While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers

Sanjay · Apr 7, 2021 10:23 AM

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 01

Speak of Mitsubishi, and voices will come out of nowhere, boohooing about the fate of the Lancer Evolution and Eclipse nameplates. But to just confine the storied Japanese carmaker to just two models is to do them a disservice. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 02

The company's literal first-ever pick-up truck is the Mizushima, produced from 1946 to 1962

Which is why we're looking at their pick-up truck history today, one that started 40-plus years ago and has since culminated in the capable Mitsubishi Triton

1st Generation - Simple workhorse

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 03

Things started simple for Mitsubishi, heck even the name is just that - the Americans simply knew it as the Mitsubishi Truck. In Japan, it was sold as the Forte and the rest of the world recognised it as the L200.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 04

Produced in Ohe, Japan and Laem Chabang, Thailand, the Forte was purely a workhorse, only available with a single-cab body that was pulled along by a choice of three petrol engines or one diesel unit. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 05

Facelifted models bore rectangular headlights

By 1980, part-time 4WD models were added to the range. It's commonplace now, but in its time Mitsubishi one-upped their peers in other ways. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 06

You see, prior to developing the Forte, Mitsubishi Motors honed their skills assembling the American Willys' Jeep and built several variants of the Jeep under the Mitsubishi brand. Fun fact: the 1982 Pajero superseded the Mitsubishi Jeep.

Also read: Why we shouldn't mourn the death of the Mitsubishi Pajero?

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 07

That experience left Mitsubishi with more than enough know-how in 4WD systems. This knowledge allowed them to design a quiet operation 4WD transfer system that not only delivered a more comfortable ride, but also allowed for higher-speed driving.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 08

With that, this model was essentially the forefather of Mitsubishi Motors' 4WD lineup such as the Pajero and the Delica MPV.

2nd Generation - Getting famous

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 09

By 1986, Mitsubishi was already a household name in the pick-up truck business. In customers' eyes, it was an Asian alternative to the Land Rover.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 10

White: Single cab long-body, blue one is a Club Cab

With this new generation, the range grew diverse: buyers could now choose between short- or long-bodied Single Cab, Club Cab (still two doors, but longer bed than regular single cab) and Double Cab bodystyles, configurable with 2WD or 4WD drivetrains.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 11

Engine sizes got bigger too, and by now Mitsubishi Motors now offers 2.0-litre and 2.6-litre petrol mills alongside a 2.5-litre diesel.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 12

Technically it's the start of the Triton generation as well: that was the name of the L200 in Australia. The Forte name made way for Strada in Japan in 1991, and in North America it was known as the Mighty Max. Elsewhere, customers still knew it as the L200. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 13

Oh and you'll get a kick out of this: it was also sold as the Dodge Ram 50 in the USA, as a result of Mitsubishi Motors' and Chrysler's partnerships.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 14

A total of approximately 1,146,000 2nd generation models were produced in the Ohe Plant in Japan and the Laem Chabang Plant in Thailand.

3rd Generation - Dawn of lifestyle trucks

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 15

Customers' needs were changing and trucks were no longer confined to mud-filled days at the construction site. People are starting to look for something that also wouldn't look out of place in a mall and that's a need the third-generation L200 strived to cater. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 16

Introduced in 1995, the model was postioned as a roomy five-seater that was comfortable and capable enough for both recreational and commercial use - hence choice touches like oversized interior paddings, moulded door trimmings as well as signature dual-tone colourways.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 17

Malaysians will best remember it as the L200 Storm. Storm, however, wasn't an official name from Mitsubishi Motors but the then-distributor (USF-Hicom) branded it as such anyway.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 18

Upon its introduction on our shores in 2001, it had a couple of market firsts: first pick-up truck with an automatic transmission, and also the first Mitsubishi pick-up truck that was officially sold here.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 19

The automatic transmission was unique (in its time) and customers loved it - shooting it up to the top of Malaysia's pick-up truck sales chart, at least until the 7th-generation Toyota Hilux came along.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 20

New to this generation was a 2.5-litre turbodiesel mill and 'Easy Select 4WD', a feature that allowed for 2WD/4WD changes as and when needed.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 21

Production at the Ohe plant was transferred to Thailand's Laem Chabang, and the car was exported to Europe, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 22

Total sales was slightly lower than its predecessor, at 1,046,000 units, a fact that owed to the Asian financial crisis.

4th Generation - Malaysian favourite

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 23

The fourth-generation - best known as the 'Stormtrooper' truck - marked new beginnings for the Mitsubishi Motors brand in Malaysia as it was the first core model to be launched by the newly-formed Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) in 2006.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 24

Now sold as the Triton, class-leading interior roominess and 'passenger-car rivalling' ride quality were selling points.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 25

The signature 'J-line' curve at the cabin's rear section allowed the seats to be angled better, delivering better comfort for passengers at the back - a trait that's gladly kept even in the latest Triton.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 26

The turbodiesel mill is now upgraded with commonrail direct injection technology - the 2.5-litre variant made 138 PS, making it the most powerful pick-up truck on sale in Malaysia at that time. Later on, the 160 PS/347 Nm 3.2-litre model topped that.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 27

Variable geometry turbocharger (VGT), then first in segment, were fitted to later models.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 28

This generation of the Triton also came with the clever 'Super Select 4WD' system, which allows one to drive in 4H mode on tarmac, as well as allow switching from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive while driving.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 29

Mitsubishi Motors sold 1,423,000 units of the Triton in approximately 150 countries.

5th Generation - A refined model

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 30

2014's Triton further refined what the previous generation started off strong with - building on its predecessor's class-leading ride comfort and offering nifty new features. 

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 31

Automatic bi-xenon HID headlamps with integrated LED DRLs, smart keyless entry, engine push start button, tilt and telescopic steering, and paddle shifters were all found on this gen of the Triton - making it the first pick-up truck in Malaysia to offer all these niceties.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 32

Along its lifecycle, the model was also offered with a 2.3-litre MIVEC commonrail turbodiesel mill, pushing 181 PS/430 Nm.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 33

The 4WD systems continue to develop too - the 'Easy Select 4WD' system has three positions (2H, 4H, 4L) - and the "Super Select 4WD-II' system now comes with an electric actuator, which makes switching of drivetrain modes easier. 

Also read: This is why the Mitsubishi Triton’s Super Select 4WD is the best

6th Generation - Bigger, bolder, brasher

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 34

Hitting Malaysian roads (and trails) in 2019, the latest Triton brings with it a healthy list of kit underneath the wholly-redesigned exterior and interior.

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 35

Now fitted with the 'Super Select-II' 4WD system, the new Triton packs quite a punch with its 2.4-litre, aluminium turbodiesel mill making 181 PS/430 Nm. 

Also read: Review: Mitsubishi Triton VGT Adventure X – Great to drive, but smaller than the Hilux

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 36

The headlining feature for this iteration of the Triton is its comprehensive list of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) functions:

  • Forward collision mitigation
  • Blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Auto high beam
  • Lane change assist
  • 360-degree camera

While we wait for the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete, let's pay respect to its forefathers 37

Thai-spec car here, ours should look the same

But that's not all - the hopped-up Triton Athlete will be launching later this week, featuring a more aggressive exterior package among other things.

Comments

Up to 20% higher than average trade-in price

2019 Mitsubishi Triton Quest

Upgrade

Add your car

Service powered by

Latest Cars