Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia recently launched an upmarket variant of its Triton pickup truck series. This new variant, designated as the Triton 3.2 brings the total models available to 4. These are the Triton Lite available in manual mode only, Triton 2.5 which is offered both in automatic and manual transmission options and the fore mentioned 3.2, available in only automatic. We’ve just finished putting the new Triton 3.2 through its paces. Read Harvinder Singh’s write-up after the jump.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Design

Those were the days when the designs of pickup trucks weren’t really a strong point of such vehicles, as practicality was the most important aspect of these work horses. These days, the gap between looks and practicality is closer than ever, and I must say, for the Triton, although it was very novel when it was initially launched, they really pulled it off in terms of the design.

It looks very aggressive and futuristic at the same time, and I like the front profile of the Triton as it gives a very masculine statement, when I stare at it and let my imaginations fly, it’s like the Triton is saying to me; “What?! Who you looking at?!”. Usually when it comes to pickup trucks, being a classic car nut, I would prefer the conventional Ford F100/F150 or the Ford Ranger design cues, but if they stop designing pickup trucks in such a way, or if the trucks are just plain not worth the money (in terms of quality, options, etc.), I will settle with this “more futuristic” Triton.

Of course I wouldn’t say the same for the more affordable Triton Lite which has a much more modest and down to earth look, but its thumbs up all the way for the 2.5 and 3.2 models. Compared to the 2.5, this new 3.2 features a redesigned front bumper which brings out the imposing looks even more, a rugged metal mesh grille finish, and plastic wind deflectors on all four doors. The rest of the truck is pretty much similar to its 2.5 younger brother, except for the different wheel design and of course the 3.2 insignia.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Interior

The twin cab does offer adequate room on the inside. Leg room and head clearance isn’t a problem for any of the passengers either in the front or the rear. Apart from the redesigned climate control knobs on the dash, everything else is similar to the 2.5 Triton. I wouldn’t say the design of the interior components such as the dashboard, seats and door cards are luxurious, but it’s definitely reasonable for pickup trucks.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2Both the 2.5 and this 3.2 features a “User Interface Display” screen which tells you the time, and journey data such as average fuel consumption, and yes of course, typical of a modern off-roader, it has a digital compass, a barometer, an altimeter as well as temperature indication. The fuel consumption meter on the Triton requires a long time to update the reading as the speed of your vehicle changes, sometimes minutes which is quite irritating for me. This is because it only displays your average fuel consumption over the whole journey instead of it being in real time.

It has a Kenwood audio player which, apart from a standard AM/FM tuner, it can play MP3 and WMA via CD or a USB stick. You can also hook up your iPod (and most MP3 players) via a built-in AUX in jack. The practicality of the interior is further enhanced with enough compartments and cup holders for front and rear passengers.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2I do wish it had a fully functional centre arm rest. The reason why I said “fully functional” centre arm rest is because it’s just not high enough, leaving the driver nowhere to rest his left arm. The low ratio transmission transfer case shift lever can be also be a potential annoyance due to its constant vibration. This can be avoided by using a shift-by-wire knob like in the D-Max and Ranger.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Driving (Engine)

The Triton 3.2 features 4 cylinder 3.2 litre turbo diesel power plant, which is a major upgrade compared the 2.5 standard diesel engine used in the Triton Lite and the 2.5 turbo diesel used in the Triton 2.5. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t call it a major upgrade after driving it, of course I do feel the power difference but, not as much as I expected, it feels more like a “slightly” more powerful version of the Triton 2.5. There is torque however across the entire rev range, especially from the low end, but just like most turbo diesels out there, it tends to lose power after 4,000 rpm.

Acceleration for the 160 horsepower motor is more on the modest side and when I took it to a constant high speed of 160km/h, the revs settled down on 3,000 rpm. The in cabin engine noise is on the high side thanks to thin insulation and the noisy diesel engine but its acceptable for a pickup truck.

The turbo boost on the other hand was lag-free and kicked in whenever my feet became throttle happy. Around town, the Triton behaved well, as I didn’t feel like I was driving a big huge truck and the Triton offers a decent 5.9 meter minimum turning radius. Getting in and out of parking spaces wasn’t much of a problem.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Driving (Transmission)

The gear shifts of the Triton 3.2’s 4 speed automatic transmission was rather smooth, although I did notice that it tended to stay in gear longer at high revs right before it shifts into higher gear. The tranny kicked down into lower gear right away when slammed the pedal to the floor while cruising on high speeds (160km/h), giving me instant torque.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2The Triton also comes with the “must have” transfer case enabling the driver to switch between 2 wheel drive high range, 4 wheel drive high range and the off-road, friendly 4 wheel drive low range. Shifting between 2WD HR to 4WD HR was a breeze as I was able to do it while driving (up to 100km/h) and to tackle a more stubborn or a steep road condition, I just needed to stop the vehicle, pop the Auto lever into neutral, and shift to 4WD LR mode.

In order to give it’s off roading capabilities a shot, I took the Triton (with 3 other passengers) to an off road trail nearby Genting Sempah at Karak, and after a short and very slow drive, I found that the Triton has good light off-roading capabilities, which is further helped by a standard limited slip differential. Since it was fitted with road tires, we didn’t take it further into the tropical jungle.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Driving (Ride Comfort & Handling)

To my surprise, the ride comfort of the Triton isn’t all that bad, considering most pickup trucks offer very stiff (sometimes too stiff to me) ride qualities, especially for the rear occupants. Even on high speeds, it absorbed those irritating bumps well enough for me.

Unfortunately, to give way to a more comfortable ride, the Triton seemed to suffer from a “slightly more than usual” body roll and under steer whenever I pushed it harder on the modest twisty roads of the Karak highway, both on medium and high speeds. Anyway personally, when it comes to pickup trucks, I actually prefer to have a slightly better ride comfort, even if I have compromise on a little on handling, and I feel Mitsubishi deployed a good balance with the Triton.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Competition

Well, as we all know, there is strong competition within the double cab pickup truck segment in Malaysia with Toyota’s Hilux, Nissan’s Frontier, Isuzu’s DMax, and Ford’s “built tough” Ranger. Among all, Triton has the cheapest low range version, priced at RM 58,129 (Triton Lite). The cheapest version you can get from other manufacturers are all priced RM 80,000 and above.

For the mid range level, all 5 manufacturers offer their 2.5 Turbo Diesel variants, all between RM 80,000 to RM 95,000, depending on specifications, however do note that there’s no automatic transmission option for the Nissan Frontier. As for the high range version, none of the other manufacturers have a 3.2 litre option, the closest is the Isuzu Dmax with a 3.0 unit as the rest retain at 2.5 litres. However, the Triton 3.2 is the most expensive one, retailing at RM 97, 041, about three thousand ringgit more than the DMax.

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2
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Verdict

Mitsubishi Triton 3.2So, as you can see, Mitsubishi has a wider range, especially with the extremely affordable Triton Lite. However apart from having the Lite, and having the most amount of cubic inches within in the high range pickups, the competition is very strong among within the mid range trucks as all are available with 2.5 Turbo Diesels.

At first glance, I will opt for the Triton 2.5 if you are asking me to choose between that or the Triton 3.2, but then again, the 3.2 is only roughly RM8,000 more than the 2.5 with auto.

So, here’s my final verdict: I would stick to the Triton 2.5, especially when the road tax cost is cheaper than the 3.2 (RM 898 opposed to RM 2264). Both the Triton 2.5 and 3.2 share almost everything that matters except for the larger 3.2 motor, but as mentioned earlier on, I didn’t feel a significant power difference with the 3.2.

Story by Harvinder Singh Sidhu