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Mitsubishi Triton 2018 review: Exceed

The Triton is smaller than its main rivals. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
Mark Oastler
Contributing Journalist

27 Apr 2018 • 11 min read

Daily driver score

4.2/5

Tradies score

3.7/5

The Mitsubishi Triton is the quiet achiever in Australia’s 4x4 ute segment. While Ford’s Ranger and Toyota’s HiLux continue to slog it out for top sales honours, the clear number three in this fight is the trusty Triton which commands almost 14 per cent of the market.

Its robust sales figures are comfortably ahead of larger rivals like the Holden Colorado, Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-MAX and Nissan Navara. Toyota’s iconic 70 Series and VW’s widely acclaimed Amarok also eat its dust in sales. So what makes the humble Triton such a popular choice? Sure, it costs less than major rivals, but there’s more to the Triton success story.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

There can be no denying the Triton’s sticker price jumps off the page and slaps you in the face. Our test vehicle was the premium grade Exceed, which is available only as a dual cab ute with automatic transmission for only $48,000.

Compare that with other top-shelf 4x4 dual cab utes like the Amarok Ultimate V6 ($68,490), HiLux Rugged X auto ($63,690), Ranger Wildtrak auto ($61,790), Colorado Z71 auto ($57,190) and Navara ST-X ($54,490). Obviously, many Aussies have done this and concluded that being able to buy a high quality Japanese ute with all the fruit for under $50K represents outstanding value for money.

Inside the premium grade Exceed are leather seat facings, steering wheel and gearshift plus paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and a multi-connectivity six-speaker audio system with 7.0-inch control screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Outside there’s keyless entry, dusk-sensing HID headlights, LED daytime running lights and fog lights, door mirrors with integrated turn indicators, alloy side steps and chrome sports bar, unique 17 x 7.5-inch diamond alloy wheels with 245/65R17 tyres and a full-size spare, rear differential lock and rain-sensing wipers to name a few, with tasteful chrome accents throughout. Our test vehicle was also equipped with the optional tow bar.

The Exceed comes with 17-inch diamond alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Exceed comes with 17-inch diamond alloy wheels. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Triton is smaller than its main rivals. For example, in comparison to the Ranger Wildtrak the Exceed is 295kg lighter, 75mm shorter, 45mm narrower and 68mm lower, with a 220mm shorter wheelbase (3000mm).

However, the Triton’s enduring popularity proves its more compact dimensions are not considered a handicap. In fact, they could be a distinct advantage, given that many dual cab utes are city-based where traffic congestion, limited street parking, shrinking home garage sizes and tight shopping centre car parking are daily realities. Its tight 11.8 metre turning circle is another bonus in this context. Off road credentials include 30 degrees approach angle, 22 degrees departure angle (not great due to the large rear overhang) and 24 degrees ramp break-over angle, with 205mm of ground clearance.

Front seat comfort is good overall, even though the seat base cushions still feel a tad short for proper thigh support. The rear doors are considerably shorter than the fronts, indicating tighter cab entry/exit and seating for rear seat passengers. The Triton’s smaller size is noticeable here, resulting in a considerable squeeze for three adults. Like most dual cab utes, it works better with two. The rear door hip line is also quite high, which reduces the door glass area and adds to the closed-in feel.

  • Front seat comfort is good overall, even though the seat base cushions still feel a tad short for proper thigh support. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Front seat comfort is good overall, even though the seat base cushions still feel a tad short for proper thigh support. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • The rear doors are considerably shorter than the fronts, indicating tighter cab entry/exit and seating for rear seat passengers. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The rear doors are considerably shorter than the fronts, indicating tighter cab entry/exit and seating for rear seat passengers. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

One feature we’d like to see is a two-lever lid function on the console box (like the Toyota Prado) which offers the choice of accessing either the shallow internal top tray, or the deeper box below it, depending on which lever you pull when opening the lid. Grab handles on the B pillars would also be useful.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Mitsubishi’s trusty 4N15 D4 MIVEC four-cylinder turbo-diesel is a gem of an engine for this application. Although it’s only 2.4 litres in capacity, it goes about its business with a minimum of fuss and its impressive refinement provides smooth and quiet operation that is among the best in class.

Maximum power of 133kW at 3500rpm is matched with an excellent 430Nm serving of torque, which peaks at 2500rpm but starts flowing strongly from 1500rpm. That robust torque figure is identical to Toyota’s 70 Series Land Cruiser with its much larger 4.5 litre V8, so the 2.4 litre four with its MIVEC variable valve timing is high on efficiency.

The turbo-diesel 2.4-litre four-cylinder produces 133kW /430Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The turbo-diesel 2.4-litre four-cylinder produces 133kW /430Nm. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The Exceed’s venerable Aisin five-speed is now the only automatic transmission with less than six speeds among its main competitors, but it doesn’t noticeably hinder performance as the ratios are well spaced and the over-driven fifth gear provides good fuel economy at highway speeds. Exceed offers the choice of fully automatic operation or sequential manual shifting with either the stick-shift or F1-style paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

The Exceed is also equipped with Mitsubishi’s excellent Super Select II 4x4 system featuring a centre differential that provides full lock-up for high/low range off-road driving, plus (when unlocked) the option of full-time 4x4 for road use. Exceed also has a locking rear differential.

How much fuel does it consume?

Mitsubishi’s official combined figure is 7.6L/100km but our figures based on trip meter and fuel bowser readings worked out at 10.2L/100km (dash showed 9.0L) which included GVM testing. Interestingly, a Triton GLS we also had on test which only performed light duties came in at 9.8L/100km, which shows the engine’s economy was not greatly affected by heavy load hauling. Based on the best of those two figures, you could expect a driving range of around 740km from its 75 litre tank.

How practical is the space inside?

With its relatively light 1955kg kerb weight and 2900kg GVM, the Exceed offers a useful 945kg payload rating. Given its smaller key dimensions, it also boasts an impressively high 5885kg GCM and is rated to tow up to 3100kg of braked trailer, meaning the Exceed’s maximum payload only has to be reduced by 115kg to legally tow 3100kg. That’s a good compromise between payload and towing, because most people don’t tow more than 3000kg anyway.

The load tub, which was fitted with a full tub liner on our example, is internally 1520mm long and 1470mm wide with 1085mm between the wheel arches and six well-placed anchorage points for securing loads. One advantage of the Triton’s pronounced rear overhang is that the wheel arches, which are about mid-ships in rival utes, are a lot further forward in the load tub, leaving a generous amount of full-width clear floor space behind them.

  • The Exceed offers a useful 945kg payload rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Exceed offers a useful 945kg payload rating. (image credit: Mark Oastler)
  • The load tub has been fitted with a full tub liner. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The load tub has been fitted with a full tub liner. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Cabin storage options include bottle holders and storage pockets in both front doors, a single glovebox, overhead sunglasses holder and a central console with open cubby at the front, two cup holders in the centre and a lidded box at the back which doubles as an elbow rest.

Rear seat passengers only get bottle holders with no storage pockets in each door but there are flexible pockets on the back of each front seat. When carrying two passengers, the fold down centre armrest offers two cup holders. The rear bench seat’s base cushion does not swing up to reveal hidden storage areas beneath like some of its larger rivals, which would be handy here.

What's it like to drive?

The Triton exudes refinement, particularly at Exceed level with a nice whiff of leather each time you open the door and the high quality look and feel of the dashboard, instruments, controls and surfaces. And even a tall adult can find a comfortable driving position. 

NVH levels are pleasantly low, braking is strong and consistent and the steering has a light but responsive feel. This is aided by the Triton’s compact dimensions, relatively light kerb weight and short wheelbase which provide agile handling and easy maneuverability in tight city car parks or on narrow bush tracks.

The Exceed is a surprisingly nippy performer around town. You can use the sequential paddle shifters if you wish, but the five-speed automatic provides more than adequate performance when left in auto mode, as the generous 430Nm of torque effectively smooths over the ratio gaps which are larger than those found in rival six-speeders.

To test its GVM rating we fork-lifted 770kg into the load tub, which with tow bar, driver and full tank of fuel was nudging its 945kg peak payload rating and 2900kg GVM. The rear leaf springs compressed 57mm and the nose rose 19mm but steering response was unaffected. A quick look under the tail also revealed about 50mm of rear axle bump-stop clearance, instilling us with confidence in its load-carrying ability.

The rear leaf springs compressed 57mm with 770kg in the load tub. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The rear leaf springs compressed 57mm with 770kg in the load tub. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

It loped along the highway on cruise control with only 1950rpm at 100km/h and 2100rpm at 110km/h and also made light work of our 13 per cent gradient 2.0km set climb in automatic mode, self-shifting back to third and maintaining the 60km/h limit at 2500rpm peak torque all the way to the top. Engine braking on the way down wasn’t as strong, but we have come to expect this lack of retardation from sub-3.0 litre turbo diesels with big packs on their backs.

On a variety of sealed and unsealed roads the Exceed also maintained good ride and handling composure, even though it felt slightly more jittery over bumps than larger and heavier rivals.  A pleasant surprise was little if any G force-induced tail-wagging through corners, which we were anticipating given the bulk of the forklift load was being carried well behind and above the rear axle line.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Five-year/100,000km warranty plus five-year corrosion perforation warranty. Capped-price servicing for three years in intervals of 12 months/15,000km ($430), 24 months/30,000km ($530) and 36 months/45,000km ($550), whichever comes first.

Triton's enviable sales are clearly the result of excellent build quality, engineering refinement and all-round performance at a price that makes its major rivals look, well, overpriced. Even with its increasingly outdated five-speed automatic, which sales would suggest is not a major issue, the premium grade Exceed is the best example of the Triton’s compelling value-for-money equation. Honestly, if you can find a more refined and better equipped premium grade Japanese 4x4 dual cab ute for less than $48,000, then buy it. If you can find one.

Why is the Mitsubishi Triton such a strong seller in such a competitive 4x4 ute market? Let us know what you think in the comments.

$10,000 - $54,999

Based on 130 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.2/5

Tradies score

3.7/5
Price Guide

$10,000 - $54,999

Based on 130 car listings in the last 6 months