Little grass has grown under the tyres of Mitsubishi Triton lately as the third-largest selling ute range in Oz attempts to chase the success of more popular Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux rivals.
Early 2019’s significant ‘Dynamic Shield’ styling makeover brought key equipment and safety updates, followed by key tweaks for 2020 for high-end GLX+ ‘work’ and GLS ‘play’ variants.
In the 18-month interim, the already burgeoning range welcomed a (Dakar Rally motorcycle champ) Toby Price special edition and, more recently, two brand-spanking nameplates in GSR and our review subject here, the GLX-R.
Where does GLX-R sit in range? It slots neatly above GLX+ full-fruit ‘work’ variant and below the GLS, Triton’s tip into the high-spec ‘lifestyle’ format (with GLS Premium and GSR further up the ladder).
The GLX-R is an amalgamation of sorts, deriving much of its powertrain and equipment spec from the GLX+ (albeit with a few key differences) while adopting the smart upmarket appearance package of the GLS. A missing link between work and play, really.
The GLX-R also carves out a bit of a unique niche. Where the aforementioned 2020 updates looked to bolster off-roading credentials of its cosy GLX+ and GLS stablemates, the new version is certainly more on-road – arguably urban – centric. It carves its niche as the sharp-dressed, wallet-friendly, city slicker of the Triton pack.
How much does the Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R cost?
One constant throughout Triton shake-ups is the strong value-for-money pitch. GLX-R included. The Double Cab-only prospect bundies on at $41,990 before on-roads for the manual and wants $44,490 list for the automatic (up from five- to six-speed in 2019) that we’re testing here.
By comparison, the logical Ranger cross-shop is the XLS that wants for $50,290 list, though the pricier ($53,540 list) Sport is a bit more like-for-like in positioning within range. Toyota wants $49,515 before on-roads for its steel-wheeled, tradie-spec SR dual-cab auto and the SR5, for that lifestyle vibe, is up around $55,240 list.
On appearance alone, the Triton GLX-R looks amazingly upmarket for circa-$45k ask. But since it’s February launch, its been on a sharper offer still: $39,990 for the manual or $42,490 the auto, both as drive-away prospects. (Ford, too, is doing deals on Ranger, though XLS is still around $3000 pricier on offer.)
For many ute shoppers, the extra $1000 over the pedestrian-looking GLX+ donor is justifiable investment enough for the much sportier and classier appearance alone. That said, if solid white or red isn’t your bag, there’s an extra $740 cost for metallic and mica colours – such as our tester’s fetching Impulse Blue – or a $940 premium for the fancy White Diamond finish.
What do you get?
For its $1000 premium over the GLX+, the GLX-R spruce up brings fetching 18-inch alloys with 265mm tyres, halogen fog lights, a silver grille treatment and chrome mirror caps, door handles and bumper trim. Meanwhile, the cabin gets a leather steering wheel and transmission selector, as well as carpet flooring for a bit of a subtle improvement.
There are a few key differences adopted from higher-spec Tritons. One is that the GLX-R fits larger GLS-spec 320mm front disc brakes facilitated by the large 18-inch wheels, whereas lower-grade Tritons (including GLX+) fit smaller 294mm units under 16s.
The GLX-R also shares the regular rear leaf springs with GLS/GSR rather than the heavy-duty GLX/GLX+ tune. And as if to anchor it on-road specialist theme, the GLX-R omits the limited-slip rear differential introduced to the GLX+ for its 2020 update. Important differences if you’re cross-shopping close cousins in range.
Otherwise, equipment reads much like the cheaper GLX+: halogen exterior lighting bar LED tail lights, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring rather than the cheapo 6.1-inch unit found in low-spec Tritons.
There’s no push-button start, no dual-zone climate control and no proprietary sat-nav, which won’t please buyers who like to venture out of mobile reception range. Seats have ‘regular’ cloth rather than the ‘premium’ cloth grade found in GLS and seating is full mechanical adjustment.
Beneath the skin, there’s other core spec the aligns the GLX-R more closely with the lower rungs of the Triton range than with variants above, including the on-demand all-wheel drive and the ADAS suite of safety features. Speaking of which…
Is the Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R safe?
One big deal with the Triton’s 2019 facelift was the introduction of a segment-leading array of active safety credentials, though the full gamut of assistance – blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, the ultrasonic mis-acceleration mitigation and lane changing assistance – is reserved for the high-spec GLS and GSR versions.
Instead, the GLX-R shares the more modest ADAS array with lower-spec Tritons, which incorporates autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. Decent, if not outstanding. There’s also no hill descent control or auto high beam, while regular cruise control is fitted where adaptive systems can be had on HiLux and Ranger.
Airbag wise, all Tritons fit front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee bags. The Triton originally scored a full five-star safety rating in ANCAP testing back in (pre-AEB era) 2015 while the report was updated in January 2019 to account for the facelift’s marked level of improvement.
What is the Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R like on the inside?
Compared with the smart exterior presentation, climbing inside feels like a step downmarket. It’s not ‘cheap’ per se, though areas such as the conventional key barrel, the hard plastic door trims and the rudimentary seat design and fabric finish all portray a cost-conscious, more ‘work truck’ ambience.
Unsurprisingly, leather wheel/shifter and carpet fitment apart, it’s indistinguishable from the slightly lower-grade GLX+ it’s based off.
There’s not much new to report from our review of that variant, though our test ute wasn’t plagued with strange gremlins like the GLX+’s 7.0-inch touchscreen was. There was also no smartphone mirroring drop-outs, which afflicted Android Auto last time out, though this time we only tested Apple CarPlay connectivity. DAB+ is a nice inclusion though the system’s user interface can be a bit clumsy.
The front seats are reasonably supportive and have prominent side bolsters, though lumbar is lumpy and there’s no method of adjustment bar seat base tilting. Ambience wise, there’s nothing overtly car-like and there’s no mistaking you’re piloting a jacked-up ute, though it’s room, the controls are well located and there’s decent outward visibility.
Row two seating’s back and base angle offers reasonable adult comfort compared with the more upright design of some rivals which brings with it appreciable long-haul comfort if to the trade-off of ultimate legroom. Annoyingly for the kids, there’s no device power in back either: the dual USB ports, HDMI port and dual 12-volt outlets (including one in the storage cubby) are front row only.
There are no air vents in the rear of the console but, instead, you equally beneficial air-recirculating roof pods, a feature fitted to upper-spec Tritons. Dual ISOFIX and top-tether points contribute to its fitness as a family hauler.
The tub? It’s 1.52m long and 1.47m wide with 1.085m between the arches so you’ve lucked out of you want to load a standard Aussie pallet (1.165m square).
You do get six liner tie-down hooks and the big-bummed Triton, with its humongous rear overhang, should offer enough cargo space and payload capacity (934kg) for most non-commercial requirement (though how Mr Price fits his Dakar bike in the back is anyone’s guess…).
What’s under the bonnet?
Mitsubishi’s one-diesel-fits-all means the GLX-R gets the familiar 2.4-litre oiler four cylinder good for a segment-competitive 133kW and 430Nm.
As we found with our GLX+ review, its outputs are comparable to HiLux’s larger 2.8L if down on the ageing Ranger 3.2’s 147kW/470Nm goodness. That said, at a touch under two tonnes (1966kg kerb), it’s one of the more lightweight offerings in segment and over 200kg lighter than Ranger.
While languishing behind the pack with five speeds not long ago, the current six-speed auto is par for the dual-cab ute segment’s middle range.