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2006 Mitsubishi Raider DuroCross Truck Review and Test Drive

Mitsu Jumps Back Into The Pickup Game

Sean P. HolmanPhotographer, WriterSteve VonSeggernPhotographer

Mitsubishi has been out of the pickup truck market ever since the venerable Mighty Max line was folded back in the late '90s so the company could concentrate on more profitable people-moving SUVs. So, after nearly a decade without a pickup truck, Mitsubishi has turned to its longtime partner Dodge (you may remember that Dodge dealerships sold the Mighty Max as the Ram 50) and brought out the Raider, a midsize truck based on the Dakota.

After testing the Raider in our 2006 Pickup Truck of the Year (Jan. '06), we decided to ask Mitsubishi for a long-term truck. At that time, it was praised for smooth highway manners and funky styling, but we felt our extended-cab model was a bit tight, so we ordered ours up with the Double Cab version. The Raider differs from the Dakota only in styling, trim levels, and a longer warranty, and is the only import-branded midsize truck to offer a V-8 engine.

Our Raider DuroCross arrived with just 61 miles on the odometer. The DuroCross adds, among other things, heavy-duty shocks, skidplates, LT265/70 BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires on aluminum 16x8-inch wheels, and a host of interior upgrades. We ordered our Mitsu to the gills, but with so much standard equipment, the base price only jumped from $30,845 to $33,654, which we could have dropped by $499 had we opted out of the DuroCross preferred equipment package that included a bed extender, rail protectors, window deflectors and a wheel- and spare-tire lock. However, the one option we were glad we checked off was the $1,440 Premium Sound Package, which includes an awesome 276-watt AM/FM/6-CD Alpine head unit with six speakers and Sirius satellite radio. There is even a 500-watt system available in the extended-cab model.

Sharing only the glass, roof, and internal bed stamping as the only exterior parts with Dakota, the Raider's unique look has gotten us many glances on the road and at fuel stops. There have been quite a few people who have asked us about the truck, and we were more than happy to let them hop in and check it out.

Most comments centered around the attractive slate interior, while the logbook has notes about a center console with plenty of cubbies for cell phones, BlackBerrys, pens, wallets, Altoids, business cards, and everything else we bring from vehicle to vehicle. Seat comfort seems to side with our backsides on those long days in the saddle, and the Double Cab offers decent rear seat accommodations.

So far, we have been impressed by the Raider's civilized highway ride, but expansion joints can keep the front end bouncing well down the road. We have also noted once again that the 4.7L V-8 is not as powerful as one might expect, especially rated at 290 lb-ft of torque, but we'll let you know if that improves as the engine breaks in. So far, the V-8 has been averaging around 14 mpg in mixed driving, but we hope to see that number get better as we get more highway time in the truck.

In limited off-pavement excursions, we have enjoyed the traction that the BFG tires offer, but we'll have to get some more dirty miles under our belts before we can comment on the Raider's true off-highway prowess. With a whole year to sample the Raider, we are sure our nomadic staff will get the seat time necessary for a complete evaluation.

Previous report: None
Base price: $30,845
Price as tested: $33,654
Four-wheel-drive system: Electronic, part-time two-speed

Miles to date: 3,437
Miles since last report: 3,437
Average mpg (this report): 14.06
Test best tank (mpg): 18.10
Test worst tank (mpg): 12.49

Problem areas: None

Hot: Stand-apart styling, good visibility, big mirrors, lots of interior storage, and a longer warranty.
Not: Bouncy ride on freeway expansion joints, V-8 seems to be missing some power.

* "Fit and finish is good-interior looks nicer than Dodge Dakota."
* "This stereo rocks, love the satellite radio."
* "For $33K, where is the compass and temp?"
* "Takes 87 octane-Yeah!"
* "Step bars are pointless on a truck this low to the ground."