By Tim Grey
When it comes to 4WD workhorses the Mitsubishi Triton has always been a thoroughbred, but in a crowded paddock in 2010 does it still standout?
The 4WD ute market is a verdent green pasture for the farmer with a lease deal and a trade-in on his mind, thanks to the quality output coming from virtually all corners.
In fact, with the Hilux still riding high, a new Navarra on the horizon and even Holden’s badge-engineered Korean attracting a following, he’s spoilt for choice.
I’m not going to pretend for even one minute that in this market, price, and of course a good Fielday special, isn’t going to be the defining factor of any purchase.
After all, there’s brand loyalty out there, but unlike the Aussie V8 admirer your average dairy farmer isn’t going to let a badge get in the way of the bottom line.
So in such a market, what, if anything, sets the recently-released 2010 Triton apart from the rest?
Well, for starters, if we’re sticking with that bottom line, Mitsubishi’s Diamond Advantage standard warranty on all of its new car range is significant.
Mitsubishi is renowned for two things – its skills with 4WD systems and the often market-topping cost of fixing them if they go wrong – but now the company is putting its money where its mouth is.
Compared to the standard three year warranties from the competition (and Toyota’s current five year warranty special), Diamond Advantage gives all new Mitsi purchasers 10 years/160,000km of coverage on the powertrain, five years/130,000km of coverage on the whole beast and five years/130,000km of free roadside assistance.
This, according to the dealer I spoke to, is standard across the board on new car purchases from now on, however don’t let that “10 year” figure on the engine distract you from the fact the bit covering the 4WD system is actually better at the moment with Toyota by an extra 20,000kms of coverage, by virtue of the current promotion (at the time of writing).
But for what its worth, the demo model Tritons I tested were screwed in so tight they could have thread a phillips head at 20 paces.
They also boasted, to my mind, more substantial materials inside than a Hilux and a nicer cabin environment to boot.
The Triton 4WD comes in as many guises as a Hilux as well, from the Single Cab Chassis manual starting at $41,990 to the range-topping Double Cab Wellside auto (GLS) at $54,990.
What they all have in common is a beaut 2.5L common rail intercooled turbo diesel, providing a whopping 407Nm of torque in the workhorse manuals and “just” 356Nm in the two more urbanite autos.
The engine peaks at a no-nonsense 2000rpm, so it doesn’t make as short work of obstacles as the Hilux’s older 3.0L turbo chugger, which peaks at 343Nm but delivers it at an early plateau from 1400rpm to 3400rpm.
Both Triton I tested did feel a bit of an effort off the mark compared to a “sheep shagger”, but it benefitted off the road from a nice eagerness to turn-in and bite with loose surfaces which said a lot about the underpinnings of the whole package.
Which brings me to probably the biggest differentiator in the Triton stable, the 4WD transmission choice.
Most of the range features Easy Select 4WD, while the top dog GLS models feature Super Select 4WD.
What’s the difference? Well, while the former allows you to shift from the 2WD (2H) setting to the 4WD one (4H) while moving at up to 100km/h, Super Select automates the process with a bit more logic thanks to a system which engages the front wheels when slippage is detected in the rear. You still have to stop, of course, to engage the low 4WD gear (4L), but again Super Select comes up trumps with a 4LLC gear for that extra degree of low-speed high-revving alongside a locked 4WD mode.
At the same time, while the GLS models enjoy Super Select 4WD, they miss out on the heavy duty rear suspension of the lower models, which Mitsubishi presumably regard as the real workhorses.
Away from the mechanics, a ute is judged by how much it can load and pull, and it is here where the bigger Triton really muscles in.
The equivalent Triton is almost 10cm longer than a Hilux doublecab, boasts a maximum rear axle load of 1800kg and can tow (braked) 3000 to 2700kg compared to the Hilux range’s uniform 2500kg.
The Hilux wins on ground clearance, but only by a whisker of millimetres, and if you’re thinking to go with the one which will take you further be aware there’s not much in that either.
A manual double cab Hilux consumes 8.3L/100km on a 76 litre tank, while the equivalent Triton does the same from a 75 litre tank.
With little to differentiate between the traditional market leader and the newer model it all comes down to that bottom line again.
Seeing as 4WD Hiluxs begin at $48,830 and end at $58,570, though, I don’t think the Triton has much to worry about there either.