The 2024 Mitsubishi Triton has brought the midsize truck well into the 21st Century. In honor of the truck’s sixth generation, let’s take a look at how far the Triton or L200 has come. Not too long ago, the Mitsubishi L200 was technically considered a compact truck rather than a midsizer, and it was sold in the U.S. as the Mitsubishi Mighty Max — an apt name for the truck’s small size during its sales run in the U.S. from the ’80s through the early ’90s.
The first- and second-generation Mighty Max were also sold as the Dodge Ram 50 in America, where the small truck competed with models from Toyota and Datsun, as well as Isuzu and Mazda. Fun fact: the Mitsubishi Mighty Max and Mazda B Series trucks were at some point powered by the same 2.6-liter inline-four engine, albeit with slight differences and different names.
The Mighty Max and Ram 50 actually bear a striking resemblance to Mazda B-Series trucks, but I guess it’s hard to make a single cab truck with a generous bed look all that different from its rivals. The Mighty Max/L200 and Ram 50 were workaday utility vehicles, much like other compact trucks at the time. The same kind of practical, reasonably-sized pickups I refer to as truck shorties.
But even back then, models available on the global market already hinted at the Mitsubishi truck’s aspirations as a gnarly off-roader. On those markets, the truck was strictly known as the L200, and it was available as a double cab from the second-generation on. The L200 could be optioned with four-wheel drive and a turbodiesel. The turbodiesel was available in the U.S., but not in the same combination that was available in the rest of the world, which also bore colorful graphics.
Look at those wheels! I’m not one to gush over double cab trucks, but I’ll make an exception for certain trucks, such as the Mitsu L200 or the Chevy S-10. And, apparently, the rest of the world feels the same, given the popularity of the Mitsubishi truck in markets abroad. Ever since the truck’s release in 1978, the Japanese carmaker has sold 5.6 million models in 150 countries. When it was released abroad 45 years ago, it was called the Mitsubishi Forte and has since been known as the Strada and L200 and, most recently, the Triton.
Most of those model’s lifetime sales have come from Southeast Asia, where Mitsubishi says it’s sold one-third of all Tritons produced. The importance of the truck can’t be overstated for Mitsubishi as a brand today, with it accounting for 20 percent of the carmaker’s global sales. The new Triton will be making a return to Japan after a 12-year hiatus. Who knows? Maybe it’s time to dust off the Mighty Max badge, or even the Ram 50 badge, and bring it back to the U.S.