Many buy pick-up trucks as alternatives to passenger cars in Peninsular Malaysia – some dig the macho image and some do so because the big trucks offer a lot of metal for the money. There are off-road enthusiasts among pick-up owners, but many urban trucks never see a day in the rough, which is of course what they’re designed to cope with. The image of a husky cooped up in an apartment comes to mind.

That’s not the case in Sabah and Sarawak, where pick-up trucks are popular for a good reason. The roads in the towns and cities are well, “normal”, but the two Borneo states are vast and the terrain gets less friendly the further you venture out. A truck is necessary equipment for certain industries with operations in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak. Two such examples are featured here.

First up is Lee, who is in the gas pipeline industry. He works for the Samling Group and is based in Lawas, Sarawak, which he describes as “Triton territory”. The Kuching native says that his company has almost 100 units of the Mitsubishi truck in Lawas now, and he has been driving one since July 2019. With 25,000 km on the clock, Lee is “going full swing” with his work machine now.

The site manager said that Samling chose the Triton for its off-road prowess. “We as the forerunners will carry out the exploration and pave the way for everyone else. We drive through all kinds of road conditions – muddy, slippery, river crossings, mountain roads and other terrible road conditions,” he said, adding that his daily distance is between 100 to 200 km, all off-road.

Lee says that the Triton is “smooth and easy to control”, which is really what you want off the tarmac. He also likes the Triton’s Easy Select 4WD rotary knob that allows for 2H-4H shift-on-the-fly up to 100 km/h, unlike the old school separate low gear lever, which he describes as “troublesome and confusing for drivers”.

Lastly, power. Lee’s workhorse is the latest Triton facelift with the 2.4L MIVEC engine and 4×4 as standard across the range. The VGT engine has 181 PS and 430 Nm of torque at 2,500 rpm. “The trucks that we previously used felt heavy. The Triton, as long as you have the confidence to throttle, it will give you the power you need, and the power feels smooth,” he remarked.

“It’s multi-purpose – off road, on road, ferrying cargo or passengers and easy for travelling. If the company did not provide me with a more advanced and better truck like the Triton, I might not be able to take the it anymore (mungkin saya tidak tahan sudah). This means that the Triton provides enough comfort for the driver, in terms of being easy to control and a comfortable suspension – all these makes for a stress-free drive,” Lee said.

From Lawas, we move south to Niah, where plantation owner Ayai Anak Sawing is based. Every morning, the village chief heads to the oil palm plantation, which is around an hour’s drive from this longhouse. There, he and the workers will load up the Triton with palm oil fruit, which will be transported to the mill for processing.

Ayai typically makes four to five trips from the plantation to the mill, or up to six trips when the harvest is good. Each load weighs from 900 kg to 1.2 tonnes, which the Triton comfortably handles.

“What I like about the Triton is when the roads are muddy and slippery, the pick up is strong (to get me out of the tricky situation). The Triton is undoubtedly strong when it comes to these road conditions. On rocky roads or roads with lots of holes, the suspension is stable,” he says.

Besides, being a daily workhorse, the Triton also serves Ayai as a family car on the weekends, for functions and for meetings in his capacity as village chief. In this case, it truly is a machine for all occasions.

The current Triton facelift with the Dynamic Shield fascia was launched in Malaysia in January 2019, and the range was updated late last year. Five variants are available – the MT, AT, MT Premium, AT Premium and the top Adventure X, priced from RM100,200 to RM137,900. All share the same 181 PS/430 Nm 2.4L MIVEC turbodiesel, paired with six-speed transmissions.

In November 2019, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia added the facelifted Triton Quest to the local range. Powered by a 110 PS/200 Nm 2.5L turbodiesel, the 4×2 workhorse base model is priced at RM79,890.

GALLERY: 2020 Mitsubishi Triton Adventure X