Mitsubishi's Triton diesel ute
  |  First Published: October 2003

THE TRITON ute really has some get up and go. On the test drive I found the utility to be astonishingly willing and quite capable of chirping the tyres if I powered off a little too hard in the lower gears.

This from a 4x4 work ute, you might ask? Indeed so. Thanks to Mitsubishi's powerful 2.8-litre intercooled diesel engine, this is one work ute with attitude. How it would go up the beach, or loaded with camping gear along a bush track heading to a cod stream, is a matter of very sweet conjecture. With that willing engine and useful four-wheel-drive capability coupled to a high degree of ground clearance, the vehicle would take a lot of stopping.

And yet the new Triton is an attractive beast, in its work clothing. Granted, the bigger brother four-wheel-drive double cab might carry more people and look more at home around the city, but even with its aluminium tray back this utility still looked handsome. And that 1085kg carrying capacity would come in mighty handy at holiday time.


I saw the Triton as a comfy two seater. Certainly, there is a third seat belt in the centre but only a child would be comfortable there, given the limited space. That said, the two front seats had ample rake adjustment with plenty of fore and aft movement as well, and were decently padded. I was lucky enough to be able to take the ute for a run down the New South Wales north coast, and three-hour stints at the wheel were very comfortable. The seats provided sufficient support, the driving position was excellent (although I would have preferred there to be was a driver's left foot rest) and in all the Triton was good company for a day at the wheel.

Naturally enough, in a work ute you don’t find all the bells and whistles that are associated with top of range 4 x 4 wagons. There are vinyl floors, which are ever so easy to vacuum out after a run up the beach, and the seats had a clean cloth trim. The glove box locks and there are cup holders installed in the central storage area between the front seats. I found quite a bit of useful in-cabin storage space behind the seats and I stashed plenty of reels and bits and pieces in there while researching material for the magazine. And it's a good sort of a hiding place too, where valuables can be left with confidence in the knowledge that they’re out of sight.

The Triton's very efficient air conditioning was a boon, the radio was a sweet sounding unit (nothing tinny here) and the all-round visibility was excellent.


The Triton’s five-speed manual gear box was precise, while the clutch was feather light. The first and second gears had quite low ratios, as would be expected in a ute of this kind, although the Triton could really stretch its legs from third to fifth gear.

I really liked the Triton's 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine. Very quiet, and remarkably smooth, the inter-cooled diesel exhibited surprising low-end torque and had the ability to maintain pace and acceleration throughout gear changes. I found that once the clutch took up the engine immediately provided power when changing up from third to fourth gear. There was no hint of the turbo lag that was once the bugbear of diesel vehicles. The diesel engine in the Triton was as near to a petrol engine, performance-wise, as I've experienced in any utility of this kind.

The figures tell the story. The 2835cc four cylinder single overhead cam engine develops 92kW of power and 294Nm of torque. Put simply, if you plant the foot in lower gears the wheels spin.

Given the fact that the Triton's suspension setup involved torsion bars in front plus leaf springs at the rear, I expected that the unladen vehicle might have been a bit inclined to re-bound on bumps or uneven surfaces, but this was not the case. On really rough going the leaf springs could be felt, but on normal bitumen driving surfaces there was no overreaction from the rear end whatsoever.

For the angler looking for a two-person workhorse to earn a living with during the week and then to be used for fishing expeditions during the weekend, the diesel Triton has a lot going for it. The smooth ride, carrying capacity (1 tonne) plus 2200kg towing capacity for braked trailers will see the vehicle able to fulfil a lot of roles. Travelling up the beach or towing a good sized boat would be par for the course.

The huge carrying capacity of the tray, which certainly would not be very hard to set up with a lockable fibreglass canopy, would be much appreciated, while the off-road capability that goes with the standard ground clearance and powerful engine mated to four-wheel-drive high or low range capability completes the picture.

And the engine virtually runs on the smell of a diesel rag. I carried out a series of tests that saw figures of between 9.6 litres and 10 litres of fuel per 100km returned on mixed city and highway driving, which means that the 75-litre tank will allow quite respectable distances between top-ups.

A couple of features that didn’t excite me much were the key-operated fuel filler plus the wide turning circle, which doesn’t appear to have changed since I last drove a Triton ute two years ago. However, in all, the 2.8-litre turbo charged inter-cooled Triton ute was a practical and comfortable vehicle.

1) Ready for action, the diesel Triton ute is a workhorse that makes a great angler's vehicle as well.

2) Ruts like these won't stop the Triton. There is plenty of ground clearance plus ample engine power to see it through the rough stuff.

3) The 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine of the Triton is quite accessible. The inter-cooler to the right is clearly visible in this photo.

4) Smooth styling is a Triton feature. A workhorse it might be, ugly it's not.

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