Mitsubishi Raider LSMitsubishi was so eager for us to partake of its latest pickup offering, it also loaned us a Raider LS V-6. Its fleet-style stamped steel wheels and lack of pretty much power anything were testament to its role in life: basic midsize hauling transport. But, despite the no-frills interior and exterior, it wasn't at all punishing to drive. The 210hp V-6 is only 20 horses shy of the V-8's output, and even though its torque output is down 55 lb-ft on its big brother, the availability of a six-speed manual--only available with the V-6 made the most of the six's output. Not having to compete with the Nissan and Toyota 4.0L models head-to-head, the 3.7L Dodge-based V-6, instead, competes with the other trucks' four-cylinders. Other than slightly increased fuel consumption, it's a compelling choice. In real-world driving, the Raider V-6 performed slightly better than a four-cylinder Nissan Frontier we tested recently in observed mileage.

Unlike its decked-out DuroCross brother, there's nothing fancy about the LS. The engine, while not particularly noisy, is not silent or exactly buttery-smooth. Instead, it has a lope at idle that vibrates the shift lever and a gruff, chuggy sound. The combination of the slightly lumpy V-6 and the manual transmission lends a "git 'er done" work-truck demeanor to the base Raider. Although it's no drag-strip demon, it never feels woefully underpowered, considering its mission in life. In normal driving, we rarely had to rev the engine beyond 3,000 rpm, with the healthy low-end torque and well-spaced gearing hauling the truck along respectably. Being about 600 pounds lighter than the DuroCross probably helped as well. The truck's trusty, straightforward personality is pleasant and endearing in its own right--kind of like the old crusty guy in overalls and a John Deere hat that works at the small hardware store that instinctively knows what tool or part you need before you ask.

Yet, to characterize the Raider LS as a knuckle-dragging lower primate is not entirely accurate. There are a few refined touches to this otherwise plain package. The gauges light up in a pleasant soft green-blue hue at night, and, as mentioned previously, the transmission has six gears instead of the customary five (for domestics, at least). Tire and road noise are pleasantly hushed, complementing the smooth, compliant ride. For an as-tested price below $20,000, we wouldn't blame anyone for choosing the base Raider over a comparable Tacoma or Frontier, especially considering Mitsubishi has a very competitive 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.