Buying Used: The Ultimate Mitsubishi MQ-MR Triton 4X4 Buyer's Guide

Mitsubishi MQ And MR Triton 4X4 Ultimate Buyers Guide - Buying Secondhand.

If you’re in the market for either of these Tritons, read on, because they’re good things, with a handful of caveats.

Mitsubishi debuted the MQ in 2015, at the time, replacing the mostly forgettable and trouble-plagued MN Triton. While they are based on what is essentially the same platform, the MQ is a massive upgrade from the MN, with very little being left unchanged.

The MQ saw the introduction of the all-new all-alloy 4N15 2.4-litre turbo-diesel to the Triton range, and to celebrate, Mitsubishi finally teamed it with a decent 5-speed Aisin automatic transmission. The same gearbox was used by Toyota (Toyota is a major shareholder in Aisin) in its LandCruiser, and it’s quite literally bulletproof. A 6-speed manual option is also available.

Underneath, the MQ received some additional chassis strengthening above the rear axle in response to a spate of MN's breaking their chassis above the rear wheel. The truth is that the issue, as it is with all of these types of utes (they'll all break) is overloading and misuse by owners, often seen in tandem with the fitting of airbags to the rear suspension, which puts load through to a point on the chassis that was never designed to deal with it. Mitsubishi said it 'engineered out' the chassis snapping issue, and for the most part, this seems to be true. The other change was the fitting of longer rear leaf springs for an improved ride.

The higher-spec GLS and Exceed models, were fitted with Mitsubishi’s excellent Super Select system, which allows the driver to choose between 2WD and AWD on-road and 4WD-HIGH and 4WD-LOW off-road. A diff-lock was fitted as standard to the top-spec Exceed and on some GLS based special editions.

Exterior and interior styling were completely changed from the preceding MN model. You can be the judge on the exterior styling changes, but inside, the MQ was a huge improvement over the MN. There were still too many hard plastics for many people’s liking, but the infotainment system was new and featured Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the instrument cluster was one of the best in the business (simple and clear) and it was all, noticeably quieter.

The MQ range ran through until late 2018 when Mitsubishi rolled out the very different looking MR Triton. It was a radical styling departure and blended the companies official ‘Dynamic Shield’ design language, with a higher bonnet, straighter lines and bluff front end. Somehow, Mitsubishi managed to meld the new design, with a cabin and four-doors that carried over from the MQ, although the tub, which maintained its interior dimensions exactly, received a makeover as well.

You could be mistaken for thinking that the MR is just a different looking MQ, but you’d be wrong. Mitsubishi went all out with the MR and attempted to improve the MQ dramatically and that’s exactly what they achieved. Sure, the same 2.4-litre turbo-diesel 4N15 engine powers the MN, and its outputs remained unchanged from the MQ, but that’s where the similarities end.

Mitsubishi replaced the Aisin 5-speed with an even better Aisin 6-speed and completely revised both the transmission’s gearing and the final drive ratio. In doing so they removed 90 percent of the MQ’s ‘lag’ or reluctance to move off briskly, from a standing start. The revised ratios also returned engine braking to the menu, and overall, just made the MR a snappier, nicer machine to drive.

The higher-spec GLS and GSR models received the other headline upgrade, a set of 320mm front brake rotors and they are a significant improvement in braking ability over the under-braked MQ. You could reasonably argue, that the MR is the first Triton ever, to have brakes that are better than just, barely, fit for purpose.

The same higher-spec models now came with a bunch of electronic off-road driving aids, including downhill descent control and a terrain mode system, that alters the off-road traction control calibration to better suit different types of terrain.

On the safety front, Mitsubishi stuffed the MR with a range of up-to-the-minute electronic safety systems, including, but not limited to, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. At the time of its launch, it led the field from a safety perspective.

The suspension was improved, and while it is still low-cost OEM rubbish, it offered a plusher ride than the more wooden MQ and having owned both, together for a period of 6 months, I’d swear there were some front suspension settings tweaks, because, with identical wheel alignments, tyres and pressures, the MR had heavier steering but noticeably better turn-in and handling.

The interior was also the recipient of some useful upgrading, including an improved instrument cluster and digital readout – still no digital speedo though – improved trim and soft-touch surfaces and a roof-mounted fan arrangement to give rear-seat occupants additional airflow.

THE VARIANTS

My previous MQ Triton (TREV) - features upgraded suspension, Karrman diff-drop, ARB Frontier tank, CSA HAWK alloys and Bridgestone D697s, among many other mods.

MQ Triton variants (from base to highest spec)

GLX – Easy Select part-time 4WD

GLX+ – Easy Select part-time 4WD

GLS - Super Select

GLS Sports Edition – Super Select and Rear diff lock

Blackline – Super Select and Rear diff lock

Exceed – Super Select and Rear diff lock

My current (as at 01/01/22) MR Triton GSR - modifications include Loaded4X4 Dynamic Tune suspension, Loaded4X4 bash plates, CSA Bullet alloy wheels and Pacemaker 3" King Brown exhaust and Milford Ult!mate Next Gen towbar.

MR Triton variants (from base to highest spec)

GLX – Easy Select part-time 4WD

GLX (ADAS) – Easy Select part-time 4WD

GLX+ – Easy Select part-time 4WD

GLX-R – Discontinued mid-cycle. Was available as a 2WD or part-time 4WD dual-cab.

GLS – 320mm front brakes, Super Select and Rear diff lock

GLS Premium (NA) – 320mm front brakes, Super Select and Rear diff lock

GSR – 320mm front brakes, Super Select and Rear diff lock

Toby Price Edition – 320mm front brakes, Super Select and Rear diff lock

ENGINE

The 4N15 2.4-litre all-alloy turbo-diesel produces 133kW and 430Nm, which is by no means class-leading, but it gets the job done. It’s proven to be a largely reliable engine, with only a handful of relatively minor issues revealing themselves since its 2015 introduction in the Triton. At the time, Mitsubishi claimed that this was the best diesel engine that they were capable of making. It was also the first production diesel engine to feature a variable valve timing (intake side) system, in this case, Mitsubishi’s MIVEC VVT system.

Being all-alloy, it’s not the boat-anchor lump that cast iron block diesels are, which means less weight over the front wheels and potentially, better handling; when you fit some decent suspension that is.

Some of the known issues include, but aren’t necessarily limited to, the following:

Cracked exhaust manifold – Almost every MQ Triton prior to the MY18 model year, will crack its exhaust manifold. An improved manifold with increased material thickness was introduced late in the MQ model cycle. This issue should be fixed under warranty. The improved manifold design seems to have worked as this issue appears to have all but disappeared with late MQ and MR Tritons.

Split intercooler hoses – The OEM hoses will split at some stage, with there being no rhyme or reason as to when. The safest bet is to replace them with some stronger aftermarket hoses, either silicone or the improved, thicker, rubber one now available from Western Filters, which would be my choice. Some MR Tritons had one of the intercooler hoses fitted incorrectly which caused it to rub through on the power steering belt. This issue has been quite widespread it seems.

Oil seepage around intercooler hose connections- This is specific to the MR and is caused by oil mist from crank case gases getting past the o-rings fitted to the hose connections on the intercooler. Fixed under warranty if the owner even notices.

Carbon build-up – Most owners rush to fit a ‘catch-can’ or EGR cheat device, to avoid this issue that plagues modern turbo-diesel engines, although there is little evidence of it being a huge issue with the 4N15, possibly because many owners seek to avoid it from day one. Researching which is the best method of negating carbon build-up is a rite of passage for new turbo-diesel owners, so I won’t spoil that adventure for you, by going further into this subject.

There has been the very occasional engine failure, which happens with all engine types, and there was also that chap who beat Mitsubishi in court because his Triton used more fuel than Mitsubishi’s official fuel economy figures said it should. Neither are worth worrying about.

GEARBOXES

The Aisin 5-speed automatic – As found in the MQ is a highly regarded automatic transmission with a history of strength and reliability. If I was buying a high mileage Triton, I’d like to see that the auto was serviced regularly, ideally every 75,000kms or so and not almost never, per Mitsubishi’s servicing program which is BS. That aside, it’s hard to go wrong with this gearbox.

The Aisin 6-speed automatic – As found in the MR is like the 5-speed, but better.

Six-speed manuals – As found in MQ and MR are an acquired taste. We live in an age where automatic gearboxes, particularly when fitted with paddle shifters, as found in the top-spec Tritons (they’re brilliant BTW) beat manual gearboxes in every way, so much so, that I can’t understand why anyone would buy a manual. But, people do, and it’s their choice, so here’s what you need to know.

The six-speed manual used in both the MQ and MR series has had BIG issues with jumping out of gears, usually third-gear. The fix is a complete rebuild or a new gearbox, and there is no guarantee that’ll be the last you see of the issue, with some owners having their manual gearbox replaced multiple times. Not all manual gearboxes are affected, but many seem to be.

So, if you want a manual, get an automatic with paddle-shifters.

TRANSFER CASE

Nothing to see here folks. Like most Mitsubishi drivetrain related items (we won’t mention the manual gearbox), it's reliable and strong. It goes without saying, that if you have the budget for it, get your hands on a higher-spec Triton fitted with the Super Select system, it’s so much better than any part-time 4WD system.

REAR DIFF-LOCK

Rear-diff locks have been fitted to higher-spec and/or limited-edition Tritons for many years. They are super reliable on the whole and if you’re planning to off-road your Triton, you should be looking for one with the factory diff-lock fitted, which means an Exceed (MQ) and GLS/GSR (MR). From memory, there were some special edition MQ GLS’s with a rear diff-lock fitted from new as well.

TRACTION CONTROL

Mitsubishi’s brake Traction Control is a good thing in the MQ and even better in the MR, where there is a choice of terrain modes in the Super Select equipped models. When you’re looking for traction in difficult terrain, I’d still rate the diff-lock ahead of Traction Control, but the gap is narrowing and if you learn to use Traction Control effectively, there won’t be many places it won’t take you.

MUST-DO IMPROVEMENTS

Suspension

Loaded4X4 Dynamic Tune suspension transforms the drive in these Tritons.

The stock suspension is noticeably better in the MR than the MQ, but it’s built to a price, not to a standard. One of the biggest transformations you can make to one of these Tritons is fitting some decent suspension. Avoid the over sprung, ‘Heavy Duty’, hard-riding aftermarket kits that are out there, and look for something that’ll improve the ride and handling in addition to dealing better with loads, if loading it up is your thing. We’ve developed a superb suspension setup for both the MQ and MR Tritons, that’s available as a levelling kit (raises just the front) or a lift kit. We call it Dynamic Tune, and it transforms the way these Tritons deal with bumps, corrugations and corners. You can find out more about our Dynamic Tune suspension here - https://www.loaded4x4.store/pages/loaded-4x4-suspension

Bash Plates / Under Vehicle Protection

Loaded4X4 bash plates developed with and manufactured by Milford Industries.

The stock bash plates are essentially made from tin and aren’t designed to handle more than a moderate coming together with any sort of off-road terrain. If you’re planning on heading off the black-top, then replacing the stock plates with something stronger is a must.

We’ve developed, in conjunction with Milford Industries, a full underbody protection system that maintains, in fact, improves on stock airflow and really beefs up the protection. Our kits include a strengthening bracket for the weak stock front mounts and are better than OEM quality. Available as a full kit of four plates, or a front kit of two plates, you can find out more about them here - https://www.loaded4x4.store/pages/mq-mr-triton-under-vehicle-protection-bash-plates

Tyres

The stock tyres are rubbish on every single new Triton, ever made. If you like to get your money’s worth then you can call their bluff and wear them down over time. If you want to significantly improve how your Triton drives and how it responds in emergencies, then dump them and get some decent rubber asap. My recommendation would be Japanese brand Light Truck rated tyres, like Bridgestone’s range of All-Terrain and Mud tyres.

Tyre wear and wheel alignment settings

All-new Mitsubishi 4WDs wear the outside edge of the front tyres, often quite dramatically. It’s because the wheel alignment settings specified by Mitsubishi and fed through to your local tyre store, are concocted to deal with road camber, as found on many Australian roads (so water runs off…). It’s mostly nonsense and just causes premature tyre wear.

If you are fitting new tyres and want them to wear evenly, ask your tyre fitter to use the following wheel alignment settings.

Camber – 0 (both sides)

Caster - +2 to 3 degrees (on both sides)

Toe – 1mm toe out (both sides)

You’ll find it drives really nicely, and that road camber isn’t the issue Mitsubishi seems to think it is.

OTHER KNOWN ISSUES

Okay, so no car is perfect and there are certainly some common issues you should be aware of with the MQ and MR Tritons, as follows;

Front seat vibration – Sounds like it could be fun, but it isn’t, in this case. An empty passenger seat can vibrate ridiculously badly in some Tritons. Seemed to be fixed with the seat mount/base frame being replaced under warranty.

Front seat squab wear – lift your arse when you get in and out. Sliding it over the Triton’s seat squabs will cause premature wear, very prematurely. Best bet is to get some decent seat covers and still lift your arse.

Steering wheel wear – The wheel that debuted in the MQ was a disaster and fell apart when subjected to rough tradie hands. This was updated to a much better steering wheel sometime in 2017 and that wheel has carried through the MR Range. You still need to treat it nicely though, or you will destroy it eventually.

Temperamental infotainment system – Some people have real issues with the touch screen Apple CarPlay/Android Auto equipped system that debuted in the MQ (it’s a Kenwood unit) and others don’t. Some say it’s the phone, or the USB cable and not the unit, while others blame the unit. Issues include dropping out, rebooting, not connecting, difficult to hear phone calls, frozen screens among others. I’ve had the same unit in the MQ and MR and while there are at times, connectivity issues, it seems, in my case, to be related to the cable quality and possibly the USB points in the car, and their lack of quality.

Odd behaviour from climate control system – Owners have reported units that blow hot air unless they are dropped right down to 18 degrees and vice versa. Issues seem to be sporadic, although I have noticed that the MQ and MR systems, which are supposedly identical, do behave differently. The MQ was more ‘set and forget’.

Mystery front end knocks – Some owners report a front-end knock on the driver’s side. I have this in my current MR. It occurs once, each time I drive off after getting into the car for the first time. I’ve checked everything and remain clueless as to the cause.

Mystery steering column knocks – Rare, but I did experience this in my MQ. Alerted the dealer, who didn’t show much interest, despite the previous generation Tritons having some real issues with steering column knocks.

Hard brake pedal – Another rare one, but has been reported by a few. Happens if the vehicle is left for a few days. The brake pedal goes rock hard, making it a lot more difficult to depress it far enough to be able to start the vehicle (push button start). My MQ suffers from this affliction on occasions. The dealer was unable to help but was aware of the issue being reported by others.

Squeaky rear leaf springs – They all squeak at some stage, especially in dusty environments or after mud play. It’s a leaf spring thing, but the Triton’s seem to be better at it than many other 4X4s.

Broken chassis - If you want one, you can have one, but if you're prepared to operate the Triton, or any of these 4X4 utes, within their weight limits and with some intelligence, then you won't experience this issue.

Vibration dampener - Not really an issue as such but worth mentioning. The autos run a two-piece tailshaft and a funny looking device that is attached to the snout of the rear diff and hangs there, like an old dude's scrotum. If you off-road your Triton, you'll wipe this out and most people end up removing it. Most people will tell you it does nothing, but I can tell you, in my experience, removing it introduces a harmonic vibration at highway speed, when under load, ie going uphill. I remove it for off-road driving and leave it on the rest of the time. You can do whatever you want with yours, when you get it.

WHICH ONE TO BUY

If your budget allows you to choose between MQ and MR, the MR is without question, the Triton you should buy, it’s way more than a makeover. I'd go so far as to say, that it is without question, the best Triton Mitsubishi has ever made.

Yep, even better than a 2009 ML GLX-R. A lot better to be honest.

But that’s not to sell the MQ short. It’s a proven, reliable and very capable package in its own right and if your budget won’t stretch to an MR, an MQ will still put a smile on your face.

If you're looking at buying an ML or MN Triton, click here to read our ML-MN Triton buying guide.

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