Monday, October 5, 2009

2010 MN Triton GLX-R And GL-R First Drive Review


2010 MN Triton GLX-R And GL-R First Drive Review

IT’S GRUNTIER, is considerably more refined, uses less fuel, has a longer and larger cargo tub, and is more comfortable at the wheel than the outgoing 3.2 litre turbo-diesel ML Triton.

So, Triton enthusiasts, you can stop panicking now. The new MY10 MN Triton is better. It’s as simple as that.

And don’t get all het up about the downsizing of the diesel up front – down from 3.2 litres to 2.5. The new 4D56 HP (for ‘high-power’) unit is a cracker. Sure, it’s smaller; but it’s a much smoother, quieter and lustier piece of work.

Its 131kW of power is class-leading; and the 400Nm (in manual versions) it produces at just 2000rpm, is only shaded by the Navara’s 403Nm. That’s a gain of 11 percent in power and 17 percent in torque outputs over the previous 4M41 3.2 litre diesel engine.

(Automatic variants get similar power but a lower 350Nm of torque.)

Those numbers work very well on the road and even better in the rough. Importantly, if you are considering a Triton for work duties – you know, concrete mixer, three lard-arses and a cubit of mud in the tray – or your boat has the dimensions and subtlety of a bulk ore carrier, the MN Triton also has improved towing capacity.


By how much? Up to 2.7 tonne (braked) for the dual-cab pickups, and 3.0 tonne (braked) for cab-chassis models.

With standard driver and front passenger SRS airbags, and stability control and side and curtain airbags available on diesel dual-cab models, the MN Triton is also safer.

We took two of the new models out of Byron Bay for a stint of highway, gravel road and off-road driving; the new GL-R manual for the on-road sections, and the GLX-R in automatic into the rough.

We’ll talk about the fight in the dog shortly (and the news is encouraging), but what’s the MN Triton got – inside and out – and where has it been improved?


The biggest styling change is the extended and raised lines of the cargo bed. The ML dual-cab model’s relatively small tub and drooping rear lines was its Achilles’ heel. Being smallest in the segment, it may have missed out on some trade buyers.

That has now changed. At 1505 mm in length and 1470 mm wide, the new MN Triton’s tub is a match for any in the segment. It is just 25mm shorter (barely the thickness of a thumb) than the longest tray - found on the Ranger and BT-50 dual-cabs - and less than a pencil width shorter than Nissan’s Navara.


With a higher rear lip, extended bum and ‘squarer’ look, the new larger tub improves the overall balance of the Triton’s lines.

Owners will also appreciate the concave crease running above the tailgate latch. Its presence adds panel strength, meaning the tailgate will not dent as easily when pushed closed.

2010_mitsubishi_mn_triton_glx-r_and_gl-r_first-drive-review_09The lines to the front have been sharpened with new front bumpers, grille and side-turning lamps. (These minor design changes make no sacrifice to the Triton’s excellent 33 degrees approach angle; although the longer tray increases rear overhang for a 21 degrees departure angle.)

Otherwise, new alloy wheels, body-coloured fender flares and new side-steps (on the GLX-R) set the MN range apart.

There is also a new mid-price model, the GL-R. It sits in a value slot below the GLX-R and can be visually distinguished from the premium model by the horizontal chrome slatted grille, flat side steps and 16-inch alloys (the GLX-R gets 17-inch wheels).

(The GL-R, which also gets nudge bar, carpets and leather steering wheel, is available in both 4×2 and 4×4 dual-cab variants.)

The Interior

Inside, across the range, seat fabrics and bases have come in for some subtle but effective attention.

There is now better under-thigh bolstering for both driver and passengers. The seat fabric is also smarter-looking and a little classier to the touch.

The same can’t be said of the door trims which, even in the premium GLX-R, are flat slabs of grey plastic. It’s not very appealing and spoils an otherwise pleasing interior.

(We’ve noted it before, but Mitsubishi and others in the sector could learn a few tricks from the way Holden and Ford trim the interiors of their home-grown work utes.)

The extra padding and improved shaping to the front seats, while not ‘body-hugging’, will be immediately noticeable to those familiar with the ML.


The additional bolstering in the MN GL-R and GLX-R we drove improves comfort over highway stretches and in the rough. The ML’s seats weren’t slippery, but were as flat as ANZAC biscuits and too short in the base.

The instrument cluster is revised as is the floor console which now features a larger stowage bin between the front buckets (with an integrated arm-rest). Under the lid in the premium models, and shielded from prying eyes, are the Bluetooth, iPod, USB and RCA aux-in connections.

Controls are generally well laid-out, with things falling logically to hand (though we didn’t try out the sat-nav). The GLX-R also gets a multi-function steering wheel for audio and Bluetooth functions.

All up, the MN, while improved, cannot yet claim the best interior in the segment. It’s a taste thing (and opinions vary) but we’d pass that accolade to the Ranger and BT-50.

Nevertheless, few will have complaints with the style, the quality of the materials and the fit and finish of the MN Triton. It has been improved where it matters most and works well ergonomically.

Equipment And Features

Mitsubishi claims safety “was a key priority in designing the new vehicle”. Of course, it’s not alone in heading down this direction. The hot breath of ANCAP on light commercial vehicles has all in the sector trying to lift their games to passenger car levels of passive and dynamic safety.

With a 4-Star ANCAP rating under its belt, the MN Triton comes with standard driver and front passenger airbags, front and rear door impact bars, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, front seatbelt pretensioners, and child restraint points,

Stability and traction control are available on all HP diesel models – single cab and dual-cab - and passenger side and curtain airbags are available on all HP diesel dual-cab models, but standard fit on the GLX-R.


The audio system (CD, MP3/WMA compatible, iPod connectivity) has also been upgraded across all models, the top-of-the-line GLX-R getting a thumping unit with six-speakers of high-fidelity sound. Bluetooth connectivity is standard across all models.

In GL-R and GLX-R models, cruise control, side and rear window demisters, tilt-adjustable steering column, leather-bound steering wheel, driver’s foot rest, halogen headlamps and rear seat head-rests, are standard (among a range of features).

The GLX-R can be further specced-up with Mitsubishi’s optional multi-communication system with sat-nav, DVD, integrated Bluetooth and iPod control.

Mechanical Package

While the extended bed improves the work-day capability of the MN Triton, the 4D56 2.5 litre HP diesel transforms its performance.

With changes to the combustion chambers and injectors, increased turbo pressure and a variable geometry turbo-charger, it is a lively unit. (The variable geometry turbo increases gas flow speed at lower engine revs by closing the variable nozzle vanes on the turbo wheel, opening them up at higher engine revs.)

It also delivers a nine percent improvement in fuel consumption over the 3.2 litre diesel in the ML Triton. The MN HP diesel, in manual guise, delivers combined fuel economy figures of 8.3 l/100km compared to the ML’s 9.1 l/100km for the manual.

Even in automatic the MN has a teetotaler’s thirst, drinking just 9.3 l/100km on the combined cycle.


There are three engines across the range: the 2.4 litre petrol (with 94kW of power @ 5250 rpm and 194Nm of torque @ 4000 rpm); the 2.5 litre diesel engine from the current ML line-up (with 100kW @ 3800 rpm and 314Nm @ 2,000 rpm); and the more powerful version of this engine, the 2.5 litre HP diesel (131kW @ 4000rpm and 400Nm (in manual versions, the auto 350Nm) @ 2000rpm.

Two automatic transmissions are available on HP diesel variants – a four-speed auto carried over from the ML, and a five-speed with sports-mode available on the GLX-R only.

The GLX-R also gets Mitsubishi’s Super Select four-wheel drive system, and stability and traction control. ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution is standard across the range; a diff lock is optional on all 4×4 models.

There are ventilated disc brakes with single piston caliper up front, drums at the rear. Suspension is double wishbones with coils and stabiliser on the front end, with leaf springs and a solid rear axle at the rear.

The Drive

2010_mitsubishi_mn_triton_glx-r_and_gl-r_first-drive-review_18_DRIVE It’s no secret (read through our earlier reviews): we like the way the Triton drives here at TMR.

The previous ML model, in our view, led the segment for its superior mix of on-road comfort and off-road capability. Its replacement, the MN, is better again – or so it would seem after this first drive.

Of course, a longer test across a wider range of driving conditions and surfaces will tell the tale (the test vehicles were also carrying a little ballast in the tub, arguably to better emulate real-world driving conditions).

But, on first impressions, the MN would appear to have raised the bar for the versatile workhorse cum family transport commercial sector.

The GL-R we had for the highway and gravel roads leg proved again just how well Mitsubishi sets up a ‘compromise’ suspension. When you’re buying a 4×4 work-ute with real off-road capability, you probably prefer not have your eyeballs shaken out of your head whenever you point it at the tarmac. Probably.

Some can be a tad wearing to live with on this score, but not the Triton. It’s quite at home on the highway and surprisingly well-balanced and easy to live with even on secondary roads.


Its double wishbone front suspension and leaf-spring rear with solid axle works better than a bald description of its engineering might suggest (it’s a well-worn and well-proven combo).

The Triton though manages to do it better than most. The suspension tuning provides good initial compliance, allowing the suspension to ‘soak-up’ road imperfections, while being firm enough to carry nearly a tonne in the tray (972kg to be exact) without scraping along the road on its belly.

Relative to its light commercial sector, it is quite free of jarring over poor roads and broken bitumen. It is also commendably quiet with very little wind noise and road roar finding its way into the cabin – the Triton is better, in fact, than the new Outlander on the road roar front.

It’s the gutsy 4D56 2.5 litre HP diesel however that most transforms the drive.

The evident (and sometimes wearing) diesel rattle of the older 4M41 3.2 litre unit is much improved with the 2.5 litre in the new model. At the wheel it is all-but absent. On road, and when working, there is just a nice rounded ‘hum’ accompanying things which is neither intrusive nor unpleasant.


Also helping things is the smooth-shifting and nicely weighted five-speed manual transmission we had in the GL-R for the road legs of the trip. The clutch action is a little long, but the ratios are well suited to the characteristics of the engine and the right gear falls nicely to hand when rowing the MN along.

It is quite car-like and well-mannered on the road, and it’s only when pushing through turns or on undulating secondary roads that you’re reminded of the MN’s commercial underpinning.

Sure, it’s a high-riding ute so it’s not designed for hunting down the apexes. But, provided you make allowances for the inevitable understeer, it is surprisingly stable and can be rowed along with confidence.

Even over the worst stretches, you wouldn’t describe it as harsh or unforgiving. But the quality is in the breeding. From the day the first Pajero arrived twenty-five plus years ago, Mitsubishi has always managed the highway and off-road compromise better than most.


For the off-road work, we swapped into the GLX-R automatic. With Mitsubishi’s ‘Super Select’ 4WD system below, diff-lock and ample torque underfoot, the GLX-R made short work of things in the rough.

While the tracks were dry, and would have presented more of a challenge to the Bridgestone Dueler boots had there been mud underfoot, the Triton had no trouble with the deeply rutted steep climbs and descents.

The Super Select system is little short of brilliant. By directing traction front and back to where it can be used, it allows you to tackle things steadily, to simply rely on the 400Nm of torque underfoot and to ‘wind’ your way up and over obstacles.

We’ve come to trust and appreciate the ML over even the toughest off-road tracks. On the basis of this first drive, the MN would appear to have lost none of its predecessor’s ability as a hard-working and almost effortlessly capable 4×4.

The Verdict

The new MN Triton is, in our view, still class leader in the dual-cab 4×4 segment. Its combination of on-road compliance and comfort, coupled with workhorse robustness and genuine off-road capability, tip the scales its way.

Others do some things better, sure, but for sheer versatility and all-round capability, the Triton makes very appealing buying.

Now with a longer tray bed, a stronger but more refined and fuel-efficient diesel, plus some noticeable interior and exterior refinements, the MN is an improved car in nearly every way over the ML.

For those who may have been worried that the move to the smaller diesel would be a retrograde step for Mitsubishi, the reality would appear to be otherwise.

So, whether you have work, play or family duties in mind, put the MN Triton on the list for consideration.

You will likely find, as we have, that sequels can sometimes be better than the original.


(Manufacturer’s retail price shown: on-road charges and dealer delivery additional.)

MN Triton 4×2 Price List
  • GL Cab-chassis $20,990
  • GLX Cab-chassis (2.5 CDi) $25,990
  • GLX Dual-cab (2.4i petrol) $28,390
  • GLX Dual-cab (2.5 CDi) $32,490
  • GL-R Dual-cab (2.5 CDi) $35,490

(Add $2000 for four-speed automatic. NA for GL Cab-chassis.)

MN Triton 4×4 Price List
  • GLX Cab-chassis (2.5 HP CDi) $34,590
  • GLX Dual-cab (2.5 HP CDi) $41,990
  • GL-R Dual-cab (2.5 HP CDi) $44,990
  • GLX-R Dual-cab (2.5 HP CDi) $47,990

(Add $2000 for four-speed auto for GLX and GL-R; add $2500 for five-speed auto for GLX-R.)