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Though it's known mostly for its sporty cars and SUVs, Mitsubishi has been slapping its badge on small pickups in the U.S. market for almost three decades. In fact, one of its first U.S.-bound products was a compact pickup truck rebadged as a Dodge.
When it was finally retired after the 2009 model year, the Mitsubishi Raider was the brand's only pickup offering. Its aggressive styling allowed it to slot in well with other fearlessly styled products in the Mitsubishi line. However, underneath the Raider's bulging fenders was essentially a midsize Dodge Dakota pickup.
This lineage gave the Raider a few advantages. It had plenty of towing capacity and it had a spacious cabin. But there were plenty of drawbacks as well. The V6 was anemic, and the Mitsubishi Raider also lacked a long-bed option and the refinement of its competitors. Safety features, too, were woefully inadequate. As such, most used pickup shoppers would be better served by competing trucks such as the Nissan Frontier or Toyota Tacoma.
Most Recent Mitsubishi Raider
Introduced for 2006, the Mitsubishi Raider went through a strange reverse progression of sorts. Although the basic truck (essentially a clone of the Dodge Dakota) itself barely changed, it lost equipment through the intervening years.
Initially available with a 4.7-liter V8 and in a number of trim levels, the Raider lost the V8 option, as well as the available side curtain airbags and four-wheel antilock brakes, for 2008. This left buyers with only a 210-horsepower V6 for the final two years of production. As such, if your heart is set on a used Mitsubishi Raider, we'd advise you to focus on well-equipped models from 2006 and '07. During its entire production run, however, a six-speed manual transmission was standard with a four-speed automatic available as an option. Rear-wheel drive was also standard, while four-wheel drive was optional.
The Raider was offered in two body styles, an extended cab (with rear-opening access doors with a 6.5-foot bed) and a more spacious crew cab (called Double Cab) with a 5-foot bed. Initially, there were three trim levels: LS, DuroCross and XLS. LS extended cabs came with a front bench seat, air-conditioning, a CD player and tinted glass. LS Double Cabs added power windows and locks, keyless entry and cruise control. Midlevel DuroCross models received 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, heavy-duty cooling, full power accessories and bucket seats, while 4WD versions got all-terrain tires, a raised ride height, firmer shocks, skid plates and a limited-slip differential. The range-topping XLS was only available as a Double Can and added 17-inch chrome wheels, an Alpine sound system, satellite radio, leather upholstery and seat heaters.
For 2007, the XLS trim was dropped and replaced by the similarly equipped SE, which was the only model that was offered with the 4.7-liter V8. The Raider lineup was further pared down for 2008, dropping the V8 engine altogether and offering only the LS trim level with several options. In its final 2009 model year, a tilt steering wheel was added, but the auxiliary audio jack was deleted.
The Raider's cabin was spacious. The Double Cab had a respectable amount of room for four adults. The rear seats flipped up and revealed built-in storage trays. The extended cab didn't have as much interior space, however, and its rear seats were quite cramped. Fit and finish wasn't up to the standards of competing models, and there wasn't much to distinguish this pickup's cabin other than a bit of aluminum trim and a few white-faced gauges.
In road tests, we found the Mitsubishi Raider to be stable and steady on all manner of roads. The pickup's shift-on-the-fly 4WD system provided especially good traction on rough terrain. The two major downsides were under the hood and in the safety department: The weak V6, and the lack of safety features that were previously available. Many competitors offered safer and more capable pickups. In this case, the old buyer's adage -- "you get what you pay for" -- held true.