Mitsubishi Triton VXR proves 4x2 is sweet as
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We drive Mitsubishi's Triton VRX and ask if you really need 4WD
There was a time, before electric cars and smartphones, when you would see a ute in the city and wonder if the farmer was lost or simply assume he was on his yearly trip to the big smoke.
Then came the SUV invasion in the late 1990s and country folk everywhere took great pleasure bandying about the term "Remuera Tractor" at every opportunity - all the while scoffing at any townie for having a 4WD in the city.
Nowadays it would be fair to say the last true bastion of the rural vehicle has been claimed by the city dweller.
The ute driver now is more urban than ever and the reasons for owning one have also changed. Ten bales of hay or some bobby calves on the back tray are cargo of a bygone era.
But is having a 4WD ute for city use now also on its way out? How often are you using those extra two wheels of drive that you just forked out upwards of $60,000 for?
Be honest, now. As an owner of a small farm, I'd be lying to say I need 4WD, I just want 4WD.
Ute sales are skyrocketing, but interest in off-road driving has stayed relatively the same.
New ute owners tend to be male, aged 30 to 50, with a few kids and the need for some extra space, without having to suffer the ego hit that comes with driving a people mover.
So if you are going to buy a two-wheel-drive ute. it had better be a good one.
Auckland | Manukau City
$161.26 p/w $645.02 p/m
Manawatu / Wanganui | Palmerston North
$233.90 p/w $935.59 p/m
You'd want a ute with leather seats -- heated seats that are comfortable front and back, and you should have electronic adjustment for the driver seat, too. The Triton VRX has all that.
If you are getting a ute, you will want something that can tow a decent load should the need arise.
The Triton can tow 3000kg, all that from its 2.4-litre diesel engine that produces 135kW of power and 437Nm of torque.
Mitsubishi says it has average fuel consumption of 7.1L/100km.
Even though the 2.4-litre engine is smaller than the big players, it delivers all the on-road performance they do - and a bit more economically.
The Triton comes with steering wheel paddle shifts for its five-speed automatic transmission. For the record, flappy paddles have no place on a ute. Never.
Don't expect too much stability without any weight in the tray or towing. Yes, it's comfortable but it is a bit wobbly ... like every other ute.
Should you tow anything, the trailer sway assist provides great peace of mind.
Since you have just saved yourself about $20,000 on the 2WD version of the Triton, you might be able to afford a boat -- well a jet ski at least, because what else is a city ute driver going to tow?
I would have liked to drive the Triton with full road tyres, not the all-terrain tyres that it comes with. It doesn't need them and neither will you, but on road it's quiet all the same.
You will enjoy the space. Take the tray, for example, where all your bikes, lawnmowers, surfboards etc will fit with plenty of room. The test version came with a ute bed liner that made it hard to get rope through the hooks. Sure, that's being picky, but you don't want to be fluffing around with little details like that in the rain or cold.
The Triton VRX is the top of the range and you get a lot of vehicle for the price.
The infotainment system is easy to use and connects to all your devices, but I would have liked a mute button on the steering wheel. And where's the satnav?
Push-button start is a nice touch and the locking button on the door handle means your keys never have to leave your pocket, which helps when you are grocery shopping or doing something similarly urban.
If you are a chap looking for a new ute, ask yourself this: will I actually use 4WD?
If you can leave your ego at the gate to the car yard, the 2WD Triton VRX will do enough to scratch that now all-too-common itch to own a ute.
Mitsubishi Triton VRX
Price: $39,990 (usually $51,990)
Engine: 2.4 MIVEC DIESEL (135KW/437NM), 5 SPEED AUTO
Pro: Built to drive 99.9 per cent of the time
Con: Don't chase that 0.1 per cent