THE 411 EPA Ratings: 15...
EPA Ratings: 15 city / 20 highwayObserved Mileage: 12.4 mpgEngine Size/type: 4.7L SOHC 16-valve V-8Transmission: Five-speed automaticHorsepower/torque: 230 hp at 4,600 rpm / 290 lb-ft at 3,600 rpmBase MSRP/As Tested: $30,845 / $33,155
It's no secret that Mitsubishi is not having the best of times right now. Aside from the rally-star Lancer Evolution and the swoopy new Eclipse, its overall lineup trails the larger Japanese manufacturers in terms of breadth and newness. One gap long left unfilled since the demise of the Mighty Max was a pickup. Although not quite as chummy as it once was with DaimlerChrysler since the sale of its stake in Mitsubishi, the companies had a good enough relationship to collaborate on coming up with Mitsubishi's new truck, the Raider. It just happened to coincide nicely with Dodge's introduction of an all-new Dakota.
But, whereas the Dakota mimics its big brother Ram with a squared-off chromey grille, the Raider opts for a raked back, sporty schnoz, giving it a strong family resemblance to the new Eclipse and other Mitsubishi models. Whether you like its unconventional look or not is up for debate. That it's effective at getting attention is not. Wherever this truck goes, heads turn. If getting noticed was Mitsubishi's objective with the Raider, it certainly succeeded.
The Raider's relation to the...
The Raider's relation to the Dakota is clearly evident in the dashboard. Circular HVAC vents, instead of the Dakota's rectangular ones, are the obvious difference.
Both foreign and domestic trucks have long since passed the point where they're simply utilitarian devices. Today's trucks can be fitted with everything from DVD players to memory seats. The Raider is no exception. Although our DuroCross didn't have leather or a sunroof, it had just about every other option in the book, including Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth phone interface capability, power driver seat, and auxiliary radio controls on the steering wheel.
Despite its bold, unconventional styling, the driving experience is decidedly conventional. Bolted together on the same assembly line as the Dodge Dakota in Warren, Michigan, it should come as no surprise that the Raider feels much more American than Japanese. Compared to the Tacoma and Frontier, it also feels much larger, even though it's within a few inches of both of them in key dimensions. In DuroCross form, it's almost downright cushy, with a smooth ride and subdued noise, vibration, and harshness levels.
It's also the only import-branded midsize pickup with an available V-8. In driving the DuroCross, it's immediately apparent there are some refinement advantages of having a V-8 over a V-6, as the 4.7L overhead-cam V-8 idles and runs with a buttery smoothness not even Toyota's V-6 can match. But, in terms of sheer power, Toyota and Nissan's V-6s out-power the Raider's 230hp V-8 and come close to it in torque production. There's no shortage of low-end grunt, since the V-8 Raider will easily chirp the rear tires without much provocation and scoot away from a stoplight briskly at about 40-50 mph.
But, on the freeway, it takes a deliberate stab of the right foot and a gear kick down for any urgent passing maneuvers. Uphill grades also frequently cause a kick down, as well. Maybe it's the DuroCross' porky 4,940-pound curb weight, right up there in fullsize territory. We've long thought the new Dakota would be a perfect candidate for the 5.7L Hemi, and the Raider could benefit from it as well. But, if either of them receives it, the Dakota will probably get first dibs at it, if at all. We hope DC will follow Ford's suit and put three-valve heads on the 4.7L. With an output of 300 horses and 330 lb-ft, that would fit the bill nicely. Saddled with higher-than-average weight, and a typically lead-footed Sport Truck editor behind the wheel, we averaged a less-than-stellar 12.4 mpg. A V-6 turbodiesel would be a great powerplant for this truck, helping mileage and providing the same, if not better, power and torque than the modestly powered 4.7L V-8.
The DuroCross' seats were...
The DuroCross' seats were comfortable, but for $33k, we were halfway expecting leather.
On the hardware side, the DuroCross package includes a 3.92 rearend with limited-slip differential, front skidplates, tranny and power steering cooler, and 750-amp battery. Unfortunately, all these goodies come at a price. Our almost fully decked-out DuroCross rang up the register to the tune of $33,155. Priced thusly, the DuroCross occupies the uncomfortable gray area where a fullsize starts to make sense. A nicely equipped F-150 SuperCrew or Silverado Crew can be had for a similar or lower price, depending on rebates and incentives. Stacked up against those odds, the DuroCross loses a little of its appeal. But, if you don't need or want the mass of a fullsize truck but like the idea of having a V-8 in a uniquely styled midsize package, the Raider is worth a look.