused on the two trim levels second from the top; the GLX+ and the GLS.
The GLS now comes with proximity keys like the top GLS Premium, and the biggest news is that it now gets the rear diff lock as well. The GLX+ now does too, which is a great backup plan when you're using it properly off road.
Prices are up between $500-1000 for the variants they've changed, but the Triton is still very much skewed toward the value end of the ute market. There's now 22 Triton variants available, spread across single, Club Cab (extra cab) and Double Cab (dual cab) bodies, tub tray (pickup) or cab chassis, two or four-wheel drive, and GLX, GLX ADAS, GLX+, GLS and GLS Premium trim levels plus the new Toby Price limited edition commemorating the two-time Dakar-winning Aussie.
Engine & trans
Nothing new here, with all bar the base single cab 4x2 coming with a 2.4-litre turbodiesel four which produces a healthy-for-its-size 133kW at 2500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm.
The base variant comes with the 2.4-litre 4G64 petrol four the Triton has used for years, which produces 94kW at 5250rpm and 194Nm at 4000rpm.
The petrol variant is rated to use 11.4L/100km on the combined cycle, with all diesel versions ranging between 7.8-7.9L/100km with the manual transmission. Interestingly, automatic models are rated to consumer significantly more at 8.3-8.6L/100km.
All 22 Triton variants have a 75-litre fuel tank.
We did more than 200km around Bathurst in some LDV T60s, most of it in a Pro auto, and much of the drive program was on bitumen. A few things became obvious quite early on and, later, a few quirks popped up as well.
The 2.8-litre four-cylinder VM Motori turbo-diesel never seemed to struggle – on the blacktop or in the bush – but it almost felt too relaxed, as it was slow to respond and wind up, especially when pushed on long, steep hills.
However, a bonus of that under-stressed engine is that it is very quiet – we had the radio off and engine-related NVH levels were impressive. There wasn’t even any wind-rush from the big wing mirrors.
The six-speed Aisin auto trans is a smooth unit – no hard-shifting up or down – but there’s no real discernible difference in drivability between modes; Normal or Sport.
Ride and handling are adequate if unspectacular, although it turned in nicely – steering was very precise for something like this – and the ute held stable through long sweeping bends. Our tester was on 245/65 R17 Dunlop Grandtrek AT20s.
While our stiff-set Pro exhibited no arse-end skipping-around straight away, typical of an unladen ute, we did hit a few surprise lumps and bumps early on in the drive-loop and that got the back end jumping about in a brief but brutal manner.
As for the quirks, our overzealous ABS kicked in on several occasions for seemingly innocuous reasons when we tickled the brakes (discs all round) at lower and high speeds on bumpy stuff, which was concerning.
Secondly, a couple of journalists in a Luxe reckoned the blind-spot monitor in their LDV T60 failed to alert them to the presence of a passing vehicle.
While the Pro suspension was too firm (to cope with heavy loads, no doubt), the Luxe’s tended to wallow.
For off-roading enthusiasts, here are the numbers worth noting: ground clearance is 215mm, wading depth is 300mm, and front and rear departure angles are 27 and 24.2 degrees respectively; ramp-over angle is 21.3 degrees.
The launch off-road loops were more scenic than challenging but when we intentionally veered off-course and onto some steep hilly sections, we had the opportunity to check out the LDV T60’s engine braking (okay) and hill descent control (good).
The Pro auto was an easier drive over any off-road bits than the manual Pro was, as the light feel of its clutch and the loose throw of its gear-stick didn’t inspire confidence.
Underbody protection includes a plastic bash-plate at the front.
We already know the current Triton is a good thing off road, 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.
So the fundamental design is good, and the systems are well calibrated, in Australia mind you, to make the most of the suspension and tyres. This includes the selectable off-road modes in the GLS and GLS Premium that tailor the traction control to suit different terrain types.
No Triton review is complete without mentioning the Super Select four-wheel drive system on the GLS and GLS Premium, which gives you the option of full-time four wheel drive in high range with a centre diff like an SUV, to give you more grip on wet or snowy bitumen as well as all rugged low range off road abilities.
One negative though is that the rear diff lock disables the traction control altogether when engaged, unlike some utes like the Ranger and BT-50 that leave it active on the front wheels.
There's nothing new about the way the Triton drives on the road either. 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 steering ratio will keep you twirling the wheel more than you might expect.
The engine and transmission are still a great combination, even though it's still only the six speed auto, unlike the eight speed in the Pajero Sport.
The LDV T60 packs a lot of safety gear in for the price. It has a five-star ANCAP rating, six airbags (driver and front passenger, side, full-length curtain) and includes a raft of passive and active safety tech across the range including ABS, EBA, ESC, reversing camera and rear parking sensors, 'Hill Descent Control', 'Hill Start Assist', and a tyre-pressure-monitoring system. It has two ISOFIX points and two top-tether points.
At the start of the year, the MR Triton represented a new benchmark for safety equipment, but times have moved on and it's been trumped by a handful of rivals, including Ranger, that include all the important safety gear range-wide.
GLX models are fitted with reversing sensors (aside from cab-chassis variants) and GLS-upwards get them on the front as well.
GLS and GLS Premium models add blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and an ultrasonic misacceleration system that will dull throttle response if it senses you're about to hit something at low speed. There's also lane change assist, front parking sensors and auto high-beams.
GLS Premium is the only model in the range to get the very handy 360 degree Multi Around monitor.
All variants get a reversing camera as standard - even cab chassis models, provided they're fitted with a Mitsubishi genuine tray.
Every model in the Triton range comes with driver and front passenger front and side airbags and a driver knee bag and curtain airbags which also cover the back row where fitted.
The MQ Mitsubishi Triton scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating against 2015 standards.
The MR Triton's introductory seven-year/150,000km warranty deal has been extended until the end of 2019, and builds on the brand's existing five-year/130,000km plan.
A capped price servicing plan is offered for the 12 month/15,000km intervals and is surprisingly cheap but only covers the first three services. The diesel costs just $299 per visit (yep, for the 30000 km and the 45000 km services it's the same), while petrol models are even less - $199 per visit ($597 = three years' cover).
Mitsubishi includes roadside assist as part of the ownership plan at no cost.