2008 Mitsubishi Raider Review

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 8, 2008

If you're looking for value in a basic truck, you've found it in the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider to write this comprehensive review. Truck experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove several different Mitsubishi Raider models since the line was last redesigned in 2006, to offer you a definitive opinion on this pickup. In addition, this review looks at other vehicles in the same class as the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider to give you solid advice you can use.

Sometimes you just want a cup of coffee. A plain cup of coffee. Black. No cream. Mitsubishi seems to have had this feeling while creating its new lineup for the 2008 Raider pickup. You won't find any double-mocha-half-caf-with-extra-whipped-cream-type trucks in the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider catalog. Nope, this is where you look when you want a simple work truck that's backed by the best bumper-to-bumper new-vehicle limited warranty of any pickup: five years/60,000 miles.

The Raider model line is streamlined for 2008, and there is now only one trim level (the LS) available in three configurations: Extended Cab 2WD, Double Cab 2WD, and Double Cab 4WD. Like the Dodge Dakota, all Raider models are built on the same long 131.3-inch wheelbase. The five-passenger Extended Cab model has a 6.4-foot bed, and six-passenger Double Cab models come with a 5.3-foot bed.

The Raider Extended Cab LS 2WD is about as simple a truck as one can get, and it doesn't offer many options. For instance, you won't find side airbags, side curtain airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control on the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider's option list. While editors from TheCarConnection.com point out what we consider a shortcoming, the Raider performs well in government front and side crash tests.

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As far as equipment choices for your 2008 Mitsubishi Raider, the basics (A/C, MP3 compatible audio system) are standard, and a Power and Convenience Package adds keyless entry, a color-keyed front bumper, power side-view mirrors, carpeted floor mats, power front windows, power door locks, and a tilt steering column. If you want anything else, you'll add it yourself.

The only available engine is the Chrysler-sourced 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 engine that produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of peak torque. This engine is standard in a variety of Chrysler products, including the Dodge Dakota, Dodge Nitro, and Jeep Liberty, and provides adequate but leisurely acceleration. Don't expect Lexus-like refinement. A Getrag six-speed manual transmission is available in the two-wheel-drive Extended Cab Raider, the configuration we'd recommend. It's the lightest, simplest truck in the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider line, and that gearbox shifts particularly well. Plus, the first five gears help maximize the V-6's modest power. Double Cab Mitsubishi Raiders are only available with a four-speed automatic transmission, which, though convenient, dumbs down the driving experience.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com consider the Mitsubishi Raider rather awkward and self-conscious in terms of styling, almost as if it's trying too hard not to look like the Dodge Dakota on which it's based. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you may like the big fenders and the Mitsubishi/Groucho Marx nose.

On the road, the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider is a something of a retro mobile. The ride somewhat wallows, the steering is rather vague, and with only rear-wheel anti-lock-brakes, control in emergency stops isn't what it can be with more modern electronics.


2008 Mitsubishi Raider


If you value style above all else in a mid-size pickup, then the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider warrants a look.

Among the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider’s few real positives are its handsome mug and pleasant interior, both more attractive than the Dodge Dakota upon which it is based.

“One of the better rebadging jobs we've seen in a while,” begins Motor Trend. Their writers are pleased that the truck’s California-based stylists “made a hard break from the Dakota's blocky, creased, squared-off exterior looks.” Cars.com says “a thin upper grille and thick lower bumper up front help produce a look that's reminiscent of the company's other models,” most notably the Endeavor. Kelley Blue Book claims “its dynamic, carved physique is defined by muscular curves, flared wheel arches and step-side style fenders and high-tech head lamps and tail lamps.” MyRide.com explains that only the “roof panel, windshield, rear side glass and rear doors” are shared with the mechanically identical Dodge Dakota. Regular- and Double Cab versions are offered.

Inside, the story is much the same, where those California stylists nipped, tucked, and shaved away Dakota elements that don’t suit Mitsubishi’s unique design ethos. “The interior has less mass and distraction than its cousin,” explains Motor Trend of the design team who “shaved lots plastic out of the Dakota dash and simplified the air-conditioning controls and vents.” Edmunds feels the “faux metallic trim and white-faced gauges give the dash a hint of panache,” and Kelley Blue Book appreciates the “simple, three-gauge cluster” that “has highly readable dials with white backgrounds,” though they don't care for the “unappealing headliner cloth.” In what could be seen as damning with faint praise, Car and Driver cites the interior as the Raider’s most significant distinction from the Dakota and calls it “an interior designed to make the buyer feel he's driving something more fashionable than a refrigerator.”

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2008 Mitsubishi Raider


The 2008 Mitsubishi Raider offers solid performance—for a decade long since past.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Raider, with its crude engine and simply average road manners, struggles to compete.

Formerly available with a V-8 that at least offered decent torque to motivate this full-framed, live-axle truck, the Raider now hosts a lone V-6 in the engine bay. Displacing 3.7 liters and putting forth 235 pound-feet of torque and 210 horsepower, the only thing going for it in terms of modernity is an overhead camshaft based on Chrysler’s excellent OHC 4.7-liter V-8. But in the transition from eight to six cylinders, smoothness, power, and general desirability are utterly lost in translation. Even the editors at ConsumerGuide find it “underpowered for anything but daily commuting and light loads,” and Edmunds laments “all Raider models make do with a sluggish 3.7-liter powerplant,” which they feel “doesn't exactly bode well for this already forgotten Mitsubishi entry. Performance is unimpressive, to put it mildly.” Kelley Blue Book does remark the engine “performs adequately in around-town driving,” and MyRide.com declares the truck “amply-powered for everyday stow-‘n-go.”

Transmitting the power from crankshaft to differential are two transmissions: a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. The six-speed, a “somewhat wide and long-throw gearbox,” according to MyRide.com, is available in the Extended Cab, whereas the Double Cab comes only with the automatic. Both transmissions are deemed adequate conduits for the V-6’s underwhelming power, though it should be noted that only four ratios for an automatic is positively outdated in 2008, and the wider ratio spread they demand hurts the performance of an already lethargic engine. Perhaps that’s one reason Edmunds is only able to coax a Raider to 60 mph in 11.5 seconds, performance that will have you struggling to keep abreast of Kia Spectras and Toyota Priuses. But unlike those misers, you’ll be getting EPA numbers of 16/20 mpg, worst-story (automatic and 4WD) EPA numbers of 14/18 mpg. Four-wheel drive is an option on the Raider.

Thankfully, the handling is a somewhat better story. “The Raider drives exactly as one might suspect -- like a mid-sized truck with no bells and whistles,” says Kelley Blue Book. They “found the suspension, steering, handling and braking were adequate both on- and off-road.” MyRide.com cites the Raider's “decent maneuverability and stopping power,” Car and Driver praises “a minimum of body lean and bounce over country roads,” ConsumerGuide comments that the Raider’s “steering has a direct feel and lacks typical truck sloppiness,” and Edmunds concludes that “handling is stable as trucks go.”

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2008 Mitsubishi Raider

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Mitsubishi Raider is a relatively refined and comfortable truck, but it can’t come close to its newer competitors in terms of utility and refinement.

Given its humble underpinnings, the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider performs surprisingly well in the area of refinement and in-cab comfort, though it still falls far short of modern rivals.

“We were impressed by the spacious user-friendly cockpit,” says Kelley Blue Book, while MyRide.com “found the composite plastic in the cabin hard to the touch and would call the headliner material outdated mouse fur.” Most reviewers seem to agree, finding no fault with the ergonomics but being less than impressed with materials and fit/finish. ConsumerGuide notes “controls are logically placed and readily accessed” and “large gauges are easy to read.” But their editors are quick to point out that “interior materials look and feel low grade,” and they're disappointed that “hard shiny plastic covers most surfaces, and some controls lack quality feel.” Ride comfort is “smooth and composed in any configuration,” says ConsumerGuide, who remarks “there's little of the bounding and jiggle typical of the class.” Edmunds considers the truck “commendably hushed at speed, with good isolation from wind and road noise.”

Up front, “the extended cab's spacious cabin has plenty of headroom and legroom,” and “the front bench seat will accommodate three passengers in a pinch,” states ConsumerGuide. The availability of a front bench seat is one of the good things about the Raider’s old-school roots, making it one of the few true six-passenger Double Cab trucks if you don’t mind a bit of squeezing. MyRide.com notes that “grab handles incorporated into the A-pillars ease entry for front seat occupants,” and Edmunds contends “the driving position feels more carlike than you'd expect.”

MyRide.com complains about “second-class treatment of rear passengers” in the Double Cab, pointing out that “rear-seat passengers have a tall step-up without the optional side rail trim, and no grab handles exist to assist with entry and exit.” The Extended Cab’s “available forward-facing jump seats best suit those under 5-ft-3, as there's little legroom,” claims ConsumerGuide, who also appreciates the “wide-opening rear-hinged doors” that “make for easier loading in tight spaces” on that model. Edmunds urges that “the Double Cab is a must if you plan to put adults in the back.”

As a tower and hauler of heavy and/or bulky items, the Raider can’t be seen as a significant value. It is not available with a long bed, and its “towing capacity, ranging from 2,950 pounds for manual-shift Raiders to 4,150 pounds with the automatic, is…uncompetitive,” says Edmunds.

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2008 Mitsubishi Raider


A paucity of expected safety equipment, both standard and available, makes the Mitsubishi Raider tough to recommend.

Less--not more--safety equipment is provided for passengers in the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider than in years past.

A review of the Raider’s safety equipment should begin with what it doesn’t have rather than what it does: no side-curtain airbags available, check; no four-wheel anti-lock brakes standard or available, check. In a day and age where these items are expected safety features even in pickup trucks, their omission as, at the least, options seems like a surefire way to drive the Raider’s poor sales figures even lower. Rear-wheel-only anti-lock brakes, which the Raider does feature, are a ridiculous throwback to an older decade of pickup trucks.

Thankfully, the basic structure of the Raider is undeniably stout, and as Edmunds points out, “In government frontal-impact crash tests, the extended-cab version of the Raider's twin, the Dakota, achieved a perfect five-star rating for driver protection and four stars for front passenger protection. The Dodge also garnered an ‘Acceptable’ rating in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing.”

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2008 Mitsubishi Raider


Bluetooth and Sirius radio notwithstanding, the 2008 Mitsubishi Raider represents a rather basic approach to transportation.

A pretty basic roster of standard and optional features marks the pretty basic 2008 Mitsubishi Raider.

“The Mitsubishi Raider lineup has been downsized for 2008. The Durocross and SE trim levels have been dropped, and the 4.7-liter V8 is no longer available,” explains Edmunds about the Mitsubishi Raider’s new strategy for the 2008 model year. There is just one model, LS, and three trim levels: one Extended Cab model and two Double Cab models. Utilitarian Extended Cabs, starting at just over $20,000, feature a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch steel wheels, 40/20/40-split cloth bench seat, air conditioning, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with four speakers. The Double Cab gets a four-speed automatic transmission; power mirrors, locks, and windows; 60/40-split rear fold-down seatbacks; a tilt steering wheel; cruise control; fog lamps; and a sliding rear window. The third model is the Double Cab four-wheel drive, in which another $3,000 is added to the Double Cab’s bottom line of around $26,000.

“Options are largely grouped into packages,” explains Edmunds. Opting for the Extended Cab's Power and Convenience Package nets most of the Double Cab's additional features. The Exterior Appearance Package, available on Double Cabs, adds a sliding rear window, special wheels, and interior trim. The Extra Value Package comes with a bed liner, side rails, and mud guards. Some of these options can be added individually.

MyRide.com makes note of a few advanced technology features, including “hands-free Bluetooth cell-phone communications system and Sirius satellite radio.” They also state “Mitsubishi will pay the satellite radio subscription for the first six months, allowing customers to sample the service before committing for a longer term.”

Edmunds points out that “Mitsubishi provides a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which trumps Dodge's three-year/36,000-mile comprehensive coverage but not its lifetime powertrain warranty.”

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