01-11-05 01:02 PT
© 2005 PickupTruck.com
Mitsubishi’s return to the pickup market was launched with a restrained
but optimistic introduction of the Raider at the North American International
Mitsu is struggling following a year of disastrous sales numbers, the
departure of its chief executive officer just days before the auto show,
a recall scandal in Japan and the well-publicized financial separation
from its partner, DaimlerChrysler. But Mitsubishi Motors has a strong
pickup heritage in the compact truck market, starting in the late ‘70s
and continuing through the early ‘90s. The Mighty Max was a value-driven,
strong off-road performing pickup. Dodge eventually picked up and marketed
the Mighty Max as the Ram 50 throughout the ‘80s and up until the
introduction of the midsize Dodge Dakota.
is returning the favor by offering the Dakota to Mitsubishi (the deal
was signed before DaimlerChrysler pulled its financial support from the
company). And the new Raider will be a key element in Mitsu’s recovery
efforts from near collapse. Unfortunately, Mitsu was not allowed to alter
any of the mechanicals or offer performance upgrades to the powertrain
or suspension. It did have some flexibility in styling, and there was
“Our challenge was not so much to make it different from Dodge,”
said designer Dave O’Connell, “but to make it good for Mitsubishi.”
Knowing that there was a deal in place to use the Dakota, the Mitsubishi
Design Studio in Southern California came up a stunning concept vehicle
that debuted at last year’s Detroit Auto Show. The new Raider shows
hints of the concept but doesn’t exude all of the potential ground-breaking
styling potential that the concept boasted.
“You always have limitations when going from concept to production,”
admitted O’Connell. “From a styling perspective, we tried
to give (the Raider) something not commonly seen in trucks. The concept
truck we showed last year was really a glimpse into the future, perhaps
if you were to skip a generation.
“If you look at the concept of (last year’s truck), it was
an alternative to the mainstream,” added O’Connell. “That’s
really what the Raider represents. Conceptually, we’re right on
Only the roof panel and back of the cab are common sheetmetal with the
Dakota. The Raider does have a little “urban” flare and somewhat
mirrors the new Eclipse that was introduced at the same time. But seasoned
observers will see more Endeavor cues in the Raider.
truck is going to sit in the showroom with Endeavor,” said O’Connell.
“So if you want to look at it as an Endeavor pickup, there’s
nothing wrong with that at all.”
The Raider is curvy and features a thick lower bumper and a generous
grille opening that’s separated by a single crossbar. The one design
clue that the Raider is related to the Dakota comes in the flat-fenders
sweeping back from the headlights. But the Raider’s edges are much
softer and the transition to the doors is cleaner. The front and rear
fenders are linked by character lines along the rocker panels, but the
wheel arches actually surround the wheels on the Raider and allow the
continuation of the rocker lines to the rear.
The Raider will be offered in 2- and 4-wheel drive models and in extended
and double cab models. The drivetrain is identical to the Dakota with
V6 and V8 engines available, although the upcoming High Output 4.7-liter
engine in the Dodge won’t be shared with Mitsu.
Trim levels for the Raider include LS, DuroCross and XLS, although the
latter won’t be offered in extended cab and you can’t get
the base LS trim in the 4-door model. Some of the more notable options
available include premium audio, leather seating, side and head curtain
air bags, ABS and bucket seats. Off-road enthusiasts will get BFG All
Terrain tires, high-pressure gas shocks, increased ride height, skid plates
and limited slip differential with the DuroCross 4x4 package.
As with all other Mitsubishi products, the company will back the Raider
with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. The powertrain
will be covered by a 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty. The program
also includes 24-hour emergency roadside service with free towing to Mitsu
dealers for five years.
won’t go on sale until next fall. Pricing was not announced.