SUVs: they're selling like cold beer at a cattle muster, yet even these urban ships of the Outback can't match the phenomenal sales success of the humble Aussie ute

Seems our old friend the trayback utility, and the top-spec double cab in particular, is outpacing every other market segment in Australia. What changed in the last five years to blow double cab sales out of the stadium? Comfort, says Derek McIlroy from Mitsubishi.

"People are buying top-end double cabs because equipment levels are more in line with what they'd find in a similar priced passenger car or an SUV. They want the ability to carry weighty workloads but it’s also about having those creature comforts and safety features an SUV would have."

This is why Mitsubishi has released a high-spec Triton double cab GLX-R. Our test vehicle came with Mitsubishi's robust 2.8lt turbo-diesel engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, but the first thing we did was look for all these high level specifications.

One glance at the outside of the 4WD Triton GLX-R leaves you in no doubt about its toughness.

High-riding suspension, big balloon tyres, side steps, an alloy nudge bar that’d push-start a locomotive, an alloy roll bar on the tray, and tinted glass make this one mean-looking truck.

Unfortunately it still feels a bit like a truck inside. Sure, you get electric windows and a CD player, floor mats and leather steering wheel, but the side mirrors need human intervention and there's no cruise control. Air conditioning costs extra, which explains why the Triton's $38,990 price sneaks in a few thousand under the competition, but overall it’s not up to an SUV’s level of equipment, or comfort.

A high floor in the back seat elevates your legs off the squab and the seatback itself is too upright - obviously to maximise tray length. Safety, though, has improved on the GLX-R, with dual front airbags and anti-lock brakes (with electronic brakeforce distribution).

There's no disputing the Triton's solid dependability on the move. The engine gives an honest account of its middling 92kW and 294Nm performance, and the five-speed manual's toughness hints at its dependable longevity. It rides acceptably well, but unladen is noticeably firmer in the rear suspension than the front - recognition of its 970kg payload abilities.

The model we tested can tow a braked trailer up to 2200kg, and while engine performance is not scintillating, it is strong and consistent, and copes well with extra weight onboard. The vehicle's high seating position provides good visibility in all directions, and it's especially easy to see behind over the tray.

The Triton's ABS-assisted braking is surprisingly good, and doesn't suffer any adverse effects from having drums at the rear - they’re more than capable of pulling up the 1740kg ute every time.

Overall the Triton is as trusty a workhorse as you'd expect, and capable of going places owners wouldn't dream of taking their highly polished SUV. Its interior is falling behind the times, but a new model due soon will undoubtedly redress this balance.


Priced from: $38,990
Body type: Four-door ute
Seating capacity: Five
Fuel capacity: 75lt
Std unbraked: 750kg
Std braked: 2200kg
Type: Four-cylinder, SOHC, turbo
Fuel: Diesel
Capacity: 2.8lt
Power: 92kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 294Nm @ 2000rpm
Drive: Part-time 4WD
Gearbox: Five-speed manual

Published : Sunday, 1 May 2005

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.