Road Test: 2006 Mitsubishi Raider
Import styling with a familiar twist
Desperate for a pickup truck for over 10 years, Mitsubishi dealers have been clamoring to get back into one of the hottest segments in the U.S., and now they have the Raider--probably the best example of badge engineering we've seen in a long time. Of course, that's like saying Jessica Simpson is the best blonde actress wearing shorts in the "Dukes of Hazzard." For many, it doesn't count for much; but for others, it may be plenty.
Here are the facts: The Mitsubishi Raider platform is an exact clone of the Dodge Dakota midsize-pickup chassis, powertrain, and suspension. The only areas where Mitsubishi was able to differentiate itself was in interior and exterior styling. And this is where Mitsu did its homework.
Released from any significant DaimlerChrysler involvement after DCX sold its share of Mitsubishi, the Mitsu designers were free to get as far away from the Dakota's blocky, creased, and squared-off exterior look as they wanted. Raider hood and fender lines were softened, smoothed, and shaped at the corners and grille. The curved surfaces of the body panels and fenders are meant to invoke a more toned, muscular physique, hinting at a more dynamic, urban feel. At least, that's what chief designer David O'Connell told us as he waxed eloquent on his favorite Raider lines and angles. That's certainly borne out with the round swoops over the wheel openings and aerodynamic shape of the front end. The open-mouth grille with the tri-diamond Mitsubishi logo is reported to be the new look for future Mitsu pickups and SUVs.
Inside, O'Connell notes he wanted to take away any materials and distractions that didn't need to be there, so he shaved most of the plastic out of the Dakota dash and simplified the A/C controls and vents as well as adding several trim accents on the higher model levels. The result is a relatively unique-looking midsize pickup that looks like a Mitsubishi and not a derivative of its parent donor--unusual considering the Chevy Colorado and Isuzu I-350, or Ford Ranger and Mazda B4000.
The base engine option for the Raider is DCX's rather bland 3.7-liter V-6 that puts out 210 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 235 pound-feet at 3600 rpm (also in the Liberty, Grand Cherokee, Dakota, Durango, and Ram). The larger V-8 option (in fact, the Dakota and Raider are the only compact or midsize pickups to offer a V-8) displaces 4.7 liters with an output of 230 horsepower at 4600 rpm and 290 pound-feet of torque at 3600 rpm. The smaller engine comes standard with a six-speed manual, but offers a four-speed automatic transmission for those with a different need. The V-8 comes with the 5-45RFE five-speed auto (the transmission with two different second gears, depending on your up- or downshift needs, used in several Dodge and Jeep models).
Raiders will be offered in two cab configurations (Extended Cab and Double Cab), two different four-wheel-drive systems (one offers AWD, the other part-time 2WD), and three different axle ratios (3.21:1, 3.55:1, and 3.92:1). Of all the option combinations, we'd suggest being careful about the V-6 manual, unless you really can't afford the V-8. Gearing between first and second, and second and third, feels too wide, forcing the driver to rev the crud out of the engine just to keep it from running out of breath around town. We like the V-8 and five-speed as a much better match, especially for carrying people inside or equipment in the bed. We also recommend the DuroCross option package (available in V-6 or V-8, Extended or Double Cabs), which gets bigger, more aggressive tires, the better 4WD system, and more pronounced fender flares.
Pricing for the Raider will start around $20,000 for Extended Cab V-6 2WD models, and reach $30,000 (4WD four-door V-8) when fully optioned. Due to previously existing contractual agreements, Mitsubishi dealers most likely will sell between 15,000 or 20,000 units, so if you've been waiting for Mitsu's pickup, you better hurry. There won't be many around.
That said, maybe a well-done badge job on an existing platform isn't a bad way to go, especially when you have the only midsize import truck with a V-8.
|2006 Mitsubishi Raider|
|Location of final assembly||Warren, Michigan|
|Body style||4-door, 5-pass pickup|
|EPA size class||Utility|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, 2WD, 4WD|
|Engine type||90° V-6, iron block/alum heads|
|Bore x stroke, in||3.66 x 3.57|
|Valve gear||SOHC, 12 valves/cyl|
|SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm||210 @ 5200|
|SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm||235 @ 3600|
|Optional engine||90° V-8, iron block/alum heads|
|Bore x stroke, in||3.66 x 3.40|
|Valve gear||SOHC, 16 valves/cyl|
|SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm||230 @ 4600|
|SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm||290 @ 3600|
|Base transmission||Getrag 238 6-speed manual|
|Optional transmission||42RLE 4-speed automatic|
|Optional transmission||5-45RFE 5-speed automatic|
|Axle ratio||3.21:1, 3.55:1, 3.92:1|
|Rpm @ 60 mph||1850|
|Recommended fuel||Regular unleaded|
|Track, f/r, in||62.8/62.9|
|Headroom, f/r, in||39.9/38.4|
|Legroom, f/r, in||41.9/36.4|
|Shoulder room, f/r, in||57.7/57.5|
|Total cargo volume||46.5|
|Ground clearance, in||7.9|
|Bed size LxWxD, in||75.2 x 59.6 x 17.6|
|Base curb weight, lb||4360|
|Payload capacity, lb||1800|
|Towing capacity, lb||6800|
|Fuel Capacity, Gal||22.0|
|Suspension, f/r||IFS, double A-arm, coilover springs/live axle, leaf springs|
|Steering type||Power assisted rack and pinion|
|Turns, lock to lock||3.2|
|Turning circle, ft||44.0|
|Brakes, f/r||12.3-in vented disc/11.6-in disc, ABS|
|Wheels||17 x 8.0-in alum|
|Tires||BFGoodrich All-Terrains 265/65R17|
|EPA fuel econ, city/hwy||16/21 (V-6); 15/19 (V-8)|