The Raider, the first pickup from Mitsubishi since the '96 Mighty Max, is essentially a Dodge Dakota with a redesigned exterior and interior. One of the more eye-catching vehicles in our test group, it's design successfully differentiates it from its U.S. cousin.

Most of us appreciated the bold body styling and thought the BFG All-Terrain tires were a good practical and cosmetic choice for this Raider's offroad trim package. The front end doesn't look as nose-heavy as the Dakota, but its plastics presented an esthetic challenge for some staffers, not to mention that it made pushing the vehicle out of a sandy mire more difficult and that it was vulnerable to dragging on off-road obstacles.

Inside, the seating was comfortable and did provide plenty of room for a 6-foot driver. The lack of sun visor mirrors was surprising. The dash layout is fairly simplistic and everything seems naturally placed except the switch for the 4WD system. The person who designed the switch location apparently wasn't planning on anyone actually using it. Seats are bolstered decently and the seating position is OK for taller drivers and passengers. The B-pillar, however, has the shoulder harness system on it that sits squarely against the shoulder of a taller driver or passenger. This would not be comfortable on a long trip, since it forces the person to lean in toward the center of the truck, which would wear on your back over time. Satellite radio is a nice touch for such a reasonably priced truck, and the Alpine system is the best of the bunch.

The suspension on the Raider felt soft. This made for a mushy ride on a hardtop that resulted in loping bounces and truck-like cornering. After turning off the asphalt and into the dirt, that soft suspension began to make sense as the truck stayed nice and level in the whoops. This contrasts to the on- and off-road stiffness of the Isuzu suspension, although both vehicle's approach to suspension tuning offered their own pros and cons (The Isuzu I-350 was the only vehicle in our test group that competes with the Mitsubishi in the same market segment). While the nerf bars signal the offroad nature of the Durocross package, they are useless as ingress and egress aids given the truck's small size and are prone to banging against hard objects when wheeling.

A limited-slip rear differential prevents wheel spin when the vehicle launches from a full stop, unlike many other small pickups. The motor felt underpowered, however, for a V-8.

The Raider is much better looking than the Dakota, although it suffers from the Dodge's flaws: poor ground clearance, average power, and a snug interior that should be more spacious. All in all, however, the Raider gives Mitsubishi a strong contender in the midsize market and is the only import manufacturer with a midsize truck equipped with a V-8.