Back In The Pack

For reasons understood mainly by corporate marketers, several manufacturers fill out their vehicle lines by offering pickups built in cooperation with the major truck makers, and often in the same factories. Among them are Mitsubishi (with Dodge and Chrysler), Mazda (with Ford), and Isuzu (with General Motors). This doesn't mean the "repackaged" trucks are inferior to the originals; sometimes the smaller manufacturer produces the original design, which the big manufacturer adopts to fill out its own vehicle lineup. Smart tire-kickers can find bargains by comparing co-op brands, and often a buyer will prefer features on one vehicle that are not available on its near-twin. The differences between closely related vehicles typically extend no deeper than body styling. Here's what's available in 2008.

Like its kissin' cousin the Dodge Dakota, the Mitsubishi Raider can rightfully claim to be the only pickup–import-brand pickup, that is–with a V8 under its hood. The Mitsu offers more youthful, aggressive styling than the Raider. Along with the same 4.7 liter V8, it packs a 3.7-liter V6 (see Dodge specs). Extended Cabs have front-hinged rear doors, while Double Cab models have four full-size doors and six-passenger seating.

The Mazda B-Series pickups, built on the ford Ranger platform, are also compact, sporty trucks in two-door Regular Cab or four-door Cab Plus models. Like the Ranger, the B-4000 offers Ford's 4.0 liter V6, the B-3000 has the 3.0 liter V6, and the B-2300 has a 2.3 liter inline four-banger.

Longtime engineering partners Isuzu and General Motors work together to create Duramax diesel engines and small pickup trucks. The Isuzu pickups share the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon structural platform and engines. Following close in step, two Isuzu pickup models, the i-290 and i-370, are available for 2008. Upgrades in '07 boosted engine displacements to 2.9 liters and 3.7 liters. The four-cylinder i-290 comes only as an Extended Cab 4x2 model, while the five-cylinder i-370 is exclusive to the Crew Cab 4x4.

For specs, see the GM information, page 32.