Now Is the Time for a Mitsubishi Midsize Truck in the U.S.

·3 min read
Image:  Mitsubishi
Image: Mitsubishi

The resurgence of midsize trucks in the U.S. market has me wondering just where the Mitsubishi Triton is in the middle of America’s off-road infatuation. Perhaps more than any other time in the past, right now seems ideal for the midsizer from Mitsubishi to come to the U.S. after a years-long hiatus.

The last time around, we had the Mitsubishi Raider — just a rebadged Dodge Dakota — but now need a ‘Mitsu truck, proper, to compete with midsizers like the Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma.

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At least that’s how I feel every time I run across a Mitsubishi L200 on the Texas-Mexico border. The L200 is a Mitsubishi Triton by another name, sold on the Mexican market in a number of trims that start at about $502,000 pesos, or $28,550 at current exchange rates. The base model has a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, but higher trims come with a 2.4-liter turbodiesel inline-4. And, yes, either model comes with the option for a six-speed manual transmission. Here is a manual turbodiesel Triton in Ralliart guise, kitted out for competition:

Photo:  Mitsubishi
Photo: Mitsubishi

The Toyota Tacoma and Jeep Gladiator are currently (or will be) the only midsizers that can boast of having a stick shift. The reception to the manual Tacoma has been positive, which points to the viability of a midsize truck with a manual transmission. Now, imagine you could buy something similar but without the corresponding prices of the wildly popular Tacoma.

Mitsubishi currently occupies somewhat of a niche in the U.S. auto market, making inexpensive but oft-overlooked models that provide decent value relative to their rivals. It’s a niche that once belonged to Kia and Hyundai, but the South Korean carmakers eventually outgrew that market space.

Mitsubishi is struggling for relevance in America, trying to stand out with crossovers, but why not with midsize trucks? The resurgence and redesign of the Ranger, Colorado, Canyon, Frontier and Tacoma are proof that midsize trucks are suddenly popular. The problem is they’re also suddenly pricy.

Midsize trucks are no longer starter trucks. Maybe they never were, but America’s obsession with full-size trucks made them seem that way. And, for years, fans of these practical midsizers enjoyed most of the benefits of owning a truck without most of the downsides — including the MSRP.

Now that off-roading is one of the hottest trends in the industry, midsize trucks have returned ready to hit the trail with the most capable trims ever: the Ranger Raptor, Colorado ZR2, Canyon AT4X, Frontier Pro-4X and Tacoma TRD Pro.

Their capabilities vary, of course, but one thing most of them share is that they’re pricy. You get what you pay for, obviously, but where is the budget midsizer that can still get dirty? That’s where Mitsubishi could step in with the Triton or L200. The sixth-generation Mitsubishi Triton is about to be released, as the company previewed with its XRT Concept. Why not bring the new truck to the U.S.? New truck, new market. Mitsubishi, bring the truck back.

Image:  Mitsubishi
Image: Mitsubishi
Image:  Mitsubishi
Image: Mitsubishi

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