All-New Mitsubishi Triton Unveiled, Sadly No Plans for North America

The next-generation Mitsubishi Triton was unveiled this week in Thailand and is already on sale over there. It will later be rolled out in markets centering on the ASEAN and Oceania regions and is scheduled for launch in Japan in early 2024 for the first time in 12 years.

Why not North America? Demand for small and midsize pickups has arguably never been stronger—certainly more so than in the second half of the 2000s when Mitsubishi sold a rebadged Dodge Dakota called Raider in the U.S. (but not in Canada, although some customers up north imported units from across the border).

In 2019, company executives told dealers in the U.S. they were listening to their repeated pleas for a pickup. However, then Mitsubishi Motors North America COO Mark Chaffin cautioned: “We would like to have [a pickup], but we'd have to have one that's the right fit for Mitsubishi, for our demographic, and something that's really competitive in the market.”

Photo: Mitsubishi

While all of today’s midsize pickups built in North America come in a single crew-cab configuration with four full-size doors, the new Triton comes in three body types depending on the intended use: a double cab with two rows of seats, a basic single cab type one row of seats, and a Club cab with cargo space behind the front seats that also enables reclining. The interior environment is pretty reminiscent of the Outlander SUV, but with a more rugged touch.

The Triton rides on a newly developed ladder frame achieving a bending rigidity increase of 60% and a torsional rigidity increase of 40%. The suspension retains a double-wishbone structure up front, while a lighter leaf spring system together with thicker shock absorbers can be found in the rear. As for styling, there’s plenty of muscle and character there, as well.

One big problem is the diesel-only engine lineup. The new turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder offers three output levels—148 hp/243 lb-ft., 181 hp/317 lb-ft. or 201 hp/347 lb-ft. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available, while the optional Super Select 4WD-II system includes a two-speed transfer case and a limited-slip centre differential. Similar to the Outlander, there are as many as seven drive modes to choose from.

Photo: Mitsubishi

Of course, with all of this comes a plethora of driver-assistance features for extra safety and accessories to help buyers personalize their Triton.

Earlier this year, Mitsubishi’s Director for Product Planning in North America, Cason Grover, told The Drive that the company would love to be able to bring a pickup to the U.S., where it has had some success.

"At the end of the day, we don't have U.S. manufacturing right now, and fundamentally the Chicken Tax is [an obstacle to importing pickup trucks]," he said. "You can't just wedge that [global Triton] into somebody else's plant over here. Anything we would do—and this is just hypothetical—we'd likely have to go to an alliance partner that does build [one]."

Say that again? Isn’t Mitsubishi already part of an alliance with Renault and Nissan? The latter has the Frontier and it just so happens to be built in Canton, Mississippi. Come on, Mitsubishi.

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