Today’s Rare Ride is the rarely seen Dodge version of Mitsubishi’s most famous off-road SUV. It’s a Raider, from 1987.
Long before the Mitsubishi Raider existed as a near-clone of the Dodge Dakota, the Dodge Raider existed as a twin to the Mitsubishi Montero. Such Chrysler-Mitsubishi badge swaps are nothing new to Rare Rides: We’ve previously featured the unique Colt Vista, followed by the reader favorite Plymouth Champ.
By the time the Raider arrived wearing its Dodge badges, the Montero was nothing new in North America. Mitsubishi introduced its all-new SUV for the 1982 model year, where it was available only in three-door, short-wheelbase guise. Shortly thereafter the five-door version arrived, which was generally more suited to the family driving needs of North America. Critically, seating capacity went up from five to seven people with the available third-row seat. Dodge wanted in on the action.
The year was 1987, and the Montero received some luxury-oriented updates for its fifth year: two-tone paint, heated seats, a new sound system, and alloy wheels. But those features were reserved for Mitsubishi models, specifically the long-wheelbase format. The Raider was introduced that same year, but was limited in scope to the three-door version. Raider offered the same inline-four engines as Montero, in gasoline (2.6L) and diesel (2.3L) varieties. Upscale customers could spring for the 3-liter V6, and four-wheel drive was standard across the range.
Dodge pitched the Raider as similar in capability to the Jeep Wrangler, and freely admitted it was a Japanese vehicle in the marketing. A proud import was “The Tough New Spirit of Dodge.”
The Raider didn’t exude enough of that new spirit though, as its tenure next to the Ram 50 at Dodge dealerships lasted only three years. It bowed out in 1989, and Dodge went without a compact SUV until 2007 when it introduced another oddball — the Nitro.
The internet’s memory of the Raider is not a strong one. Finding good condition Raiders with good pictures, or any for sale is a challenge, and your author’s never seen one equipped with a V6. Today’s unusual two-tone Rare Ride was for sale at a dealership in Colorado, but sold sometime recently. It had no air conditioning, an automatic transmission, manual windows, and 125,000 miles on the odometer.
[Images: seller, Dodge]