Appearances count in the ultracompetitive market of a ton of ute.
Ford's Ranger has been catapulted to near the top of the sales charts due to the "F-Series" pickup truck appearance, and Mitsubishi is looking to follow suit with its new Triton.
A new, macho-looking, chiseled Triton will hit local showrooms in January to take the fight to Ranger and Australia's most popular vehicle, the Toyota HiLux.
But Mitsubishi is not only relying on looks to outdo its rivals.
The company says more than 2,400 changes were made to the previous model, with enhancements focused on new car-like safety technology and a more comfortable ride.
Australia's third-most-popular site sold mostly with sharp discounts, but the new model will likely be more expensive and more desirable.
Spokesman Karl Gehling says the price is likely to increase "in proportion to the vehicle's new technology."
The new look was seen for the first time in Pajero Sport, a sports utility that proved to be a great success for the brand.
Triton's earlier iteration came just three years ago, but growing competition and higher customer expectations have forced rapid improvement, particularly in cabin refinement and safety.
The fleet and work duties are no longer confined. They have evolved into familiar cars with big boots and the best ones reflect this dual purpose.
The engine choices are unchanged in the new Triton – a 2.4-liter gasoline (94kW / 194Nm) and a turbocharged tweaked turbocharger (133kW / 430Nm) paired to five and six-speed manuals respectively. There is new six-speed diesel car.
Triton will dramatically improve its safety kit with features that combine with the Ranger and Mercedes-Benz X-Class and outperform rivals including HiLux, VW Amarok and Nissan Navara.
Among the new items are autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to help mitigate or prevent frontal crashes, technology to avoid pedal confusion and cross-traffic alert.
The AEB operates under 140 km / h using camera and laser radar. If the technician recognizes the risk of a frontal collision with a vehicle or pedestrian, a beep will sound – if the driver does not react, the brakes will be applied automatically.
Blind spot warning, surround-view camera and rear cross-traffic alert will also be added to the safety repertoire along with "Ultrasonic Slowdown Mitigation" – a novelty for the segment.
Cameras and sensors detect strong acceleration when taking off in advance or reverse, and the technology cuts engine power. It does not work in low range, so do not intrude when you are navigating in tricky conditions.
There is more technology inside as well. The rear seat has a USB charging jack and air conditioning vents, while on top-of-the-range models, the 6.1-inch touchscreen gets the smartphone's mirroring.
Cabs on higher spec models are more car-like, with dual-touch soft seam materials, darker color scheme and extra silver trim.
On the outside, the characteristic curve where the cabin joins the tub is maintained, but the rest of the rolled metal has been revised to make the Triton more robust.
In profile, a pronounced crease runs from front to back. The fog lights get louder on the grill to avoid damage when off-road; and the taillights, now bold and square, no longer extend toward the cab.
"When you look at the general market trends, they are going for the tough and durable image," says Mitsubishi COO Trevor Mann.
"The previous generation had its time. That was the market trend and it was different at the time of most other pickups, so it was not "me too."
The Mitsubishi team in Australia played a key role in the development of the 2019 model, with a comprehensive testing program conducted at Down Under.
Engineers have covered hundreds of thousands of miles in more than two years. They also spent time with customers evaluating the vehicle in real-world conditions, while experts from other markets traveled through Australia for off-road dynamic analysis.
Behind Thailand, Australia is Mitsubishi's second largest market for Triton.
On the road
Under the skin changes are aimed at improving driving comfort and refinement. On the highways of Bangkok, the Triton felt quieter and more accomplished.
The suspension configuration – double wishbone front and leaf spring back – are unchanged but the rear gains larger bumpers.
In some basic off-road courses, the Triton easily handled the conditions using its new descent control arsenal and an off-road selector on four-wheel drive models that allows the driver to choose between gravel, mud / snow , sand and rock.
On dirt roads, it seemed more compatible, but we reserve the final judgment to a more comprehensive local analysis. Turns and parking are easier with a tighter turning circle.
Fuel efficiency is claimed to be improved on diesel models that currently drink between 7.0L-7.6L / 100km, although official figures have yet to be released.
Braked towing capacity remains unchanged at 3.1 tonnes (3.0 tonnes for single and long cab models) as well as the combined gross weight of 5885 kg.
Inside, it's the same layout, with some improvements in the areas you touch most, such as the center console and the doors.
In front of the exchange, there is a handy storage area for phones and other devices, next to a 12-volt port, two USB slots, and an HDMI plug. There are also two USB dots on the back of the double cabins.
Among the new interesting additions are the rear vents mounted on the ceiling. With a central location, the unit sucks in the air from the front and a fan pushes it back with a small reflector for directional flow.
The color options include two whites, gray, orange, red, silver, black, blue and brown. Single cabin, extended cabin and double body continue.
Pricing and the complete specification will be available in December and we expect the drive-away occasional business to disappear as Mitsubishi tries to move the more sophisticated Triton.
Some models should land before Christmas, with most of the new Tritons landing around the New Year.
Mitsubishi Triton vitals
Engines: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, 94kW / 194Nm; Turbo diesel 4 cylinders and 2.4 liters, 133kW / 430Nm
Safety: 5-star, 7 airbags, front collision mitigation, blind spot warning, shift wizard, hill descent control, rear cross traffic warning, UMS, 360 degree camera, front and rear sensors.
Transmissions: Man of 5 or 6 speeds, 6-speed auto; 4WD
Thirst: 7.2 l-10.9 l / 100 km (est)
Trailer: 1800kg-3100kg (est)
Put there a partner
Mitsubishi's expertise at Ute is poised to support the next generation of Nissan and Renault equivalents. Mitsubishi boss Trevor Mann says it is "very likely" that the Triton platform will be the basis for future Nissan Navaras and Renault Alaskans (not available in Australia). The trio's alliance aims to "streamline" each business and provide economies of scale. Mann says each brand would contribute its leading expertise and, in the case of Mitsubishi, that would be the foundation of Triton. "The development of the platform is becoming increasingly expensive because of regulations in various parts of the world (on) safety and emissions," he says. "We will be converging on platforms … which means the next Outlander will be on the same platform as the equivalent of Nissan and Renault. Everything the customer sees, touches, experiences, will be Mitsubishi. "
Bet on black
Orange could be the new black with Triton next year. In the global exhibition, a "Triton Plus" concept was revealed with orange paint and black alloys, grille and bumpers. Interior trim combined in orange leather and gray suede. Mitsubishi is waiting for feedback before progressing, but due to the proliferation of black editions from various manufacturers, it is more than likely that the only thing will come true.
Plug-in utes next
The emergence of the hybrid plug-in is a matter of when, and not if, says Mitsubishi products strategist. It will come in response to increasing pressure to reduce emissions and the guillotine hovering over diesel cars in Europe, according to company vice president Vincent Cobbee. He assesses increasing global regulation and changing horizons will bring hybrid plug-in technology – as employed in the company's Outlander SUV – to the US. "There will be a limit to what traditional combustion engines can provide, especially as demand for power, torque and towing will remain. If you put it all together, there are not many technologies that do not offer anxiety, high power, high torque and low CO2. "