Road Test: 2006 Mitsubishi Raider
By: Mike Magda, Editor Posted: 10-17-05 09:08 PT
© 2005

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Mitsubishi had the luxury of focusing solely on the design and appearance of its new 2006 Raider mid-sized pickup. Dodge had already engineered the chassis and drivetrain. Under an agreement between DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi, the Raider would be built on the 2005 Dodge Dakota platform at the Warren, Michigan, truck plant. Mitsu and DCX are now estranged partners (DaimlerChrysler still owns a 37 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors but is no longer funding future development), yet it still made sense for the Mitsubishi designers to separate the Raider as far as possible from the Dakota as well as incorporating familiar cues from other current Mitsu offerings such as the Endeavor and Eclipse.

Designers at Mitsubishi’s Southern California studio drew inspiration from the Sport Truck Concept that was first shown at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. The Sport Truck Concept was wrapped with an energetic, urban-assault skin and came at you with a loud, big-mouth grille and steely eyed headlamps. As a concept it offered a few clever advancements such as an electronically operated 4-position tailgate, open-air seating for the rear passengers and an integrated bed.

The Raider’s front end is less aggressive than the Concept. The grille opening has been closed with a wider lower jaw dressed in silver. A clean mesh grille adds even more highlight. The headlamps aren’t as sleek as the Concept, and the driving lights are smaller and round. The overall sheet metal is rounder and softer than its sharp-ended Dodge cousin while still being confined to the Dakota’s measurements. Only the roof and rear cab panels are common.

The overall appearance is pleasing and will not be confused with other mid-sized pickups. Whether it’s distinctive enough to draw pickup shoppers back into Mitsubishi dealerships again is yet to be determined. Mitsubishi had a strong history in compact pickups in the ‘70s and ‘80s, building the Mighty Max for itself and the Ram 50 for Dodge (a version called the Arrow was also sold by Plymouth dealers for a short time). But when Dakota was introduced as the first mid-sized pickup in 1987, there was less need for a compact pickup by Dodge. The Ram 50 was dropped in 1994 and the Mighty Max died a year later. Mitsubishi still manufacturers pickups out of Japan but only for other countries.

Marketing the Raider, which was the name of a former Mitsubishi SUV, comes down to pricing (which has not been released yet), content, dealership experience and availability of a better warranty. While the Raider will not offer Mitsubishi’s generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, it will go with a 5-year/60,000-mile coverage. Basic warranty is also 5-year/60,000-mile with rust protection for 7-year/100,000-mile. That compares to a standard 3-year/36,000 mile basic and powertrain warranty offered by Dodge with 5-year/100,000-mile rust protection.

The Raider will be offered in extended cab and Double Cab configurations only; both built on a 131.3-inch wheelbase and available in 2- or 4-wheel-drive. Extended cab models feature a 6.4-foot-long cargo box while the crew cab model has a shorter 5.3-foot-long box. Base engine is a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6. Also available is a 230-horsepower, 4.7-liter V8. While there isn’t much difference in horsepower—or fuel economy—between the two engines, the V8 offers 55 lb-ft more torque. EPA mileage estimates fall in range of 15-17 mpg city/19-22 mpg highway. The V6 can be mated to a 6-speed manual or a 4-speed auto while the V8 choices include 5-speed manual or automatic. The 4.7-liter High Output V8 engine offered on the Dakota is not available on the Raider. Max towing capacity is 6500 pounds on a properly equipped model.

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