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Mitsubishi Triton 2020 review: GLS Premium GVM test

The Triton's overall length is almost line-ball with a Ford Ranger equivalent.

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5

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.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

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.

The GLS Premium scores chunky six-spoke 18-inch alloys. The GLS Premium scores chunky six-spoke 18-inch alloys.

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.

Inside, there's a 7.0-inch touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Inside, there's a 7.0-inch touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

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.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

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.

The conspicuously long rear overhang is a Triton design signature. The conspicuously long rear overhang is a Triton design signature.

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.

Triton rear seating has always been tight, particularly for three adults. Triton rear seating has always been tight, particularly for three adults.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

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.

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.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

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.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

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.

The load tub is 1520mm long and 1470mm wide with a depth of 475mm. The load tub is 1520mm long and 1470mm wide with a depth of 475mm.

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.

Rear seat passengers get a bottle holder but no storage bin in each door. Rear seat passengers get a bottle holder but no storage bin in each door.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

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.

What’s it like for tradie use?

The combined weight of 740kg in the load tub and our driver equalled 840kg, which was just 15kg under the payload ceiling. The rear leaf springs compressed a substantial 68mm yet maintained sufficient bump-stop clearance (and therefore wheel travel) to avoid any bottoming-out during our test. 

The nose only rose 17mm in response, which was less than expected given the natural leveraging effect caused by most of the load being carried behind the rear axle line. Even so, Mitsubishi has done a commendable job in finessing it.

There’s a slight lateral ‘pendulum’ effect on some tighter turns at higher speeds, but generally it feels sure-footed and predictable with no reduction in steering or braking response.

The combined weight of 740kg in the load tub and our driver equalled 840kg, which was just 15kg under the payload ceiling. The combined weight of 740kg in the load tub and our driver equalled 840kg, which was just 15kg under the payload ceiling.

On our 2.0km 13 per cent gradient set climb, the six-speed auto self-shifted down to third gear at 2500rpm, which was bang on maximum torque. Without having to lean into the throttle much, it easily maintained the 60km/h speed limit all the way to the top.

Engine braking on the way down, in a manually-selected second gear, was very effective in keeping speeds under the 60km/h posted limit, with only one brake application required on the steepest part to keep the engine a safe distance from its 4000rpm redline on overrun.

This was outstanding retardation for only 2.4 litres capacity and right up there with the best turbo-diesels we’ve tested, like the Isuzu D-Max’s larger four-cylinder 3.0 litre unit and the Land Cruiser 70 Series’ even larger 4.5 litre V8.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

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

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.

$52,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.3/5

Tradies score

4.3/5
Price Guide

$52,490

Based on new car retail price