YOU’D have to be living under a rock to not realise that dual-cab pick-ups are taking over our roads at a rate that’s almost as alarming as that of SUVs.

As a result, the ute segment is as competitive as ever as each brand attempts to claim its own high-volume portion, and Mitsubishi is no different with its venerable Triton.

Now four years into its fifth generation, the Triton has been face-lifted with a bold new look and a more premium cabin, while a six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and advanced driver-assist systems are available for the first time.

With wide-ranging and significant changes made, has Mitsubishi given the Triton the class-leading edge it needs to compete with the best-selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger? Read on to find out.

Drive impressions

We were blown away by the fifth-generation Triton’s tough new face-lifted look upon its reveal in Thailand in November last year.

As far as first impressions go, it was a good one. Rather than just improving the Triton’s rugged styling, the Japanese brand also improved its capability with the side steps moving 20mm higher, increasing ground clearance by 15mm, to 220mm.

Similarly, its approach, departure and ramp breakover angles are handily up by a degree each, to 31, 23 and 25 degrees respectively.

Unfortunately, maximum braked towing capacity remains at 3100kg, leaving the Triton well short of its class-leading rivals that offer 3500kg.

Critically, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on the GLS and GLS Premium grades, both of which are firsts in the ute segment – a great move that gives the Triton some serious bragging rights.

Mitsubishi also took to the Triton’s rough-and-ready interior to improve comfort, adding much-needed padding to the centre console’s knee rests and storage bin lid, as well as the door inserts.

Second-row occupants can finally grab onto B-pillar grips when entering and exiting the Triton, while a trick and effective roof-mounted air circulator replaces traditional rear air vents in the GLS and GLS Premium.

While these cabin upgrades are minor, they go some way in making the Triton a much more accommodating vehicle to sit in, although the lack of a digital speedometer and built-in satellite navigation continues to puzzle.

However, these changes are more than skin deep, with the Triton’s leaf-sprung rear suspension undergoing local testing that resulted in revisions to its spring rates, damper settings and shock absorbers.

Entry-level GLX and GLX+ variants run a heavy-duty calibration with an extra leaf spring due to their workhouse nature, while the lifestyle-orientated GLS and GLS Premium grades instead run a standard set-up with five springs.

We’ve tested both configurations, with the GLX+ dual-cab pick-up proving to be relatively composed over uneven tarmac with a 350kg payload in its tub.

The GLS Premium dual-cab pick-up is a little bit more jittery without a payload to settle down its rear end, however, its tendency to skip over bumps and lumps is better than that of most Triton rivals … but it’s still not composed.

The Triton’s 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine returns unchanged, developing 133kW of power at 3500rpm and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm.

This, of course, is not a bad thing as the tried-and-true powertrain still impresses with its rev-happy nature, overall smoothness and ability to pull down low without complaint.

The engine’s clatter is less noticeable thanks to the additional sound-deadening materials Mitsubishi added to the Triton to improve its noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

While the smooth-shifting five-speed (petrol) and six-speed (diesel) manual transmissions also carry over in the new Triton, its predecessor’s five-speed torque-converter automatic has been swapped out for a six-speed unit with shorter, lower ratios.

The new transmission is almost flawless in its execution, offering gentle and timely gear changes while being receptive to throttle inputs.

Nonetheless, despite the unit’s longer higher ratios, claimed fuel consumption is up by 0.7-1.0 litres per 100 kilometres, to 7.9-8.6L/100km, due to the Triton’s aforementioned weight gain.

We took the GLS Premium dual-cab pick-up off-road to test its part-time Super Select II four-wheel-drive system with rear differential lock.

Tackling gravel, rocks and sand, we were able to explore three of Super Select II’s corresponding new terrain modes, although it was hard to pick the difference between them over a short period of time.

At the very least, though, the Triton has built upon its established off-road prowess, conquering steep inclines with ease – no matter the terrain – when low-range is engaged.

Given the transfer case is the same as before, the Triton still offers drivers plenty of confidence when the going gets tough, with most off-road drivers unlikely to come close to truly challenging its capabilities.

In any event, buyers will likely be pleased with their purchase, as Mitsubishi has undoubtedly built upon the Triton’s already strong foundations to develop a highly capable ute that is worthy of consideration.

Is the Triton now the outright class leader? Yes. It is harder to ignore than ever.

If you want to know more, call us on (02) 8545 8888.

Sourced Go Auto.