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Triton in the wild

Triton in the wild

Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes

The latest iteration of Mitsubishi’s pickup proves a point when driven around uncharted territory




This was what it said in one of the destinations arranged for us by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation when the carmaker invited us for the media drive of its newest pickup, Triton, just recently. It turned out, upon further research, that it was the name itself of the viewing deck situated in the far-flung rural suburbs of Balanga, Bataan.

As far as media drives are concerned, it was the first time that an event of this kind was to be held there. In fact, to add fuel to the flames, in my nearly two decades in the beat, I’ve never heard of the place. Ever.

And so, when the pack of pickup trucks came marching toward the place about 120 km northwest from Manila, the joke among us was that our hearts were “kakabog-kabog” (thumping and pumping really fast) due to the overwhelming excitement we felt at the time. This was particularly because of a couple of reasons.

First, it was my first time to try the new Mitsubishi Triton on local roads. The first being in Japan late last year before it was officially launched here last January and, technically, the second was when I rode shotgun with off-road guru/ world rally champion driver Hiroshi Masuoka as he flaunted his driving prowess around the makeshift dirt track in Pasig City.

Next reason, we were traveling toward unfamiliar terrains. The name “Cabog-Cabog” in Filipino may actually mean “a loud bang.” But it can also refer to “kabog-kabog,” which conveys one to be nervous and excited, both at the same time.

There are many other meanings that can be derived from the word, specifically in gay speak, but just imagine what a place from the far-flung outskirts of Bataan with such a name could actually convey.

Here, MMPC brought all of its seven variants for the media drive, namely: the GL 4×2 MT, GL 4×4 MT, GLX 4×2 MT, GLX 4×4 MT, GLX 4×2 AT, GLS 4×2 AT, and its top-tier, the Athlete 4×4 AT.

Aside from changing its name from “Strada” to “Triton” (which is more known worldwide), the biggest upgrade, particularly for this newest workhorse, is its newly-designed ladder frame. This delivers superb performance and durability like we’ve never seen before. An exceptional 60-percent increase in torsional rigidity promises far-enhanced stability and longer-lasting strength.

Also, on the outside, this sixth-generation pickup truck is specifically distinguished by its more robust and wider front fascia. This alone already makes it ooze with machismo. The front grille is complemented by split headlights and the right mix of lines and sharp curves that bring out its iconic Dynamic Shield design.

Inside, while traveling from the metro going to the outskirts, the cabin gave us the relaxing comfort and convenience we needed from its advanced technologies and a slew of fresh design cues and accents. For one, its new analog instrument cluster is now paired with a new digital multi-information display. While front and center is a nine-inch touchscreen with integrated audio system. Behind the wheel, a redesigned steering wheel and a fresh take on the glove compartment design may even invigorate the driver, keeping his mind sharp and alert while out on the open road.

After a near three-hour drive, we arrived at our destination. There, we were firsthand witnesses to the panoramic view of fresh foliage, the sky and mountains. It was seemingly a scene cut straight from flicks like Lord of the Rings or Jurassic Park (minus the scary parts, of course). Lo and behold, little did we know that “Cabog-Cabog” was actually known as the ‘New Zealand of Bataan.’ In short, simply discovering this unknown place was a bliss. Hence, it was a perfect venue to try the off-road capabilities of the Mitsubishi Triton.

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Driving the top-tier, Athlete, we were able to try its 2.4-liter 4N16 four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, paired with a six-speed tranny, churning out 201 hp and 470N-m of torque through it paces on this kind of stretch. Of course, its advanced Super Select 4WD-II system, featuring an active brake-controlled Limited Slip Differential (LSD) was once again seen in action.

Suspension-wise, the new double-wishbone front setup and a lighter leaf spring arrangement at the rear were superb. While Active Yaw Control (AYC) with its several drive modes, that include Gravel, Snow, Mud, Sand, and Rock modes slayed.

In a short interview, MMPC senior manager for product planning, Allan Cruz, said: “The objective of the media drive was to showcase the capabilities of the Triton– both on-road and off-road. Here, in Cabog-Cabog View Deck, we’re able to do some light off-roading and we’re glad the media were able to enjoy the capabilities of the pickup on this kind of terrain.”

To top it all off, the contingent was whisked away to the five-star accommodations of Rancho Bernardo Luxury Villas and Resort in nearby Bagac for the night.

A perfect ending to a brief but pleasant jaunt with a pickup truck that lives up to its Triton name taken from the sea creature known to be hearty, muscular, and cheerful.