Published on February 13th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair0
2021 Mitsubishi Triton Athlete Review
Does the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete do enough to keep the market interested?
When Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia showed the new Triton in 2018, they knew they had a winner on their hands. This was a handsome looking, angular pick-up truck that was bringing some equipment that its key rivals lacked at the time. This new Athlete variant aims to keep interest in the Triton up by replacing the Adventure X variant as the new flagship of the Triton line.
In 2019, we called the Triton Adventure X the best in its class. However, two years later, we have to ask if this new Athlete variant brings anything new to the table. And the short answer is that it really doesn’t bring much more than a change in design and price. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Well, that appears to be thinking with the Triton Athlete. The Adventure X was already a great package, so Mitsubishi Motors decided to just pump a little more excitement and tweak some design elements. Here’s what they changed with the Athlete.
The first big change comes with the grille. It’s no longer a giant chrome faced truck. With the Athlete, Mitsubishi Motors has painted all of that reflective metal black and the result is a much less garish looking thing. The bumper has also been redesigned slightly with a new piece of garnish and keeping with the theme, it’s an all-black affair.
The chrome on the side mirrors has also been deleted for black painted caps. The side steps and rear bumper too is now in black. Even the rims are completely finished in black, but they share the same design as those found on the Adventure X. What’s new to the Athlete is a huge decal set and a new ‘Athlete’ badge on the rear tailgate.
But besides just blackening all the chrome bits, they have added one or two pieces to the Triton here to justify the RM3,600 price increase over the last flagship Triton. There are now window deflectors and bed rails to give the Athlete a little bit of a pop over the Adventure X that it replaces. It’s also worth noting that this variant is only available in three colours – Black Mica, Sunflare Orange Pearl and White Diamond.
Inside, the Athlete also gets a subtley cosmetic overhaul. Orange contrast stitching now adorns the steering wheel, handbrake lever and gearknob. The seats and centre console’s still finished with grey stitching though. And yes, that concludes the changes brought about by the Triton Athlete.
Overall, I think the Triton Athlete looks a lot better than the Adventure X it replaces. Even the decal graphic looks pretty good.
Where Further Changes Needed?
In terms of equipment, I don’t think so. The Triton Athlete still has more than enough equipment to compete against other Japanese pick-up trucks in the segment. However, I think this change in design came in anticipation of the new D-Max, Hilux Rogue, and Navara Pro-4X. And if Mitsubishi thought they could hold off those rivals with what is essentially a new colour palette for the Triton, then the may have missed the mark.
The Market Has Evolved
What the Japanese manufacturers have learnt from the Ford Ranger is that two pick-up markets exist for every market – those who buy pick-ups because they want to and those who buy them because they have to. The Rogue and X-Terrain are the first Japanese trucks to respond to this market by actually offering not just a different cosmetic package and a different set of equipment but also a completely different engine. The Hilux Rogue is the only one with a 2.8L and the D-Max X-Terrain is the only one with the 3.0L engine on offer. Doing this puts them in a different class of product from the standard car and gives people more reason to justify spending more on the flagship variant. Nissan went a different direction that we feel is just as impressive. With the Pro-4X, the Navara flagship looks like a completely different beast thanks to body cladding, roof rails, all terrain tyres and a unique colour scheme.
Now, we have to ask, did Mitsubishi do enough to distinguish the Athlete from the standard Triton variants? In terms of equipment, yes. In terms of aesthetics and performance, not really. This is the same strategy they pulled with the Adventure X, but with gloss black instead of chrome.
It’s still a great overall product, and you can read our 2019 Adventure X review to find out what we thought about the car. But as a 2022 pick-up truck flagship, the Mitsubishi Triton Athlete has conceptually fallen behind the pack. I think it’ll still sell well. The Triton is a handsome truck and its angular looks stand out even more without the chrome. There will be fans of the Triton Athlete and they’ll get their money’s worth.
However, it would be nice to see Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia beef up the Triton flagship a little, either with a higher output engine, some off-road tyres, a bodykit – or a holistic overall upgrade of all three components to make the Athlete stand side by side with its peers.
Mitsubishi Triton Athlete Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Variable Geometry Turbo Diesel
Gearbox: 6-speed Conventional Automatic
Max power: 178hp @ 3,500rpm
Max torque: 430Nm @ 2,500rpm