Mitsubishi Triton VS Nissan Navara
- Five-star safety
- Value for money
- Versatile drivetrain
- Load tub overhang
- Cramped rear seat
- Annoying chimes
- Composed on-road dynamics
- Deeper tub for dual cabs
- Punchy engine
- Noticeable price jump
- Safety equipment could go further
- Aged interior
As the popularity of 4x4 dual cab utes continues to grow, so too does demand for premium models. And it’s not just family/recreational buyers driving this demand. Top-shelf utes are increasingly common on construction sites, where competition amongst tradies to win job tenders is often matched by a battle for bragging rights over who owns the best ute.
This goes back a long way. It really took off in the 1970s and early 1980s during production of Holden’s legendary HQ-WB One Tonner. They sold in huge numbers, but because they were produced in a very basic work-focused specification, it was only a matter of time before tradie owners wanted some individuality on the worksite.
Initially it was just a set of chrome 12-slotters and fat tyres with raised white lettering on the sidewalls. However, this showmanship quickly expanded into custom metallic paint jobs and leather interiors, Statesman or Caprice front-ends, jarrah trays with exquisite joinery showcased under 50 coats of clear and numerous other tweaks. Eventually some became too nice for work and joined the show car circuit instead - which defeated the whole point of the exercise! But that’s competition for you.
The Holden One Tonner era may be long gone, but rivalry between Aussie tradies for best ute honours remains strong. So we recently spent a working week in Mitsubishi’s stylish premium-grade Triton to see how it measures up in the premium ute market.
Read More: Mitsubishi Triton 2020 review
|Engine Type||2.4L turbo|
Whereas passenger cars and SUVs are refreshed every four or five years with a new-generation model, utes often have a much longer shelf life. This doesn’t mean customer expectations are changed, though, as new pick-ups should still have the latest and greatest in safety and specification.
So, what is a brand meant to do when their all-new pick-up model is still years away?
|Engine Type||2.3L turbo|
Compared to its more expensive mainstream rivals, the lavishly-equipped GLS Premium offers unmatched value for money.
For less than $53K it has more than everything you need in terms of safety and features, plus proven Mitsubishi performance, reliability and build quality. Premium by name and premium by nature, it can more than hold its own in any battle for best ute bragging rights. And there’s no chrome 12-slotters or hand-made jarrah trays required.
Nissan’s new Navara might not move the ute game forward as much as some recent entrants, but those that want to stand out from the usual Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger crowd would do well to check out Nissan’s workhorse.
The added standard safety across the board is nice for those looking for a dependable workhorse, but the small quality-of-life updates such as a new steering wheel keep the Navara from feeling stale.
Would be even better if the interior was given a bigger overhaul, like the exterior, but the 2021 Nissan Navara remains a strong option in a competitive segment.
The conspicuously long rear overhang is a Triton design signature, which contributes to its expansive 5409mm overall length that’s almost line-ball with a Ford Ranger equivalent.
However, in stark contrast, the Triton’s relatively short 3000mm wheelbase results in sharp steering response. Combined with a compact 11.8-metre turning circle and 1815mm width, it all adds up to impressive agility in all conditions, from tight bush tracks and inner-city parking to rugged worksites with difficult access.
The 4x4 models with the latest 18-inch wheel stock have 220mm of ground clearance and improved approach (31 degrees), ramp break-over (25 degrees) and departure (23 degrees) angles.
Triton rear seating has always been tight, particularly for three adults. Tall ones sitting in the higher central position can have their heads pressing into the roof lining. By contrast, that same roof lining also has wide slot-type air circulation vents, which are superior to console-mounted vents in directing cooling air to the faces of rear seat passengers.
The most annoying noise award goes to the ‘Steering Wheel Unlocked’ warning, which chimes loudly every time the driver stops and departs the vehicle.
Nissan’s updated 2021 Navara wears a new exterior design featuring a revised front grille, bulkier bonnet, fresh bumper design and tailgate stamped with its name.
By borrowing the look from the US market-Titan, there is no doubt this makes the new Navara butcher and more muscular than before, but I actually prefer the sleeker look of the outgoing car.
Maybe it’s the swathes of chrome surrounding the front grille? Either way, I think the Pro-4X is the best interpretation of the new Navara, mainly thanks to its blacked-out bits that make it look even tougher.
The rest of the exterior hasn’t changed much, though the tray in dual-cab variants is now 45mm deeper, making the tub slightly larger.
The tray now measures 1509mm long (floor), 1490mm wide (top), 1134m between the wheelarches, and 519mm deep, though it still won’t fit a full-sized pallet.
The 2021 Navara’s off-road chops remain intact with approach, departure and breakover angles at 32.7, 20.3 and 23.2 degrees respectively for our ST-X dual-cab, while ground clearance when unladen is measured at 224mm.
Stepping inside the 2021 Navara, and the cabin looks much the same as it did before.
The steering wheel is new however, and borrows its design from the Qashqai and Leaf to make the interior feel a little less utilitarian and a just a little more chic, while the driver’s display is also a fresh addition to the 2021 model.
However, these small changes don’t do much to detract from the ageing interior, which has remained largely the same since 2015.
With its relatively light 2045kg kerb weight and 2900kg GVM, the GLS Premium has an 855kg payload rating. It’s also rated to tow up to 3100kg of braked trailer and with a GCM (or how much you can legally carry and tow at the same time) of 5885kg, that means you only have to reduce your payload by 115kg to do it. Or you could just lower your towing limit by the same amount (to 2985kg) and keep your full payload.
Either way, this is a realistic set of numbers to play with, because most 4x4 dual cabs with 3500kg tow ratings have to reduce their payloads by half a tonne or more to legally do it. Which is totally impractical of course, meaning most 3500kg tow ratings are more like 3000kg or less in the real world. And most people don't need to tow more than 3000kg anyway.
The load tub is 1520mm long and 1470mm wide with a depth of 475mm. There’s 1185mm between the rear wheel housings, so you can’t squeeze a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet in between them, but a smaller Euro 1200 x 800mm pallet can fit. There’s six tie-down points (would be better if they were closer to floor height) and a full tub-liner.
Cabin storage consists of a bottle holder and storage bin in each front door plus an overhead glasses holder and single glovebox. The centre console has a small storage cubby at the front, two small (500ml) bottle or cup holders in the centre and a lidded box at the back which doubles as a driver’s elbow rest.
Rear seat passengers get a bottle holder but no storage bin in each door, flexible storage pockets on each front seat backrest, a pull-down centre armrest with two cup holders plus an open cubby in the rear of the console for small items. The base cushion is fixed, with no storage space beneath or the ability to be stored vertically for more internal carry space, like some rivals.
Much of the 2021 Navara is carried over from last year, which means familiar switchgear, seats and trims.
Up front there is plenty of room for occupants, and storage options extend to generous door bins that accommodate large bottles, a deep centre console bin, two cupholders and a small tray just ahead of the shifter for wallets/phones.
All options offer usable storage space, but the wallet/phone tray could be a little deeper with higher sides to stop things sliding around when cornering.
In the back – at least in dual-cab versions – the seating situation is, again, familiar to anyone who has been in the current-generation Navara.
Outboard passengers are afforded decent head-, leg- and shoulder-room, but middle passengers might find it a bit of a squeeze.
Unfortunately, it’s a little no frills back there, with the only amenities being a fold-down armrest with cupholders, door bins, map pockets and air vents.
Price and features
Our test vehicle is the MY20 GLS Premium which is the top rung on the Triton model ladder. With a list price of $52,490, it represents outstanding value for money given that premium versions of its mainstream 4x4 dual cab ute competitors are priced above $60,000.
Beyond its black nudge bar, sports bar, load tub-liner, side steps and rear-step bumper, there’s chunky six-spoke 18-inch alloys with 265/60R18 tyres and a full-size spare. Plus LED dusk-sensing headlights and daytime running lights, halogen fog lights, chrome door handles, chrome door mirrors with integral heating and turn indicators, speed/rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, reversing and 360-degree cameras plus a rear diff lock.
Keyless entry reveals a sumptuous interior with dual-zone climate control, rear privacy glass, leather-appointed seats with heating up-front, leather-bound steering wheel/gearshift/handbrake and height/reach adjustable steering column. There’s also 12-volt/USB connections and a six-speaker system with 7.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB radio and multiple connectivity including Bluetooth.
Like we said, it’s fully loaded, but if subjected to a working role it wouldn’t take long for muddy boots and dirty grit-filled shirts and shorts to make that fancy leather and carpet look pretty second-hand. Tough canvas-type seat covers and dirt-trap rubber floor mats might be a good idea if you want to preserve such niceties.
The price of Nissan’s Navara has increased across the board this year, but more equipment is added as compensation.
There are four grades of Navara available for now – SL, ST, ST-X and Pro-4X – mixed up with 4x2, 4x4, manual, automatic and three different body style options for a total of 22 possible permutations.
Prices for the SL kick off at $32,300, before on-road costs, making the point-of-entry to the Navara range $5150 more expensive than before.
However, Nissan has justified this, somewhat, with the inclusion of more standard equipment and safety.
The SL is fitted with 17-inch steel wheels, a 7.0-inch driver display, cloth interior, keyless entry, and powered windows and door mirrors, as well as more safety equipment, which we will detail further below.
The next-step-up ST is available exclusively in dual-cab pick-up form and starts from $47,780, but adds digital radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-accented steering wheel and shifter, a chrome sports bar and LED headlights.
The ST-X meanwhile, is offered in king- and dual-cab pick-up bodies, priced from $51,270, and is fitted with 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, leather-accented interior, push-button start and auto-folding side mirrors.
Our test car, the 4x4 ST-X dual-cab automatic rings the till up at $58,270 ($1870 pricier than before).
Sitting atop the range for now is the Pro-4X, which is available exclusively in 4x4 dual-cab pick-up form, priced at $58,130 for the manual ,and $60,630 for the automatic.
It differs from the rest of the Navara range with bespoke styling, leather interior and all-terrain rubber as standard.
All versions of the Navara are also fitted with an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity and six-speaker sound, but ST grades and up also score satellite navigation and digital radio.
However, this is somewhat offset a little by promotional drive-away pricing available to both private and business customers.
Engine & trans
The venerable 4N15 four-cylinder turbo-diesel is still one of the best in the business, with strong all-round performance that belies its relatively small 2.4 litre capacity. It produces 133kW at 3500rpm and a competitive 430Nm of torque, which is served full strength at 2500rpm but remains plentiful from as low as 1500rpm.
The six-speed torque converter automatic transmission matches the engine’s impressive refinement, with over-driven fifth and sixth ratios for economical highway cruising and a manual shift mode using steering wheel paddle-shifters.
Explore the Mitsubishi Triton in 3D
The excellent Super-Select 4WD-II system offers a choice of rear-wheel drive high range (2H) and full-time 4WD high range (4H) with centre diff unlocked, which is ideal for sealed and unsealed road use. The centre diff locked 4WD high range (4HLc) and centre diff locked 4WD low range (4LLc) settings are aimed at the rough stuff.
There’s also a choice of four off-road driving modes to maximise traction and stability on Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock. And if that’s not enough to get you out of trouble, there’s also a rear diff locker.
The engine line-up for the 2021 Nissan Navara carries over unchanged from before, which means all but the base grade are fitted with a 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel four-cylinder that produces 140kW/450Nm.
The entry-level 4x2 SL manual versions meanwhile, are powered by a single-turbo 2.3-litre diesel engine, outputting 120kW/403Nm.
Despite the carryover powertrains, the higher-output engine remains competitive against the ute segment, even when stacked up against newer rivals like the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 that need a 3.0-litre engine to produce the same figures.
The engine also affords a payload rating of between 1004-1146kg, depending on spec, as well as a braked towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.
Mitsubishi claims a combined figure of 8.6L/100km. The dash display was showing a slightly higher 9.7 figure when we stopped to fill the 75-litre tank after just under 500km of testing. That wasn’t far off our own figure of 10.7 based on fuel bowser and trip meter readings, which means you could expect a realistic driving range of around 700km.
Official fuel consumption figures for the Nissan Navara range from 7.2-8.1 litres per 100km, depending on engine, transmission, spec and body style.
The ST-X automatic we drove for review is rated at 7.9L/100km, making it about as thirsty as its competitors.
After a day of mixed driving conditions, including road and gravel with and without a load (as well as with a trailer), we averaged 9.0L/100km.
The GLS Premium’s ride quality when empty or lightly loaded is not as jiggly as the lower-grade GLX+ we've previously tested. We can only put this down to the increased sprung weight of the top-grade model, which being almost 100kg heavier results in a noticeable improvement in suspension behaviour. It just feels more composed when empty or lightly loaded and therefore nicer to drive on a daily basis in cities and suburbs.
The power-assisted steering response and turning weight is good, being light at parking speeds and increasingly firm as speeds rise. Braking from the front disc/rear drum combination is reassuringly strong and consistent under all loads.
Around town it’s quiet and comfortable with more than adequate performance thanks to its healthy torque to weight ratio. The short wheelbase and tight turning circle also make parking and other low-speed maneuvering a breeze.
It’s a comfortable and relaxed highway cruiser too, with low engine, tyre and wind noise allowing conversations without raised voices. The over-driven sixth gear allows the 2.4 litre turbo-diesel to maximise fuel economy, loping along with only 1650rpm at 100km/h and 1800rpm at 110km/h.
Without much changing under the skin, the 2021 Nissan Navara drives much as it did before; and that is to say it handles itself admirably on the black top.
With a unique multi-link rear suspension set-up, the Navara feels composed on the road, even without a load in the rear.
And when driving with some weight in the tray – in our case a 325kg box – the Navara remains as calm and collected as you would want in a dual-cab ute.
Even with a trailer attached, the added weight and change in handling geometry is not enough to perturb Nissan’s ute on some of Melbourne’s tight and twisty roads.
Likewise, the carryover engine offers enough grunt to haul cargo about without much fuss, though the 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel unit in our ST-X test car proved a bit loud and grunty under load.
It’s certainly punchy enough without any weight or a trailer in the back, though, and its 140kW/450Nm outputs keep it very competitive against other utes in the segment.
The seven-speed automatic transmission paired with the engine is also smooth and fast shifting, never hunting for a gear when needed.
For those that like to shift themselves, there is manual ratio selection available on the shifter, though there are no wheel-mounted paddles.
Road noise is also quite prevalent in the ST-X, due to the 18-inch wheels, while wind noise is also noticeable at freeway speeds thanks to the Navara sporting the aerodynamic profile of a large brick.
These cabin intrusions are still noticeable despite Nissan’s claims of bulking up sound deadening to improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, but we’d have to drive both new and old cars back-to-back to determine if the tweaks are successful.
The big question mark here though is how the new Navara handles itself off-road, and with our driving limited to just paved roads, we’ll have to wait and see if Nissan’s new ute is still as adventurous as its rivals.
Maximum five-star ANCAP rating (last tested 2015) and the latest active safety features including AEB, lane departure and blind-spot warnings, rear cross-traffic alert, trailer stability assist and lots more. There’s also seven airbags including full side-curtains, plus ISOFIX and top-tether child seat anchorage points for the two outer rear positions.
The 2021 Nissan Navara wears a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, though its examination was conducted in 2015 when the current-generation model was introduced to Australia.
While the Navara from six years ago didn’t feature any form of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) or lane support systems, it still managed to score 14.01 out of 16 for the frontal offset test, and full marks in the side impact (16 points) and pole (two points) tests.
The overall score awarded to the Navara in 2015 was 35.01 out of 37 points.
Standard safety features in the 2021 model now include AEB, hill-start assist, cruise control, seven airbags, automatic headlights and trailer-sway control.
A reversing camera is standard on all grades barring the single cab, SL king-cab chassis and SL dual-cab chassis variants.
Stepping up to the ST adds rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view monitor, automatic wipers, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and high-beam assist, while the ST-X scores rear parking sensors and a tyre pressure monitor.
There’s no doubt the 2021 Navara is the safest iteration yet, but when competitors offer features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard throughout the range, it’s hard to ignore the shortcomings on the Nissan ute’s spec list.
Like all new Nissan Australia models, the 2021 Navara comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with five years roadside assist.
However, the benchmark for warranty remains Mitsubishi and its Triton, which is offered with a 10-year/200,000km assurance period.
Scheduled servicing intervals in the Nissan Navara are set for every 12 months/20,000km, whichever occurs first.
Service costs are different for manual and automatic vehicles though, with five years/60 months maintenance on the manual adding up to $2883, and $2847 for the auto.
This means the Navara is more expensive to maintain than some rivals, which hover around the $2500 mark for five years’ worth of servicing.
However, the service intervals of the Navara are slightly longer at 20,000km, instead of competitor’s 15,000km range.