Cut & Paste Pickup
There's a fine line between quoting and plagiarism. Quoting means you're borrowing the best parts of a story and giving credit to the author. Plagiarism is bold-faced copying. One is good, the other gets you fired. With that in mind, let's talk about the 2006 Mitsubishi Raider pickup.
While the Raider is Mitsubishi's first V8-powered pickup, it's based on the same platform as the new-for-2005 Dodge Dakota. In fact, the two trucks are built side-by-side at DaimlerChrysler's Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan.
The Raider isn't plagiarizing the Dakota; Mitsubishi is simply utilizing a business relationship to offer its own spin on a popular new product. We're going to quote — not plagiarize — our recent road test of the Dakota in an effort to highlight similarities and differences between the two trucks.
Like the Dakota, the Raider rides on a fully boxed steel frame with hydroformed rail tips that provide added protection in front-impact collisions. Coil-over independent front suspension is standard on two- and four-wheel-drive models, and rack and pinion steering gives the pickup a nimble, carlike feel.
The Raider is offered in three trim levels: LS, DuroCross and XLS. Standard brakes on the LS and Durocross are 12.3-inch front discs gripped by dual-piston calipers, and rear ABS-equipped drums. The XLS also gets the disc/drum setup but four-wheel ABS is optional on that model.
Powertrains have also been borrowed from the DaimlerChrysler line. The standard engine is the same 3.7-liter V6 found in the Dakota. The motor runs on regular-grade gasoline and is rated at 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Available transmissions include a standard Getrag close-ratio six-speed manual and an optional four-speed automatic.
Of more interest is the available 4.7-liter V8, which is optional on all Raiders and standard in the top-of-the-line XLS model. With 230 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque on tap, it does a much better job motivating the Raider. All V8-powered pickups get a five-speed automatic.
Missing from the lineup is the Dakota's optional 250-hp 4.7 HO. That's unfortunate for Mitsubishi, since the V6 in the Nissan Frontier makes 265 hp and the Toyota Tacoma V6 is rated at 245 hp. Both Japanese competitors bested the Dakota in a recent midsize truck comparison test, so it stands to reason the same would hold true for the Raider.
The 230-horse V8-powered Dakota in that test ran zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 17.4 seconds at 78.8 mph. It also came to a stop from 60 mph in 125.6 feet, which is an impressive performance only the Toyota could beat. Since the Dodge and the Mitsu are mechanically twins and both weigh about 4,200 pounds (in quad-cab 4x4 trim), we expect similar performance from the Raider.
Although the Raider's underpinnings are Dodge-derived, its skin is pure Mitsubishi.Flared fenders and bedsides are aggressive, and a thin upper grille and thick lower bumper give the Raider an aggressive, industrial snarl.
Our only styling gripe focuses on front-end overhang, which makes the truck look like it needs some help from the Nip/Tuck guys. That big schnoz might also be a hindrance off-road, where short overhang and increased ramp angles are vital.
Two body styles are available, an extended cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed, and a double cab with a 5-foot-3-inch bed. Both offer four doors, but the extended cab doors open rearward and the rear seat only offers 32.1 inches of legroom, while the double cab boasts 36.4 inches to stretch out.
The Raider also boasts a best-in-class 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, yet the Dakota only offers a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. So if coverage is important to you, Raider is the way to go.
In the Cab
The Raider's interior is identical to the Dakota's. The same firm-yet-comfortable bucket seats, the same chronograph-style gauges, the same easy-to-use radio and climate controls, and unfortunately the same vast expanses of rock-hard plastic.
LS models are pretty basic, equipped with V6 power, a split bench seat, air conditioning and tinted glass. Options include power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise control and a tilt steering column.
Midlevel DuroCross models get 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, heavy-duty cooling, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power everything and bucket seats. Options include a premium sound system.
Top-end XLS models come loaded with everything above plus all-wheel drive, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a high-output sound system, leather seating surfaces (the front buckets are heated), and power-folding mirrors. Side curtain airbags are optional.
On the Road
We spent time in a sparsely equipped LS and found the V6-powered base model to be a pleasant drive, with tight steering and a comfortable ride. The 3.7 V6 is smooth and adequate on power, but if we were ordering a Raider for work duty we'd opt for the bottom-end torque and passing power of the V8. It's too bad you can't get the V8 with the fantastic Getrag six-speed manual transmission. The shifter feels tight and precise, and according to Mitsubishi engineers the transmission is as rugged as they come.
We also spent an afternoon romping around Northern Oregon in a fully loaded DuroCross V8 4x4 with the off-road package, which includes 285-series BFG off-road tires. This model sits up higher and looks more aggressive than a comparably equipped Dakota and is easily the coolest-looking model in the Raider line.
It's also the most off-road ready. Although most Raider buyers will spend their time on paved highways, which is where the truck really shines, we were equally impressed by its off-road ability. Its shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system offered plenty of traction on rough terrain, and its boxed frame and stout front suspension provided excellent handling both on- and off-road.
Double-cab models boast plenty of leg- and hiproom, and standard equipment step bars make climbing into the cabin a breeze. Once inside, climate controls are easy to use and the factory stereo sounds fantastic.
There's no accounting for personal taste. Some of our compatriots prefer the Raider's swoopy shape over the blocky Dodge, while others favor the Dakota's tauter lines and crosshair grille. Although you can get a more powerful engine in the Dodge, it's the 2006 Mitsubishi Raider that offers the superior warranty.
With more than a little help from Dodge, Mitsubishi has found a way to offer an attractive blend of American muscle and Japanese style, and you can quote us on that.