The Triton has just joined the crowded and competitive field of gifted modern pick-up trucks in Zimbabwe. The other major players include the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, and Isuzu D-Max.
They all boast of mannish styling, an array of gizmos, unmatched levels of comfort and day-to-day utility usability whether it be urban driving or out in rural settings.
It has become difficult to choose between these warriors for they basically claim almost the same propositions.For this discussion, we will be comparing the range-topping 2019 models from the Triton, the Hilux and the D-Max. These are all Japanese warriors.
In terms of pricing, the Triton is the least expensive of the three. It is priced from US$51 400 and offers great value in terms of its suite of active safety features and sophisticated AWD system.
In terms of torque: the Triton weighs in at with 430Nm. That said, peak torque is produced earliest in the Hilux, at 1 600rpm, which is a boon when going off-road and if immediate power is needed to overcome an obstacle.
Also, note that the D-Max sustains its peak torque the longest — between 1 800rpm and 2 800rpm — a crucial aspect especially when climbing steep hills or muddy sections.
The Triton has the best power-to-kerb weight ratio. This is when you take a vehicle’s horsepower and divide it by its curb weight.The Triton and Hilux make do with a six-speed automatic, the D-Max uses a proven five-speed automatic.
In practice, the Triton is well-heeled for day-to-day use on the highway and within the city, and also for transporting goods. It is equally agile and surefooted on and off the road, and comfort levels are as good as the Hilux, if not better, and it also has the best turning radius of the bunch, at 5,9 metres — making it very adept on tight, city roads.
The Hilux, too, is impressive on the roads but loses out only just because it still retains some measure of stiffness which makes it very capable off road. It is much the same with the D-Max: while no one would gripe about its on-road performance, it truly does well off road.
Moving on to the drivetrain systems is where we see intrinsic innovation on Mitsubishi’s part. While all the other vehicles have 4WD modes and pre-requisite low-range gear reductions for going off-road, the Triton’s Super Select 4WD II, however, is able to operate almost like a premium full-time 4WD SUV, capable of driving in four-wheel drive 4H mode even on normal roads — the only pick-up truck on the market with such capability.
A centre differential compensates for differences in the individual tyre’s rotational speed at the front and rear axles, thus allowing the truck to maximise the usage of the 4WD system. Shifting between 2H to 4H can be performed at speeds of up to 100km/h.
On the safety front, the Triton has a suite of active safety functions that the rest of the pick-ups do not have. The range-topping Triton Adventure X comes with Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), Ultrasonic Mis-acceleration Mitigation System (UMS), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Blind Spot Warning with Lane Change Assist (BSW with LCA), and Auto High Beam (AHB). The Hilux comes with just hill-start assist and hill-descent control as an additional driver assistance feature, the D-Max with just hill-start assist.
Moving inside, initial test drives of the Triton also suggest that NVH levels have much improved over the predecessor. The Hilux boasts an improved NVH level over its predecessor, very close to that of its Fortuner SUV sibling. The D-Max still lacks execution in this department.
Infotainment and connectivity have also vastly improved over the years. Perhaps most impressive is the Triton’s infotainment supports Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The others, with the exception of the Hilux, which additionally offers DVD playability — feature a touchscreen system with Bluetooth connectivity.
Over the years I have seen an extensive shift in terms of engineering, safety, and connectivity in trucks. They have moved towards a lifestyle aspiration from just a workhorse.
If you are after “utility” as a reason to buy at one end and “lifestyle” at the other end, the D-Max would be the most utilitarian of the lot. It has gained some stylistic and connectivity additions, but there is no denying the drivetrain and platform is aging.
Its traction levels and efficient engine make it a superstar off road and a great goods hauler, but in terms of comfort levels and refinement it loses out to the rest.
The Hilux practically started the pick-up truck segment and holds true to its heritage of rugged dependability, superb build quality, and awesome traction levels. The 2,8 L-Edition variant adds Hill-Descent Control and a reverse camera but, overall, the Hilux still has an affinity for the rough and tough before anything else. And truth be told, I do not think we would have it any other way.
The Triton, in my opinion, offers the new best value proposition: between its fashionable styling, driver assistance and safety features, hard-hitting engine, and cultured AWD drivetrain, it definitely has what it takes to offer both utility and practicality in spades.
Also, note that it has the most comfortable rear seating and NVH levels are very impressive. Every dollar counts in a world where we demand more for less money.