Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R: Road Test

words - Chris Fincham
A sporty-looking, family-friendly one-tonner that really works? You better believe it...

Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R
Road Test

RRP (manufacturer's list price, excluding on-road costs and dealer delivery): $50,490
Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Metallic paint $450, rear diff lock $700, Luxury pack $3560?
Crash rating: Four-star (ANCAP)
Fuel: Diesel
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 9.3?CO2 emissions (g/km): 212?
Also consider: Toyota HiLux SR5, Nissan Navara ST-X 550, Volkswagen Amarok Highline

The rise of the $50K-plus pick-up shows no signs of slowing down, with every major player in the ute market now sporting a premium dual-cab model. ??These increasingly attractive (and high-priced) crossover utes, blend the rugged attributes of cheaper ‘workhorse’ variants with many of the comforts, conveniences and interior space of SUVs.

The market for these sporty-looking, family-friendly one-tonners is expanding, too, from busy tradies wanting something special during the week that they can also play with on the week-ends, to grey nomads who stack luggage on the rear seats and fridges and fishing gear in the tray, before hooking up their big Jayco caravans and heading off around Australia.

Mitsubishi’s range-topper for the last couple of years has been the GLX-R double cab 4x4 pick up, the only model in the extensive Triton line-up that exceeds $50,000 (with five-speed auto). As tested, our GLX-R test vehicle fitted with most of the options available came in just over $55,000 before on-roads.? For that you get a multi-purpose ute that’s vastly superior to drive and live with than more basic cab chassis Tritons, like the GLX Club Cab 4x4 we drove recently.

When introduced in late-2009 as part of the Triton upgrade, the inclusion of stability control and side airbags on the GLX-R was a revelation for the Aussie ute market. While major rivals including Nissan, Toyota and Ford have since caught up, the top-spec, four star ANCAP rated Triton is still one of the safest utes around with dual front airbags, passenger side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes, stability and traction control, front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and child seat anchor points, all fitted as standard.

Another major selling point has been its 3000kg towing capacity (with 300kg towball download), which makes the top-spec Triton an ideal machine for towing large boats, floats and big off-road caravans.

With its ‘full size’ rear doors and extended rear bed, the 5839mm long GLX-R is a big beast too, on the road and in the carpark. While it offers class-leading interior space, the downside is that half the tray (including rear steps) juts out of most parking spots. Reversing in crowded supermarkets is another headache, and a rear view camera, or sensors, would be handy.

The GLX-R auto has the smallest payload capacity of all Tritons, at 938kg (compared to single cab chassis’ 1067kg) and while the good-sized tray came fitted with an attractive black plastic tub liner, the lack of tie-down hooks limited its usability.

The spacious cabin with its leather-lined, electrically adjustable driver’s seat proved reasonably comfortable during a three hour stint behind the wheel, although a little extra underseat padding and lumbar support wouldn’t have gone astray.

No problems getting a good seating position though, and it’s worth mentioning the excellent cruise control system (with steering wheel buttons), that was both easy-to-use and responsive for laidback highway cruising.

The hard plastic, dash design isn’t as resolved or ergonomically pleasing as the top-spec Nissan or Volkswagen utes’, and the standard, small, central display unit, with red LED numerals, was hard to read, especially in sunlight.

Although not fitted to our test vehicle, the optional multi-communication system with sat nav, DVD and integrated Bluetooth would be worth serious consideration, despite costing an extra $3000.

Whereas the rear seats of many dual cab utes work best as additional storage areas, the Triton’s gives three rear passengers almost as much space as the front pews, making it a true five-seater for adults. ??Rear passengers are also treated to a nifty, powered rear window, which provides some additional airflow on the go without the buffeting experienced from side windows.

Other than that, there’s plenty to excite the ‘boy racer’ inside including titanium dash highlights, alloy sports pedals, floor carpet, chrome door handles, and leather steering wheel and gear-knobs. Externally, there’s further ‘bling’ in the form of a sports bar, honeycomb radiator grille, smart 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome side mirrors, foglamps, unique tube-style sidesteps, nudge bar, rear step-up and tinted glass. ??While not universally admired, the Triton’s curvy side profile does lend it a sportier look than many of its boxier rivals.

Given its proven off-road abilities, jacked-up stance and two tonne (unladen) bulk, the Triton’s on-road manners are impressive. While the GLX-R with auto ‘box gives up 50Nm on the manual version, the 131kW/350Nm on tap from the 2.5-litre turbodiesel is enough to provide satisfactory if unspectacular acceleration.

More importantly, it cruises relatively quietly around 2000rpm at 110km/h, although NVH levels are still not close to most modern SUVs. Even with no load in the tray, there’s little of the rear-end jumpiness or front-end floatiness experienced in leaf-sprung work utes, contributing to a mostly relaxed, unfussed ride.

Despite its sports suspension, the GLX-R remains highly capable in the bush, although we didn’t go much further this time than some fairly smooth dirt tracks, where it took everything in its stride. ??The GLX-R is fitted with Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD system which allows the driver to choose between four driving modes, from 2WD high range for normal road use to 4WD low range with locked centre differential for crawling over rugged terrain.

Also fitted with an optional rear diff lock, the only things that might have slowed it down in the really rough stuff were the Bridgestone Dueler ‘highway’ tyres, and less than ideal 21 degree departure angle.

The claimed fuel economy figure of 9.3L/100km was achievable on the freeway, but went as high as 12L/100km while potting around town.

As well as being a favourite with off-road magazines’ ‘4x4 of the year’ judges, the GLX-R as part of the 4x4 Triton range remains a popular choice in the showrooms. ??In a segment that accounts for around 120,000 sales a year in Australia, the Triton currently ranks fourth, ahead of Holden Colorado but just behind Ford Ranger, although the Nissan Navara and Toyota HiLux remain well out in front.  

With a major update at least two years away, the top-spec Triton will continue to face stiff competition from newer, often more powerful rivals. But in its current form the GLX-R provides enough flair and features to continue to give recreational ute buyers strong value for money…

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Published : Thursday, 15 September 2011
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