- Full makeover for Mitsubishi's fifth-generation L200 driven - read our first review
- Aggressive new front end design makes bold statement, interior sees little change
- Extra safety technology and improved refinement, better than ever off-road, too
We've travelled all the way to Thailand to drive the new Mitsubishi L200 ahead of it going on sale in 2019. Keep reading for our initial review, and full details of this freshly updated pickup truck.
Just three years after it first went on sale in 2015, Mitsubishi has revealed a significantly facelifted version of the current L200 Series 5 pickup at a swanky international launch event in Thailand. This new Mitsubishi L200 – which is known as the Triton in other parts of the world, hence the badges on the ones pictured here – gets a complete makeover, as well as a selection of safety technologies more commonly found on cars and some other upgrades intended to boost comfort levels.
The revised Mitsubishi L200 doesn’t go on sale in the UK until late summer 2019, but we have been able to drive it on and off-road in its latest guise, allowing us to get an early handle on the suspension changes and other modificatiions.
Read on to find out how Mitsubishi has further improved the 2019 Parkers Pickup of the Year.
What’s new for the 2019 Mitsubishi L200?
As the spyshots we’ve previously published have already hinted, the 2019 L200 has been given a major facelift.
The biggest, most obvious changes come at the front, where the soft, sporty design of the present version gives way to a much more aggressive and angular appearance, in keeping with Mitsubishi’s latest ‘Dynamic Shield’ design language.
As part of this change, the lights are now a full 700mm from the ground, which Mitsubishi says should help keep them above water when wading and better prevent accidental damage. The bonnet is higher, too, which is good news for pedestrian impact safety.
Beyond this, however, every exterior panel is new – the sides featuring extended wheel arches with large, flat-planed edges, reminiscent of the Shogun Sport (which is based on the L200 platform), while the rear gets new 'deeper looking' lights and changes to the tailgate and bumpers.
Mitsubishi is calling overall look of the pickup 'Rock Solid'. Fair enough.
The exterior changes have little impact on the load area, which is designed to accomodate accessories such as style bars that already fit the current model.
Full details of payload capacity will follow in due course, but since the new L200 is said to be slightly heavier than the old one this might decrease slightly. We expect the 3.5-tonne maximum towing capacity to remain.
Changes on the inside are much more subtle, as detailed below.
Isn't it a little early for an L200 facelift?
This facelift does seem to have come around rather soon for a pickup, and it's unusual for a commercial vehicle to get a mid-life makeover that's as comprehensive as this one.
In fact, one senior source told us that more money had been spent on the project than originally intended.
So what gives? The explanation seems to be two fold.
Firstly, customer feedback was clearly telling Mitsubishi that buyers wanted a more aggressively styled truck. The sleek, sporty looks that served it well in the previous generation just aren't in keeping with customer trends any longer.
Secondly, Mitsubishi is counter-punching incoming updates to rivals, including the new-look Toyota Hilux (the Invincible X front end is expected to transfer to the whole Hilus range in time) and brand new versions of the Isuzu D-Max and Ford Ranger.
It also doesn't hurt that 2018 represents the 40th anniversary of the L200, as Mitsubishi first started producing pickups in 1978.
What are the engineering and safety upgrades for the 2019 Mitsubishi L200?
Mitsubishi says it’s done hundreds of thousands of miles of durability testing to further improve dependability and refinement.
Examples of the latter include bigger front brake discs and new two-piston calipers for better stopping power and braking feel, while larger-diameter rear suspension dampers are intended to improve ride comfort. There's also a six-speed automatic gearbox option to replace the old five-speed unit. At last.
All of this is good news for lifestyle buyers especially, but will no doubt be appreciated by working operators as well.
As for safety kit, Mitsubishi has now made the following available on the 2019 L200:
- Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) – an autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system that detects pedestrians as well as vehicles
- Blindspot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Ultrasonic Mis-acceleration Mitigation System (UMS) – aims to prevent you from accidentally accelerating into things when manoeuvring at low speeds in car parks and such like
It's unclear at this stage if any of these will be fitted as standard in the UK, but we'd expect at least the top-spec models to get them included.
A 360-degree, bird’s eye-view camera system called Multi Around Monitor can be added to the L200 for the first time now, too.
Handy for negotiating obstacles that are difficult to see from the cab as well as for parking this is useful in on- and off-road driving, making an already impressively wieldy vehicle for a pickup even easy to manouvre.
Any changes to the L200's off-road capability for 2019?
Mitsubishi has indeed upgraded the L200’s four-wheel drive systems for 2019, with a new Off-road Mode.
Available on both the Super-Select 4WD and Easy-Select 4WD 4x4 options (which you get varies with trim level and drivetrain), in addition to the usual high and low range gearing function, the new Off-road Mode gives you a choice of Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock settings.
These adapt the engine, transmission and braking to maximise grip on each of these surfaces. You'll notice a much sharper accelerator response in Sand, for example, while Mud/Snow allows the wheels to spin more to find grip.
The new L200 also gets electronic Hill Descent Control (HDC) for the first time, while a rear differential lock provides further traction should your driving needs require it.
So the 2019 L200 is even better off-road?
By today's standards the L200 is a relatively lightweight and compact truck, with a tight turning circle and high-quality 4WD hardware, so off-road driving has always been one of this Mitsubishi's strengths.
Testing all the new toys on both man-made and natural obstacles in Thailand ably demonstrates that the 2019 model is only going to make life away from the beaten path even easier for buyers.
Switching between drivetrain settings is a simple matter of twisting a dial (though you do need to be stationary to select low-range, which seems to engage with a bit of a bang), while the new Off-road Mode options are activated by a button just below this, which sits alongside the one for the HDC.
Torque is transferred to the wheels with the most grip smoothly and swiftly, with just the occasional grumble from the centre differential should you happen to be balancing on off-set bumps with two wheels in the air. Meanwhile, the Multi Around Monitor helps you spot the safest path from the comfort of the cab.
The Hill Descent Control is interesting, as unlike many other systems it doesn't have a default speed it pulls you back to when you start going down a slope.
Rather, as long as you're doing 20km/h (around 12mph) or less - its maximum speed of operation - it simply holds the L200 at the speed you were already going. If that's too fast, you can slow yourself by gently applying the brakes until you reach a velocity you're happy with, and the HDC will hold you at that instead.
We thought it worked very well.
What's the 2019 Mitsubishi L200 like to drive on the road?
The road driving in Thailand was a somwhat bizarre affair, as in order to best get us through the incredible traffic we were accompanied by a police motorcycle escort at all times. The route was also dominated by straight dual carriageways with little in the way of interesting corners to really test the chassis changes.
However, it's clear that these aren't revolutionary or particularly extensive. The steering wheel requires quite a lot of turning, just as before, but so long as you don't mind that the front end feels grippy and keen enough to point into bends, keeping the L200 from becoming too meandering.
The larger rear shock absorbers do seem to have calmed down the back of the pickup reasonably successfully. It's still bumpier than a conventional car - at least when there's no weight in the load area - but the extra fluid capacity of those bigger dampers makes this bumping about less abrupt than it was, and you sense that it settles down more quickly as well. A successful enhancement, on this evidence.
You can still expect a lot of body roll if you really push it in the corners, but there are few pickups that don't suffer with that. Similarly, the lengthy shift action of the manual gearbox does become tiresome; it's not a particularly precise gearbox, either, so you may find yourself selecting fourth gear when you were aiming for second.
We were only able to try the new six-speed automatic off-road, but it swaps cogs slickly while delivering better low speed response and more efficient cruising, thanks to a shorter first gear and the addition of a longer sixth ratio. It's the best transmission choice if you don't mind spending the extra for it.
Many other pickup makers offer even more gears in their autos now, though, so Mitsubishi still seems to be playing catch-up.
What about the engines for the 2019 Mitsubishi L200?
This is a slightly awkward one, because at this stage Mitsubishi is refusing to confirm what engines the 2019 L200 will use when it goes on sale in the UK next year.
This is apparently because it is still working on the best way to meet the forthcoming 'Euro 6D Temp' emissions regulations - which are significantly more stringent than the current Euro 6C requirements.
So although we were driving the familiar 181hp 2.4-litre diesel in Thailand, this may not make it to the UK next year at all. Possibly Mitsubishi will be forced to reduce the 2.4's power and torque, or it may even replace it altogether with a smaller engine. It's a conundrum many other pickup makers are also facing.
Any changes to the interior for the 2019 Mitsubishi L200?
Disappointingly, this is one area that hasn’t received much design attention – the cab looks largely the same here, so you have to look closely to spot the alterations.
These include more ‘modern and robust feeling’ materials in places alongside increaed areas of padded, soft-touch finishing, notably around the centre console.
There are also more USB ports available front and rear (up to four), alongside new storage trays for phones, while the cupholder surround is now silver for 'improved visability'. The automatic gearbox surround is squared-off and finished in a metallic kind of waffle pattern, which looks neat enough.
There are further enhancements for rear seat passengers, with Mitsubishi adding grab handles to the B-pillars to make it easier to get in and out, plus a new roof-mounted ventilation system to provide extra air flow to the back of the cabin.
This last takes a bit of time to get going but is certainly better than nothing, especially in hot climates.
When does the 2019 Mitsubishi L200 go on sale in the UK and what does it cost?
Although the new L200 goes on sale in Thailand in November 2018, it’s not expected to reach UK dealers until July or August 2019.
As such, there is no official pricing information at this stage.
It’s difficult to predict how costs will change versus the existing model – which starts at £19,505 plus VAT (at the time of writing) – since the engine line-up is unconfirmed.
But even with extra standard equipment and technology we’re still expecting the L200 to be one of the best-value pickups on the UK market.
We'lll bring you full details of the UK specification as soon as it's made available in the new year.